This post is a benchmark post for me. Hopefully, it will withstand any desires for deletion and be here next year when I can reference it and take stock, once again.
This year, not unlike last, has been challenging. During this time, I feel like I’ve been undergoing a test without end. This has been related most closely to my husband’s brain injury from a year and a half ago, and the cumulative effects caused by more than ten other such injuries during his life.
The questions haven’t been easy. What exactly am I made of? What does love mean? What are the limits? What are my limits? Is quitting an option? Running away?
There have also been the unending “to do” lists. Everything I’ve been doing has been to get us back on track, to give us the normalcy I’ve taken for granted, to secure us some peace and quiet.
Today has been a good day. I don’t know what the night will bring. I don’t know about tomorrow. Every day is taken one at a time, sometimes hour by hour. How do I manage this? Can I manage this? Do I want to manage this? These questions are quiet most of the time, but in the moment, when the yelling and raging begin again when I thought maybe it was over, I return to these questions. I return to them time and again.
When my husband fell a year and a half ago, he broke a metaphorical dam in his brain, a dam that had been shoring up all the painful emotions and experiences of his life. That bit of energy that was holding this all in leaked away, leaving him with all his thoughts which he experiences all at once, demons that terrorize him constantly, and me as well.
The doctors, nearly all of them, look at me like they are telling me something I don’t know. He’s got brain damage, they say.
Like this is news to the little lady. Oh, I’m shocked, I want to say as I lean back and pretend a faint.
Because really, these days, nothing can shock me. It isn’t that I’ve seen it all. I have not, thank goodness. But I am numb to the exploits of doctors. I am numb to the shock that they are in a “business,” the very personal business of milking the pain and misery of others. They seek to get on the “permanent payroll,” and my husband’s condition makes them drool sloppily.
But, I will stop here for a moment and say this hasn’t been true of everyone. By some accident of luck, or mercy, I found a naturopath, who is better than any of these “specialists.” An honest man, a man who tells it like it is, a doctor who doesn’t try to control us by emphasizing our ignorance and who instead patiently teaches. If you find yourself in a similar situation, find a naturopath. Save yourself as much as possible from this faceless machine of medical manipulation.
But enough of that. My husband seems better. I found myself saying shocking things to him like: “Get over yourself. You have brain damage. Now, we need to move on.”
This is what I said about a week ago. And things calmed down.
“Your memory isn’t that bad!” I yell back, in a weaker moment.
And, somehow, getting a little tough helped. Who knows, but my feeling is that we wouldn’t see any improvement, if he really had a progressive disease, which is what one of the neurologist said before suggesting a brain surgeon. We wouldn’t see improvement if he had CTE. This is my gut feeling. I have no idea. Who knows?
And why is this distinction important? What does it matter if he has CTE?
Well, CTE is characterized by anger, aggression, violence, murder, and suicide.
That’s why it is important. Getting back to those questions? How much is too much?
It hit me harder than I could have expected to learn that Carrie Fisher died. Star Wars was my favorite movie when I was a kid. It opened up my imagination like nothing else. Princess Leah was iconic and as we lost her, I at least learned more about her life and her challenges. And then her mother died a day later, and I learned more about her life and challenges. Debbie Reynolds had been friends with Elizabeth Taylor, and they traveled to Europe together, palling around with their husbands at the time, and then Eddie Fisher left Debbie for Elizabeth, turning fond memories of traveling in Europe into questions and despair.
These are beautiful people, and rich, and seem to have it all, and yet the beautiful and sweet Debbie Reynolds was not impervious to heartbreak. Elizabeth Taylor’s first husband beat her so badly she lost their baby, leading to her first divorce.
My husband is better than that. Truer, sweeter—a better human being. I’m reminded of this as I want to flee. I’m reminded that roses have thorns, and as much as I want my life to be glamorous and simple and sweet, full of adventure and triumph, full of love and fidelity, that life isn’t like that. Love is complicated. The brain is complicated. Personality is complicated and shifting. What stays the same in a person, against all assaults, what is at a person’s core? What makes them unique?
And so, some books came my way, that I can say I would never have picked up if I had not been invited to a wedding in India.
Before my last series of moves, I had been living in a town of 625 people. Bombay (Mumbai) has over 20 million. There’s no way this won’t fascinate me.
Good luck to everyone in the coming year. Best wishes for a safe and prosperous (and joyful) new year!