Am I Prepared For Death?

I woke this morning with this question in my mind. Those of you whom read my ramblings in the lead up to surgery know that I was very much preparing for such an eventuality. Yes, my legal and financial affairs were documented, agreed to and witnessed by the appropriate people. My decisions regarding what use some of my body parts could be put to, was also decided and agreed to by the relevant family members, to whom I am eternally grateful. Consensus or at least respectful understanding in such matters makes the process all the easier.

But am I prepared for death? As I pondered this question in the morning’s chill air, I opened an affirmation app on my phone. Anyone who knows me knows I have used positive affirmations as part of my coping strategy throughout my life. Interestingly (to me anyway), today’s affirmation read, “I am thankful for all the days of my life that I have lived so far, and for all the days I have yet to live. Life is so good.” By Louise Hay.

As my surgery date bore closer and closer, I made a point of thanking those closest to me, for their friendship and all they have done for me. In these somewhat awkward conversations, and whilst believing I would have a good outcome from surgery, I still felt the need to say goodbye.   Some calls were exceptionally difficult to end, as they felt all too final. In my attempts to acknowledge the genuine seriousness of what I was about to undergo, I had to also embrace the prospect of my death.

During this time, Jason and I became kinder and gentler with each other, as though the possibility of death somehow brought life into sharp focus and we wanted to ensure we were fully present with one another. We were more loving and appreciative of the other and took time to rest quietly in each other’s company; many hours were spent cuddling on the couch, some times in silence, others discussing all those difficult details.

Now, many weeks later, after all going well and recovery progressing, I find myself noticing how life’s little annoyances and frustrations intrude in the bubble of gentleness the prospect of surgery created around us. The occasional snappy response, the grumbles, the inattentiveness that we all experience, no matter how much we love and care about those closest to us.

How can we live our ordinary lives and still hold onto and cherish those we love, in every encounter, every moment together?

Thankfully, I think we are doing pretty well, as the seriousness of what we have just gone through together has affected us deeply, made us face what we could lose. Occasionally one or the other forgets and gets cranky but we are quick to apologise and move forward together.

Jason and I have a rule that gets deployed at times of enormous stress and that is simply to be kind to ourselves and each other. At these times, we focus upon being gentle with our words and supporting one another usually by focussing on how events are impacting the other rather than ourselves. We also lift the takeaway and junk food embargo to enable us to eat our feelings but for a limited time only. We don’t need to add obesity to the list of things to worry about!

As I ponder my preparedness for death, it makes me reflect upon my life and allows me to see the good, the lovely, the necessary and the wonderful.  A moment spent watching a parrot feeding in the garden, of feeling the sunshine upon my face, of inhaling the heady aroma of good Australian tea, of watching my husband prepare a meal for me, of gathering wild flowers, of laughing with friends, of reading a good book, of waking in the warm cocoon of a doona, of holding hands with someone I love, of walking unaided, of biscuits baking, the list goes on and on.

It might be clichéd but it is genuine, thinking about one’s own death shifts you into a different headspace where gratitude lives large, fear is diminished, and life takes on a brighter hue.

“Death is a part of life, as natural as the sun rising and setting each day; as natural as a flower blooming one day, and then withering the next.  Life is a terminal disease; we are all dying. It is our non-acceptance of that reality that causes the fear and suffering; acceptance brings peace, calmness. It also brings awareness of the need to live our lives in preparation for death.  This type of thinking is not morbid and unhealthy – it’s positive and healthy because it means we’ll be ready for death when it happens. And it means we’ll be happier now, while we are alive, because we’ll be living a good life – living ethically, avoiding negative deeds, doing positive deeds as much as possible.”

Ven. Sangye Khadro.  ‘Taking the mystery out of death and the after’.

We Can Rebuild Her

In amongst the angst of the past weeks, there has still been physical improvement for me. I realise that in my funk I have failed to celebrate these milestones.  I would like to share a few with you, so you know I am still improving despite my lagging emotional state.

