Thursday, 29 March 2012


Greetings, good day!

I forgot to mention that anyone who wishes to contribute to this blog is invited to do so using the comment space at the end of each posting. Even if you need a bit of morale boosting or are just plain fatigued being the unsuspecting and unwilling piggy-back to opportunistic travellers, get them off your chest or back, chase them out of your head ( and thoughts when appropriate or possible)...
Which does bring to my mind all the expressions that rope the body part and the tumour together. For example, let's see, regarding my Georg on the right side of my head: " can't get my head around that", " I need that as much as a hole in the head" ( which there was after surgery, but that was stuffed with fat taken from my abdomen), now we move right into "fathead"! Of course, there is " you are off your head!" which may be more of a personality trait, but can be adapted to muscle relaxants or pain-killers swallowed post-op...There is no limit to the associations and I found that they multiplied throughtout the first chapter of my " head-case".

Perhaps, it may be helpful ( if one can in the midst of the revolving-door of emotions) to identify one's lump or bumps. I found that, at the beginning, I kept saying that I was giving birth to a bouncing baby tumour and that it had outgrown the space provided so generously by my body. I mean to say that it was closing the ventricles of my brain and pressing dangerously on my brain stem. I imagined these feet dangling out of a walnut-shaped cradle and that they were just getting bigger...I even said to a surprised neurosurgeon showing me the scans of my head ," Wow! It looks exactly like a walnut!" He replied that he had never seen the brain that way before and I bet he'll never crack a walnut in the same aggressive way from now on....So, my large tumour became an ungainly growth crowding me out...Before, I had no sign or symptom of this "immaculate conception". The sudden loss of hearing was the first assertive nudge that I was given. In conclusion today, I will say that Georg was an overgrown child by the time I went to hospital and that, because I had no real bother or discomfort, he/it did not mean to cause me dark, malevolent harm. As a matter of fact, he had been resident for almost 10 years and experienced my major family losses with me without physical pain....And now, well, that little bit of Georg left behind is a seedling or a tiny being growing into a small distinctive shape and, of course, is within close proximity of the slew of puns and metaphors made silently in the privacy of self-reflection or made with a loud-guffaw in the presence of a fellow-sufferer...It is all grist for the mill or sand for the pearl in the tight-lipped oyster. Be well and know that Georg and I are here and still talking to each other.

Tuesday, 27 March 2012

Welcoming A New But Uninvited Resident

A very warm welcome to anyone dealing with an uninvited resident in your body . It may have cloaked itself in the form of a cyst, a tumour or other mysterious shape or guise. No matter-it is a new occupant that you are learning to live with and this blog invites you to share your tale, perspectives, anecdotes and questions regarding this oftentimes challenging situation. Now, I have thought long and hard about the content of this blog and I wish to begin by saying that it is NOT intended to diminish in any way the fright, general discomfort, exhaustion, second-changing emotion and even pain...No and family members need not read this if they do not wish to. Their experience is no less real and frightening. However, if you, the new landlord, wish to share your experience with your uniquely prescribed lenses, you can do so here. Also, I wish to remain very sensitive and compassionate toward those who are subjected to continual pain and are too exhausted/anguished to share .

However, this site is to explore other ways of looking at what is a traditionally interpreted as an all-out call for war against not only our interloper, but also our very own, dear bodies. Also, if we can lighten the healing atmosphere a great deal, anything miraculous can happen. Just allowing the slit of light generated by a chuckle, a gruesome joke, gallows or what I call casket-humour can move mountains or one's body to ripple with laughter and strengthen its defenses on all levels. Whatever may be the result, you can share a part of yourself that you may feel too uncomfortable to express to concerned family members and friends.

Now, I will get the ball( or tumour ) rolling. Four years ago, an egg-sized tumour was found in my brain. I had no inkling that the space inside my head was filled and no comments need be made about being empty-headed! This growth slowly settled on the wires comprising my acoustic nerve and from a tiny cell to a blundering wood pigeon-size, it grew. For almost ten years, there was no symptom and the little egg grew in silence while I underwent a series of very deep traumas in that span of time. My father died suddenly in 1993, my dear step-father likewise died from ALS in 1998 and my beloved mother was killed in January, 2004. My whole life had been thrown into a black hole of unknown matter full of sadness, fear and potential-all at the same time. What my life had consisted of for 47 years was wiped away one cold, snowy January afternoon.

Three years later while living in Oxford, I lost almost all hearing on one day in early March. I had gone to the local GP who declared, without even investigating facts, " it is a viral infection and you will just have to learn to live with this deafness". I thought her equally cold and damned arrogant and my body, bless its wisdom, shut out her diagnosis and continued to prompt my intuition into further investigation. A year later, I was back in the States and sitting with a very good-looking neurosurgeon who smiled and said, " You've got the best kind of tumour to have !" Yippeee! Sniff! I was informed that I had to undergo brain surgery fairly quickly due to the tiny cell having mushroomed and that I would lose my hearing in my right ear. After further careful explanation, I was told to go home, grieve for the loss of hearing and balance then begin to prepare myself for the intensive operation. Note: I must add that the results of my initial CT scan were received by me alone on a Saturday afternoon. The date-the 14th of July, French Independence Day....What a symbolic day for such news! My tumour had grown beyond the prison walls of the Bastille brain and, like the newly-freed mob, was pouring into all regions of my crown country! I will describe my experience in another instalment...No wish to overwhelm any readers....

Suffice it to say that the surgery took place 4 years ago and a tiny portion of growth had to be left behind in order to preserve facial function...Standard.....Now, as of Valentine's Day this year, I have been told that my space-hogging lodger is back with the intention of squatting again. At least it enjoys what I have to offer! And even after radiosurgery, my friend will remain a permanent resident... So, how to take all this? Past, present and future....They've been bound together by a gentle growth who really likes where it is-near my acoustic nerve within my very generous and tolerant body...Do I feel like crying, sighing, being afraid, negative, hopeful, angry, philosophical.....? I feel all of these things and more and will do so as I unfold a roadmap with new signs, destinations and directions...The first thing that I have done now is name my hitch-hiker-it seems to be Georg. Perhaps after Captain von Trapp in the " Sound of Music" or Georg Philippe Telemann, who was a jaunty Baroque composer. And this is where I will stop for now to catch breath....I would like to share some artwork generated by this brain-episode and maybe it will help you begin to entertain thinking of any lumps and bumps you may be housing creatively.