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.

Little Things

So yesterday I broke down several times. Surgery is one week away. So of course my nerves are a wreck. It’s normal. I’m told I wouldn’t be human if I wasn’t worried. But let me explain why I broke down yesterday.

I was cooking more meals to freeze for the kids to have during my hospitalization and recovery. My oldest son was practicing his trumpet. (actually a 1956 coronet which is so bad ass) I decided to pick it up and wow him with some things. Ya see, I taught myself to play the trumpet when I was 10ish. Yep, picked one up and taught myself. I was incredibly talented. I say this not to brag, but just to say I am confident in that fact. My talent was passed to my kids, each knowing how to play but only my older son choosing to play. Anyway….

So I played a few scales, a little improv, and then it happened. The damn nerve in my face fired like crazy. Electrical shocks down my jaw. The hammering pain in my bones of my face. And reality hit me.

Even though I don’t play regularly, it is something I do enjoy. I love to just play and reminisce about my youth and my time in band, both concert and marching band. How I was chosen as a freshman in high school to play with the University of Maryland Eastern Shore band for commencement that year. How much I loved having solos during concerts. How I know it was something that made my parents proud. And it truly was a passion.

Now, I can’t play. And that devastates my heart. If they can’t fix my nerve disorder with this surgery I will not be able to play. Ever. A little thing with a huge impact.

My heart is hurting. My soul feels like it was a personal blow. She is weary. She is broken.

Little things can bring with them the misery of a thousand broken hearts.

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.

Monday Morning Ready!

Good morning all. I know it’s been a while since I posted anything or read any blogs. My health has been my primary focus lately. Brain surgery in 23 days!! But, while I’ve been basically bedridden, I have been doing a lot of thinking.

I have a million ideas for projects, community involvement, books I want to write, and opinion pieces I want to write. However, my brain is total mush!

Any suggestions for organizing my thoughts and getting these projects underway? 🤔

Kismet? Or Something Else?

Mesmerized by his eyes

and the dark side that he hides.

His words, like honey, flow through my brain.

Sweet and full of substance.

Never an empty word.

He fills the spaces with thoughts to ponder.

He sends my mind reeling to another dimension.

I become a dreamer and find myself mystified by his nature.

He is something I have never experienced.

I just want to know him on every level.

I want to explore the human condition with him.

He sends this energy through me with written word.

I cannot understand this.

Who is this man?

What is his purpose for me?

~Kristen Ruchalski

10/20/2017

Reflections

While exploring WordPress, I came across a lovely blog, Rigpa, and blogger by the name of Mitesh Jain. I found this questionnaire and wanted to answer the questions and share with all of you so that you may do the same. I felt that the questions allow us the opportunity to reflect on our pasts and look towards our futures. It’s a great way to determine what we treasure and where we can improve.

You can find the original post here: Knowing Inner Self

This questionnaire’s objective is to provide insight and understanding self.

  1. If life stopped today, what would you regret not doing?

If my life stopped today, I would regret not telling people how I truly feel about them. This goes for the people I love and the people that have wronged me. Some times, it does feel like I’ve let too much slip by in life without insisting on an apology. I just forgive without one. That is a major regret for me.

2. What does your ideal day look like?

My ideal day would be waking up feeling rested (hard to do with fibromyalgia), enjoying coffee on the patio with a slight breeze blowing. My day would include laughs and giggles with my children. Enjoying yummy meals and fun activities throughout the day without the worry of my regular daily stress.

3. What excites you?

I get excited when things seem to be falling in place for me or someone I love. I enjoy seeing other people reach their goals and I hope that my positive energy will bring good things my way.

4. What do you wish you did more of?

I wish I would spend more time working on my novel. I know that I have a great story to tell that will touch the lives of many people. Unfortunately, writing it becomes painful for me because it is based on my own experiences. So, I stop writing for a while.

5. What area of your life, right now, makes you feel the best? Which area makes you feel the worst? Why?

Best: I feel the best about graduating from college with honors and choosing to continue my education. I am currently enrolled in graduate school and I am proud of my determination and perseverance.

