There’s a fair amount of worry over writing about health issues in a public sphere. Potential employers or health insurance companies could easily mark me as broken, though I prefer to see myself as mended or kintsugi.
I can write about balance and the importance of sharing my experience, from the relatively quick process of discovering what was ailing me to the long slow process of recovering from surgery and getting back in shape. I do have altruistic feelings about this. I feel sharing my experience may help or edify others.
I also feel like this:
Apologies to my mother for the momentary vulgar language but it really ecapsulates the importance of speaking my individual, strange and not always perfect truth.
I recently upped the difficulty level on a video game I play a lot. I like the challenge.
A while back John Scalzi wrote about how various things effect the difficulty level of life.
A lot of people comment on how rough I’ve had it with my health lately. I agree. It has been difficult. I wouldn’t choose it and I wouldn’t wish it on anyone. The sick part was bad enough and now recovery has aspects both boring and challenging. A head cold will still wipe me out when sinus pressure meets surgery site.
If I focus on the challenging part though this whole experience becomes something interesting. What helps improve my health, what makes it worse? How can I grab back the life I want? What about life has changed such that I want to do more or less? A health scare really helps set priorities.
Going back to work exposed me to germs and got me out in the cold weather freezing my poor nose. Of course I’d catch a head cold. Sick, bored, unimaginable pain in my head. It’s very tempting to wallow in sad. I’m working very hard at staying focused on the interesting parts of getting better, the process, the stages, the moments.
Today I returned to work. I felt nothing changed and everything changed. My team moved offices, my bosses and the work I do are the same. I spent the day catching up on email. Reached inbox zero. Not as hard to do as work queue zero. Also put my desk together. Facilities was sufficiently busy that I asked for the tools instead of the work and got to play with small power tools. Had lunch with my coworkers, caught up, again not much has changed. Two months is both eternity and no time at all.
One coworker was surprised to see me taking the stairs, another that I really am not bothered by noises that would send me into fits before the surgery. Everyone was happy to see me. I was happy to see everyone.
I finish the day not tired so much as excited and a little confused. I will be tired shortly. I know I’ve said it before but it felt like I wasn’t gone at all and yet I missed some things but I was missing things before because I wasn’t thinking clearly and now I’m thinking clearly and it’s all so clear and I’m so there, here, where I am when I am yet there’s this gap.
Tomorrow when I go in my desk will be ready, everything I need ready at hand, a ticket already pulled from the queue, inbox will be slim and I will engineer. It will be good. Today was good too. It’s all good.
Sitting around in a cafe hanging out holding a friend’s babies (he has twins) is a huge drain on my vestibular (balance) system. Who knew that trying to compensate for wobbly, bouncing creature holding would be so tiring?
Imagine needing a surgery like mine but not having to get it done ASAP to ensure job security. Check your inner clock and ask yourself “when are the big cold seasons in the area?” In Oregon January is the month of the miserable head cold. Sinus pressure and recovering from ear related brain surgery sucks. If I could have chosen a date based on nicest post-surgery healing I think I would have gone with June or July.
Also I have little pity for the other people saying “Day 12 of stupid head cold” on my social networks. I may instead be overdoing the self pity.
That blown up feeling in my head never felt so bad as now in my right ear after having had ear surgery. (Yeah, I call it brain surgery because they cut into my skull and touched my brain to move it out of the way to get to my innermost ear but right now with my head cold I choose to call it ear surgery.) Ow.
The other night I chose to see a dance performance instead of playing D&D.
The other night I was invited to go to a dance performance with a friend who offered me a ride in contrast going to play D&D at a house I’d never been to that was at least an hour public transit ride away.
The other night I sat passively at a dance performance with a friend who would leave if I needed to rather than going to play D&D which is a highly interactive and creative story telling experience often with multiple voices overlapping and at least an hour public transit ride home after.
As I post openly about what I do with my time I worry about one of my D&D friends seeing that when I cancelled on D&D because I didn’t feel well enough that I then went to a dance performance. It makes me feel lame in that teenager way of saying “that’s lame.”
