Inside and out

They ask how I am. I say that I’m OK.

They compliment my haircut. I don’t show them the five-inch scar it hides.

We talk for awhile, and they say it’s amazing how well I’ve recovered.

Fooled ’em again.

It’s been more than four months since the brain surgery, and most people can see no evidence of it. I talk, walk and behave normally, joke about the surgery, and express how great it is just to be alive.

I’m working in a new art medium that I love, and displayed my fused glass in the community art show. I’m told that I look a bit younger because I’ve lost weight and have a perky haircut; even my wrinkles seem to have receded.

So everyone can have a chat with me and then move on, assured that there’s nothing to worry about here.

I’m worried.

These outward signs of health conceal the long thin snake coiled within me that strikes at random.

I don’t tell most people about my anxiety attacks, or the days when I can’t absorb a single shred of new information. I don’t tell them that I’m just not as smart as I was before.

It’s as though I’ve lost someone close to me. I grieve for the person I used to be. And, like a widow, I feel as though everyone else has forgotten what happened to me.

I almost died.

I survived, but it’s not over.

At the three-month point I was in a pretty good place. I had eased into acceptance of my current state, relying on the words of doctors who all told me that I will be fine. I had a simple daily routine without too many demands. The bumps on my head were normal, the anxiety was normal, the slow recovery of brain functions was normal.

Now I’m starting to wonder.

The ridges on my head descend into indentations that feel like the Grand Canyon to my sensitized fingers. The anxiety and brain lapses seem more frequent, though those haven’t been helped by the physical chaos that has overtaken my house. I’ve been unable to get back up to speed with work.

Months, the doctors told me. A year.

There are no guidelines. It’s the brain. Each one is unique.

I know for sure that I will not be the same person, no matter how many months go by.

This is not necessarily a bad thing, as I continually remind myself.  Negatives have turned to positives.

The things that make me look younger are all after-effects of the surgery. My haircut was a chop job by a nurse tech in ICU. My wrinkles lessened because I’m getting so much sleep. I’ve lost weight through sheer determination because it was the only health risk factor I had left to get rid of.

I consciously try to relax more. To give myself a break. To appreciate this recovery as an opportunity. To explore a different state of mind.

It’s all happening inside.

Somehow, it has to come out. I have to integrate my disparate parts into a new whole.

Today’s penny is a 2015. It was not a coincidence that I started this blog in the year that my life changed.

4 thoughts on “Inside and out”

  1. Again, thank so much for sharing. Every time I read one of your posts I am reminded that we need to be grateful for each day and that fretting/sweating over stuff we have no control over is a waste of time and life. Actually, fretting/sweating over stuff we DO have control of also is a waste of time and energy. So, thank you….Oh, and I love your fused glass.

    1. Thank you, Tina – really appreciate your comment. You’re totally right – fretting is unproductive for any situation!

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