the brain game {la la la!}


Ed. note:   I wrote this piece several weeks ago, but I must leave this essay where it ended then.   I have no ending.  Only a continuing. 


8 months (this time for sure)

It’s a rough go right now.  I’ve hit the 8-month mark since the catastrophic hospitalization.  This recovery feels odd to me:  I look just fine on the outside, with the exception of rocky walking, but my insides are the parts that are churning, perhaps in healing throes.  We can hope.

I have very little capacity for being in The World; going to the grocery store twangs the one nerve I have left.  Even as I drive into the parking lot, my eyes search, it feels wildly, for obstacles and dangers.  I search because I have trained myself to do so.  In the new way, in the after-time way.

So much we do automatically and autonomically, for which I am thankful.  And relieved.  Stimulus is everywhere, stimulus that in the before-time entered my power station, and was duly cataloged as Usual, Unusual, or Danger.

Ponder this:  what happens if I don’t know that my brain is not cataloging?  What happens if  there are blanks where there should have been autonomic awareness?

Sad answer:  I fall off a ladder because my inner know-er has lost track of me on the ladder, on those steps, where I am moving deliberately, slowly, like the mountaineer I used to be who knows to always have three points of contact.

sense of space

I have a blunted sense of space, of my relationship to the space I inhabit.  It is as if, momentarily, I cannot see, a long, slow brain-blink, and the danger is upon me:  falling off a ladder, smashing my hands, walking into the edges of walls.

The reason I knew had to train myself to search for obstacles and dangers is that on a day leading up to the ladder-flight, I became aware of brain-blanks, spaces where there should have been none. I was driving and my brain blinked.

I had planned to turn left, had the signal on, was looking both ways (yadda yadda), and when it was clear, I drove straight ahead, tires slightly squealing.  I got lost for a nano-nanosecond and made an error while driving.  Cars are enormous weapons and I made an error.

In sorting out these brain blinks with the help of Big Mister, we discovered that in that week of thrashing myself to the mat getting my studio mucked out, I really did push myself way too far.  I couldn’t hear the brain-voice that told me I was done.   I soldiered on, as is my wont anyway, right to brain exhaustion.  The exhaustion created spaces in mah haid [“haid” with a drawn-out Scottish brogue]….

shapes of my world

Words have given me power, power unrecognized to me until now.  Words have shapes, made up of the letters that belong.  Too often now, I do not recognize the shape of a word, so cannot spell it, cannot even work out how to spell it.  Tides of heavy grief wash through me and I sob with sorrow so deep I cannot find bottom.

The essence of Me has shifted and I have not caught up.  I don’t even know if I should bother to try to catch up.  Maybe this is all temporary, a horrible life lesson, and my facility with language will return.

If words are shifting shape, then I cannot form memories with them.  As an editor, one of joys was the puzzle-icious nature of inviting a whole document into my head while I looked at its parts.

That is to say:  Reading on page 296 and the author has used a synonym for a term or concept introduced much earlier.  I must puzzle out whether this will be startling to the intended audience, so I pause and search in my head for the first mention of that term.  Ah, yes, it was on page 34, first paragraph, 3rd line.

My assumptions about immediate comprehension and synthesizing appear.  The in-the-background brain-work that happens, the cataloging, the remembering.

I started playing Bookworm sometime in the last few months.  For about a month now I have been unable to play because I cannot see the words, and if I try, it is entirely too much effort inside mah haid.  Now, I play a Mahjong game, a matching game, and that feels like a rehab exercise.


Big Mister will leave within an hour or so for the campering vacation I requested but am unable to go on.  He asked what kind of fun would I have on my stay-cation.  I didn’t mean to be a downer or to be negative, but the truth was that it would be business as usual for me:  staying close to home (driving = bad), being very quiet, obeying the cats, reading….  I guess it isn’t time for easy Fun yet.

Though today there was supposed to be Fun for me–My Peeps were coming to pick me up for a lunchtime hang-around.  We have not been together in way over a year, maybe 1-1/2 years?! But, ooops, sickness in our midst and we’ll have to reschedule.

Mrs. Ploppy of The Peeps, endured chemo for the last half of last year, only finishing this past January.  (She is now 14 months cancer-free!  May we have a hallelujah from the audience?!)  She has been an incredibly stable part of my recovery; she has been my friend.

Our Third is regular ole, regular ole, healthy and happy.  Her husband mused one day if perhaps Mrs Ploppy and I were keeping Third around for spare body parts.

