Oracle ✥ Artist ✥ Author ✥ Time Traveler

Slow and Unsteady

Take all the time you need to heal.

Mr. Snail says: Take all the time you need to heal.

My laser brain ablation surgery to take care of a 3-4 cm recurrent metastatic melanoma brain tumor was on February 3, 2015. This post is one of a series of updates that I wrote in the days and weeks following, which now I finally have some energy/motivation to post. I’m trying to catch up!


Hello, lovely people. It’s good to be here.

Some of you have sent me messages, wondering if I’m okay. I really appreciate this. I would wonder too.

The short answer is, I’m okay. This recovery thing is remarkably slow. I had no idea just how slow it would be. Laser brain surgery? People go back to work the next day, they said.

Ha. Also: In what universe??

The long answer is, even though I swore to myself prior to surgery that I had no expectations, evidently I did and they’re not being met and I sort of don’t know what to do now or even, really, who I am.

Let’s unpack this.

About a month before my surgery (which was about 5 weeks ago) I couldn’t shake the notion that I was going to die. Maybe literally, maybe metaphorically. I didn’t know which and felt okay with either. What a relief, I thought. Something was going to happen and then things would be different. Different, in my world, usually means good.

(My only problem then with literal death was with how devastatingly and horribly heartbroken my beloved would be. It was for this reason that I didn’t tell him about my sense of death. There was a really good chance I was wrong. Why worry him more than he already was?)

Hedging my bets, I started writing goodbye letters to the people I care about. I can’t believe now that I so easily wrote words like, “If you’re reading this, it means I am dead”, but that’s the space I was in at the time. Complete and utter acceptance of whatever was coming.

I should point out here the difference between wanting to die and expecting to die. I was just accepting what I thought was probably going to happen.

In retrospect, I see now that without the surgery I likely would have died within a few weeks. That’s how bad things had become.

Had surgery; didn’t die.

At first I was like, WHAT??! STILL HERE?? FUCK.

And then I was all ohhhhh, it must have been a metaphor. Cool.

But then there were these nagging thoughts. In the weeks before my surgery, something amazing had happened to me. The best way I can describe it is that I entered a kind of enlightened state.

I hesitate to use the word enlightened. I judge it as arrogant and egotistical. But damn. I was in what felt to me like an amazing place where I felt and understood the cosmic flow of life. It was so cool. My brain was so taxed by this huge tumor and the large amount of swelling around it that my thoughts slowed way down. You know the meditation thing of watching one’s thoughts? Well I actually could watch my thoughts, one by one, in a way I never could before. And acceptance! Everything was okay! Life was amazingly wonderful! Even with tumors! Is that enlightenment?

It’s difficult now to describe the state I was in because, just as a dream fades in the waking world, my sense of “enlightenment” has slowly faded.

I’m angry about it. See, one of my expectations was that I would be able to hold on to it. I wanted it so badly. Feeling the cosmic flow had made everything seem okay to me, and now, after surgery and after radiation, I was having EMOTIONS. Feeling frustrated. Feeling weak and humble and human. Where was my superpower?

So. Besides being not-dead and not-enlightened, I also feel just plain blah. Day in and day out. So very tired. Still sleeping 11 hours a day. Still can only stand for a few minutes without feeling weird and needing to sit. Still need a two hour rest after a short walk. Still have short term memory wonkiness. Still ache all over. Etc. Blah blah.

And this should be okay. I could totally give myself permission to take as long as I want to heal. My love keeps telling me his desires for our future: travel and tango and beaches and lots of yummy sex. I so want to please him. I so want to help give him his dreams.

But I don’t know if it’s up to me. I feel like I’m failing. Failing at healing quickly — fast, fast, fast! — and failing at being in a state of acceptance of my lack of quick healing. So I sit and rest pet the cat and drink juices and take pills and do enemas and watch 15 minutes of Call the Midwife on my iPad in bed at night and sleep. Anything more just feels like too much right now.

And then there’s the thing of who am I. I’m no longer in that enlightenish state. I don’t feel wise. I’ve lost the sense of being absolutely plugged into the workings of the universe. I feel like I had a chance at something and then squandered it, let it slip through my fingers. In my head I call out familiar labels — “artist”, “goddess”, “teacher” — to feel whether they still fit. Some don’t. I don’t have new ones yet that do.

This feeling of being in-between, of a pregnant pause for ripening, is so familiar. I’ve been here before. But the stakes are higher now. I know the usual course after brain surgery for metastatic tumors — more and more tumors keep cropping up like cockroaches, and eventually they take over and boom you die. I’ve been not fortunate but the product of a hell of a lot of hard work and the receiving end of an extraordinary amount of love. So far we’ve avoided the cockroaches. I don’t know how things will go now. I still have very little sense of the future.

I wake up each morning, a little surprised. Welcome to another day. What will happen today?

It’s one foot, one step, one day at a time. I think this is a good way to live, and it’s what I can manage. Every day has goodness. Every day has a gift. Every day is its own unique crystal. And one day things will change. No sense worrying about that now.

Much love, as always.

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