Common to Catastrophe

Four years ago—January 19, 2017—I had surgery to remove a slow-growing, benign tumor inside my spinal column. It had been pushing against my spinal cord creating all sorts of havoc. (I wrote about it here and here, if you want the full hilarious story.)

But my neurosurgeon sliced me open, plucked it out, and sewed me back up again. Almost as good as new. In the process of slicing, plucking, and sewing, he had to maneuver some overzealous nerves out of the way, so I still have weirdnesses about me.

Some I’ve lived with long enough that I barely notice anymore, like the continuing numbness across my upper back and over the entirety of my left leg.

Some are as annoying as they ever were, like my iffy balance that makes me look like a day drinker. Don’t get me wrong … I don’t mind looking like a day drinker, but I’d prefer that it happened when I actually was day drinking!

And some of these weirdnesses still fascinate me. Like how I get these random bolts of electricity in my numb foot and leg. (If you had a wayward youth like I did, and have been known to put your tongue to a 9-volt battery for fun, that’s exactly what my leg feels like. Kinda cool, actually.)

But I tell you all this because these memories come up every year on Facebook and I’m in the midst of them once again. They dredge up all kinds of things I’ve forgotten. Most of the posts were funny because my mom, my kids, my extended family, and all my friends were reading them and I didn’t want to alarm anyone. I was honest, of course. They heard about the hard days, saw video of me relearning how to walk, and counted with me the bouts of frustrated tears.

But mostly what they saw was me finding the humor in the most bizarre circumstances I could ever imagine myself in.

Four years later, the whole ordeal still fascinates and horrifies me and I’m so glad to have a record of these memories.

But what it also reminds me is how fast time is whizzing onward and how quickly a life can veer from common to catastrophe. I’m especially feeling that this year in the midst of a pandemic that has taken too much from too many people.

Plus, I’ll be 60 in February, which makes absolutely no sense at all. My life is mundane once again (despite the occasional jolts of electricity), but I have so much to do before it veers again.

And it will surely veer again.

3 thoughts on “Common to Catastrophe”

  1. Becky, your sense of humor is a survival skill that many folks never learn! Good on you!!! When I was first released from the hospital after my liver transplant in December 2020, I had severe tremors (from anti-rejection meds) that meant my husband was doing most everything for me. I was using sippie cups so I didn’t wear what I meant to drink and he was helping to feed me. A kind neighbor brought us soup and I laughed hysterically envisioning me trying to eat it. Again, sweet husband to the rescue. I was determined to brush my own teeth, but wound up with my toothbrush in my ear…. Tremors have reduced to a very manageable level—only makeup is beyond me. My surgeon commented last week that I continued to do amazingly well (for which I am infinitely grateful to God and my transplant team) since my “liver had not fallen out yet.” He ended with, “I do good work!” Humor is the most delightful tool for healing, encouraging and motivating one. Thank you for sharing with us!

  2. Karen … it sounds like your sense of humor is fully functional too! I absolutely agree that any major trauma must include a big dose of humor to speed healing. If nothing else, at least we can see the humor in all the horror which always makes it easier to accept. Your stories about your hubs reminds me of mine trying to help me take a shower. Oh my word, how we laughed! If it’s any consolation to you, make-up is beyond a lot of people, so I wouldn’t worry too much about that. Continue keeping that liver from falling out and best of luck to you and your husband!

  3. Becky and Karen,
    Many prayers for you and for your family. It sounds like you both have terrific husbands! Thanks for the reminder of how much a sense of humor gets us through the toughest times in life.

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