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.

Too Much

I guess I was just too much. Too loving. Too strong. Too resilient. Some people don’t like that. Some people can’t handle that.

I guess I was just too much. Too much woman for a small minded man. Too strong for a weak man. Too much of myself for a man still searching for himself.

I guess I was just too much. Too outspoken. Too opinionated. Too loud. Too bold. Too powerful. Too much.

I guess I was just too much for the man unaware of my offerings. I guess I was just too much for the man too blind to see my beauty. I guess I was just too much for the man too stuck in the past to live in the present moment. I guess I was just too much for the man afraid of the future.

Knowledge of My Ignorance

I found a new book recently that is a daily devotional for intellectuals. It offers various readings each day presenting facts from the seven fields of knowledge. While reading the other night from the area of Philosophy, I came across an interesting idea presented by Socrates. Without the exact quote, the book presented it like this:

Socrates explained that he was no wiser than any other; it is only that he is aware of his own ignorance. That is what made him intelligent, in a sense.

I went online and found a few quotes that were similar and wanted to present them and discuss them here along with my thoughts on the concept.

True wisdom comes to each of us when we realize how little we understand about life, ourselves, and the world around us.

 

And


I know nothing except the fact of my ignorance.

~Socrates

Socrates evidently challenged men that claimed to know so much about various topics just to prove they did not know as much as they claimed to know. I think we can learn a lesson from this. It is our ignorance and our lack of knowledge that allows us to see ourselves for what we truly are. The ability to realize that I am ignorant to so much is what provides me with the wisdom in my life. Understanding that my knowledge is limited allows me to respect that which I do not yet understand and strive to continuously add to my knowledge base. However, I know that I will still be learning as long as I live, and I also know that I will never in my lifetime gain every bit of knowledge which exists in the world.

Something that has always fascinated me about those with intellectual disabilities is that they are content in their ignorance. Consider those with Asperger’s and their superior “hyperfocus” on topics which interest them; they continue to learn as much as they possibly can about a topic and are not concerned with their lack of knowledge of other topics. To me, that seems to put them at a higher level than most people. Many of us like to pretend that we know so much (myself included) and we are merely full of useless facts that do not provide anything to the greater good. We like to deny our ignorance of certain things in order to maintain a superiority complex. Those with intellectual disabilities seem to be aware of that ignorance and completely accepting of it. They do not need to know everything. They know what they know, and they are happy in that knowledge.

It makes me wonder if my desire to know so much is commendable or detestable. Should I continue to strive for knowledge or be more accepting of the fact that regardless of my quest to learn as much as I can, I will never learn it all? Should I be content in my ignorance of those things which I do not, and may not ever, understand? What are your thoughts?

~Kristen

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