I think we can agree I’ve remained relatively tall in the saddle as I’ve ridden this pale horse though the desert. Not to say it’s all puppy dogs and pink balloons out there in Tumortown. Here’s a smattering of scorpions and snakes I’ve met along the way.
“Please notify the MSK team immediately if you experience any behavior or personality change.”
Really? OK, folks,here are three biggies:
- Stingers: Last month, I broke our brand new (expensive) blender. Smithereened it, actually. Why? Because after I followed the fucking Chinese diagram, it just WOULD NOT CONNECT RIGHT. It’s all I can do to not to hurl the faulty remote control across the room when the channel doesn’t change immediately. Or if I carry my meal tray downstairs to the TV, sit down, settle in, only to discover I’ve forgotten to secure a soup spoon?
It takes a monumental effort to come to terms with the fact I must embark on an expedition upstairs, and it takes a heavy toll. It’s as though I’ve just realized I’ve left the baby on the North Col of Everest. The past 50 years would not have found me punching walls or standing outside at night in a torn T-shirt yelling, “Stell-a!”
Luckily, I haven’t lashed out at any humans yet, with one close call at (you guessed it!) the post office, and another at a Geek Squad twit—after the FIFTH time I brought my (very expensive) laptop in for the SAME DAMN REPAIR. I’m familiar with this tendency as part of my personality (at about 2 percent, whereas it reached about 72 percent at its height. Now it’s waning again, to somewhere between 12-13 percent).
I understand this inability to cope with everyday frustrations surely signifies a deeper, underlying helplessness. Good thing I’ve been off steroids for a while.
The psychiatrist on the case says it’s normal to feel this way after brain surgery, not to mention in the face of an uncertain future. “Relax,” he says. “Put your feet up. Have a smoothie.” That’s a capital idea, Doc—BUT I DON’T HAVE A FUCKING BLENDER ANYMORE!
- Barbs: When was the last time, assuming you’re not a menopausal woman, you’ve wept openly at a local news segment about a Downs Syndrome girl getting a chance to try out for the Dallas Cowboys cheerleading squad; a touching Muppet moment; or a TV commercial in which guileless cartoon ants march off to their formiciform holocaust beneath the sink?
My new normal is sniveling at the mere thought of penguin chicks and little kids who drop their ice cream cones. We’ve been binge-watching all the seasons of Showtime’s “Shameless,” and every episode – especially the thorny relationship between Ian and Mickey – brings me to tears.
- Constrictors: Although the aphasia (word-finding difficulty) continues its abatement – this time around, it’s all a consequence of the surgery – I’m still struggling to remember how to … uh … word things properly, with the right, um … words. This is perhaps the worst facet of having a brain tumor (the best is that I might not live to see Donald Trump destroy 240 years of democracy). As Timmy will eventually overtake my ability to express myself in words – not a pleasant thought – I’ll address this in more detail in a future post.
Can I see any prancing unicorns and rainbows from the brain cancer train? Of course I can. In fact, there’s nothing like this kind of diagnosis to remind you what really matters—and what constitutes EVERYTHING ELSE. So what matters? Angel. Good books—writing them, reading them. Movies. Dogs. Nieces and nephews. Friends who after 30 years together just got hitched, thanks to SCOTUS. Walmart’s permissive policy on returning smashed blenders. Words, words, words—every one’s a blessed gift, and as of yet, they’re not quick-stepping into any trap from which they can’t check out.
With Love and Optimism Abounding,
Ollie Ogre and The Blake