May 13, 2013

Tackled by North of Hope


"Are you over it yet?" someone asked once.
"Have you moved on?" asked someone else.

I knew these were questions asked froma place of discomfort, by people who did not know, who didn't know what to say. Still, the queries came at me like blades. There is no such thing as getting over it, I wanted to scream, I wanted to whisper. There is no such thing as moving on, at least not how you've understood it before. It's like being tackled by something you hadn't known existed, then lying breathless on the ground, getting up slowly, and starting to walk again, alongside this thing, along with this thing. It's no wonder some stories describe the grim reaper as a person or thing hooded and unknown that shows up at our doors, takes up residence in our homes and lives and bodies, a thing dark and physical.

I had to learn to understand the world differently. I had to relearn the world, ... I had to relearn myself ... I did not know how to do this kind of learning. I did not want to learn this kind of life.
excerpted from North of Hope by Shannon Huffman Polson
Underlining is my emphasis

Long time readers will know and recognize in the above words some of what I have gone through since September 2011. I did not write those words though, Shannon Polson did in her memoir, North of Hope. I was reading along, as you do, underlining good bits as you can see in the quote, (shh! don't tell my mom, I think she's a book purist!), having a good day with the window open reading a breeze tickling the hairs on my neck.

Then I read those words.  I started crying, not sobbing or loud, crocodile tears. Just crying. There's even a huge exclamation point next to these paragraphs and the corner of the page is turned down. It's page 57 if you need to know. I try to distract myself from feeling as write now even.

K realized I was crying and came over to ask what was up. I shared the words Polson had so eloquently put together explaining her grief at the loss of her father and step mother. She said, "That's you!" I just nodded and smiled through my healing tears, like a soaking rain on a spring night.

I have had many people ask me, "How are you doing?" or "Are you back to normal yet?" or "Can you go back to work yet?" I know they are speaking from that same place of disquiet that Polson described. My getting bacterial meningitis and almost dying is very similar to reminding them of their own mortality just as the death of a parent or step-parent does for our friends and coworkers.

I tried to work for a while, but the constant headaches and having to find coverage for my shifts just left me exhausted. The migraines weren't letting up and that was before preventative and abortive medications for them. Now, I still get migraines about 66% of the time, I do the math each month to know just how many days are lost to the residual effects of bacterial meningitis. I'm still angry about it, I guess.

The part in these few paragraphs that fits so exactly and well with my life is what I drew the title for this post from. "It's like being tackled by something you hadn't known existed, then lying breathless on the ground, getting up slowly, and starting to walk again, alongside this thing, along with this thing." This is my life with meningitis. I did not know what it was, now I can give a medical treatise on the subject of the meninges. I even know how to spell meninges finally. I was unable to do much of anything for the whole month of September 2011. I ramped up to working slowly and started to walk, but that proved to strenuous. I'm still extremely pissed that that is so. I hate having to be on first Short Term Disability and now Long Term Disability insurance payouts because it means I am stuck. I'm not where I want to be gosh darn it! And, that's frustrating as all get out.

I've had to relearn everything in my life. How to dress to avoid migraines (sunglasses, big hats, even inside buildings in the dead of Maine winters). How to avoid migraines in every possible and still have them show up, so why bother with behavioral modifications. How to take daily meds to prevent migraines causing me to think about them on a more frequent basis than I want. How not to go out in bright sunlight without sunglasses on. How to wear those sunglasses when under florescent lights. And on and on and on.

I did not know how to do this kind of learning. Neurologist doctor and his wonderful assistant have been greatly helpful in teaching  this kind of things. Mom and grandma have taught me about prayer and miracles. A jewish friend online has been praying for me. I figure we both believe in the same God, just have differences of faith and opinion on Jesus' role and the Trinity and all that comes out of those sorts of things.

Anyways, it's time for my second cup of coffee, this one's down to dregs and has gone icy. I'll be back with more to share about this fascinating and thought provoking read!

Please feel free to leave comments about your challenges with things that changed your life and how that helped you. What helped you when you were challenged Enjoy!

BookSneeze® has provided me with an advanced reading copy for my review.