So you all know by now that it has been about a month since I found out about my new normal, my uninvited guest, my ole pal Herbert. In the last month I’ve gone through a variety of emotional states, probably enough to last a lifetime and I feel like it may be helpful to put some of them here. Perhaps to get them off my chest, perhaps because they might be relateable. Perhaps because I am procrastinating.
I was never the kid to go out and party. I always chalked it up to self-respect, high personal standards or a lack of interest. Really it was always an intense fear of getting in trouble. Things already seem to go wrong at every turn, I am always messing up, then to add alcohol? The few times I did I felt kind of blah.. Anyway, this brush with Herbert (asshole!) has made me wonder if I somehow missed out. This lack of reckless behavior, has it gotten me ahead? Why not do drugs if your body is going to betray you at every turn anyway? But then, suddenly I realized that I haven’t missed anything. I am smart, I am committed, I am doing things right. I think. I am though, right?
Of course there was this awful moment, of why do all this smart eating, smart working out, smart learning, it seemed like a waste of time. How can I be the person to have walked a straight line and have this happen to me. Most of my “why me” moments have passed but I still fall into that space every once in a while. Self doubt creeps in, just as it does as every doctor asks me what my treatment choice is. Do I follow my gut or do I listen to what they say? Do I hurry up and treat this or do I wait? Do I cut and run because it’s hard or do I stick it out? How I can really run from my own brain, I am not sure – but the heart can hide from anything.
When I am not in hiding, I am researching. Desperately, hopelessly looking for the perfect answer. I am trying to find the person who says, I did this, I had no side effects, and life is hunky dory. Unfortunately it looks like life is not hunky dory. It is okay, it is adjustable, but there is no easy path on this portion of my life journey. I haven’t found the perfection I am looking for. The doctors tell me to temper my expectations, to be prepared for the worst and hope for the best. I’ve always lived like that, I’ve always been a worst case scenario thinker. I’m the one always looking for the quick escape in case of a fire. I’m good at bad. I am calm in crisis. I am excellent at grief. What a skill set, eh? I haven’t found my right answer and when I am feeling dizzy (like today) and my whole head is tingling the way my feet do when they fall asleep (like today) and the pressure in my ears is so heavy I think my ear might actually pop off (like today) I recognize that I have to adjust. I have to say that this is normal and this is ok. I have to say that I can do this. I have to debate my own demons and I have to win. I have to throw this pity party and then get over it. While I haven’t found any answers that meet my incredibly type A standards, I have found new friends, support in places I would have never expected and been given strength by the people I never expected it from. I have seen generosity and I have seen withdrawal, and I have seen that lots of you guys love me even if you are not willing to say it and that means something.
That being said there have been things that I feel like just rub it in. In class last week we read about neurological receptors and understanding of visuals. We looked at a multitude of diagrams of the brain – RUDE. Then in another class we read about biological determinism, health science – why are women more prone to certain diseases? Hell, I got no answers but I did find that women are twice as likely to have acoustic neuromas. Thanks gender. The worst of it? Apple. Yes, Apple, and their stupid new iPhone, with its stupid new ergonomic headphones that fit into all the stupid ears that can hear all that stupid content. (Whatever, I want that phone but not for the stupid headphones.) Being that I LOVE TV, it is almost always on in the background, my companion that doesn’t talk back and it it does I can change what they are saying with the click of the button. But lately, no matter what I am watching, I feel like I am being attacked by functional ears. Weird, curly, freaky, cartiledgy ears. Like this one:
Everytime I see this commercial I think DAMMIT I hate you weird looking ears! But then my left ear is like “Hey! I can still hear over here, I want those headphones.” And I just want my inner monologue to SHUT UP! Suck it left ear – it’s not about you right now.
While I seem to think that the world and the universe is just rubbing everything in I recognize that much of this is all on me. The world is what we make of it after all. Some days I am better than others. The days where I am poring over doctor reports on surgery outcomes versus radiation outcomes can get me down. Other days I get a call from the doctor who is allegedly the best in the world and I count that as a victory. (YAY! Phoenix here I come!) Feeling genuinely happy for the first time in a long time. Other days I just try to remember myself, who I am, what I stand for and I hold on to it. I am lucky because I have people that love me that help me remember who I am. My family, my friends, my students. When I am with Jason the whole world melts away and it is just us. I can forget my problems and learn and grow with him like we’ve always done. I am so grateful for those moments.
Then there are nights like last night. Where fear creeps in and I am afraid to close my eyes. Where images of ears and deafness and loneliness creep in, where reality sets in, life sets in. And not the kind of loneliness any one can cure, it’s a loneliness that seeks isolation. It’s not just life with Herbert, but a manifestation of a life with no control, a life without givens. A life with no absolutes. I don’t want to be around anyone in these moments so I watch shows and familiar movies. I am afraid to be alone with my own thoughts. I am afraid to succumb to what my mind and body think or know intuitively, so I stay awake. It is in these moments that I trace the word laugh with my fingers. I cannot tell jokes, I can not be the jester in my own life when I am all alone late at night so I laugh at mindless comedy. I am too tired to work by that time of night so I just watch, laugh and force my eyes open. At some point I lose this game and my eyes close tight and morning interrupts my dreams. Then I wake up, struggle through the day and give up my caffeine in moderation motto and suck down espresso like it is my job. In the light of day the fears the night brings seem ridiculous and Apple rubbing in my pain seems like such a joke, but in the night, the reality is there and I have to confront myself, on all fronts. I have to try to reconcile the girl who wants that new phone so bad with the one that doesn’t understand anything around her at all.
Peace and love – Samira