Friday, December 4, 2009


They say that when they wheeled me into the recovery room after the operation, expecting me to be out for at least an hour and then take a few more hours to come to fully, instead I sat right up immediately and began talking.

The art of discourse and conversation was never lost, nor was my appetite—I was hungry as soon as I came to also.

But for the first few days I couldn't do simple math, couldn't read or write or understand how to transfer a simple message from one person to another, and much more I couldn't do.

By the time I left the hospital almost five days after I entered, I could read simple instructions and signs etc. to myself with some difficulty and much more easily out loud. And simple math was coming back slowly. But listening to music, watching TV or listening to NPR, or reading anything longer than a sentence or two to myself or a paragraph or so out loud was still seemingy impossible.

But as you know if you've been reading this blog, slowly over these three weeks, many things have returned. The first movie I could watch all the way through without being overwhelmed to the point of my head actually hurting and my perceptions being erratic and disorienting, was THE AMERICANIZATION OF EMILY, because it was in black and white, had mostly confined sets, focused on two or three characters relatively broadly portrayed and had a simple, clear, direct message. I loved it as I did the first time I saw it only now even more because I could follow it and enjoy it despite my brain's post-operative limitations.

As I've shared, more and more has come back to me, including finally and only recently a capacity for enjoying music and art again, being able to see them as fully realized and integrated sensual (and sensory) experiences rather than kind of pixilated shards of distinct and separate experiences too varied and busy to contain as one cohesive cognitive experience.

So everything has improved and is continuing to. Writing this, for instance is very difficult but not as much as it was only a few days ago. And yesterday I read, with difficulty and some rereading and stopping and starting, a couple of small articles in TIME. I imagine it's what a lot of people deal with every day, but I never had to until now.

I'm getting out more—took a nice long walk in the beautiful park near my apartment just now—and start occupational therapy soon (probably should have started sooner but the logistics seemed a problem since I'm not driving yet, etc.). There's still many limitations on what I am capable of, including not really being able still to focus on more than one thing at once, two in some cases where they are complimentary.

But I am also still feeling very patient with myself, and others too for the most part. Grateful for it all. And finding the whole process fascinating (like why do my fingers want to type "party" for "part" or "one" for "now" or "or" for "for" or "patoculr" for "particular" etc.).

More will be revealed.


Virginia said...

How wonderful to read that you are getting better each and every day. We are all praying for you and eager to hear how you are progressing. Keep up your hard work. Your spirit will pull you through my friend.

Anonymous said...

Richard and I have both been following your recovery daily, and we're very happy that you're doing well. I'm personally especially grateful for every step of this experience that you are recounting. I don't think I have much capacity to detach from physical pain or illness; I get sofrightened. I'm struck by your ability to watch this process with fascination, and I think it's courageous and beautiful. It must be a by-product of your joy and passion for living. Thanks for the inspiration. Love, Janet