I have to tell you that I still kind of bristle when someone says, “Hasn’t this turned out to be a blessing in your life?” Well, no. I still would prefer to have NOT had a brain tumor. I’m still working on the “be thankful in all things” part of my experience. I just have to say.
However, given that I did have one (without my vote), there are good things that followed the experience. I have a new appreciation for:
- Life — At times, because depression is a big part of Acoustic Neuroma recovery that is frequently unspoken or acknowledged, I felt guilty for a long time when I thought death would be better. I was in pain and my life was upside down and I just didn’t see the point. However, with a lot of work, I do now see the value of life and treasure it.
- Family and friends – see above. If it wasn’t for the people in my life I wouldn’t have had a life preserver to hold while I regained my bearings.
- The medical profession – not that I wasn’t impressed with doctors and nurses – but when you go to sleep not knowing if you will wake up, you pay more attention.
- Modern medicine – Having access to modern medicine and state of the art equipment made a huge difference in my outcome. Even though I do still have “issues”, it sure turned out better than it would have in the pioneer days.
- Research – Even as advanced as medicine and disease understanding has come, there is more that we don’t know than we do know. Advancements are still needed. Research into the cause of disease and the cause of side effects is lacking.
- Little moments – Sometimes just having one good moment or experience is worth a day of pain in payment. That moment is savored more and replayed in my mind as I distract myself from pain.
- Big moments – I just, perhaps arrogantly, expected to be here for my daughters’ weddings and the birth of grandchildren. I now appreciate those moments and acknowledge what I would have missed if I hadn’t had survived a brain tumor.
- Playing through pain – Sometimes a precious moment happens to coincide with an incredible headache. Sometimes I find it possible to push the pain back enough to be in the moment that will never come again.
- Dog intuition – my dogs showed incredible insight as they slept when I slept and played when I played. They kept me grounded by reminding me that life does go on and they needed food, walks, and to go outside. They are now gone but I have wonderful memories of their emotional support when I needed them.
- Cat indifference – My cat is always there to curl up for a nap, but has few other demands. She has no use for my complaints and just flicks her tail in response. She helps me recognize that I am not the center of the universe. There are bigger issues, like catching a mouse.
- Sight – even though I can’t see as well as I used to and struggle with a dry eye, I appreciate what I can see. I appreciate colors and variation in shades. I appreciate sunny blue skies as well as the darkness of ominous snow clouds.
- Hearing – single sided hearing reminds me that I can hear. Not optimally, as nature intended, but I still hear my grandson’s laugh and adorable voice – even if I can’t figure out where it is coming from. I can still hear my daughters when they say “Mom.”
- Silence – I no longer have silence due to the ringing in my head, but I can appreciate how the ringing can calm down in quiet, tranquil settings.
The list could go on. So, bottom line – I don’t recommend having a brain tumor, but it does help us grow in our appreciation of life. It does help us prioritize what is important and what is
insignificant. It is something that we want to hold tight. We know that life is short.