Sunday, April 21, 2013

Reading and thinking.

A couple of things I've been reading recently have made me think. I have an obsession with reading news so this happens a lot.

Firstly the Boston bombings. In the following few days I read an article about people who had lost limbs, they were reported to be feeling lucky. The journalist of the piece I read expressed incredulity at this response, pointing out how unlucky in fact they had been.

This really reminded me of how extreme that feeling was in me after diagnosis and again after surgery. It wasn't just the fact that the tumour had been discovered before any permanent damage had been done, or the fact that my symptoms could have been so much worse or the surgery more debilitating. It was also to do with the way it made me assess things. Really strip back everything to see clearly what I need and want to be happy. Only to discover that I already had it - as well as so much more. So I was lucky to have it all, but also lucky to have now realised it, and on top of that the opportunity to stop taking it for granted.

It is complicated, but I'm still grateful for the experience and what I've got out of it, although I'm not sure if I would choose to have gone through it (given the choice). And I certainly wouldn't wish it on anyone.

So these Boston amputees, waking up with a limb or two missing, it would be understandable - expected even - to dwell on the fact that their lives have changed forever and they have a massive challenge ahead of them. But instead of feeling revengeful or depressed, they felt lucky. Lucky that they were still alive. To an outsider this seems mad. It's so impressive, human nature is really quite incredible.

Our experiences are very different of course, but I was struck by the similarity in unintentionally feeling the positives of a shocking situation. And looking to the future. Maybe this is just an initial response and it hasn't had time to sink in yet, but the resilience is inspiring.

The other thing I read was something that Richard Dawkins tweeted, from the NewScientist. It isn't new news as it was published in 2002 and I had read about it in a book called Incognito last summer, but this piece gave more detail. It's about a man, who's brain tumour caused a radical and sudden change in his behaviour, resulting in "uncontrollable" paedophilia. This behaviour (amongst others) stopped as soon as the tumour was removed, and in fact was a clear signal on it's return that the tumour had regrown.

There's a lot more to it, and it's interesting as it has moral implications as well as the standard side effects associated with brain trauma, but mostly it set me off thinking about my own experiences.

When I first read about this case, it was before I had discovered my own brain tumour and so, although I found it really interesting, it didn't have a personal impact. Now though, it reminded me again how lucky I have been. The location of my tumour was probably the best you could hope for. My concerns were all about permanent physical damage.

The fact that I didn't have to worry about potential changes in my personality or behaviour, is still such a relief.

Both these pieces just reminded me how things could always be so much worse. A gentle reminder of where I am. I don't want to live every day as if it's my last and to make sure I get the most out of everything I do - I just want to bumble along like normal. But it doesn't ever hurt to stop and remember all the good things.

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