Brain Tumor/Surgery My Recovery Story: Chapter 6 - Hair, Hair, Glorious Hair
Hair, Hair, Hair, long flowing hair….
I was part of the “Hair - Love Child” generation. For me hair has always been a definer. How your hair looked defined who you were… how pretty, smart, rich or poor. In my early years I remember watching movies where families or communities shaved women’s heads to mark them. I suspect that this action was taken so women could feel the full impact of their guilt and shame and everyone else could feel superior.
Later In my teens, women who battled breast cancer were highlighted in the news. In the coverage once again I received the message that woman should feel shame if their hair fell out. Why? Because the news stories were not focused on how courageously beautiful they were in their bravery to fight the fight but rather seemed to focus on ways women could “attractively” cover up their bald heads. So with this historical pattern locked into my psyche, I was amazed that I found my hair or lack of hysterically funny.
When I first came home I looked like the Bride of Frankenstein. The top front part of my hair was unevenly shaved from ear to ear and a metal wire held together a monstrous ragged reddish swollen cut. The back portion of my hair still was shoulder length but no longer blonde… it was black and white. It was fascinating looking at this person in the mirror and quite irritating to feel the broken wire sticking out of my scalp.
Two weeks to the day I got the metal stitches out—Hooray! A few days later I asked my friend, Frank to come over and “tidy me up”. He shaved even the edges, and at my request left my flowing locks in the back. He warned me that the front would act like Velcro. I could not grasp the meaning of his words until the next morning. I went into the bathroom, looked into the mirror only to see the Mongolian Warrior Princess… a really scary doodette.
In a blink his words became crystal clear—the long hair had stuck to the front shaved short hair like Velcro. During the day I never knew when a gust of wind would blow some long hair forward and it would stick… bringing out the scary looking doodette, the Mongolian Warrior Princess.
Needless to say I called Frank within a week and asked if he would come over and shave it all off. Now I looked like Sheena O’Conner without her Dead Swan Dress… nor as young or thin.
Friends reactions varied, but my favorite was “Goochie, Goochie my sweet little clown face.” Fortunately during my recovery I had minimal vanity and so when I stopped thinking about my hair completely I could hear all of the underlining messages—“You are so beautiful to me. I am happy you are alive and here with me.”
Around the fourth week I quit wearing head coverings when I was out. I was determined to break my thought pattern that women with shaved heads would be viewed as having done something to be ashamed of and would be scorned. When I got up the courage to look into people’s eyes, I was totally blown away by what I saw—love, compassion and understanding.
With all this talk about hair you would have thought it was a major focus. Not hardly— most of the time I wasn’t looking at myself only at the reflection of others and all I saw was “Oh, so beautiful!”
My husband during this time period called me BB– “Baby Bowling Ball”. The nick name made me smile every time he said it. This was the start of my clock head drawings. As my hair began to grow the nickname changed to puddles or poo. My hair was growing in very curly— like a poodle. I always wanted curly hair—lucky me.
Again I must sound like a broken record. My only concern and focus was healing in a healthy fashion. For reasons unknown I drank mega gallons of water, took a few supplements, ate well and listened to my husband. He would seem to know when I needed to rest, when I needed a pain pill and when I needed a laugh. Here is a sample of our conversation.
Gary “You look tired. Why don’t you go rest.”
Me “How do you know?” I would ask as I padded off to rest.
Gary “ You look like you are in pain. Why don’t you take a pain med?”
Me “ How do you know?” As I extended my hand for the pain medication, I would ask .
Months went by before he revealed his “secret knowing”. One day when I asked the question he actually replied, “It is because you listened to me and did what I suggested!”
His reply stopped me short and then I began to laugh… he was so right on! All of my life I have had a stubborn streak, rarely would I follow advice from others, usually kept on doing what I thought was best.
As we stood there laughing, he with a Cheshire Grin, us both knowing that he had gotten me good and feeling so grateful that he was by my side.
Today is the 4 1/2 week mark. It is hard to believe that much time has past. The great news is that for the last few nights I have been able to sleep in the bed not in the “barko” lounger and waking without a severe head ache. The most noticeable dilemma I have is an inability to accurately assess what I am capable of doing. Good thing Gary and my sister have been around to tell me when I am tired and that I need to rest…otherwise I think I would be hurting myself by trying to accomplish things that I know I can do…well at least before the surgery. I still think I can walk around greenlake, pick up things on the floor, go shopping and leap tall buildings. A friend said there is a psychiatric disorder that covers these symptoms… Inability to assess accurately your current abilities or in the circles IAAYCA. Lets all say it together IAAYCA. Frankly I feel that is a constant state of being that comes with aging. Who of us thinks we can’t rock on? Hike the same hikes? Play tennis, ride bikes or garden all day long as we did when we were 20?
