Recovery point

You know (or not) how computers sometimes create recovery points when you are doing some major or otherwise critical maintenance operation on them? At this point in my life, I feel like my body created a recovery point at the time of the acoustic neuroma surgery, which is both critical and major maintenance operation on one’s body.

Ever since the operation, my body has been working to recover back to the recovery point. It’s not like anything went wrong in the operation, au contraire! but that kind of an opearation is a reset in many ways, and requires a whole lot of recuperation activity. And now I more or less feel that recovery point has been reached.

ANers talk about a new me, a new normal, to indicate that things have changed, that we are not the same as we used to be. It seems to me that a whole many people suffer from much bigger consequences than I have; I can consider myself quite lucky. I cannot say what the reason is or reasons are, but some things I have noticed, on a feel basis. One is that radiation seems to leave patients with more balance problems, probably since the tumor is not removed, but more like killed slowly.

Another thing may well be related to the surgeon and the hospital. Here in Helsinki the surgical team has high-end devices that they use to stimulate areas to identify the nerves as they go about scraping the tumor out. This results in the operation taking all day, but minimalizes the risk of facial palsy and other bad nerve damage.

And then of course there’s the tumor itself, its size and location, that determines what can be preserved and what not. I was lukcy that my acoustic nerve according to the surgeon did not get damaged almost at all. Still I am currently SSD (single-sidedly-deaf), but I harbor the tieniest of hopes that that might change, for one evening I did hear with the ear somewhat.

My recovery has been quite fast and quite full, except for the hearing (so far). At least I feel I have reached the recovery point of right before the surgery. My balance is approximately the same, which means that it is not perfect, but I don’t wobble and stumble anymore either. I feel comfortable in 10cm heels and riding my bicycle and going around in my roller blades. My facial nerve symptoms are still there somewhat, and tinnitus too (a bit worse, but not much usually).

Apart from the hearing (and tinnitus) the biggest issues I currently need to cope with, that aren’t as good as they were before operation, are with occasional vertigo, dizziness. On Sunday we were out walking on some forest paths and felt this spinning try to creep up a couple times. At our office I feel like I’ve had a glass of champagne instead of coffee, because of the fluorescent lights. In dance class, pirouettes get better every time, but I still get confused when the dance routine has too many turns and whirls in it.

The new me. I am not the same after the maintenance operation of my head, and my normal is not the same as it was before. Not even with the recovery to the recovery point. But I push on and refuse to give in. I go to dance class and make progress. Maybe slow, but I do. I have my own stadards. I push away the vertigo in the forest and focus on something that stabilizes my world again. At work, I take my laptop to the sofa and kick back for a while.

Maybe it is easier for me to do this, since my problems aren’t as big as many others have. I guess I have been lucky. But I also believe that I have determination. I have what we Finns call sisu. With that, you can “go through a grey rock” as we say, in the country with hard grey granite everywhere. I don’t give up. I do what I need to do. I push myself out of the comfort zone and force my head to use to things. Even the fluorescent lights aren’t as bad anymore as they were on my first day at the office.

Attitude is a huge deal. When you believe you can, you can do a whole lot more than if you don’t believe. If you take what you have and make the best out of it, you are happier and probably make more progress than if you sit back and feel sorry for yourself. Dream! Your dream may never come true completely, but if you dream and work towards fulfilling it, at least you’ll get closer to it.

But by all due honesty I cannot take all the creidt for my recovery. My husband stood next to me, took care of me, and pushed and nugded me gently when I was about to give in to bad feeling and exhaustion. You should not push yourself over the limit, and rest is equally important, but some amount of motion is needed, both literally and figuratively. Nothing happens inside the comfort zone, nothing happens lying down. You need to get up and try!

Head on to life! I have tried to avoid prejudices and refused to let the tumor and recovery process determine what I can and what I can’t do. I have strived to do again the things I enjoy – like hiking, bicycling, roller blading, dancing… – and to be able to work and lead a normal life again. And not give up. And I haven’t, and here I am. At the recovery point. From now on, I can only get better. I hope ;)

God, give me grace to accept with serenity the things that cannot be changed, courage to change the things which should be changed, and the Wisdom to distinguish the one from the other.


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