I am not happy about the brain surgery I had. I tolerated it. I’ve dealt with lingering post-issues. However, have I accepted any of it?  I was recently told that the path to dealing with life events, failure, and disappointment is acceptance. What does that mean?  I recently dug into the dictionary of Google and found myself stuck between tolerance and acceptance. I learned a new perspective.

I drilled down through layers of web pages and definitions. I dug from high-level headlines to a detailed analysis of terms and descriptive words. Acceptance comes from the word accept which means that you consent to receive, believe or recognize. Yea, okay. Consent is not implying that I welcome, without trying to rewrite. I’ve often recited the obvious — you can’t have highs without lows, but I haven’t been past tolerance with the lows. I pondered as I looked out the window at trees and life.

We all quickly accept things that go our way in life. We accept without questioning desirable life events such as passing a test, enjoying a day with family, or finding a new pleasure in the form of food, book, or activity. We don’t obsess about decisions that we made that went well regarding career choice, friends made, or journeys traveled. However, when things are bad, which they factually are at times, we ask why?  We do not want to recognize or accept that life can be really rough.

I pondered that something can be tolerated but not accepted. However, one cannot accept without tolerance. After thinking really hard, and digging further, I started to understand the difference. Acceptance is moving our hearts and minds toward being okay with something.

Tinnitus is ringing in the ear. If you don’t have tinnitus, it probably sounds pretty benign. However, if you have it you know what crazy is. It doesn’t go away. It gets worse in some settings, but it’s always there. My tinnitus roars at times after being in a noisy setting. It changes with the movement of my eyes. However, if I don’t think about it, I tune it out. I forget about it for a while, even though it is still making the same sound to my brain. I know that there is nothing I can do about it, so I have accepted it.

Single-sided deafness is odd. It can range from unnoticeable in a quiet setting to frustrating when a grandson whispers something in my deaf ear. Shortly after becoming deaf in one ear, I was still adjusting. I was at a hotel and picked up the phone to call the front desk. I was holding the phone to my deaf ear. All I heard was silence. I hung up, looked at the phone, and tried again. Nothing. After three tries, I recognized I had been holding the phone to the wrong ear.

I switched ears and called a confused front desk person. At that moment, I could have been frustrated and depressed. However, for some reason, I chose acceptance. I laughed and apologized to the confused lady on the phone, explaining I had recently lost my hearing. I believe this was an example of acceptance – not just tolerance. It is a fact that I am totally deaf on one side. All frustrations aside, it is a funny story.

I haven’t been as gracious to myself about other things I should accept. I still question why I have not been able to will my body to heal faster or more fully. I am still limited in cognitive and physical stamina. I continually tolerate those limitations but haven’t fully accepted them. I get stuck between giving up and moving forward between tolerating with frustration and accepting by making new plans. I want to blame myself when I should accept that this is the journey I am on. I am not going to wake up one day to a different reality.

I’ve tried in spurts. I confidently find a new direction in life in my continual attempt at adding value to the world. However, when things don’t go as envisioned, I find myself pouting about how hard life is. I find myself bemoaning the old days. I don’t accept that I won’t get an honor badge for tolerating brain surgery. I won’t get a free pass for future endeavors. In fact, I’ll frequently pay a higher price to play in life. I don’t like that. But can I accept rather than tolerate? Am I missing new opportunities that may be very rewarding because I’m too busy looking back?

I’ve lived in many houses throughout my life in several different towns. I accept that I lived in one house as a child and a different one now – with many more in between. Sometimes the movement from house to house was my choice, and other times not. However, the moves happened, and my daily view was different. While I miss the view from previous houses, I love the view I have now of trees and space. Even when the trees are bare and brown in the winter, I know they’ll be green again in spring.

I can rearrange my current living room. However, it’s futile to try to fit things into a room in my house exactly as they fit into a previous house. I need to focus on the house I am currently living in. Maybe now I will try to view my mind and body similarly.

I constantly chaff at the changes in my life post-craniotomy. However, maybe if I focus more on what has happened rather than on what could have been I would feel more at peace with where I am in life. If – scratch that — WHEN we encounter a valley in life, the only way to get back on top of the mountain is to climb it. The pursuit of a full life is through trial and error, accepting that success isn’t guaranteed. Bumps and switchbacks are part of the journey. Can we embrace acceptance?

18 thoughts on “Acceptance

  1. Carole Raspanti

    Very well written Sally. I truly enjoyed reading your new post, its been a while. You are a inspiration to all of us.

  2. Melissa McDonald

    Thank you for sharing Sally! I did not have brain surgery, but I do have the ups and downs and there are definitely things that just have to be accepted. I like to think about…how can I live the best life possible. Love you!

  3. Carol

    You are such an inspiration – yes each life has its ups and downs – but you describe the changes in such a beautiful way. Glad to see you sharing again.

  4. Maryfrances Slawter

    Wonderfully accurate once again! Love reading your blog, it feels great having someone who umderstands the NEW me!