The other good news is I am starting to feel bored. This is dangerous with having the IAAYCA syndrome – but will give Gary many challenges. I told him that it will be great this summer to have summer camp here with him as camp leader… he trying to keep me out of harms way while keeping me busy and entertained. !
Also to celebrate my 4 week anniversary my friend Frank came over and gave me a hair cut. Gary has named the hair cut “Baby Bowling Ball”… or the Triple B. I did a self portrait which I have attached – it is one picture in my clock head series which I began last week. If anyone wants to be part of my clock head series, please just email me a close up picture and I will be happy to make you a personal drawing. The drawing will probably be quite different than my self portrait, yet fun.
Frank also took some really funny/cool pictures… A before and after. The before could be titled “Cranky Mongolian Warrior Princess” or “Scary Psycho Spanky the Clown”. They crack me up, everyone should have really ugly pictures taken every once in a while… trust me it is good for the soul and quite funny. Perhaps once I get them scanned I will send you them for laugh.
Love to everyone. Barbara
"Listen to your body—it knows more than you think."
I think I mentioned before I had difficulty resting, so early on I found watching TV reduced the frantic energy I was feeling and allowed me to rest. In the first few weeks home I watched a lot of TV and surfed stations previously unknown to me. Ironically on the university channel I found lots of shows which dealt with brain stuff - increasing cognitive creativity, mitochondria, the genome project, and how to restore/improve brain function.
One of the most useful was a children’s show called Brain Matters. It answered why I was drinking so much water and craving fatty foods. Did you know that the brain is comprised of 80% water, 10% fat, and 10% carbohydrate, protein and salt? When I heard those statistics I realized how incredibly smart the physical body is. It has the ability to know exactly what is needed to heal itself.
From that point forward I listened and did everything my body and intuitions lead me to do. My body helped me set boundaries and ask for what I needed. It knew ex- actly what was important for me to have. No thinking was required. So I gave my brain a rest.
End Chapter Seven
'Patterns can be broken."
Over and over during this experience I saw how locked up I had become. How patterns both conscious and unconscious had been and were continuing to rule my life. It was such an awakening to realize that “I, free thinker Barb” had been living my life at the mercy of my patterns.
Though this experience I discovered that once a pattern has been identified it can be broken. And the more you break the easier breaking future individual patterns become. I still have no clue as to how many patterns I have - all I know is ways to recognize patterns as they sur- face and the realization that they can be broken.
I knew that many patterns were formed through experiences of this life, however, what I didn’t fully understand was that there were traits and patterns in our make up prior to our birth. That ways of dealing with the world is genetically handed down and that patterns are even in our DNA. These unconscious reactions to the world were the ones I really wanted to root out.
Humans it has been said are 99.9% genetically alike. Research has speculated that the differences in individual lives are contributed to genes which have been either turned on or off.
Researchers have also found that genetic coding can be effected by our thoughts and that literally we can turn on and off genetic coding patterns. For example researchers have shown that shyness is a genetic factor found in most humans. However just because an individual has that shyness gene it does not manifest unless the gene is turned on through experiential. So Researcher’s studies have concluded that an individual needs both the gene present and environmental experiences to assist in either turning on or off this genetic trait of shyness.
Lordy, what does all this mean! It means to me that I can gain control over that which has been unseen. The starting point for me was to remove the murky glasses of illusion and to look at me and my world with honesty yet without judgment. Once I am able to really understand what is going on I am in a position to make a decision, to take action and control. Now I can decide what I want, what I need, etc. etc and then able to focus all of my thoughts and actions in that direction… thus breaking the pattern, thus creating the world of my choice. Perhaps this quote will help you readjust your framework. “ What you hope, you will eventually believe, what you believe you will eventually know, what you know you will eventually create, what you create you will eventually experience, what you experience you will eventually express, what you express you will eventually become. “ Words by God in “Home with God” by Neal Donald Walsh.
One concern I had during this time period was the inability to accurately access what was going on. I just couldn’t tell the basics… when I was tired or in pain; or what I could or should be doing. I just couldn’t figure out how much was enough or when to stop an activity. I was talking about my inability to accurately assess my physical state with a friend; and she started to tell me about a psychological condition which covered what I was experiencing. Not only did this accurately apply to me in this situation but was a syndrome applicable to most of my friends. Here is the email I sent out as one of periodic updates on my healing progress.