Sunday, February 14, 2010

THREE MONTHS SINCE BRAIN SURGERY

So yesterday was three months by the date (the surgery was Nov. 13th) and for all intents and purposes I'm perfectly fine.

But what that means isn't what it seems to mean. For instance, when I wrote "all intents and purposes" above. First of all it's not a cliche I'd regularly use. But when it came to mind, I didn't think cliche, I thought of exactly what those words mean. Before I would have just reacted to the cliche aspect and had the general idea of what it meant in my brain, but not now, I bored in on each word and was kind of impressed and delighted that it meant what it said perfectly in this instance.

Now in that second paragraph I used the terms "came to mind" and "in this instance"—again choices I wouldn't have made in the past, or rarely if ever, but "came to mind" really rings differently and significantly for me now and "in this instance" sounds more precise than out of date etc.

So there's little things like that. Other aspects of writing have been steadily improving since those first weeks after the operation when I couldn't write at all and then in the first few months when it was fascinatingly difficult to write, partly because of the numerous typos but also because my brain would write something other than I intended, i.e. replace the word I meant to write with one I didn't, sometimes with very interesting results.

Now I can write pretty well (though at times awkwardly, at least to my taste). But as in the examples above, I am using at times a vocabulary I wouldn't use for different ways of expressing the same things, because my brain can't pull up my usual daily writing vocab (fortunately from being a print junkie all my life I've got a pretty large reservoir of words to draw from). (I just paused for a few minutes because I couldn't recall the word I wanted to use there instead of "draw from" etc.)

I've already mentioned the change of not constantly making lists in my brain as I have since I can remember. And there's more little stuff like that. But anyone watching me from the outside would probably not be able to tell I even had brain surgery. From the inside though, it's still a fascinating trip that hasn't ended and may not until my brain does.

[PS: Yesterday's post is a good example for me of how my brain works now. I had thought of a lot of things to write for the second half of the summarizing-the-last-decade list when I wrote the first part, but then the next day my brain felt tired and I couldn't remember much of what I had originally in mind (the continuing decline in "real wages" under Bush/Cheney and the continuing disparity between the most wealthy one percent of the population who now control what I remember as around ninety- percent of our country's wealth, as we turn into a "third world country" in terms of the gap between rich and poor etc.) and what I did remember seemed awkwardly stated to me.]

5 comments:

JIm said...

Michael,
You still have plenty of piss and vinagour(sp). Your level of logic and knowledge of facts also seems to be at the same pre op level.

Elisabeth said...

To me it's fascinating, that you find yourself using terms and expressions you might not once have used, as if your brain is drawing on a different literary well from which to supply you with the necessary vocabulary.

It's great stuff, for all the discomfort. At least, I hope that's how you see it, too. It's like suddenly learning a whole new vocab.
Thanks, Michael.

harryn said...

i've been noticing and enjoying the process and the changes - as i've said - can't quite articulate it yet, but working on it ...
forgot who said it, but "all change begins with a change of mind" - i don't think it was meant so literally, but it does leave hope for our friend Jim ...

just noticed that the video short i posted - [http://paulsart.blogspot.com/2010/02/winter-antidote.html ]- was at the same time you were on the 'table' ...

Lally said...

Elisabeth, Absolutely, I find the whole trip fascinating. And Paul I dug that little clip when I went back and caught it and dug it again this time. Thanks.

I want to add that there are other things still lingering, e.g. getting overwhelmed by stimuli, went to Whole Foods yesterday by myself, which I've been doing for a few weeks. But I'd been going on weekday mornings, and this was Saturday morning, whether because Monday was a holiday, or for other reasons, it was way crowded and within a minute I felt disoriented etc. I got through it okay, but if I hadn't had the experience and known what it was I would have thought I was getting sick or going to feint or something. And when I'm tired, concentrating on more than one thing at a time is still difficult, makes me feel anxious etc. So...

JIm said...

Paul,
Let me assure you that I am a "No Hoper". I will never become a socialist/progressive/Marxist. I believe that America is best governed by following the principles espoused in the Founding Documents. I also believe the Democrats and Obama are leading the US to bankruptcy. To see the future of America under Obama, look to California and Greece.