  5. Janice

    Well said. I had my AN surgery many years ago (in 1982!) and over the years, have encountered many patients going through what I did and still do. There are those who manage to accept and those who don’t, and I feel bad for those who don’t. Life is so good and we can compensate for most of our issues: blocking out the tinnitus, leaving night lights burning to help with balance issues, figuring out where to sit when out to dinner so we can enjoy the conversation, learning to laugh at the things our little frailties land us into. I still have a good friend who refuses to speak up. . .but that must mean I appear “normal!” so I choose to take that as a compliment (with the occasional reminder, sometimes strong.) Even the issue of hearing aid/no hearing aid is a non-issue to me: my life is good and I get along very well without one, so why on earth would I rock the boat? I’m officially “old” now, and I can assure you, life IS good after an AN. I’ve watched my kids grow up into productive adults, have wept tears from my “good” eye when they received diplomas and degrees, got that great job, walked to the altar, called when the babies were coming, and now have watched and laughed so much as those babies have grown up too fast. I”ve cried when I said my final good-byes to my parents and then rejoiced with my siblings at the wonderful lives they’ve had and how lucky we were to have them as long as we did. Life is what you make of it. Accept that and you’ve got ‘er made. God bless and keep working toward that acceptance.I’

    1. sallystap Post author

      beautifully said. I can’t believe how fast those grandbabies grow!! There are many joys that I’ve experienced since surgery that I wouldn’t want to miss!

    2. Kimberly Ross

      Can someone please tell me where I go to create a post, I just joined and am having a hard time navigating the site, thanks so much

  6. Deb Santos

    I had my 15 hour surgery almost 30 years ago, April 6,1988 and so blessed to be here.
    My doctor told me I did so well because of
    my positive attitude. I had a few things
    but they only lasted 3 months. Of course
    I have one sided deafness and dry eye.
    I compensated well for 29.5 years however
    I am ready now to look into my
    options and decided to go with
    a Cros over hearing aid. I will be receiving these November 21 and look
    forward to it. I hope they work for me.
    We were special hand picked flowers that were giving this to deal it. The way we handle it is entirely up to us. I am doing
    great and have adopted well. God Bless.

  7. Taunya

    I am going to have my surgery on Dec 15 th.
    At this time the only thing I am experiencing is some balance issues. My tumor was found totally by accident by my Cardiologist. He decided to do an MRI because of having some dizzy spells and there it was.
    Reading some of your blogs are making me wonder
    Did the surgery make you worse?????

    1. sallystap Post author

      Hi Taunya,
      That’s an interesting question. I didn’t have many issues prior to surgery. However, surgery wasn’t an option so I can’t compare that way. I didn’t have the wait and watch option. I’m sure your doctors have concluded the same. I can tell you that I appreciate life more now! You’ll get through it! Sally

    2. Janice

      Hi, Taunya. My surgery is ancient history, and I’m assuming things are better now than they were in 1982. In my experience back then, I’d had vague balance issues for awhile and just ignored them–I was a nurse and would sometimes get “wavery” when bending over a patient or a bed. I just shrugged it off–figured I’d always been a bit of a klutz and this was just part of that. Then my hearing deteriorated basically overnight, which sent me to the doc. Anyway. Again, this was my experience: my balance was no different post-op than pre-op. The doctors decided that the tumor had damaged my balance gradually and completely, and I’d adjusted along the way. As for the hearing loss, and this was hard to explain to people: I came out deaf in my right ear, and I found that to be, oddly, a relief. Before, I’d had distorted hearing in that ear. To me, it was easier to contend with NO hearing in that ear so I had nothing interfering with the hearing in the other, “good,” ear. I do have tinnitus on my AN (right) side, but I decided early on that if I didn’t learn to block it out, it would drive me crazy, so I just quit listening to it. It’s there but only bothers me if I’m very stressed over something. The very worst effect of the tinnitus was the first months after surgery, I’d wake up in the night, thinking I was hearing the tinnitus in both ears. Scared me half to death til I could get completely awake and ascertain that it wasn’t happening. I know, crazy. As for the balance; you will find the issues worse in the dark, so get photocell controlled night lights and put them where you need them. Good luck with your surgery. Be kind to yourself; rest, do what you feel like doing, don’t panic, and believe the doctors when they tell you things will get better and easier. I had some weird issues post-op—-and they all turned out to be medication side-effects. I left the hospital on no meds. None.

    3. Janice

      No, the surgery didn’t make me worse. For awhile, I had some facial paralysis but this corrected itself to the point where nobody notices it but me. My eye is a bit dry but nothing I can’t deal with. My balance issues took care of themselves before the surgery when I wasn’t even looking. The biggest change was my hearing: I had disrupted (garbled) hearing in the affected side before the surgery, and after, I had none. Oddly, this was a relief. Now, my “good” ear worked perfectly without my having to “put up with” garbled hearing—this is so much easier! The tinnitus is unchanged, was there before and continues after all these years (I recently saw the movie “The Star is Born” and at one point, leaned over to my husband and told him, “That’s EXACTLY what I’ve been hearing for the past 36 years!” The facial paralysis drove me a bit crazy for awhile after the surgery, but the docs told me it would get better and it did. I’m not going to lie and say the post op period was a walk in the park, but it was bearable and the end result was good.

  8. Janice

    Good grief! I replied twice. Didn’t remember the first time. . .and I can’t even blame it on having had “a brain tumor” or “old age.” I’m just a bit lame! Sorry about that!!


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