On My New Journey
This is my first post operation sketch. I made it this morning. I had good intentions yesterday but hours just seem to stream away right now and then I am too tired. I've received some very beautiful bouquets and that has been like a balm to my senses. I look forward to drawing them. Structure seems kind of hard right now. I wrote "Tiger Lilies are one of my secret most favorite flowers. I know very little about flowers but I think that's where my love for tiger lilies comes from. It is the Saskatchewan provincial flower (although wiki tells me it is actually a Western Red Lily that represents my home province) I remember learning about this at school at a very young age. Somehow that info combined with a loose sense of patriotism made me feel like an expert. Plus it is beautiful. Bold and bright and sculptural" I'll be honest. This entry was interrupted with background noise and my concentration is shot. My spelling is not perfect and I still have a few repeated words written down. I feel like its all rambling.
It feels strange to be posting the update that I am. All the expectations about brain surgery that I had have been turned into something else. Easier and far more difficult that I really understood before crossing that threshold. It's been a long week so I'm giving myself permission to just put some semi coherent thoughts down to mark the moment. Maybe I can look back on this post in a few years and nod my head sagely and be happy that this time has passed. Then crack a stupid joke to get over the awkward pause. That would very much be my style.
I'm going to use the handy "in no order point form" system yet again. It feels separate and orderly but seems to allow for stuff to be barely interconnected.
- One of my biggest fears coming through this operation was being mentally and physically incapacitated (temporarily or long term) this has not happened, for which I am very, very thankful. Instead, I actually feel like there has been a reset button pressed in my brain. Like the neurosurgeon just pressed the off button for 5 seconds and rebooted me to that moment before my seizure hit. It is weird to me that I feel this much more normal post surgery. Like that shouldn't happen for some reason. I also don't think I am merely imagining my faculties are back to normal, I've asked my husband and he has confirmed that this seems to be the case.
- Those weeks from seizure to surgery were a lot more difficult than I realized. Canadian friends will know what I'm talking about when I mention that commercial with the car driving at night in the city and the empty beer glasses keep getting placed in front of the camera lens to make every thing blurry. That was me for around three weeks. Writing funny blog posts literally consumed my thoughts all day so I could sound loose and informal. They were anything but. It was like writing words and then taking a very fine file and shaving away at how words fit together or looked until it seemed right. Laborious. Time consuming. A welcome distraction.
- I have a few things that are really important to my identity and all those things were seriously tested in the past few weeks. I want to be a genuinely nice person (I'm not perfect) and I was super worried that medications, surgery or complications would bring out bad traits or that I would say unkind things to people I love. My temper was short (and I seem to still get frustrated faster right now). Thankfully, I think I have navigated through those dangerous waters. If I said anything really bad, the nurses were too kind to tell me.
- I did not lose my sense of direction. Another huge worry for me. I have very very strong spatial awareness. It gives me comfort to know what little drawer the little thing I am looking for lives in. When I can't sleep at night, I close my eyes and mentally travel through streets of places I love and that helps me settle down. I usually always know where north is. I still know where north is and the best route to travel to get you through rush hour.
- The weird reading stuff I experienced after the seizure is gone. Just gone. Like an exotic bird that came to rest in my psyche for a few weeks, it came, made it's presence known, opened my eyes to a different way of living and then up and left. Same goes for my sweet tooth and enhanced sense of smell.
- I can think, I'm pretty sure I can draw and do the stuff I did before I had the seizure, and I am starting to want to. This will change things though. I am a slow processor and the blog part is only a tiny part of me being able to wrap my head around this situation. Today I was overwhelmed with a lot of what we've experienced the past few weeks and I needed to express it through drawing and writing.
- Attending a surgery where you are the patient is very similar to attending a party that you don't remember. You hope pictures don't show up on Facebook. Your head hurts. Weird bruises show up for days later. Someone washes and braids your hair before putting a 6" incision into the back of your head. Strangest party I've been to.
- Don't let the post operation photos I posted of my smiling mug fool you. I look really weird right now. 1/3 of my hair is shaved off (and will eventually cover my massive horse shoe shaped scar). My face is weird and puffy from sleeping semi upright and taking steroids for a few days. The post surgery human body is slightly terrifying version of yourself to get to know. Plus you have to get to know it at a time that you would really rather just have a nap.
- Naps are uncomfortable. Bedtime is uncomfortable. Walking is tiring. Talking is tiring. Sitting is tiring. Recovery is demanding and yet, my brain is reset. This frustrates me.
Apologies for just rambling. This is what post surgery looks like for me today. Overall I'm feeling optimistic and know things will improve. I figured it might be of interest to know what a weird experience this is.
One Interesting Thing I Learned:
So, I wasn't sure how much of pre and post surgery I would remember. I remember the anesthesiologist putting the mask on my face and telling me I wouldn't fall asleep for at least a minute. Then nothing. Then I remember a nurse talking to me and asking the usual questions they ask you in the hospital (I'm very good at giving the date).
In the background was an announcement that was repeating over and over, but in the Recovery ward, everyone was too busy with the patients. So then an alarm started going off for a "code purple". All the nurses started scrambling around to figure out what that meant and I piped up and told my nurse that the announcement said it was just a test. They all relaxed.
Then they looked up what code purple was. If you are ever at Foothills Hospital and you hear there is a "code purple" it means its a hostage situation. Or a simulated one. Pay attention. *The more you know*
I came home on Thursday (surgery was Tuesday) the euphoria of good meds and a happy outcome have turned into the reality of needing lots of down time. We are good for meals and cleaning. I have rides and appointments covered for the time being (and a generous list of names to call on for help)
I've read all your messages, I've seen all the kindnesses you have shown my family and I deeply appreciate it. I have also given up trying to go through the back log of messages that stacked up this week. So, this is my official thank you. I love you guys.
My incision has around 40 staples in it, those come out in little over a week. I still don't have any idea of what my long term recovery looks like or what I will need. All the basics are doing great though (walking, talking, cracking jokes). I plan to keep blogging while I figure it out.
To read the whole story of my Meningioma click here.
1/20/2018 04:54:56 pm
Hey Michelle!! Just a note of encouragement. Your emotions being all over the place is completely normal after a traumatic experience. It will get better. I love how you are blogging and drawing!! Keep doing it! It’s who you are and it will help with the recovery! Always remember you are Michelle! Just Michelle Weibe ! Not “you know Michelle who had brain surgery”. Do not let the brain surgery define who you are! Tell your story a million times if you have to but this is only one of your stories. It is part of you but not you!
1/20/2018 05:03:56 pm
Michelle, your art is beautiful. I can relate when you are talking about pre surgery and after. My nurse the 1st eve in Neuro icu was a brain tumor survivor herself. The very best, keep that smile on your face, and don't forget to love you.
1/20/2018 06:25:11 pm
i'm so glad you're doing well, michelle!
1/20/2018 06:29:53 pm
This is really beautiful and written from the heart. I'm a year out of surgery and it does get better. If you're one of the lucky ones (and a person with a 'glass-half-full' mentality), you will continue to find areas in your life where you feel blessed due to what your experiences have been. Compassion, kindness and understanding are just a few of the areas where I feel I have grown as a result of brain surgery.
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