When I manage to take myself out into the Alice winter days (beautiful compared to much of the country just now), I am now able to walk 2.5 kms.  The first time I reached this distance, I felt as though I might just die, thankfully that feeling passed.  Walking this distance has become much easier with repeated effort and a friend walking with me last week commented on my speed, saying it was much faster than he anticipated.  It’s always nice to get positive feedback.  I have been tracking my exercise progress with help of an app on my phone and it really helps to see how far and in what time I complete my walks.  Highly recommend using one, if you don’t already.

While still having headaches every day I have a plan with my GP to slowly come off the morphine and then the other pain medicines, once the headaches reduce more in their intensity.  The cocktail of drugs I am on currently is likely causing some side effects like reduced motivation, lethargy, mood issues, food cravings etc., etc.  All the things likely to undermine recovery but without them I would be in debilitation pain, unable to do much of anything, thus I persist with them.

My friends, whom visited this past week, helped so much around the house and provided much needed laughs and company and baked goods (thanks M).  In addition to fixing a chair for me, Mr. Engineer R, also attended to my poor old, battered Mirror Box.  When I had the stroke in 2007, a Psychologist friend read about Mirror Box therapy now being used to help stroke survivors regain hand function.  He proceeded to build me one using a beer carton and it worked a treat.  It didn’t travel well in our move here but I didn’t know how to revive it, but my friend did.  He gave it a complete makeover so it is useable again.  By leaving it sitting on the dining room table, it is easy now for me to just sit and use it a little each day.  This will help settle the finger curling I have and improve my fine motor skills in the left hand.  www.mirrorboxtherapy.com

Rebuilt Mirror Box

Rebuilt Mirror Box

Inner Workings

Inner Workings

 

 

 

 

 

 

In my desperation to find motivation to do my rehab exercises, I scheduled time with my physio to develop a program using their clinical Pilates gym.  I kept the appointment (an achievement in itself) and was put through my new program.  I am deceptively weak.

At first glance, I look fit and healthy – this is a mirage. My physio was surprised at just how weak my left side is but was equally pleased to see that not once in the 45 mins we worked together did I say, “I can’t”.  It was great to find that when someone sets an exercise for me and at the first attempt, I cannot perform it, I can still dig deep, focus, breath, and try again and again and again.  It was monstrously challenging and my balance so bad that during one exercise, I fell off the equipment.  Luckily for me, my physio used to play rugby and caught me around the hips, in something resembling a tackle, before I could hit the ground.

I decided to work with the physio rather than on my own because he is very interested in rehab and this way, I have to attend a physio-supervised class once a week and am accountable to someone.  Next week we are working on my pool program – let’s hope he knows how rescue someone from drowning.

Next up is my eye which is now showing fantastic improvement.  A number of weeks ago I was doing the exercises given me by the Guide Dog mob when it occurred to me, that rather than just doing the exercises three times a day, and wearing the patch the rest of the time, wouldn’t it be better to actually give my eyes time working together?  So I began leaving my eye patch off in the mornings, slowly increasing the time as my eye dictated.  At first, the swelling around my eye was a restriction as it pushes my eyelid further down than usual meaning my distance vision was still double, so I only left my patch off when I was sitting down and not moving about constantly changing the field of view.  This worked well and I was able to start at 30 mins without the patch and gradually increase it as tolerated.  My eye was always the guide in this experiment as it had a definite limit, at which point it would ache badly, my vision would begin to double again and I experienced shooting pains behind and around the eye – time for the patch to go back on.

I continued with this approach over weeks and gradually began making my breakfast without the patch, walking from room to room, slowly getting the eye used to changing fields.  It was a slow start but I persisted, convinced this was the way to ‘get off the patch’.  I have continued to do this, experimenting with different activities and was able to add in an hour at night, watching TV.  I felt nauseas constantly in the first few weeks and there were definitely days when the nausea had me re-patching before any eye pain.

