Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Home from the Hospital for the Holidays - 2010

According to the hospital’s records, I checked in on Thursday, October 28th, and was discharged on Monday, November 1st—call it five days and four nights. Psychically, however, it seemed much, much longer.  

Home, though, wasn’t what I remembered. It wasn’t that I was a “Stranger in a Strange Land”; it was that I was a “Stranger in a Familiar Land”.[1]
Well, what do you mean? I mean that the neighborhood hadn’t changed, the house hadn’t changed, and the weather hadn’t changed, but I had changed.

Under direction from the nurses, Barbara removed all the slippery “throw rugs” in the house, which would be like throwing a banana peel in front of Elmer Fud (if you don’t know who Elmer Fud is, ask somebody who watches too many cartoons).

Our first floor really-good-imitation leather chair became my base of operations. It had a sturdy footstool on which I could stack papers, rehab materials, and outdoorsy magazines.

Physically, I was still weak. I tired easily. And I wasn’t yet sleeping more than maybe two hours a night at a time.

In some ways I could better see what I couldn’t see (if that makes any sense at all).  My right-eye peripheral vision, which before the operation was non-existent, had turned into a smooshed Monet painting. More specifically, through the right side of my right eye I could see a cacophony of colors. The colors changed with the scenery, but I couldn’t really see anything specific—like a waffle or a kitchen counter corner. While I was told that I hadn’t lost any brain cells affecting my vision, we all knew that they had just been “squashed” and entangled with the tumor[2].  While we hoped that I might regain my peripheral vision, there was also a chance that I might not.

Away from the comfort of the hospital, I was forced to consider my future.  It seemed uncertain, especially early on when I was still learning how to walk without curling my foot.

Giving myself a status report, I told myself that on the positive side:
1.    I was alive.
2.    My family loved me and was unbelievably helpful.
3.    Unlike many other brain tumor victims, I could talk, walk (well, sorta) and read.

On the negative side:
1.    My eyesight was crappy.
2.    I was physically and emotionally fragile.
3.    I was certain that my brain wasn’t quite using all four cylinders.
4.    And I had a “bit of Blob” left in me (“Blob” was my name for the tumor).

To be continued by “Can You read?/Post-Operation Friend & Family Reactions”

[1] If you hadn’t read this award-winning science fiction novel, go to your nearest library and check out a copy.
[2] This was how my sister referred to the situation.  I appreciated the fact that she didn’t describe this to me with medical accuracy and, instead, talked to me in terms I could understand.

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