Worst: I wish I was working and using my degree. I have the desire to start my career helping those with behavioral health issues. Currently, I feel that I am of no use to the world or the greater good.

6. Who would you love to meet? What would you ask?

I would love to meet (although he’s deceased) Sigmund Freud. He is an idol of mine in the field of psychology. What I would most like to discuss are actually the areas of his theories that I oppose or have been proven incorrect after years of psychological studies.

7. Imagine you’re in your 70’s, what memories would you like to have? What stories do you want to tell?

When I’m in my 70’s I would like to be able to tell my grandchildren stories about their parents as they grew up. I would like to pass on the wisdom I have gained through the years in hopes that they will avoid making poor decisions, yet always reach for their goals no matter how many obstacles stand in their way.

8. What did you want to be when you were younger?

When I was younger I always wanted to be a lawyer, then wanted to be a veterinarian. As I’ve grown, both passions are still high on my list. As a professional in the field of psychology, I intend to fight for policy change as it impacts mental health access in our country as well as the socioeconomic issues that impact behavioral health in our children in this country. I also intend to have a farm where I will practice animal assisted therapies with my clients.

9. If you could travel for free to one place, which would that be?

I would want to travel all over Europe. There is no way I could choose just one particular location. I want to experience Ireland, Poland, Spain, Italy, England, France, etc.

10. When was the last time you did something you love doing?

I write every day. That is what I love and that is what I will continue to do as long as I am able.

11. When was the last time you tried something for the first time?

About a year ago I took my children to Luray Caverns in Luray, VA. We explored one of the country’s most beautiful natural wonders. It was an amazing experience with my children.

12. What habit would you like to create?

I would like to start running again. As a child and teen (even early 20s) I was very active and athletic. Time and disease have taken their toll on my body. I would like to begin to push through the pain and force myself to get back into running. I was always such a peaceful and mind clearing experience and I want to get back to that.

13. With whom do you want to spend most of your time?

Of course, I always enjoy spending time with my children. But lately I have been wanting to spend a lot of time alone with my thoughts. It is helping me to figure out how to heal from my past and plan for my future.

14. What piece of advice would you give to five years old you? Fifteen years old you? Twenty years old you? Right now?

Five year old: Listen to your parents, always. They may seem mean but it’s only because they love you. I know you don’t want to move away from life in the city, but you are going to love living on a farm! Trust me!

Fifteen year old: Slow down, girl! Appreciate every moment with the people you love. And don’t trust that lying boyfriend your brother warned you about! He’s going to cheat on you.

Twenty year old: I know life is tough right now. Being a young, single mother is going to always be hard. But you will reach your goals one day. I promise you!

15. How do you want to be remembered in life?

I want to be remembered as a compassionate person with a good heart. I want to be remembered as a great friend that was always there when others needed me. I want my passion in life to be passed on to my children and I want them to say, “I get it from my Momma”.

I hope you take the opportunity to sit and answer these questions yourself. If you do, please tag me in your post so that I can see your answers as well. Let’s all reflect on our lives and share in the possibilities of wonderful futures!

~Kristen

Good Morning

The days pass, and I still find myself without the right words to share. I feel like I’ve lost my vision for my writing. It used to come so easy, now it’s not the same. I have a million ideas; none of which match what I used to write. 

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I have not had the time I would like to have to work on my novel. College studies take up so much time. Kids take up a lot more! Lol. And now I’ve had ideas for a series here on my blog. 

Most of us are people watchers. I think it’s rather natural. As I watch the interactions of the people around me, I often try to imagine the background stories, the current situation, and what the future will bring. Do you? 

My birthday is in a few days, and graduation on a few weeks. I feel that I have changed as a person, thus changing as a writer. I used to share just poetry and a few bits of my novel. I pretty much had a theme. That’s all changing. 

This blog will be changing to a collection of whatever thoughts I have that day. It may be political rants, poetry, short stories, mom stories, funny things, sad things, etc. 

I hope you will stick around. And I hope you understand the reasons for the shift. 

~Kristen