It’s been 2 and a half years since my brain surgery. My vision is still pulsing, and I am plagued by fatigue that comes and goes. I’ve actually been feeling fairly energetic for a couple of months, looking forward to going back to work full time in May. Then last Saturday, out of the blue, I became suddenly too tired to finish my tai chi class. Had to sit down in the middle of it. Ever since then, I’ve been exhausted throughout each day. I babysat my grandkids and it wiped me out. It was, of course, worth it. Meditation helps. If I don’t meditate I really feel drained.
I’ve searched for information about post-brain surgery fatigue but there is very little available. My physicians say that it’s a normal part of recovery and may last forever. They don’t have a treatment for it. So yesterday, after teaching two classes on integrative healing, I decided to get out of the mainstream myself and see what remedies might be “out there.” I’m going to start with foot zoning. It’s sort of a combination of reflexology and acupressure, based on the idea that there is some stuck energy that is not flowing properly, which keeps me tired. I have an appointment this week. My exploration of non-mainstream treatments for fatigue begins! Wish me luck. I just hope I’m not too tired to explore the options.
Last week, after 3 years of pain and paralysis following neck surgery, my dear friend Brandon chose to took his own life. Brandon’s parents asked me to speak at his funeral. They wanted me to read his biosketch and then talk about my near death experience and let the family know that Brandon was OK. I was happy to help out. Brandon was 40 years old, with 3 children. The funeral was beautiful. His kids all had a part. His oldest daughter explained that the kids were not mad at their dad, they were happy he was out of pain. I must say this was the hardest speech I’ve ever given. It was just so hard not to cry, and I wanted to be a comfort to the family, not add to their stress. I closed the talk with a poem by Henry Van Dyke called Gone from My Sight. It’s about how, at the same time we are saying goodbye to Brandon, there’s a whole group of people on the other side who are welcoming him home. Our loss is certainly their gain. Brandon was a wonderful person who lit up a room. I will miss him. And I know he’s OK.
A strange pattern emerged yesterday. To begin with, I left the house right on time to catch the train for work. I am still learning how to use the technology in my new car, which doesn’t require a key. As long as the key is in my purse, the doors open and the engine starts at the touch of a button. After I got out of the car, I touched door locking button and it made a long beep sound. I thought that was a little unusual but decided to ignore it, figuring I just wasn’t used to the locking beep yet. Once I was seated on the train, I reached for my purse and discovered it was not there. It took me about two stops to finally decide that if my purse was in my car, someone could steal it. And since my key was in my purse, they could steal the car too. So I got off the third stop down and caught the train back to the parking lot. All in all, I arrived at work 45 minutes later than planned.
Now here’s the second thing that happened: At the end of the day I left my office but as I was headed out the door of the building, I realized I left my sweater in my office. I knew if I went back to get it I would have to walk faster to make the train. So I retrieved my sweater and totally missed the train by literally 5 seconds. As it turned out, the departure schedule had changed. If I hadn’t gone back for my sweater, I would have made the train.
I got on the train and was glad I had my tai chi uniform in the car so I wouldn’t be late for class. I watched the time and was so pleased with myself that I would make it to tai chi right on time at 5:30. And here’s the third thing that happened: I drove up to the parking lot at 5:25 and suddenly realized that class doesn’t start until 6:00!! What was I thinking?
The whole day was like an interruption in the space-time continuum. I didn’t make it to work on time because I forgot my purse. I didn’t make it home on time because I forgot my sweater. Then I got to tai chi early because I forgot what time it starts. That’s a lot of forgetting for one day! I think that’s called “a series of unfortunate
events.” I wonder if all that forgetting and delays made a difference in my life. By being late or early, did I avoid something bad happening? I’ll never know. All I can do is look at the bright side: Nothing bad happened, I got to eat a nice dinner at Cafe Rio while I waited for tai chi to start, and I came home to a freshly tilled garden (thanks to my neighbor) and flowers in bloom. Life is good.
