Sometimes we need to use words

I will be the first person to raise my hand and plead guilty, so please don’t picture me with my nose in the air touting greatness. Instead, picture me clicking “Like” to a social media post instead of taking the time to say a few words. (That is, ‘like’ or ‘+1” or ‘*’.depending on the social media site)

Social media is a powerful tool in our world today. Because of it, we are connected to more people than ever. We connect with old friends, delighted to catch up after sometimes many years. It’s a wonderful way to share family news across the miles. Other times we connect with people who are also experiencing a life event. Topics vary tremendously, including beliefs, travel, parenthood, hobbies, or shared life stages. Other events are traumatic to ourselves and close ones like illness, tragedy, or financial needs. We can now communicate in a truly global way with many despite the fact that we are sitting in a chair, possibly alone in our homes.

Myself — I have connections with friends, family, casual acquaintances. We all have things to share and laugh about. A steady stream of videos fills my feed of crazy and cute. Thought provoking posts help me see things from varying perspectives. I’ve made friends in faraway places and feel like we live next door.

However, what I do find interesting, and a bit disappointing (see finger pointing at myself also), is when people pour their hearts out in a post that we often read, click acknowledgement of, and move to the next post. Especially in closed groups, individuals are reaching out to others who are experiencing things that nobody in their direct daily life can understand. We, fellow members of those groups, are sometimes the only ones who can grasp the severity of what that individual is living – today. Often, we don’t take the opportunity to share our words to let them know they aren’t alone in this world. We don’t take the time to carefully craft a response that really shows that we understand, have answers, or can provide encouragement.

Now, not to be too hard on myself and the rest of us – it does take all of us (no, I’m not going to say a village.)  There are days when I don’t login to any of my social media accounts. I disappear for weeks at a time and am not one to post that I just made toast (although I did once post that I made hot chocolate – lol). Sometimes I browse my news feeds just as a nurse calls me into an appointment, not allowing for a wordy response. I cannot, nor can anyone, take the responsibility of always commenting, but we can do our part.

In the acoustic neuroma world, there are new diagnoses every day. I recognize, and clearly remember, the specific shocked state that one goes into when hearing a brain tumor diagnosis. We want to know that we are the exception to the assumption that a brain tumor changes you for life, or ends our long thought out life plans. We learn that it does change everyone, at least emotionally, while retaining goodness and joy regardless of our physical outcome. There is laughter and camaraderie despite being changed physically – some more than others. We do not have all the answers, but we can be there for each other. We can encourage. We can speak and share.

So, in the season of beginnings, let’s think about actually taking the time to let others know that we have heard them. I thank those who have encouraged and commented as I’ve written this blog. It is that encouragement that keeps me writing. Thank you.

7 thoughts on “Sometimes we need to use words

  1. Janice

    Good thoughts–I remember my early reactions even after 34 years. It’s surreal, all of it. I was 35 years old when I was diagnosed. . .let me reassure you that, while the acoustic neuroma experience does change you, the “old you” will be back. It takes a while, and having a good support system is key. I had my husband. I wasn’t too pleased with him back then. This cruel man made me go out in public from DAY ONE. I was in the hospital 17 days (things were different then,) and when I finally was dismissed, we got into the car (we were an hour and a half from home) and said, “I’m hungry.” He drove to a restaurant and gave no option but to go in with her. I, of course, didn’t want to be seen in public with my half-a-face and still-foreign-feeling wig. He ordered himself food and since I didn’t want anything, ordered me coffee—-and a soda straw. That was the beginning. He got me out of the house every day til I went back to work (nursing) nine weeks later. He came home from work at lunchtime and took me for a walk. We visited friends. We visited people I didn’t really like. He encouraged the kids to bring their friends home, and he made me answer the door when the bell rang. I recovered, didn’t feel “normal” in those nine weeks–that took about 2 years. I know the 2 years because it was almost exactly 2 years when, one day, I at the end of the day thought to myself, “This is the first day in two years that nothing happened to remind me of that damned tumor.” I functioned, but “normal” took about 2 years. One thing I want to absolutely stress: Don’t let social media keep you from real interaction with real people, people who are present in your life. Don’t hole up with the thought that social media is actually human contact. It isn’t, by a long shot. It was hoofing it on our little town’s streets, running into people who smiled at me–and I had to smile back, such as it was. Going out to dinner with people. Going to the mall. Chatting it up at the grocery store. Going to the family reunions even when we don’t want to. This face-to-face stuff is the stuff of “normal.” I was a half-faced LPN with a drippy nose, but it was my co-workers who told me to ditch the wig when my hair was about an inch long and my patients quickly realized they were in good hands and treated me like I was “normal,” respected me. None of this can happen on Facebook. (I LOVE Facebook, am on it far too much, but I remind myself that this isn’t real socialization.) Hang in there and be yourself, whatever that is today and every day. One day, and it won’t be too long, you will be your own “normal.” It’s one hell of an adventure we’ve been on. (Note that I’ve just recovered from colon cancer surgery. I’m now The One-Eared-Half-a-Colon-Wonder. Big old tumor but no need for chemo. I’ve had such good luck (called it “blessing”) in the midst of bad. If it don’t kill ya, it makes you strong. I am now quite strong enough.. “Are you listening, God? STRONG ENOUGH.”

  2. Kathy Council

    Sally, I hear you and get what you are saying. I read your blog faithfully and am always humbled to hear what you are going through. You are a great writer and really get into the soul when you talk about what is going on with you. I cannot feel your pain, but I hear you and feel privileged to know you. Don’t get discouraged and don’t stop writing. I miss seeing you. A glass of wine is always good.

  3. Suely Capiraco Arruda

    Eu acompanho tudo o que voce escreve e apesar de eu nao ser operada e talvez eu va para uma radiocirugia no futuro , eu entendo muito bem o que voce passou e o que estA passando, o que alias todos passam. A vida de cada um sofre modificaçoes drasticas. Uns menos e outros mais, mas todos passam esta mudança. O que temos de fazer e lutar e nunca se entregar pois este bicho quer isto mesmo.
    Temos de ser fortes ate o fim. Eu vou para nova RM em maio deste ano e peço a Deus que me proteja e tambem a todos que sofrem do mesmo mal. Grande abraço.
    Suely Capiraço Arruda – Brasil


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