Nine more days until the nice neurosurgeon and the lovely ENT drill a hole in my head to carefully, slowly, delicately take out the tumor that is trying to strangle my facial nerves and knock me on my butt.
I’m scared. I do NOT want to be out cold for 8 or 9 hours while people are poking around in my brain. I do NOT want to be stuck in a big, loud, brightly lit, big city hospital for four or five days. I do NOT want to be in pain.
But I am taking the sage advice of my older brother, who is powering through cancer treatment with the attitude that “it is what it is, and all will be well.” I am channeling the courage and strength of my friend Fran, a young mom who is dealing with breast cancer treatments by facing it directly and looking forward to having it behind her.
And I’m leaning on my sister, who is always hilarious. She has the most wonderful gallows humor that lifts her through life’s many struggles.
Therefore, let me tell you a few things about being an overweight, clumsy old woman with an acoustic neuroma. First of all, I have named him “Stanley.” I want to personalize him, and I want to make him something that is separate from me and my own personal body. Stanley seems like a good name for someone annoying, frustrating and slightly toxic. Someone who has been bugging you for years but who won’t go away.
On Aug. 5 we will send Stanley on his merry way and finally be free of him.
I am also choosing to look at the hilarious side of my wonky, wobbly self. Picture this: in the middle of an average day, when I am thinking about dinner and not about Stanley, I calmly reach into my dryer to pull out the clean clothes. WHOMP. I suddenly and unceremoniously tip over and land on my knees in my laundry basket. Oopsie. Nothing hurts, so what can you do except laugh?
I reach down casually to pull some weeds out of my garden. Same deal. WHOMPIE. I end up with a marigold up my nose. Could be worse, to quote my dear departed Momma.
I see myself walking down the hallway in my house, bonk on the right wall, bonk on the left. Sheesh. I am walking like a drunk and it’s 10 AM. Even my dogs look judgemental. What are you gonna do, right? It’s funny!
It’s funny to wake up in the middle of the night and wonder why someone is honking a car horn in this rural spot, and to realize that the sound is inside my head. It’s even funnier when everyone reacts to a sound and I say, “Oh, you mean that isn’t my brain?”
This will also be quite a learning experience, right? I studied a bit of brain anatomy and neurology many years ago when I was a grad student in speech/language pathology. It was cool to go over my MRI with the doctors. I look forward to seeing scans after Stanley moves out.
I’m also making plans for after the surgery. I am determined to get back to my old self as soon as possible. They say that recovery from this can take months, but I am looking to speed it up. In my effort to do that, I am doing a LOT of vestibular stimulation through my physical therapist. This means that at various times (like waiting in line for an amusement park ride with my grandkids) I stare at one spot in front of me and slowly swing my head from left to right and up and down. I look like an escapee from a local asylum.
It gives me lots of space in crowds, but it’s a little embarrassing. At least for my family. I don’t personally care how I look. I gotta get Stanley out and get back to life!
I am spending these next few days trying to relax. I am distracting myself with the sweet antics of bunnies and chipmunks in the yard. I am spending time with the people I love most dearly. Next week we’re having a “Bye, Stanley” party to celebrate and send him off. I hope to get to the ocean, my most healing and soothing place.
If you have any funny stories to share, please do! Stories about your own wobbles and wonkiness or about a friend’s experiences. Anything.
I have to laugh for nine more days.
After that I plan to moan, groan and demand that everybody baby me for a couple of weeks.