My Brain

Happy Brain Surgery Anniversary to Me

April 6th, 2018. It was the Cleveland Indians’ home opener. I was at University Hospital having an opener of my own. Brain surgery.

Kumquats: Joanna Kosinska

A year later the skin on my head is still tight. I often run my fingers along the dents in my skull. They can’t be seen because my superhero surgeon managed to extract a kumquat-sized tumor without shaving my hair. My jog pace is three minutes slower and hurts worse. I mess up numbers and dates with freakish consistency (just ask my students). But thank you, God. I can write. And teach. And hug. And walk. I can have coffee with my grown daughters, watch my son graduate high school, watch my teenager swim. I live with a new perspective: life isn’t forever. Don’t waste.

Carpe diem, we’re told. Seize the day. I am a Jedi-Master at day-seizing. I climb volcanos. I sled head-first and backward. I slide down the hot metal handrail in swanky pools. I dance the Stanky Leg stone sober and the YMCA without regard for which way the “C” goes. I rock the high dive, the low dive, and any balcony or roof within ten feet of a pool.

Professional day-seizer, right? Au contraire mon frère. That is thrill seeking. To carpe diem is to hug tightly, to look someone square in the eyes, to hold hands like they’re welded together. To carpe diem is to write love letters, make meatloaf, be interruptable, do dishes, leave the dishes, serve a meal, smile, cry, all of it without vanity.

When things go south—not just hiccup south, but kamikaze-nose-dive south—God takes over. It’s magnificent.

But first comes poverty. Blessed are the poor in spirit. I remember going to church and wanting to stop my ears at the upbeat worship songs. I wanted to scream, I had this piano dropped on me! Why are we all singing like it’s standard ops? Where are the thunderclouds? Where is Mozart’s Requiem? I could not sing. Those words weren’t for me. Are you kidding me? Poor? I was destitute in my spirit.

We think we deserve a smooth road. We pray for asphalt, lay down good habits and programs to assure a wrinkle-free trip; we buy apps, sign up for accountability groups. Sometimes we sin for a toll road. And when a root trips us or a bridge is out—don’t we just howl in indignation? How could you, God? How DARE you! Fact is, the Awful with-a-capital-A moment has to come in order for the After to come. Like Jesus. His Awful was the cross. We live in his After. I’m glad he went through with it. He had a choice.

When you know something is very wrong with you, but you don’t know exactly what, or you can’t fix it with diet and exercise…you are meek. You’re at the mercy of your broken body, of doctors, nurses, health insurance policies, lab techs, maintenance personnel (did they sanitize the instruments?), high-tech computers, the unbroken flow of electricity during your surgery. You feel at the mercy of gobs of stuff. But that’s a lie. You’re at the mercy of only one thing: God.

There are no promises of healing. Only: blessed are the meek. This I experienced. I am blessed by the fact that my brain surgery was a success, but even beforehand I was blessed by the way I felt…held is the best word for it. Not alone. Not forsaken. Not punished. I was exactly where God wanted me to be. For other people, the place to be was the baseball home opener. I cannot compare myself to others. Do you think it’s possible I wasn’t jealous of those hotdog-eating fans with their perfect health? I wasn’t. That was my miracle.

In the face of no guarantees, here is my takeaway:

Love.

Love however it looks for you. Maybe it means speaking up. Or shutting up. Love can be as easy as smiling at a stranger. But it’s more fun when it’s kissing my husband. Bob taught me what love under duress looks like. The mention of 2018 gives him the willies, but I have fond memories of his arm around me, his hand in mine, his Oscar-worthy declarations of you’ll-be-fine. And he was right. Ever the optimist is my husband. He’s trying to get me to see things that way. It’s less painful to be an optimist. But see, Bob would have said, “It’s more pleasant to be an optimist.” I still have halfway to go. 😉

Today I’m doing something I’ve always wanted to try. (It’s scary and exciting and entirely legal.) What is it, you ask? I’ll let you know if I actually go through with it.

Cheers! And happy brain surgery anniversary to me.

 

 

 

 

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21 thoughts on “Happy Brain Surgery Anniversary to Me”

  1. Beautiful piece, beautiful woman.
    I think I have an inkling. My body is deteriorating, my mind even faster. Anguish, pain, fear in body, mind, spirit. How do I cope? Love. laughter, writing.
    Stay well.

  2. Glad things are mostly okay for you. My wife and I are going through something similar. We just ride the waves up and down.

  3. A new anniversary to celebrate…and indeed it is worthy of celebration as you count the gains and not the losses. Praise God for His lovingkindness so evident in your life. May your day (and upcoming year) be filled with looking fear square in the face, fully confident of God’s “bigness” to help you step boldly into those places that you always wanted to tread but were afraid to go. He is with you every step of the way. Cheering for your victory today.

  4. I guess that you’re going sky-diving. 🙂

    I’m so very glad that you are alive and well, and more especially glad that you’ve shared all this. My perspective could use more meekness.

  5. Kelly such an amazing testimony you have. You are a walking miracle, and such an encouragement to each one of us. You should publish this, the world needs to hear your story!

  6. lol I wasn’t done with that comment! My PC had other thoughts. Anyway, it was going to be this, “Cheers! And I hope you do whatever it is you might go through with. You deserve it. Whatever it is.”

  7. Fantastic! I can’t wait to see how you celebrated your one-year anniversary. As a lovely friend of mine says, a blessing on your head. And I mean that for you in all the ways here. Hope you had a love-filled weekend!

  8. Yes indeed, congratulations on your anniversary. May our Lord bless you with many more years of healthy life to enjoy your children, grandchildren… and even those great-grandchildren whose names our Lord already knows.

  9. So, this is a super late comment because I’m finally cleaning out my inbox. I love that your take away is to love. How easy it is for me to get caught up in the things that don’t matter. Thanks for the reminder to remember what matters.

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