Sunday, December 27, 2009


It's been more than six weeks since the brain surgery and the recovery has gone so well I feel almost unworthy of so much good fortune.

But it also seems like a good time to take note of what's still difficult for me, just as a measure of how far I've come but also of how the brain—or at least my brain—reacts to surgery like this and the reason for it.

As anyone who is familiar with this blog from before the surgery knows, I'm an obsessive list maker, especially at night when having some trouble falling asleep or trying to fall back to sleep after being woken up. And many of those lists are alphabetical, because they're the easiest to remember in the morning.

I make lists obsessivley even during the day, common for a lot of poets, because the basic form of many poems is a list in at least some ways, even if only of words.

But, since the operation, that's been different. First of all I've found it much easier to fall asleep and back asleep if I'm woken up. That makes me think that the growth in my brain may have been causing some of my sleep problems interestingly. But second of all, the few times since the operation that I've tried to come up with an alphabet list, I haven't been able to do it! Not even close.

For instance, the other night the back door on this old house my apartment is in was creaking loudly and slamming even more loudly in the wind and rain (fortunately we had a white Christmas before the rain washed most of the snow away). It woke my 12-year-old son up and by the time I got him back to sleep I was wide awake.

So I thought I'd try an alphabet list to help me fall back asleep. I came up with an obvious one (which I've probably done before) of favorite Christmas themed movies. I could only think of three. I expanded it to include movies that just had Christmas in them but was at a loss.

I fell back asleep anyway. But the next day I tried again to come up with more than the initial three and still couldn't.

The whole memory thing is interesting. I notice I don't remember e mails and telephone calls I mean to answer. I don't just forget to answer them, I don't remember getting them. And yet a lot of my memory has remained intact including most short term memory since the operation.

I'm also, as I've been reporting here, still making more than the usual amount of typos when I type and even when I write by hand, and my brain is still having me write different words than I intended to, not typos, not accidents, but distinctly different choices as I've pointed out many times in recent posts.

The same happens when I'm speaking, I'll start to say something and forget entirely what I had intended to say, or will know what I mean to say but can't remember how to say it. I know that these kinds of things happen to everyone at times, but what I'm talking about here are specific problems that I either didn't have before the operation or not to the extent that I do now.

I'm not complaining, just deeply interested in how the brain functions under different circumstances.

There's other stuff too, but my daughter is here with her little girl and my grown son and his wife and little boy are about to arrive at any moment so I'm going to go celebrate a late Christmas with all of them and my little guy now.


Elisabeth said...

It's a fascinating record, Lally and wonderful that you're able to keep it and share it.

harryn said...

first of all, it sounds like a wonderful family celebration - more than usual, there's going to be a lot of love and gratitude in that house - my best to Miles and Cait - haven't seen them since the Santa Monica days ...
as far as the memory - it's probably a healing thing after some major trauma, but in talking with you - you're still as Lally-sharp as i've always known you ...
things might never quite be the same again - but they never are anyway - some dendrites were pruned brother ...
occasionally i trim back the trees around my outside painting area to let more light fall where i need it - branches that have been there for a while ... i'm always surprised to find the birds trying to land on branches that aren't there anymore - until they remember not to ...

Ed Baker said...

I make lists too
-ever since my
cerebral stroke

(July 15, 2003)

I can no longer
where I put them.

I guess the info
just leaves

mind (?)