Author: yourhandinmind

A year later…

I logged into my account to see that it was almost exactly a year ago that I last wrote an entry. I did in fact have a very successful comedy set last year. I closed out the show and it was fantastic. My set was about my fantasy cancer romance a la a Hallmark movie. Alas, technical difficulties led to me not having a video of the performance. However, I did have 3 good friends who attended and can vouch for me if ever necessary. The difficult process made it clear that, although I find myself quite entertaining, it takes a lot of effort to actually be an entertainer. I have great respect for comedians now for sure.

More recent happenings…

In my many dealings with other cancer patients and survivors, I’ve heard about how the spacing of MRIs gets longer and longer as the years go by…every 6 months to every year to maybe every 2 years. In my last doctor visits, I asked my oncologist about what my timeline looks like because I had recently become curious. Turns out I was operating under an incorrect assumption. It seems that this reduced frequency is for people who are “cancer-free” or whatever the appropriate term is. Because I still have remaining tumor in my head, unless there is some new treatment in the future, I will never be cancer-free. That means we have to keep monitoring for the rest of my life. It is good information to have. It makes sense; I just didn’t really look into it until recently.

Along a similar vein, now that I’m going on 2 years post-treatment, I thought I would meet the requirements to donate blood again. All the toxins are out of my body about a year post-chemo and I have no signs of growth. So I’m stable, though the term “no recurrence” is up for interpretation. I attempted to donate blood and, as is a somewhat common occurrence in my life, it turns out I am an anomaly. I don’t fit into the black and white and so being in the grey area is questionable. (I could make a grey matter joke here…) After consulting with other nurses and calling the head doctor for the blood donation facility, the nurse told me the doctor wanted to speak with me directly.

Dr: “So you’re saying you have a brain tumor but you’re not on any treatment and it’s stable?”

Me: “Yes.”

Dr.: “…Huh. I’ve never heard of that before. I’m gonna have to go do some research and get back to you.”

He never did. I did my duty and tried to donate blood. I guess it’s better to be safe than sorry when people’s health is at stake.

Otherwise, I guess it’s been a year because like everyone else, I’m living in 2020 and that’s much more of a crazy thing than living with wacky eyes and a wacky brain that I have gotten more and more used to. I voted yesterday and I’m happy because October is here and it’s always been my favorite month. Cheers!

Comedic Relief from Cancer

My local cancer center has an amazing program for comic relief in which comedians teach cancer patients and survivors how to do comic routines. Earlier this year, the first showcase was a huge success. I sat in the audience and as soon as the first person started, I wanted to sign up for the next one. I entertain myself all the time, so I could definitely do a comic routine! A few days ago, I had my first comedy class. I was so excited. I have been thinking about all the funny things that have happened along my journey and looking forward to learning whatever they would teach me in class…until my brain wasn’t having any of it. Part of the class is on-the-spot exercises in which we had to brainstorm and then share our results with the class. My brain. Couldn’t. Do. It. This led to a mini-meltdown with some tears in which I had to come to terms with this limitation. Here was another thing that I just assumed would be fine. It didn’t even occur to me that there would be an issue. So sitting in class, with a blank page because my brain was completely frozen…just sucked. Now that I’ve gotten over my frustration, I realize a couple things. I have to recalibrate my expectations for this class moving forward because I am not giving up. I am going to get to the comedy showcase. Also, this is  the first formal educational activity I’ve done since my brain has been wacky. Good info for me moving forward and also good thing I finished all my degrees years ago because there would clearly be some obstacles to making that happen now. At least I can laugh at myself through this stuff. Seriously. Maybe eventually I’ll have some good jokes to share on here when my brain gets around to realizing its comedic genius…which will hopefully be before my stand-up is scheduled. Otherwise that’s going to be five really awkward minutes for me and everyone in the audience that night!

Visualizing

Visualizing

I recently met up with an old friend and we were discussing how good I used to be with directions. My ability to know where I was and return to a place I had been was so good that my friends occasionally called me Rand McNally. One time in college, I went for a drive to intentionally get lost and was unsuccessful. However, after my brain surgery and subsequent treatment, my spatial abilities are some of the most impaired. This was evident from my cognitive testing and also from my recent attempts to do brain puzzles that require mental rotation or spatial comparisons. I know I’ve mentioned this before because it is a prominent aspect of my life now. These recent conversations, though, got me thinking about why my spatial abilities specifically were impacted and whether it is because my ability to internally visualize things is one of the reasons that my visual processing is “slowed” and impaired. I have been focused on my processing of visual stimuli from the world and hadn’t given much thought to whether my ability to internally visualize things had been impacted. I think the answer must be yes. It’s not just difficulty in interpreting outside visual information, but also manipulating internal visualizations as well. As I type this, it seems completely obvious; however, it was not something I had thought about previously…it also got me curious about what kind of visualizing occurs for people who have gone blind later in life and have visual memories to work with. If they have no visual stimuli from the outside world but their visual cortex is still working, I would assume they can still visualize things, possibly in a different way. There will never be a lack of interesting brain concepts to mull over.

Wired to be (too?) helpful

This evening I had a Lyft driver who, upon finding out I was returning home from the Cancer center, shared with me that she was a breast cancer survivor and then proceeded to tell me all about her beliefs in alternative medicines and how she has cured her own cancer without traditional Western medicine. I listened politely and engaged in some conversation, while getting the clear message that she knew more about cancer treatment than I did and she was bestowing her knowledge on me. This got me thinking a little bit about this innate urge we have to help people when we learn of some “problem” they may need assistance with. It seems to be a reflex in some ways, even when the situation is absurd when you dig a little deeper. For instance, why is it our natural response, when someone tells us they cannot whistle, to respond by showing they we can whistle? Or when someone says they cannot roll their tongue, we naturally roll our tongue to show them. Whistling or rolling your tongue at someone who cannot do it in no way helps them learn how to do it. If you think about it, it is essentially a slap in the face, a na-na-a-booey to someone who has just shared a personal limitation with us. Yet we don’t even think about it, it we just do it automatically. So is it the same absurd phenomenon with the Lyft driver talking to me as if she has better information about my medical issues and treatment than I myself do? That certainly seems absurd. Or is that completely different and just a personality issue? Is that a kind of a know-it-all complex of sorts? Thoughts are a-swirling. I was recently reading about how one of the theories about why yawning is contagious is empathy. Maybe this need to be helpful stems from that? I don’t know. It’s definitely absurd. At least my Lyft driver on the way there gave me recommendations for a great Turkish restaurant, so I’m going to say that makes up for the return trip driver.