Silent Struggle

I’d be loaded if I got a dollar every time someone told me they don’t see a difference in me post surgery. 

You have no idea how I’ve mastered pretending, hiding and compensating. It’s exhausting.

I like writing because I can spend as much time as I need to get my thoughts out.

My short-term memory is worse than my long-term memory.

I can no longer memorize anything.

Often, I have no idea what I just asked/said or what someone just told me.

I’ve gotten savvy at repeating a question myself or asking someone to repeat themselves so they don’t liken me to the village idiot.

In conversation, I try to think a few steps ahead so the topic is fresh and the words will be available. I’ll find myself knowing what I want to say, but the words simply can’t get out quickly enough.

I get really annoyed when people tell me to ‘spit it out’ or look at me irritated that it’s taking so long.

I’ve found myself trying to recall a name, having absolutely no association as to where to begin, finally figuring it out after two days.

I totally blank on what I’m thinking and talking about quite often which is always an immensely rewarding and fulfilling experience.

I’ve unexpectedly stuttered a few times, been mocked for it and felt mortified.

I drop and fumble things all the time and have become proficient at making excuses and covering it up.

I’m tired of saying that I don’t remember.

I know I am hard on myself. I recognize that we all do these things. But I also recognize that I do them at a significantly higher rate than I did before. Let’s be honest here… I never had any expectation that I’d be perfect after brain surgery.

I expected issues and I recognize my issues pale in comparison to the deficits so many other patients deal with. I’m thrilled with how I’m doing and thrilled that I am doing so well.  But these are my deficits and I know how much harder things are now than they were before.

It’s been hard and challenging and selfishly, I’m ashamed to say that I don’t care that I am faring better than others. My new normal is not my old normal and that’s had an impact. Albeit, based on my success in pulling the paper bag over your heads, not an impact anyone has seemingly noticed. Damn, I’m good!

I don’t want sympathy or special treatment. I know I set myself up for feeling this way with all my pretending, excuses and overcompensation and now it’s catching up with me. So understand if I want to scream when you tell me ‘You’re fine’, ‘You can’t even tell’, ‘You’d never know’. I miss the mind I had before and how it worked and I can’t help but to see the glaring missing pieces and stumbling blocks. How can I not?

I am my own worst enemy. I can’t help it.

6 thoughts on “Silent Struggle

  1. Hi Jennifer, i have a friend that was on a pill version of chemo after doing the normal rounds. It only made her feel 1/2 shitty, and she didn’t lose her hair but she still had (and has) huge amounts of mental anxiety and torment, and also the 1/2 shitty physical impact part too. During this period of oral chemo she shaved her head I think it was in part to 1) be in control of something and 2) let people know that she was still struggling physically and emotionally even though her hair had grown back and she looked almost the perfect picture of health. I’m guessing you are keeping a good game face on to help live as normal a life as possible for yourself and your family. It’s good for those around you to know what is really going on too, give everyone a level set. I think it’s human nature people want to forget the bad stuff…I catch myself doing it too. But we all need to remember and respect that some of us can’t forget because of what we’ve physically and emotionally gone through, and what we are facing. I’m trying hard to keep out the “I’m sorry part”. Thanks for putting this out there so eloquently. Peace girl.

  2. I missed the part about you stuttering. I have for many years now. They can get over it if not you do not need them. Two things about stuttering that you need to keep in mind. The first being that everyone does it. The second is that is our culture it is still ok to make fun of people who stutter.

  3. Jennifer,
    If you have “friends” who mock you when you stutter and tell you to just spit it out, you should look into finding some new friends. I can’t imagine anyone doing that!

    I am glad that I can keep up with you through your posts.


  4. From what I just read you have been through a tough time. Just keep in mind that those other people who might appear to be normal ( whatever that means) are probably putting on a mask that makes yours seem small. At least you have a very honest reason for the way you feel. They very often do not. Hang in There!

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