Life After Brain Surgeries

Yes, you read that right. Surgeries. My one planned brain surgery turned into 2 brain surgeries, several procedures, and 3 hospitalizations. I never planned on this.

I realized, after chats with my bestie, that people only see what I allow them to see. I post on social media with updates and I always seem so positive and upbeat. What people don’t see are my breakdowns.

I breakdown at least 3 times a day. Sometimes more. Songs that used to give me strength now make me weak. Things, simple things, I can no longer do make me feel depressed. I realize my body needs time to heal. Twice as much, if not three times as much as I planned. And that’s frustrating.

From time to time I discuss my pain, but more often than not, I’m reporting my pain free days. I don’t discuss my nights without sleep due to pain, my days when I’m too weak to go up and down the stairs, or the times I wish I had never had the surgery to begin with.

I don’t let people see me cry. Only those close to me have heard me cry to them on the phone. I lay here alone crying so often it’s beginning to make me think I’m losing my mind. I will break down and cry over the simplest things.

The nurses and others who have had similar surgeries tell me that’s normal. To cry a lot. To be weak and tired. But I feel so alone, so tired, so sad. I had the surgery to get my life back; to give my kids their mom back. Last month, I spent more days in the hospital than I did at home. I have had stitches (technically) in my head for over a month. I have to wrap my arm in plastic before showering (I have a PICC line for IV antibiotics). My life isn’t normal right now and I’m so damn sad about it. I struggle to help my kids with things. I struggle to do what I need to do to care for myself let alone 3 other people.

So while many see my positive and humorous side and think I’m just oh so strong, I’m not. I’m weak. I’m sad. I’m tired. I need y’all to understand that.

And as harsh as this may sound, being told to keep my head up, be patient, or to stay positive doesn’t help me. It makes me feel worse. My head you want me to keep up is broken. It’s broken, swollen, and hurting. My patience has worn thin. And it’s hard to remain positive when so many negative things have happened to me.

Yes, I realize some people have it worse. I know some people didn’t wake up this morning. I realize my community has lost many people lately. And I feel the loss and I feel the pain of all those suffering. But that does not make my feelings less valid!!

I am allowed to vent. I am allowed to feel like this. My feelings are valid. I do not expect any replies to this post. I do not mean to hurt any feelings. I just needed to say all of this. I apologize if any feelings have been hurt. It’s truly not my intention.

Life After Brain Surgery

A week ago my family was all meeting up at a parking garage outside of University of Maryland Medical Center Baltimore, gathering our belongings necessary for the long day ahead, and rushing inside to get to where I needed to be by my 5:30 appt time. Sadly, the hospital sent us on a long run around until we finally landed right where we needed to be, but we got there. Tension was high among the group, of course. The nervousness in the air; palpable.

I was asked if I was ready, more times than a few. How do you answer that? How are you ever ready to risk leaving your family behind? How are you ever ready to risk not coming back to them the same as you left them? So I lied. I was ready, yes. I lied and said I was fine. I lied and said I was going to be okay. I was petrified.

Questions began, IV was started, prepping was moving at the speed of light, but I was still stuck. Lingering, waiting for my entire family to hug me all at once. What would be my last thing to say to each one of them? How do you decide that? You cannot scare the kids, Kristen. You cannot upset your sisters, Kris. And my God, don’t let my parents feel my fear.

Last night I was asked what I felt in those moments. What was it that I told myself to help me get through it and make the final decision to go through with it.

The answer is my life. I wanted my life back. The vibrant, exuberant, fly by the seat of her pants girl was gone. She was replaced long ago by a zombie of a woman that was barely surviving this world. She could no longer head out on grand adventures, planned or otherwise. She spent her days hardly able to make it up and down the stairs let alone to a school event with homemade brownies.

She couldn’t make it to concerts with her sisters anymore. She had to cancel plans with friends more times than a few. She couldn’t get outside and run around with her two sons anymore. Life as she knew it ceased to exist.

But this morning. 7 days after the scariest decision of her life, that girl woke up at 5 am without an alarm clock, went downstairs without a single creaking or aching bone (stairs are a different story), and made herself a cup of coffee. Do you realize how long it has been since that has happened? I won’t count the nights where sleep never happened and I got up at 5 to start a day after a night of no rest. I’m talking actually slept for hours, woke up, went down, and made my own damn coffee??

Let’s ask my little baristas when they wake. I bet ya it’s been a while.

Good morning, world. It’s good to be back.

Night Train

It’s not even midnight, but I hear it rolling through.

When I hear that night train, I always think of you.

The dreams I had, the plans we made, it all got lost somehow.

I try to forget your kiss, but I can taste you now.

The echo of the night train.

The memory of your touch.

The magnetic connection.

The ethereal rush.

Release me from this reverie, let me please let go.

