April 2018

Friday, September 20, 2013

Calendaring Confusion

Today, when I arrived at yoga, I expected my teacher Victoria to greet me because today is Friday, and Victoria teaches on Fridays. Instead, Dawn, who teaches on Mondays, was there. When Dawn greeted me at the door, she noticed my confusion and said, "Today's Monday." I hesitated. I could have sworn today was Friday. Then Dawn laughed and said, "Just kidding. I'm subbing for Victoria today. I had you going there for a minute."

It's true. She did. Since radiation for my second brain tumor, I've had trouble with calendars. Earlier this week, when my Silver Sneakers teacher Chad and I were scheduling an interview, I opened my calendar. "Let's see. Today is Tuesday, October 1st. Right?" 

Chad laughed, and said, "It's September."

Glad to be corrected, I said, "Oh, it must be September 24th." 

Chad laughed again and looked a little concerned. "Noooo...."

"Earlier?" I asked, mystified, and Chad nodded. 

"The 17th? I could have sworn it was October." (Looking back, I realize now that my October MRI--a regularly scheduled look into my brain--is on my mind, so I had moved myself into October already.)

Six years ago, when I was in the hospital recovering from surgery for my first brain tumor, my surgeon talked with me every morning. Each day he'd ask, "What's your name? What's the date? Where are you?"

I always got the first two right. I remembered my whole name, Mary Adele Edwards, and the nurses wrote the date on the white board in front of me each morning, so I looked there to see the date. Because each day in the hospital was much like the day before, there's no way I would have known without the nurses' help.

(I usually got "Where are you?" right, but one day, I said, "I know exactly where I am. I'm on the 17th floor of Virginia Mason Hospital." When the doctor began to nod with approval, I continued, "in the crematorium." The good doctor reduced my steroids.)

People who see me notice pretty quickly that my eyes are crossed, my vision poor, and my balance unreliable. Friends and family also know that I struggle with fatigue,  so I nap a lot. They also know that I've lost significant hearing in my right ear and use a hearing aid (which I love.) I have other disabilities, too, that are harder to notice. 

I struggle with following a calendar, even when I'm looking at it. There must be some special spot in the brain for calendars that got fried a little during radiation.

What else? I have a slight tremor in my left hand and an even slighter one in my right hand. My left foot often takes on a purplish hue because of nerve damage. The middle muscles in my left nostril don't work like they used to, so it's hard to blow out boogers. (This is more troublesome than you might guess. Dad said he didn't think I needed to put that part about the boogers in my blog, but you know that I am honest with you, even when the truth isn't pretty.) When I've been moving quickly--say in an airplane or a car or even on foot--my body thinks the world is still going quickly by, so I have to be especially careful as I come to curb: the world is not as it seems.

The list goes on. 

The truth is, there's a lot we can't see about anyone's struggles. I try to remember that when some teen on a skateboard rattles past, threatening my sense of safety on the sidewalk. Or when a politician or religious leader says something that seems foolish and offensive to me. Or when someone insults me, intentionally or not (like the woman in the bathroom at the Storm game who apologized too profusely to me when she said something about "the blind leading the blind.")

I try to remember: that person is doing the best that person can right now. I try to remember that I can't see or sometimes even guess at someone else's struggles. 

I'll try to remember that about you. I hope you'll remember that about me, too. 

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