Anyone who has kept up with this blog regularly knows that my life is in a perpetual countdown mode. A countdown to surgery, a countdown to recovery, waiting for appointments, counting how many hearing tests, counting how many MRIs, counting stitches, counting inches of the scar, counting hours until my next pain killer dose, counting the amount of money I have spent in some kind of lame attempt to address my anger, counting, counting, counting. It’s easy to countdown, as a perpetual student, I am always counting, from the first day of the semester, this past Monday, I counted the number of weeks left, one down 15 to go. I counted the number of weeks I would have to write essays, I counted the number of pages I would write, the pages I would read. Count, count count. It adds order to things, it adds structure to a life that can be horribly messy and unstructured. It makes it manageable. If I can count it I can do it right? It’s the future that I am afraid of, how do you count down to the unknown?
I can countdown to May when I’ll get my 6 month MRI. I can countdown to December when I’ll get my one year MRI, but the thing is, the results are unknown. How will I know what to prepare for? At least when I knew Herbert was just hanging out in my head, I could control him, I had him right where I wanted him (or more accurately where I never wanted him but at least I knew he was up to no good). Now? I don’t know if he is growing, swelling, shrinking, sitting, standing, lunging. What the heck is he doing in there? The other night I squealed out to Jason, “Something is happening to my face!” He grumbled something, I have no idea, my good ear was pushed against one of my homemade decorative pillows, thus muffling his voice and making him sound like that muppet, Beaker.It felt like there were Rice Krispies in my face, all over my face, and in my head, on the right side, and apparently Herbert was hungry (fatass) and was pouring milk all over them and you know… Snap, crackle, pop! It was a strange sensation and one that I didn’t quite understand. It made me realize, I can’t count that, it doesn’t fit in anywhere. It makes no sense. It might happen again, it might not, I can count that it has happened one time, but what good does that do me? So I count other things, real life things – because after all, Herbert is fake life, part of some weird joke on behalf of the universe, well HAHA Herbert, who is laughing now?!?!!?
I count my age. 27. Closer to 30 than to 20. I count the years I’ve been in phd school, almost 2. I count the time in my relationship, 5 of his birthdays, 6 of mine, 5 Christmases, 5 Thanksgivings, 3 accidents, countless moments of laughter, countless. Drat, I lost count again. So I count other things, my weight, no comment. My desired weight, no comment. My stuff, too much too count. My friends, too many to count. My family, too bountiful to count. Shit, I lost count of what I was counting. I keep trying to quantify everything, so that somehow, when reduced to facts and figures it stops being hard. It stops hurting, it stops being so consuming. There have been moments, where I stop. I stop thinking, I stop acting like I’m fine and I just be and I forget. I forget my battle with the notion of disability. I forget that I had brain surgery. I see myself as a stranger on the street would, just another frizzy haired girl that has lost her will to comb her hair. So they don’t know why, who cares? I forgot why. I engage with my reading, my work (though I am in a slow crawl back into school and work) and I forget that I even matter in the large context of women, violence and the world. I forget. I think my bad memory is my savior, oh but my conscience, she’s a bitch. She dives in when I need to forget most. She dives in and reminds me, consumes me, and I am pretty sure she gets together with Herbert and they take turns practicing drum solos. Because there is a lot of pounding in my head. My conscience, she kicks in as I am becoming complacent, getting too comfortable, she prevents me from bounding out of my chair and bouncing my head around. She tells me that I must keep count so I acn stay grateful, so I can stay strong, so I can survive the worst. So I count. The time until my papers are due 15 weeks. The time until my mom’s birthday, 1 day. The episodes of Downton Abbey I have yet to watch 0. The counting lulls me back into my forgetfulness. Then, just as Lady Mary Crawley walks down the aisle to her wedding, that bitch in my head wakes up and says, HEY! Don’t be complacent! Be grateful, go live! Make things happen. So I stop counting and I sob (just momentarily) then I stand, I shake it off and with all the old English flair of my new favorite TV show, I set out to make my life everything I know it can be. I stop counting. Because who knows what will interrupt my count next time. Once upon a time it was Herbert, it may be him again. It may be grief, it may be joy. But I can’t count on it. So I seek to release the little things, the things that throw my into an angry rage but don’t make me any better. I seek to be grateful, to embrace the opportunity to live in a world of beautiful unknowns. I try to stop counting. I try to just be.
That being said, I’m 4 weeks after surgery, 2 weeks until I can work out, 2 weeks to my hearing test, 2 weeks until…. Oh crap, I’m doing it again. Letting go of control, relinquishing yourself to the fates set forth by the universe, it’s not easy, but I can promise you and myself, it will be worth it, if and only if, we can make the most of what we’re handed.
I’ve been back in school for just a matter of days (but whose counting??) and though I struggled through heartache, exhaustion, frustration and anger in this first week at the ignorance of others and at the inability for my body to keep pace, I’m still here. I’m doing this, all of this, and I’m going to enjoy it, no matter what this may be.
Peace and Love –