I gradually increased the number of hours each day when I could go without the patch and my eye was getting stronger and stronger.  The swelling at the side of my head (below the temple) also finally began to reduce.

Last Sunday, I decided I’d had enough of wearing the patch and went my first full day without it.  The only time I experienced difficulty was the following day, in a taxi returning from a physio appointment.  I could see out the windscreen and found myself becoming extremely nauseas.  I realised I was having difficulty looking into the distance and spent the rest of the trip looking at my hands in my lap, to avoid vomiting in the taxi.  I refuse to do that sober.

Long story but I have now gone three and a half days without the patch and largely, am managing fine.  The eye still fatigues in the evening and if I stay up too late, my vision begins to deteriorate but this, I am sure, will also improve with time.  Friday morning will see me attending my eye review with the hospital Ophthalmologist.  I will walk in there without the patch; hopefully, I won’t walk into anything or throw up.

Gift of Superpowers

Last week a small, flat parcel arrived at the house.  It had my name on it and being a lover of parcels, I tore into it excitedly.  Inside was a note from my friend, Miss A and a gift, a gift I could never have imagined receiving – my very own super-hero cape.  The note explained how my friend has been making capes for sick kids.  A worthwhile program supporting kids as they go through treatment and recovery from illness or injury.  I’d never heard of it but think it is a lovely idea.  My dear friend thought that having my own cape might help me remember that I “am strong, brave, committed, patient, mindful and loveable.”  I started to cry just now whilst reading that again. The idea of the cape is to remind those of us wearing them, that we are more than our illness or injury and are strong enough to win through the pain to recovery.  What a marvelous gift!

I had to put it on straight away. Pulling it free of its wrappings, I laughed delightedly, seeing it was a beautiful purple (my favourite colour) and had an enormous ‘V’ stitched onto the back.  Putting it around my neck, my hands shook with excitement as I secured the velcro clasp at my throat. Infused by laughter and excitement, I began to twirl around, getting air beneath the cape, lifting it into the air, I ran (or rather slid upon the tiles in my socks) around the house, my mum looking on with amusement and concern.  My spirits were lifted so, that it indeed, seemed to have tapped super powers within me.

Super V's New Cape

Later that day, when Jason arrived home from work, I disappeared into the corridor hurriedly pulling the cape around my shoulders as my mum told him there was something I wanted to show him. Peeking around the corner to be sure he was watching, I leapt into the dining room and took off running around the table with my back towards him, so he could see the whole cape, then took off into the lounge room with my arms extended in mock super hero flight, followed by his joking suggestion that I was an idiot. As I turned, I told him he was jealous and ran as fast as I could manage back to the dining room, holding the cape out as I ‘flew’ around the table and out of the room, having generated enough speed and air flow to hold the cape out, trailing in the wind as I disappeared from view.

Jase was suitably amused by the performance and told me as I returned, panting from the exertion; I should do that five times a day to build my fitness.  I’ve got a super powers cape, I think to myself, why do I need to exercise?

Super V

The cape is displayed proudly, on the back of a chair in the dining room and whenever my gaze falls upon it, I smile and think fondly of both my friend and the silliness wearing it, brings out in me.  It is a treasured possession now and I do wear it around the house, whenever I feel flat or particularly tired.  It makes me feel better.  Stronger.  Loved and supported.  Super!

Thanks Miss A xx

Thanks Miss A xx

Ode (Owed) To Mothers

My mum returned home yesterday after a ten day visit to help out.  Apart from needing a reprieve from Melbourne’s winter, I sensed mum needed to see me and how well Jason and I are managing.  That is not to say that having her here was not helpful, quite the contrary.

So, mum, thank you for:

Every dish washed and put away,

Every meal cooked and served or frozen,

Every cuppa made and shared,

Every conversation distracting me from my discomfort,

Every hug of reassurance,

Every joke and laugh shared.

Thanks for being the sous chef and stepping in when grand meal delusions overcame me.  (I’m sorry Jamie Oliver but your ‘15 minute meals’ still take me an hour.)

