I'm coming up on the second anniversary of my brain operation. Something some of you have let me know you feel you've heard enough about. Me too, actually. But it's ongoing. Just had a brain MRI this morning, because now, if I see the doc about anything that could be related to a brain issue, (just as with other health issues I've had operations for) they have to start by making sure it doesn't have anything to do with my brain.
And it just so happens that last Sunday's NY Times had a piece in their op-ed section—now called "Sunday Review"—written by a woman who had suffered a traumatic brain injury from a car accident and ended up much worse than anything I had to deal with. It's a pretty fascinating story and perspective, so I recommend it (here).
Nonetheless, some of her experiences I could identify with, which was the ultimate point of her essay. That brain trauma survivors have some things in common and would benefit from a group just made up of them, as in the Alcoholics Anonymous model that worked so well it's become almost common for other survivors of a particular affliction or trauma to form groups to help each other in ways that are unique for them and their experience, and often better than the help they get from professionals.
I also ran into the woman who'd had brain surgery three months before me and who it turned out was having some complications from it. I saw her husband first, and asked him about her and he tried to explain what he thought was going on but said, "She can tell you better" and let me know she'd be along soon. And when she came we immediately started talking our own language about things that happen that we know are related to the surgery or the original problem. I mentioned one thing with me and she said, "Oh yeah, that's the scar tissue."
When I saw the neurologist today, the one I had begun the process with two years ago with my first brain MRI, she thought some of the symptoms I was feeling could be coming from "the scar tissue" from the operation. I saw the MRI and I would only be guessing if I were to tell you what it looked like to me, but what it looked like to me is that there's still a hole where they took out what was in there. I'm sure that's not technically correct, or even true, but it was compelling to think of it that way.
The miracle is that I'm so "back to normal" in the eyes of most folks that using the operation and its aftermath as an explanation for any of my foibles seems like milking it. And there may be some truth to that. But whatever the deeper reality, I still am totally captivated by the ways the brain works and impacts our reactions to reality, our perspective on...just about everything as far as I can tell.
[PS: And here's another fascinating story about brain trauma and its aftermath, thanks to Chris Mason for it.]