Thursday, May 14, 2015

Sucker Punch: Not the Movie

It has been a few months since I posted to this blog, mostly because there has been nothing significant to report. My medical condition remains status quo, which is a good thing. I continue the slow, steady crawl back to relative normalcy--as normal as living with a brain tumor and a shunt running through the left side of my body while looking perfectly fine on the outside can be. That sounds whiny, so no more of that.

After surviving the longest, coldest, darkest winter in history along with everyone else in New England, spring has finally arrived. Trees are blooming, flowers are budding, grass is growing, and pollen is covering everything with a thick yellow dust. Like just about everyone else, this is the time of year when my sinuses act up. That little nag in the back of my head worries about each twinge and twitch and throb on the left side of my body from the chest up to the top of my crown. Compared to last year, the spring of 2015 is a walk in the park. But I never want to forget how bad it was last year. I never again want to explain my symptoms away as being caused by pollen. Sounds ridiculous, doesn't it? Confusing a brain tumor with sinus pain? Fool me once, as they say. So now I keep a little health journal on my calendar to note any head related symptoms and when they go away, just to be sure. I would recommend this practice to anyone with an ongoing medical condition.

I continue to be amazed by the transitions a human body can undergo and still remain vital. Whether it's due to my meditation practice, the trauma from last year, or simply growing older, I have become more aware of the emotional component to my condition and to my life in general. Anyone who knows me is has no doubt that I prefer to create drama on the page rather than live it. Emotions are kept contained under a pretty solid poker face, except for the "Mom look" my children know quite well. It doesn't mean I don't feel things, I simply choose not to express them outwardly. It's much simpler that way. 

Here's the part where the title of this post is explained (and no, it's not the 2011 movie, but here's a picture anyway)

I was performing the mundane task of paying the household bills, starting as usual by cleaning out the May folder, sorting through the year-old bills, statements and receipts, when I came upon the order form for Ben's high school graduation portrait. Everything stopped and I was sucker punched back into the trauma of last year. The headaches, the vomiting, the blinding auras, the hospital. Missing my oldest child's graduation. Ruining what should have been a happy occasion. The embarrassment I felt for overlooking what now seem to be obvious symptoms. All of these compounded and swirled around inside the old cocoon of guilt. I sat at my desk, tears streaming from my eyes as it all came rushing back.

Mothers feel guilty all the time for everything it seems, even for things completely out of their control. Later, I related the "sucker punch" experience to Margaret and told her how I was looking forward to her high school graduation next year. The underlying sentiment, though unspoken, was that I felt guilty for being excited when I had ruined Ben's graduation day. I have a strange feeling that Margaret's graduation day will really be Ben's too--for me and the rest of the family--and that doesn't seem fair. But that's how it goes.

I would be lying if I said I wasn't nervous about hearing the first notes of the graduation march next year. That's when it all went down, after all. Graduation march and green caps and gowns. How emotional will I be? Will I be sobbing uncontrollably like I was last year, or was that because of the tumor? At least I have a year to prepare. And now that I know it can happen when I least expect it, I will be on the lookout for possible triggers. I don't want to be caught off guard again.

So here's to the sucker punch! Be it a song, a memory, a word, or a stupid receipt from a year ago. I think I'll clean out the June 2014 file now.

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