Night train, take his memory, he doesn’t have to know.

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Screaming in Silence

Pain, ripping flesh, breaking bones, searing flames of agony.
This isn’t torture. It’s my normal.
Tears flow down swollen cheeks to meet the pool gathered on my pillow. How many more nights will this flare last?
The drill in my ear, pressure building. Electric shocks through my jaw. Someone stop it.
Turn off the power. Cut the nerve. Rescue me. I’m dying. Please help me.

I wrote that poem in the middle of a flare up of the neuralgias I love with. They are always constant, but some days they flare so bad I cannot function. It’s unbelievably frustrating. The pain is beyond what the human body should have to endure. 10 days to surgery. I am so ready for this to be done!

~Kristen

Night Thoughts

I often lay awake at night. Blame insomnia. Blame anxiety. Or blame what I call painsomnia. But whatever it is, I just lay awake in bed staring at the ceiling, wondering what this world has in store for me next. And why I was chosen for such a difficult path.

It often sends me down the path of wondering about religion and how certain religions would look at my situation differently. Some people say it is what God has intended and he wouldn’t give me more than I can handle. Or that he may be preparing me for something even more difficult so I must become stronger. You get the idea. Others might say it is my karma. A punishment of sorts for some thing(s) I did in a past life. I realize that there is also karma in this life, but I know I have not been a bad person. Not bad enough to warrant the life I am currently living.

Either way, regardless of why or how I got here, I am struggling. I wonder why I don’t have someone by my side as I take on such a difficult journey; why must I do it alone? Lately, I don’t even feel like my parents get it. I don’t feel that they truly understand the intensity of what I live with each day. Of course, nobody really does because I don’t allow anyone to see. Fact is though, folks, that I am having brain surgery. I can’t make up some mysterious condition that will convince a neurosurgeon to be like, “Yup, gonna cut her brain open and see what we find”. It doesn’t work that way. And in today’s times, we have a plethora of information at our fingertips. If you don’t know about something and choose not to learn more, that is out of pure ignorance, not for lack of access to information.

I just wish I had more people close to me that understood. It seems like those that understand are from online support groups and they are all over the world. It seems extremely unfair. I realize that I am one day going to look back on this and realize it made me stronger. And I’m sure there is some grand plan in this universe that I am aimlessly approaching. One day, this will all make sense. For right now, I’m tired.

Chronic Haze: The Sad Truth of Chronic Illnesses

For many years I have felt as if I’m living in a haze. A mere shadow of my former self. Not the woman I once was. And surely not the woman I intended to be at 35. Weak is an understatement. Tired doesn’t even begin to describe the level of exhaustion that I face. I want the old me back.

I want to go back to that vibrant and wild eyed woman who would drop everything for life’s next adventure. The girl that was always in the mood to dance with her kids or a perfect stranger if the timing was right. The girl who loved to spend hours in the kitchen baking treats and cooking extravagant meals.

I have become a zombie. A shell of a human. A remnant of the woman I once was. It is unfair. It is cruel. And it is depressing.

It is going to be a long road of recovery, and I am already fully aware of that. I just know that once I climb this mountain, I am going to find her again. Waiting on the other side. Ready to greet me with a cup of hot tea and a million ideas about what we can do next. She’s in there, she’s waiting.

Brain Mush

Hey guys. So I’m like 18 days away from brain surgery and my brain is just a mess. We already know my nerves are bad, hence the reason for the surgery. But lately, between the chronic pain, planning for surgery, and the fear and anxiety that go with it, my brain is total mush.

I get all these ideas of things to write, yet I never actually do it. I have note after note in my phone with ideas for blogs or poems or stories and there they sit, just in the note pad, not going anywhere, not being seen by anyone. Such a sad thought, huh.

So I promised myself today that I would post on my blog. That I would get back into writing, no matter how mundane and repetitive. I intended to keep everyone posted with like daily updates on my journey towards surgery. Obvs, that hasn’t happened. I have a hard enough time keeping up with my school work, the kids’ school work, and the household crap. Ugh.

Anyhow, so surgery is getting closer. I have been working on a plan for who will have the kids and who will help me at home once my hospital stay is over. That isn’t going well. This coming weekend I will be meal prepping probably 40 meals, just in case I am down for a while. Honestly, I thought part of being in a “close-knit” community meant I wouldn’t have to worry about such things during times like this, but it seems I don’t know the right people or something. So I’m just going to plan myself and make sure my kids are covered when I’m not able to cook for them. I mean, this is major surgery. I won’t bounce right back and be in the kitchen like June Cleaver the day after they slice into my skull. Right?

So meal prepping it is. Any ideas are greatly appreciated! You could comment here with suggestions!

For now, I’m going to write as many things as I can and see if I can get my creative juices flowing again through all this messed up crap in my head.