Yep, here I am I am on the holiday bandwagon saying THANKS. As an acoustic neuroma recipient, there are also things that I admittedly am NOT thankful for and willingly admit it. So, in the spirit of making lemonade out of lemons (forgive ALL my intentional clichés), let me see how many things I can turn around.
- I am NOT thankful for getting a brain tumor, but I AM grateful for many lessons I’ve learned since my diagnosis.
- I am not thankful for daily headaches, but they have helped me learn to live fully on days that are less painful. I have learned to observe more and appreciate non-participation at times from my quiet corner of a noisy room when my head is screaming.
- I am not thankful for facial paralysis and synkinesis, but it has helped me focus on people instead of their appearance. I understand what it is to feel different on the inside than what I can express on the outside. I’ve learned that body language is much, much broader than a smile.
- I am not thankful for losing the hearing in one ear. I am thankful for the hearing that I do have. I have learned to let go of control in some situations (yes, I have been known to be a control freak). I now enjoy seeing others lead and find it relaxing to let others communicate. I’ve learned to trust the people in my life to let me know when I didn’t hear something important, casually and without making it awkward by gently repeating what was said.
- I am not thankful for having a dent in my head. I have, over time, learned to chill more and relax tense muscles. Inhaling and exhaling are underrated. I pull my shoulders down and back, releasing tension that builds on itself in my body. I’m amazed at the difference I feel almost instantly upon a posture change.
- I am not thankful for tinnitus. It isn’t fun to have nonstop buzzing in my head that varies with eye movement. It is not fun to have roaring in my head after braving a concert, movie, or noisy restaurant. I have learned to be thankful for things that peacefully block the noise somewhat. Natural sounds of waves bring peace and solitude. Birds and rustling in the woods is pleasantly distracting. I find it interesting that the best sounds for blocking tinnitus are sounds in nature.
- I am not thankful for the independence that I lost. I appreciate regaining what I have and value freedom. Conversely, I’ve learned that dependence is sometimes a gift for both parties. I’ve learned to better appreciate relationships and people in my life.
- I am not thankful for the emotional upheaval and depression that I’ve had to fight through. While deep in despair, I remembered what happiness felt like and fought to find and embrace joy again. I treasure smiles, giggles, and laughing.
- I found nothing about a brain tumor to be funny despite nonstop jokes that I made when diagnosed. However, I’ve learned to laugh at myself and not take things so seriously. Really, not hearing someone is no reason for humiliation or embarrassment. I’ve learned to not pretend to hear what I didn’t and simply ask for a repeat of the question.
- I was not at all thankful to end my career early despite years of wishing (like most people) for early retirement. Brain surgery is not a good way to get out early. I did learn though that I have a passion for writing and it is something that I can do when able, and think about when disabled by pain or fatigue. I can connect with people in ways that bring community and mutual benefit. Even though I don’t do what I used to, I have been able to find a new place in life.
I could go on and on, but won’t. Overall, I’m recognizing that life truly is a gift with no guarantees. While issues following brain surgery are real, I’m alive to experience more joy and human connection than sorrow, discomfort, and isolation.