Thursday, February 02, 2012

People! Did I forget to tell you about what I learned from my finished dissertation?

That isn't right, you know?


1. I never could have done it without all of your help and you deserve to celebrate the end! (even if the "end" was two years ago.)

2. Some of the conclusions were super intriguing! If you're a writer, you might actually want to know them!

3. It feels incomplete, somehow, right? I mean, you guys got the saga while it was happening, but you never heard the end!

So, why, oh why, did I not post this before?

It's obvious if you know me in person.

But it might not be obvious to people who only know me through the blog, and for that, I'm sorry. Shame is my only explanation. Misplaced shame, probably. But isn't most shame like that?

See, I sort of disappeared two years ago, maybe you noticed? My posts were shorter, when they appeared at all. Maybe you thought I'd stopped blogging, or stopped caring. But it wasn't that.

What happened was that I stopped being.

Here's how it went: I defended my dissertation exactly* two days before I had my ill-fated cancer surgery. I didn't tell y'all much about the whole cancer thing because, I thought, blah. Who wants to hear me whine?

And it wasn't going to be a big deal, I was sure of it. So why inflict it on you? It would bore you to death. I mean, skin grafts? No biggie. A little time off and then we can talk again. It'd make more sense to talk about the dissertation off drugs, anyway. And it can't take THAT long to recover, right? Six weeks? Maybe seven?


the universe loves to mess with me.

It's been almost two years since then. And you know when I first felt like myself again? The first time I was able to pick up my computer and really write? To feel my own thoughts connecting with words? The first time I could write like I used to?

It was three weeks ago.

I'm reminded of that "plans" thing they say. You know? You make plans and God laughs? I didn't plan on having to deal with a freaky-rare-cancery-lesion-thingy. And once I did have to deal, I didn't plan on having a bad surgery. I mean, I've run marathons, had two babies, I hiked 200 miles over 7 mountains while on IVF hormones! I gave birth to a baby 15 minutes after going into labor! And I'd had surgery before, no problem. I am tuff.

Turns out: none of us are tuff.

See,"tuff"is a delusion we cling to--one that completely ignores the fact that there are things in the universe (almost everything in the universe) we can't control. We're "tuff" because we don't want to acknowledge: all of us can be broken. And the things that break us? Never things our "tuffness" can prevent. No matter how "tuff" we think we are.

I didn't plan on a lot of things that happened these last two years, and I certainly couldn't control them. The grafts didn't take, there were gaping, oozing, open wounds for half a year, infections in places there should never be infections, ripping and tearing in places there should never be ripping or tearing, drugs causing language aphasia, legs that didn't work properly, a once awesome brain turned to mush. I didn't plan on any of that.

And the pain.

Well, you can't plan for something you didn't know existed. And pain like that? It's not even pain anymore. It's something ten exponents bigger than pain, something they haven't even named. I don't even know how to describe it. But here's a little of what I know: One part? Dissociation. (Who is the girl in that bed? Why is she screaming?) Another part? Your heart stops. Literally. The pain is so bad that your heart plunges into arrhythmia, unable to handle the bombardment of stress hormones erupting from the brain. They say pain can't kill you? They're wrong. Pain nearly killed me. Twice.

But that's not even the worst of it. Because it doesn't stop with death. It keeps going. Months and months and months and years it keeps going. And somewhere, in that mess of dissociation and hovering between life and death, and the years-long bombardment of hormones and pain signals, and death signals all rushing through your blood... Somewhere in all of that you realize:

you are gone.

The person you were? Not coming back. Everything you thought you were capable of? You're not. Everything you hoped for? Laughable. That's the worst part, really. When you lose the ability to hope.

We need hope.

We need to look at our babies and hope that we *will* survive to make sure they're okay. We need to look at the future and hope that we'll be able to smile again, if not walk normally. We need to look at our husband and hope that, someday, we'll be able to hold him again. Not as an invalid desperately clinging: as a partner showing love. And most of all, we need to be able to pray. To pray and really hope that someone hears us.

When you lose hope? You lose everything.

This post has officially digressed FAR beyond my original intentions, so I'll get on with it.

My point is, I meant to share some stuff, but life got in the way.

But my brain is better now, I'm better now. I didn't know I was going to come back, but I did. I'm not all the way back to the way I was, but I'm me again. I'm more surprised than anyone.

And that dissertation y'all helped me with? It was kickass. So maybe we can pick up where we left off. Maybe we can go back to the place we were. Back in time. And you know where we were? We were at the end of a kickass dissertation.

So in the next few days, I'll share some of it with you.

Assuming, of course, that life keeps it's distance for a bit.

*(okay, approximately two days; I'm too lazy to check, but it was superquick. didn't even have time to mention to y'all that I'd passed my defense. I think. I'm too lazy to check that, too.)


NotWarriorPrincess said...

Damn girl you ARE back.

And this is gonna rock.

Barb said...

Weeping. There are no words to describe the hell that you have been through but you have found some anyway. I'm so happy that you are back. We missed you, YOU missed you.

Rachel said...

I only know you from your blog. And I was tempted to unsubscribe for a while. I'm so glad I didn't. I read this post twice, carefully. Being tuff, surviving (outlasting) the unthinkable, becoming a new version of yourself... still churning this all around. It is valuable, precious. Thanks so much for sharing part of your story. I will be thinking about it all week.