Thanks for bringing me so many wonderful supplies for card making and scrapbooking, despite their weight.  I’m glad your suitcase was lighter on the way home even with that full bottle of tequila wrapped in your raincoat.

It was marvelous to have someone nearby who understands the impact of dizziness, vertigo and the related symptoms and consequences.  It was great to have someone around who understands that if whilst walking, I let my hand trail outward periodically touching the wall or objects beside me, I am having a bad dizziness day and need to ensure I am not going to fall over or walk into anything.  Walls are very unforgiving, they insist on leaving bruises.

So while yes, we had you come stay to give you respite from a harsh winter down south, and to reassure you that I really am healing well, you still contributed a lot whilst here and we are grateful.

Thanks mum.

Specialist Review

Sitting in a tiny consult room in a dingy corner of the Outpatient’s Clinic at the Alice Springs Hospital, I tell my surgeon it’s nice to see her without having to catch a plane and fly interstate.  She smiles.  “How are you coming along?” “Good,” I say.  I know she is itching to look at the scar so I pull back my hair at the fringe and side and let her examine her handy work.  Content it is healing well, she returns to her seat.  I neglect to tell her that I keep catching the scab at the top of the incision with my comb (yes, the same way I pulled out a stitch).  Before she can change the subject, I make a point of thanking her for such a neat incision.  She shrugs this compliment off.  I imagine doing neat incisions is the easiest thing in the world for a neurosurgeon.  I then tell her the nurses were very impressed and constantly marveled at how much hair she saved (as opposed to shaved).   It appears she didn’t anticipate this comment and smiles whilst looking a little bashful.

We chat about headaches, swelling, and pain medications.  She reassures me that the headaches will continue to improve as will the swelling, although she does stop to have a gently poke at the side of my face where the puffiness is most obvious.  I tell her I have returned to icing it, which should help, and after a two night trial of sleeping flat and an associated increase in pain and swelling, have returned to sleeping upright.

I wonder then how long it will take for her to mention the ‘elephant in the room’, the patch over my right eye.

In hospital, Dr. Harding was vehement that my surgery was textbook with no complications (which it was).  However, she eventually acknowledged that it was possible that my post-stroke symptoms would be exacerbated by the surgery; but was steadfast in her position that she hadn’t caused the vision problem with which I woke from surgery.  As an aside, she also didn’t think my blood pressure reaching 165/107 (stage two hypertension) was an issue and lectured me as to the un-likelihood of any problems resulting from it; that was until I reminded her that I had a stroke at 36 and all the doctors then had told me that wasn’t supposed to happen either. My blood pressure was spiking due to ineffectual pain management and amazingly it returned to normal once I had morphine on board!

Returning to this week’s consult and I decide to broach the topic myself asking if she received a letter from the Ophthalmologist I saw whilst in the rehab ward.  She had and the look on her face told me she wasn’t convinced. I then explained I had seen the eye doc a second time and she felt it was likely the swelling around my eye and surgical site causing the problem as it was unlikely my surgeon had damaged all the nerves of my eye – which were all testing poorly.

Dr. Harding was very certain as she told me she didn’t go anywhere near the cranial nerve during surgery, so surgery had not directly caused any visual issues.  I told her that was good to hear because it confirmed the likely cause as postoperative swelling, that would eventually, slowly resolve and with it, my vision.  I reassured her that I had no desire to wear an eye patch any longer than necessary and we both left it at that.

I asked about the Cerebral Angiogram she had said I would need within a few months of surgery and here I received another piece of good news. As my in-surgery angiogram showed everything was exactly as it should be post-clipping with no bleeds whatsoever, I won’t need to have another done until the end of the year.  It is her preference that I fully recover from the craniotomy before she subjects me (and my brain) to anymore intrusive tests.  That is fine with me!

Dr. Harding then scribbled a quick note for the administration staff, to have me scheduled to see her on her next visit to Alice, near the end of the year, smiled, wished me well for my recovery and showed me out the door.  I think I was with her for all of five minutes but that’s probably good, demonstrating that I am doing well in my recovery.

