Sunday, May 29, 2011

When will I forget?

After my cavernoma bled into my brain and I had to have a craniotomy, my memory suffered a major blow. I forget a whole lot of stuff. I don't remember people I have met, places I have been, words for things, and episodes of tv shows. That last one is major since I used to be able to recite the entire plot of a tv show, often quoting the dialogue verbatim. Now, not so much. The weird thing is I cannot predict what I am going to remember and what I will forget. I used to argue with people about stuff that happened. Now, not so much. It is pretty safe for me to assume I am wrong. When I was at work, people actually mocked me by saying, "I thought you said you couldn't remember." Okay, true. I did say that but... If you want to guarantee that I will not forget something then add some emotional trauma to the incident. For example, insult me and my intelligence. Question my judgement or ability to do my job. Point out all the tiny mistakes I keep making and exaggerate their importance.

There is nothing like a whole bunch of people you no longer trust telling you that your perception of reality is skewed to feed a growing feeling of paranoia. I want to forget everything that happened at work. I want to be free of all of it. I was officially approved for disability so I do not have to worry about my ability to "do my job" anymore. It was decided for me. I am still having bad dreams, yelling out in my sleep, and waking my husband.

Today as I was basking in the sun on my roof, a voice said my name. It was a former colleague and friend. In fact, she was with me the weekend before my bleed. (My husband thinks the bleed started that weekend though because I came home complaining of a headache.) I went skiing with three friends. It was amazing. I had not been skiing for many years and I was worried about my endurance. It was not a problem. The other gals were quite athletic and snowboarded, so I skied alone. It was fantastic though. I felt very free and happy. At night, we watched The Departed over and over again. Every time we put it on two of my friends fell asleep so we kept trying to replay it. The love scene with Leo was so hot and I kept listening to that song. Only now as I think about the lyrics, "I have become comfortably numb," do I connect them to the numbness that crept down the left side of my body in the days following.

On the roof, I was struck by a wave of unpleasant memories. Everything about work and the last four years hit me and I was near tears. I worked closely with this woman for years. We both taught sixth grade math together. I went to many of her birthday parties. She came to my wedding (as did all of my former colleagues). She was never mean to me at work. She never stopped looking me in the eye or saying hello. Very early in my return to work, fatigued and overwhelmed, my emotions flooded and my tongue let loose hurtful words towards her. I accused her of not supporting my ideas in a meeting, undermining my authority as math chair, and being passive aggressive. She was so upset. I was shocked that I had made her cry. Her response was bewildering to me at the time. Was she really surprised by what I said? Of course, she was. Professional people do not say these things in the work place and I was no longer able to filter my thoughts, words, nor actions. She left the math department that years so I did not see her as much. I was filled with remorse in the year after my surgery. My lack of control swept through all aspects of my life like a tornado wreaking havoc and leaving waves of hurt and disbelief in its wake.

It turned out that my former colleague was friends with a woman who lives in my building. There are 345 apartments in my building so it is not that strange. They met through biking. She shared news from school and reported that the other two women from our ski trip both got married this past March in the same weekend. I did not know. I was not informed. I was not invited. We are no longer friends. I have little to offer and my actions are often baffling even to me. I am okay with that.

When I was ready to leave the roof, I got up the nerve to go over to her and say goodbye. I asked her about her life outside of school and she asked after my family. She said to keep in touch and gave me her email address. I cannot tell you how grateful I felt for the normalcy of the interaction. As I rose to leave, she too rose and extended her arms for a hug. It has been so long. After my brain injured actions of the past four years left everyone distrustful of me, I am filled with gratitude for anyone who gives me a second chance.

1 comment:

I am Calabresella said...

I love the honesty in your posts.