Look what I found!
I finally made it home from Atlanta after 5 flight cancellations and lost luggage. I was so excited when I found my luggage waiting for me in Salt Lake City. Yay! Once again, I met some friendly and interesting people in the airport while waiting for my flight. In the waiting area I sat next to a divorce lawyer who said she was tired of having a job where she was in a fight every day. She said she always wanted to be a physician. I talked to her about being a nurse attorney and she was very interested in that. While boarding I talked to a 42-year-old woman from Salt Lake City. We talked about our recent flight cancellation experiences. When I casually asked her what she did for a living, she said she quit her job last year because she had ovarian cancer. She had surgery and chemotherapy a few months ago and now it has spread to her lungs. I was shocked. She looked very healthy and happy and I would never have guessed that she has gone through all of that. Apparently there is nothing else that can be done for her. Meeting her reminded me that we all have a story, and making assumptions or judgments about people is a pointless waste of time and energy. I’m sure there’s a metaphor in this story about losing my luggage and about how we all have baggage, but I’m too tired to explore it right now. Got a little jet lag.
On the CNN escalator, tallest in the world
I planned to spend a few days in Atlanta but it stretched out to a week since Delta Airlines kept cancelling my flights. Still not sure where my luggage is, but I finally talked to someone about it and it should arrive in Salt Lake City sometime this century. And I should arrive there sometime today. This morning I am at the Holiday Inn where I plan to start grading the 180 student assignments that have been turned in.
I have learned a lot from being stranded in the airport. I was surprised at how calm the thousands of people were while their flights were repeatedly cancelled, plans changed, hopes dashed. Nobody lost their tempers and everyone was polite. As for me, I had 4 of my flights cancelled so I missed my presentation at an academic conference in Gainesville, Florida, and also missed my scheduled flight home. And my luggage. But the upside is that I got to spend more time with
Atlanta street art
two of my sons, Andy and Sid, in Atlanta. We hiked, toured CNN, The World of Coca Cola, Stone Mountain, took some long walks, saw some fabulous street art, attended church, and really had a great time just being together. And of course I got to spend time with Andy’s kids Eve and Quinn, and his wife Kathryn, who went out of her way to make sure we had fun. Another upside of the trip is that I met some very nice people at the airport. Having a common mishap brings people together. I met a great student from California who works as Belle (from Beauty and the Beast) at Disneyland, a retired lady from Washington who guided me through the standby process, and numerous others. Life is good. People are good. I am blessed.
Watching Guardians of the Galaxy
Quinn, Eve, Kathryn, Andy Sid
After sleeping only one hour (the insomnia still plagues me from my brain surgery) on Tuesday night I got up at 5 AM Wednesday morning and caught a shuttle to the airport to take me to Atlanta and then on to Gainesville, Florida to make a presentation at the Building Healthy Academic Communities Summit. All went very smoothly until we approached Atlanta. There was a very active rain storm with lots of lightening. My co-teacher Sue was notified immediately that her flight was cancelled. About an hour later my flight was cancelled. I stood in line for about an hour and was rebooked for later that afternoon. As I waited for that flight I met a UC Irvine Public Health student, Jennifer, also going to the summit. A half hour after our flight was to depart it was cancelled. To make a long story short, we kept waiting in lines and getting rebooked and then cancelled all day. Sue, Jennifer and I finally got to a hotel around 9:00 and tried to get Delta on the phone. No luck. And no luggage.
On Thursday morning Sue and Jennifer went back to the airport but I chose to stay in Atlanta and spend time with my son Andy and his family here. Sue and Jennifer finally got to Gainesville after standing in line 3 1/2 hours. But Sue still did not make it to the summit. I spent Thursday morning at Target buying make up and clothing. Apparently my luggage is in Gainesville and I can’t get ahold of Delta to tell them where to send it. Well, any excuse to buy new clothes is really OK with me! And now I have designer luggage- a big white Target bag!