Liberation – Walking

Yesterday I ventured out on my first un-escorted walk. This felt significant. As I donned my shoes and cap, my mum watched on with a look of concern. To be fair, it’s the expression she usually has, when looking at me. Someone please tell her I’m joking or I’ll be in trouble.

I reassured her by saying I’d have my phone with me and would call if I ran into trouble, to which she replied “I’ll scuttle to the rescue in my fluffy purple slippers.”

“Wonderful”, I think I said and left before the mental image forming in my mind could become any more vivid.

Fluffy Slippers

Slippers

Jason had suggested a walking route he believed would pose the least problems for me and as I approached the end of the driveway, a small rebellious voice bubbled up inside, discarding his advice, saying I’d be fine walking through the neighbourhood as we had been doing (just as long as I avoided the blood hungry pooch!).

I stood at the threshold of the drive where it meets the road and surveyed the quiet street we live upon. As if in conspiracy with my husband, there seemed to be rather a lot of activity. To my right there were tradespeople working on a neighbour’s home, whilst further down the street a large truck with a cherry-picker was holder workers in place as they chopped down sections of a large tree overhanging the footpath, to the left the mail man was riding his motorbike in the course of his work and to top it off a bloody neighbor was driving up to their house. Seriously! Our normally quiet street seemed overly busy to my brain and I knew walking past and around all these hazards with limited vision was too much for me to manage on my first walk alone. I sighed and turned toward the sensible route Jason had suggested and tried to pretend he wasn’t right. What can I say – stubbornness rears up at the dumbest times!

As I walked over some unsteady ground I took a moment to remind myself of the deficits I needed to be aware of and the ways in which I could compensate for them. Examples of this internal dialogue include the following: walking on uneven ground, lift my feet higher to prevent tripping on something if I have misjudged its height. Again, walking on uneven ground, concentrate when putting feet down, so I can use my muscles to compensate for any unseen dips in the ground.

Approaching the curb of the main road I paused to ensure I was being safe. I turned my head and body to the right to see fully what traffic may be coming or pulling out, and the same again to the left. I could see what might have been a car coming and consciously listened to get a sense of how far away it was and its approximate speed (running is not an option for me at the moment).  As I listened oh so carefully, a plane on approach to the airport flew over rendering my ‘active listening’  pointless.  Once the plane was gone, I began the whole checking for traffic thing again. At this rate, I thought I might get home in time for breakfast the following day. Eventually I made it over the road and began my walk. The MacDonnell Ranges looming over the few houses nearby, the azure sky and lovely warm sunshine doing wonders for my mental state. A chill breeze reminded me it is winter but I did not mind it as it refreshed me.

Mac Ranges Looming

Mac Ranges

I walk, slower than I have recently, a few days off and a very bad pain day the previous day seems to have left me a little weaker. My hip and leg fatigue quickly, dictating how far away from home I go but still I enjoy the walk, being out in the sun and fresh air, being yelled at by birds protectively parenting over their young hatchlings.  Other birds sing from the grasses and trees lining the street. I love this place. It restores me.  I am grateful to live somewhere this beautiful.

MacDonnell Ranges

MacDonnell Ranges

I turn earlier than I thought I would need to and amble back towards home. I told mum I would be about 20 minutes and check my phone for the time, not wanting to worry her. As it turns out, I arrive home without incident at the promised time. I am pleased to note that I am not tired when finished. I walked 1.5Kms and that’s ok.

Mum greets me at the door, “Right on time, how did you go?” I tell her it was fine and I managed without incident. I note she has dressed since I left, as she continues, “Oh good, I didn’t have to be the Purple Flash then.” I note her purple top and similarly hued pants. The thought of needing to be rescued by my 75-year-old mother is not my happiest but I appreciate the back up.

Yesterday I went for a walk, alone, for the first time in six and half weeks. It felt significant because it was. It was liberating but also reminded me of what I am working with.

