During my first year post surgery, the thoughts that occupied my mind the most were:
- How do I avoid throwing up on people?
- How do I avoid falling asleep during conversations with people?
- How do I avoid crowds?
- How do I avoid seeing moving objects, hearing loud sounds, and smelling strong scents?
The obvious answer was to simply avoid all interactions by existing in the solitude and controlled environment of my room. I could vomit in the privacy of my own room and fall asleep at any time. I didn’t have to deal with crowds, moving objects, noise, or strong scents in my room. However, the strategy had one significant flaw – I could not survive without the help of other people. My family and friends took me on errands, read mail for me, organized my records, paid my bills, scheduled my appointments, drove me to appointments, encouraged me to walk, cooked, cleaned, questioned medical professionals on my behalf, and packed my stuff when it was time to move.
My next strategy was to use medicine to eliminate vomiting and reduce fatigue. I probably should have considered treatments to help me deal with crowds, movement, sounds, and scents. Although I tried many pills, nothing worked. I hated going to the doctor for a new prescription because going to the doctor involved scheduling an appointment, scheduling a driver, moving, getting out of bed, vomiting, falling, cleaning up, getting dressed, additional vomiting, walking to the car, sitting in the car, more vomiting, driving to the doctor, getting out of the car, dry heaving, walking to the doctor’s office, waiting while surrounded by strangers who often heard my dry heaves and occasional vomit, and blood draws from pre-teen phlebotomists-in-training who felt that success required evidence of holes and bruising in at least both arms and one hand.
During the early years of my recovery, I never wasted time thinking about the following questions:
- What caused my brain tumor?
- Why wasn’t the tumor diagnosed years earlier?
- Why did this happen to me?
- Where is God?
- Will I survive?
However, during the early years of my recovery, I frequently thought about the following questions:
- What can I do?
- What must I do?
- What must I do to get better?
- What will I do if I cannot work again?
In recent years, I have thought about the following questions:
- How can I help others?
- How can I best provide help?
- What help do I need?
- How do I get the help I need?
- What can I do now?
- What would I like to learn?
- What would I like to do?
- What should I do next?
- How do I define and measure success?
- If I die today, did I do everything possible to enjoy life?
- If I die today, did I make a positive impact on the world?
What have you thought about during the various stages of your recovery? Do you consider yourself to be at the beginning, middle, or end of recovery? How do you know when you have fully recovered? How do you prevent Automatic Negative Thoughts (ANT’s) from disrupting your recovery plan? What makes you happy? What do you want to achieve? Are you on a path to success? If not, what are your obstacles to success? How may I help?
Thanks to Heather Wieshlow for recommending the topic of this blog.