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.

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.