Tears of Fire

I was watching a touching story on TV this afternoon about a couple, running an animal sanctuary in Tasmania and how they rescue animals and care for them voluntarily, when the story turned to the terminal cancer diagnosis the woman had received.  It got pretty sad after that and I welled up.  As the first few tears fell to my cheeks, searing pain exploded in my right eye, the intensity, startling and severe enough to stop my crying, instantly.  It felt as though a piece of wire, glowing red from being heated was threaded into my tear duct and moved around behind my eye-ball.  Holy hell did it hurt!

I guess I should say that no, I’ve never been tortured by having super heated wire poked in my eye, but damn it, that’s the best way I can think to describe what I felt.

Something else to mention to the surgeon this week – unless anyone reading this is an eye doctor willing to throw out some free advice.  Just asking…

Rehab Challenge Three

Find a deck of playing cards and shuffle them.   Swap the deck to your other hand and shuffle them again.  Unless you are ambidextrous, this may pose some difficulty.  Persist.  To help, swap back to your natural way of holding the cards and watch how your fingers move, apply and release pressure whilst shuffling the cards.  Swap hands and try shuffling again, it should get easier the more you practice.

In rehab, I constantly have to undertake activities with my left (non-dominant hand) as it’s affected by the stroke and my post brain surgery weakness.  The goal after stroke is to regain strength followed by controlled movement.  Having regained strength in my hand, I now need practice activities without focussing so much on my hand’s functioning (as my brain insists on telling my fingers to over-grip, making many activities impossibly).  By focussing on activities rather than hand function, I effectively trick my brain into not sending the over-grip signal because it is distracted; hence the second part of the challenge.

Next, deal the cards out and play a couple of rounds of Solitaire or any other single player game, using your non-dominate hand to deal and turn over cards.

If you want to continue the experiment of using non-dominant limbs, you will find your grooming routine holds numerous opportunities.  I would however caution you from starting with brushing your teeth with your non-dominant hand as toothpaste in the eye, stings, a lot.

To Market, To Market

Saturday night I asked Jason if we could go to the markets on Sunday (I can’t drive or navigate new places solo yet). He said if I was feeling up to it, we could. Sunday morning I confirmed I still wanted to go.  For most of the year in Alice Springs, a market is held each fortnight in the Todd Mall. It’s a lovely market and I enjoy going and seeing all the pretty things for sale, mingling with the crowd, sometimes buying a coffee, sitting on the grass out front of the church, alongside the Aboriginal ladies with paintings to sell and watching the world go by.  I usually go alone or with a friend, as Jason isn’t much of a market person. Despite this, he agrees to take me.

I am happy at the thought of getting out of the house and change into jeans and a warm top, stopping to even put on some earrings, a bracelet and a pretty blue scarf.  I’m dressed and I thought ready to go, but as I gather my wallet and things, I slow, my feet dragging in response to some unknown anxiety.  I stop in the kitchen, hands on the cold bench top, taking big slow breaths.  Jason gives me the hurry up signal and I apologise telling him I’m feeling anxious.  He tells me he knows why I’m procrastinating and reminds me this was something I wanted to do and was excited about, “So get your bag and let’s get going.”  I realise this may sound a tad harsh but pre-outing nerves are not new in our home and he knows how to spot them in me.  By telling me what to do next, he gets me moving, forward towards that which makes me anxious, knowing that generally, once I arrive at our destination, I am fine.  This day I think I am anxious about being in a busy, changing environment and around crowds.  I wonder how I will manage, being effectively blind in one eye, and still a little unsteady on my feet.  Nonetheless, off we go!

