If you missed my 5 month recovery update and want to catch up, you can check it out here.
I still don't feel like myself. I wish I could say that sometimes, I forget about this big surgery that swept up my life and turned it into something unrecognizable, but I can't. It catches me in quiet moments as well as loud, when I'm struggling to think or when I'm next to someone talking on their cell phone too loud. It catches me with things that get my attention right away, like physical pain, or a limp, or the question "why do I still feel this way?" I wish it didn't happen so often, and its not even really that bad, but it does take me out of some pretty great moments I'd rather be present in. It's not really enough to complain, but in those moments when I feel like a guest in my own body, I wonder will it always feel like this?
My tumour was growing in the part of the brain that controls fine motor skills. Specifically, the motor skills on the left side of your body. Luckily, I still have movement in my left side… I’m aware that it could have been much worse. But the type of fine motor skills that I've taken for granted are still gone. They improve gradually, but my fully functioning right side seems to say "keep up" as it effortlessly moves forward with my left side struggles to keep up. Playing piano? Laughable. Typing? I went from 70 wpm to 25. That's with months of practice. Even tying my shoes seems to catch me up; my right hand, swooping around my left hand with just muscle memory, and my left hand fumbling for something that feels familiar. It's uncomfortable, but I try not to dwell on it.
My swallowing also hasn't caught up, and I'm not sure why. Here's what I know: After my surgery, when I woke up, I was told I'd need soft food only for a while, because my swallowing will take a while to come back. This is pretty normal, I think. When I was in the hospital, it took lots of work for me to eat. I'd chew, move the food to the back of my throat, and it just wouldn't go down. 7 months later, it still doesn't. Water, juice and things like that are totally fine for me, but anything with substance, anything that needs to be chewed, doesn't really work for me unless I have water to wash it down with. If I’m not sitting, focused, and quiet when I'm eating, it's easy for me to forget to chew and make sure my food is going down properly, and I'll straight up choke. Some foods, as you can imagine, are easier than others, but I'm getting frustrated with withdrawing myself every time I eat, in case I get called on to chime in when my mouth is full.
I'm starting to run out of patience, especially with my swallowing. My mind is often buzzing, wondering what the problem could be. Is there some type of damage or scar tissue from when I was intubated? Could my surgeon have hit a nerve in surgery that caused some type of damage to my swallowing reflex? Is my throat chakra blocked? I wish I had the answer, especially because neither me nor my surgeon have any idea what's going on. I really hope that something I'm doing isn't inadvertently making it worse, but it never causes me pain. If I was really doing something wrong, I think my body would tell me by being in pain more often.
I'm pretty torn between whether I should be ignoring my difficulties and pushing through or coddling myself and taking it easy. So far, I'm doing my best to push through and try and do all the things I normally would, I just make sure I have lots of rest. The only exception I can think of right now would be the gym; I’m not even able to jog 20 feet, so I think that the gym would be a little more than I'm able to take on right now. Besides, my job keeps me moving and active, so I think that for the short term, I'm being active enough. As long as I get enough rest.
As much as recovery's weird feeling and sometimes uncomfortable, the last few months have felt really stable and secure, which isn't something I'm used to. In the past, I've dealt with really extreme mood swings, often feeling sky high one day and crashing the next, or even just on a moment-to-moment basis. It was something I was learning to deal with, but it was still a pretty big challenge for me. But, for whatever reason, removing the tumour seems to have made it stop. I'm not sure if maybe the tumour was pushing on a part of my brain that just really knocked me off balance, or if the gratefulness I've felt through this process has permeated so deeply that it changed a part of myself that I was really struggling with. I've especially noticed that even as the weather gets more grim, my mood seems unaffected; something I haven't experienced since elementary school. Maybe it's temporary, maybe it's all in my head. At this point, who cares? I'm riding this wave as far as it'll take me.