There are a lot of people wondering how I’m doing after my BIG BRAIN SURGERY on Thursday. So while what I’m really thinking about right now is my own role in supporting Black Lives Matter (and that includes supporting the police and government officials who work hard to protect Black lives, all our lives, and combat systems that don’t. Tears and heart to Dalllas), here’s a quick update on me.
This is before THE SURGERY. I had a nice breakfast. It’s nice to have a nice breakfast before a day of procedures. Just pointing that out.
Now if we define surgery as actually cutting into skin, this is AFTER the SURGERY.
The scalp is sensitive, so the Novocain shots weren’t completely painless. And when my esteemed neurosurgeon, Dr. Monteith, screwed the bolts into my head, there was a bit of psychic and physical discomfort. But I would guess it ranked lower than the three shots my kid endured for Middle School last week. The discomfort was immediately gone.
Look, here I am trying on the radiation hat.
Actually, I don’t know what that thing is on my head. I was on a sedative and forgot to ask questions. It looks funny, though, right?
Here I am chatting with my own personal PHYSICIST! They don’t put the Physicist’s name on all the email and paperwork they give you, so I’ll have to hunt it down.
This right before we go into the room where the Gamma Knife machine is.
I’m really excited to meet him. I tell him I’m married to a Physicist and the parent of a fiercely excellent STEM focused high schooler.
He apologizes for not being in “real Physics gear” which, from my personal experience, usually consists of slightly stained but clean cargo shorts, a pristine T-shirt with some cool science logo on it, hiking shoes (not boots, the lighter shoes) or sandals with white socks, and an old, fuzzy fleece jacket. This is all usually accompanied by a clear need for a hair trim (including ears).
He asked me if I’m a sociologist!! College English instructor, I say, but my research is in sociolinguistics (hence the poor capitalization skills).
He said all of the physicists he knows are married to sociologists or people in similar fields. We chatted about experimental physics, weapons, internal compasses, morality — and diversity. He talked about the extremely focused researchers he knows within the world of physics. He talked about his fear of weapons research driven by people more excited by he puzzle of the physics problem than the impact on humanity. And although every physicist I have ever known (and I think I’ve gotten to know quite a few quite well) has been a complex, morally centered, socially engaged, empathetic individual, there is a pull to that puzzle and the reward, the prestige…the privilege..that comes in compensation for solving that puzzle. There is a certain type of problem solving and thinking that is rewarded systemically.
I talked about the need for diversity in groups, the need for diverse viewpoints, empathies and perspectives in that decision making process.
We both agreed that I don’t want a sociologist or English instructor programming my Gamma Knife, though. I want that puzzle solving focus on the math and science directing this radiation. We need the diverse groups. We don’t all need to be doing the same jobs. But the power structure needs to enforce the consideration of diverse viewpoints and we can’t trust the in-group to do this for themselves.
Took a nap for two hours under the Gamma Knife machine, which does, indeed, look like an MRI machine. It’s much quieter, though.
Dr. Loiselle, my radiation oncologist, comes in to take out the screws and remove my hat. He tells me they zapped it all, including the harder to define bloody spot they took all the extra images for.
I tell him I look forward to seeing him next time. He tries to tell me that he doesn’t think these tumors will come back.
I don’t think THESE tumors will come back. But I’m definitely hoping that I live long enough for some new tumors to come back. Because my brain is not going to kill me. My brain mets don’t change my prognosis at this point. My liver is still trying to grow a garden of death.
Newest tumor markers are up again. So it looks like that 1300 score was a false report. We’ll see.
I figure every three month brain scan will be a marker of success.
I am still here.
And then for the next 24 hours I did this:
(Thank you, Kristen and Jon Peterson! This box lasted through dessert because I wouldn’t let anyone open it before dinner!!)
Finally, last night, I ripped off the little band-aids on my forehead.
They use some STICKY band-aids in that joint!! Yeowch.
Swedish Hospital and Cancer?
I look forward to meeting people in these spaces and places. I feel cared for. I feel comfortable. I pretty much always walk out feeling better than when I walked in.
Now let’s get back to talking about privilege and empathy.