As we approach the mall from the car, I spend the first few minutes just taking in my surroundings, the noise, the people, the colours, the music, the stalls and all the associated conversations. “Okay, I think to myself, it’s not overwhelmingly loud, I can mange this.”   As we begin navigating people, pets and stalls, I realise there are two other factors I need to consider, lighting and ground surfaces; both are highly changeable depending on where one steps.  The sun, whilst delightfully warm, blinds me completely and I stop and start attempting to clear my vision before moving forward, my hands reaching out hesitantly, feeling to ensure I don’t walk into anything.  I am also unsteady on rough surfaces, in addition to difficulty with depth perception, so the ground in the mall, with its curbs, steps, tiles and changing surfaces serve to challenge me with every step.  At times, my sole focus is on not tripping or falling over.  I’m sure anyone could understand why the thought of falling and hitting my head, fills me with cold dread.  I am however a believer of the ‘prophecy of self-fulfilment’ in that if we focus long enough upon an outcome, we can generally find a way of causing said outcome.

I take a few quiet moments to quell my anxiety and remind myself that I know the mall well and love this market. Jason will help by holding my right hand and making sure I don’t walk into anything I can’t see on that side.  I grip his hand and ask him to hold on a little tighter than usual as it feels more secure and we head out.  Jason sees a stall selling African hot sauces and can’t resist trying some.

African Hot Sauces

Hot Sauces

We steer towards the stall and both miss the step down off a curb.  As we land heavily, Jason laughs and apologises for not seeing that one. “Some bloody seeing-eye dog you’d make.” I reply.  We’re okay though and that bolsters my confidence in navigating this ridiculously busy place (Alice standards of busy apply).

Slowly as we wander the street going stall to stall, I relax, even pulling away from Jason at one point to explore a stall where I thought I saw craft kits on display, only realising once my curiosity had been sated, that I had lost him.  I look for him with increasing alarm.  Where the hell could he be?  I look more slowly this time, and see him buying food two stalls down on the other side.  Not sure that he knows where I am, I head off, looking from left to right, carefully manoeuvring around the people between us, which is thankfully only a few. I reach his side and accuse him of abandoning me, to which he reminds me, it was I who ditched him. I guess I felt braver…when I see something I might like to buy.  Who knew retail therapy could cure anxiety?

Hubby Helper

Hubby Helper

Coffee, Doughnuts & Sunshine

Coffee, Doughnuts & Sunshine

We proceed and I get a coffee whilst Jason buys me a bag (a whole bag!) of steaming hot cinnamon doughnuts and we find a seat in the sun. I feel happy to be outside, in the sun, with Jason, having conquered my fears and eventually relaxing enough to enjoy this outing.  We bump into a few familiar faces whilst here and they all express surprise to see me out and about so soon after surgery.

Yeah, I guess I am doing pretty well at the 5-week mark. I think I will excuse myself for having some anxiety.  I’m doing great and I love Jason even more for hustling me out the door to go do the things that bring me both opportunity and joy.

Day 33 Post Op Observations

  • We’ve been home one week today.
  • Yesterday was the first day since surgery that I didn’t need to take a daytime nap!
  • Too much reading or any activity requiring prolonged focussed use of my eyes results in nausea and vomiting.
  • I have increased the length of my daily walk this week without difficulty.
  • It is much harder for me to get motivated to exercise when it is cold as opposed to when it is hot.
  • My sugar habit continues unabated.
  • My left arm is swinging slightly more when I walk but I still need to tell it to do so.  I do this silently, I add, for the benefit of anyone picturing me talking out loud to my arm as though it were an entity unto itself.
  • Jason continues to be remarkable in taking care of me, the house, the meals, all whilst working half days.
  • I like having dinner made for me.  Who knew?!
  • My use of pain medication has lessened a little.
  • My head and face continue to swell.
  • Most of the stitches have now come off.
  • I’ve learnt I need to exercise care when selecting clothing.  It’s important after brain surgery to choose tops with wide neck openings or that button up.  You don’t want to end up with a top that is too tight being stuck on your head as you attempt (weakly) to get it off, all the while whimpering in pain because it’s pressing on your scar.  Yes, that did happen!
  • Head torches are also out.  We had a power outage last night…

They say you learn a new thing every day.