For each thing I choose to turn down and each thing I choose to pick up as I recover from surgery I do a careful measure of my capabilities. How much effort goes into transportation? How easy will it be to leave abruptly if I need to get away quickly? (This one is huge for me.) What level of brain or body wellness is required to do this? Sometimes my information is inaccurate and later I find out I could have gotten a ride or something like that.
Anyway, this is my disclaimer. I plan on being very active but I also plan on declining a lot.
I thought I’d start light with a comic book. Didn’t work.
Maybe a nice little mystery that leads you along to where the murderer is caught in the end. Nope.
A history of libraries? Almost.
Algorithms in a Nutshell? Blah blah blah.
The Art of Computer Programming Volume 1 Fundamental Algorithms Third Edition? YES!
Donald E Knuth is a lyricist and a logician. He shows algorithms as steps in a list, as flow charts, descriptively, and as programming code. He covers all learning styles. He is thorough and knowledgeable and I love the way he writes.
I thought to get my brain working again I should start slow, read something easy. Instead it turned out I needed return to an old favorite, an author who speaks to me like kin. To explore familiar paths and comfortable book houses.
Time to pull out Oscar Wilde, John Burroughs (naturalist), Robin McKinley, Thich Nhat Hanh, Jane Austen, Gene Stratton Porter, Joseph Campbell, Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, Tamora Pierce, Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi, etc.
For now though dear Donald Knuth.
Approaching the intentional transformation of self for me includes an outline of what makes Self. Foundationally I agree with Joseph Campbell on the concepts of masks.
We all wear masks throughout our lives. These masks come with familiar phrases like “professional behavior will help with networking for a job” or “don’t talk like that around your grandmother.” Sometimes the masks are changed out with barely a thought. One outfit is for a night on the town and another is for on the job. The idea that these different ways of presenting ourselves are just masks that we wear and switch out is not a new one, though also not always done consciously.
Underneath these masks exists a fundamental me with traits that thread through all the masks. For me one of those traits is I won’t lie just to get ahead. I failed a class in college because I wouldn’t just go along with what the teacher was saying. My truth was more important than a grade, or a relationship, or a free ride, or a job or anything. I value sticking to my guns on topics I believe in and I’m not going to say “yes, we should all be vegans” just to get an A.
My goal is to sift through my traits, figure which ones are firmly me and which are simply taken on for convenience and then facet them out into masks appropriate for each situation in my life.
To make this easier I’ve divided traits into the following categories:
- Physical States
Each one is plural because each one is changeable as well as potentially multiplicital (spell check says I made that word up).
Here’s the list again with examples:
- Actions: Exercise, hug a friend, or share lunch with a homeless person
- Appearances: Wear spikes on a leather jacket or smile at people
- Dreams: Wipe polio off the face of the planet or eat pumpkin pie every day for a week
- Environments: Live in a small town or read in a coffee shop
- Feelings: Sadness or love
- Memories: Picking mint for Mama’s tea or almost drowning
- Perceptions: Eugene is the big city or Eugene is a town with delusions
- Physical States: Healthy, head cold, or heart murmur
- Thoughts: E = MC^2 or I wonder if she’s out of my league
- Words: “Thanks for the lift!” or “I can’t believe he did that!”
- Works: Founding a non-profit, building a skyscraper, starting a successful business, creating art, or etc
So given my belief that these things make a person I simply (ha!) have to quantify myself in each of these areas as I have been, as I am and as I want to be. Then I just (ha ha!) facet that into appropriate masks for the situations most likely to occur in my life. In the end I will have a solid sense of core self with easy to reference facets for general purpose use.
I’ve had a few life events to finish off 2013 and am very ready for 2014. As I heal from surgery I plan on healing in the direction of the me I want to be. I’m pretty tired right now, just got back from very delicious Dim Sum at a very crowded noisy restaurant but let’s just start this transformation with a little change in style for this web site. Something a little brighter and sunnier.