Imagine that three months ago you got a sudden, constant, demanding headache — right at the time you’d convinced yourself that life was about to get a whole lot better. Imagine then that within a week you knew that cancer had returned to where it had metastasized to your brain, and within two weeks you were pretty sure you were facing brain surgery.
Nearly three months later you still await surgery.
You don’t go out alone. In fact, you only go out now when your soulmate takes you somewhere. It’s tiring to go places so you avoid it. You haven’t driven your car in three months.
The world blurs. You don’t wear your contact lenses unless you go out, because the shape of your eyes feels like it has changed from the pressure and swelling in your brain from tumors, and the lenses feel strange. Your glasses are from 2007 (an ancient prescription by now) and they don’t feel right either. You like the blur. You feel safe in the blur.
Life feels like it’s in slow motion. You like this sensation. Days stretch so long now because your awareness remains primarily in Now.
You sleep a lot. Morning begins for you after 10am, when your soulmate wakes you. He sits on the edge of the bed and holds your hand and speaks to you gently. He has been up for hours already. He gets things for you: pills, coffee for enema. He does almost everything for you.
Here is what you insist on doing yourself: cooking your breakfast; doing the dishes; most of the juicing; personal laundry. You tell yourself will have to feel much much worse to stop doing these things. To stop would be giving in, giving up.
There are a lot of pills. Seven times a day, in various combinations ranging from 8-10 pills to more than 30 at a time. The thought of all these pills nauseates you but you take them anyway, except for the occasional times you feel rebellious and skip some. You are afraid to give in to your rebellion very often, so you don’t.
You eat the same few things all the time. You are trying hard to win health back for your body, so for the time being you honor these severe restrictions. You don’t let yourself think anymore about the things you cannot eat. What’s the point?
You’ve been juicing, drinking on average 64 oz of fresh vegetable juice every day, for two and a half years. You don’t know when or if you will ever stop. You’ve mastered the art of drinking the juice quickly without tasting it.
Days are short but so long. Three coffee enemas, juicing, hot baths for synergistic healing, eating and taking pills take up most of your day. The rest of the time you sit next to the cat.
The world seems so close and yet far and surreal. You read headlines on your iPhone. Reading is hard now but you do it anyway. You often don’t understand what you read, even simple things, but you’ve decided this doesn’t bother you. Instead it opens you to curiosity. You don’t understand something so you begin to ask questions. The world seems so interesting.
Words were once your main interface with the world, but now the words don’t come easily. Every few days you write a Facebook status update on your iPhone because people care and want to know what is happening with you and you can’t yet let go of writing. It takes you 2-3 hours of pecking with your right middle finger to write a post. Everything has slowed down. Your middle finger pecks at the same rate your brain makes words now. You peck and peck and there’s a post. Magic.
Memory is a strange thing. You often don’t remember something said to you an hour ago. You can’t remember yesterday unless something significant happened. There are whole years of your past that barely exist anymore. You have begun to suspect that you are re-creating your life. If you make new past memories, you’ll change who you are in the future.
Little things bother you now. You’ve become extra sensitive to stimulation. Noises, especially, all kinds of noises. People, in groups. Many kinds of touch. You wonder whether this new ultra sensitivity will ever fade. You judge yourself for it (are you making this up? to avoid people?) and feel ashamed. You think things should not bother you this much.
You feel slightly drugged all the time. You don’t know whether this is your brain or medications. You do not mind the feeling. It adds to the blur of the world.
There are things that you miss doing but you don’t let yourself think about them often. Painting. Dancing. Yoga. Sometimes you tell yourself that if you really loved those things you would do them, and then you think don’t be silly of course you’re too tired because you have a fucking brain tumor that could kill you and you deserve a rest.
It’s like an alien has taken up residence in your brain.
Nighttime is the best. It’s quiet and dark. Lights off, you watch part of a Netflix movie on your iPad, snuggled up under a fluffy white duvet in your bed. You arrange pillows around you and feel warm and safe.
You reflect on how this brain tumor experience has changed you. You like the changes and want most of them to stay. You feel peaceful. You feel connected to the world despite your inability to participate in it the way you are accustomed to. You feel wiser. You notice how you live in the present. You are more curious, more open, than you remember being. You are convinced people are good at heart. You’ve lost most of your skepticism. You believe you will always have what you need. You feel great love and appreciation for the world.
Much love, as always.