32 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. jacquiefioramonti
    Nov 04, 2012 @ 08:38:30

    Hallelujah for Mrs Ploppy! I know this is a very long, and difficult journey for you. Keep going strong. I wish I weren’t so far away, I’d hold the ladder for you :) And as for Third – make sure she stays in good shape, just in case you really do need those body parts :)


  2. sweetdaysundertheoaks
    Nov 04, 2012 @ 09:18:57

    A second hallelujah for Mrs. Ploppy AND Third cause Third has managed to keep herself happy and healthy. Not easy. For you, I hope for a little miracle that you feel like yourself again and enjoy life as you want it to be.


  3. Dianda
    Nov 04, 2012 @ 12:05:01

    I agree with Sweetdaysundertheoaks!
    I hopr you’ll enjoy life again, and feel yourself again! Try to do things you like or that will distract you, perhaps?


    • lahgitana
      Nov 04, 2012 @ 13:06:14

      Thanks Dianda. Yes, trying new art form over the last week or so has helped. Will post about it — tho’ lordknowswhen!

      Lovely picture! Which kitty is that?!


      • Dianda
        Nov 04, 2012 @ 13:32:41

        My default picture? That’s Hiro. :)

        Oooh, what kind of art do you make?


        • lahgitana
          Nov 04, 2012 @ 14:02:16

          I love that photo!

          The one I usually see of you is just you, no kitties–you look so coiffed and like a grown-up! I remember sometime in the last 8 months (ahem) someone mentioning that you had a new photo–I must be going back in time to Hiro and Dianda?!

          Or are you messin’ with mah haid?! >:-D


          • Dianda
            Nov 04, 2012 @ 14:08:48


            Now you’re creeping me out, L! Someone said to me a few months ago, how much older I look compared to photo’s from just a few years ago! (where, they said I look so child’ish and young…)

            Me, messing with your head? I think you’re messing with mine! ;)


          • lahgitana
            Nov 04, 2012 @ 15:15:14

            No, I can’t even think *how* to mess with your head! I’m probably missing something really obvious here…. the important part is that I like BOTH the photos–kitty and non-kitty! <:-D


        • lahgitana
          Nov 04, 2012 @ 15:24:14

          Getting so distracted that I keep forgetting to answer your question! I do mosaics, but am taking a break to try mixed-media art–collage and assemblage.


  4. minlit
    Nov 04, 2012 @ 12:34:07

    Reincarnation. This is it.


    • lahgitana
      Nov 04, 2012 @ 13:28:56

      please help me understand what you mean, D. glad you’re here as always.


      • minlit
        Nov 04, 2012 @ 13:35:18

        Sorry. It’s like you’re describing becoming another person – with all the confusion that goes with being born into any new existence. But normally, we think of reincarnated existences as being sequential – though you, somehow, have managed to get them going in tandem.


        • lahgitana
          Nov 04, 2012 @ 13:59:40

          My over-achieving self just can’t be squashed! <:-D Tandem persons–no wonder I'm always so damn tired!

          But–that is what this feels like: the Throes of Becoming. It IS confusing and tiring… and I know enough to know that I'm not There yet.


  5. Kathryn McCullough
    Nov 04, 2012 @ 17:57:55

    Keep at it, my friend. You will get there. I know you will.


    • lahgitana
      Nov 04, 2012 @ 19:33:06

      Kathy, I keep thinking about you and what it must have been like to go from being a university instructor to not being able to read for a *year*. Your sharing gave me strength, Kathy, and I’m still grateful to you for that very private and painful reveal.


  6. FeyGirl
    Nov 05, 2012 @ 04:15:39

    I totallllly agree with the DISTRACTION suggestion! Your mosaics to the rescue — your oh-so-dangerous mosaics! :)

    And I can empathize, albeit not from a personal space. My mother has been recuperating for many years from an accident which caused fluid in the brain, akin to a stroke — and she must go through the same processes which you so succinctly describe above. No one can understand the frustration; and for that I’m so sorry. But as with her and her horses — distraction = happy happy joy joy!


    • lahgitana
      Nov 05, 2012 @ 06:03:26

      Good morning! So nice to see you here, FeyGirl!

      My Three Rules of Life for years have been: Distraction. Distraction. Distraction. !

      Thank you for sharing about your mother–You *can* empathize, I think, because you see the pain on your mother’s face, watch the moments that show up now…

      I’m sure this is what happened to me and it’s the **first time** I’ve heard this. In almost 9 months of wondering. How do I say thank you often enough or big enough for the personal information?

      Of course there *are* nonworking spaces in my brain! They’re under water!!! I’ve had a Laurel Hurricane! (No wonder I keep using the expression “perfect storm”!)

      Er–oh my gawd, you’ve just changed the face of my recovery, FeyGirl. I can’t type that in 92-point print (about 3 inches high) in order to easily emphasize the gift you’ve just given me.

      . –Laurel


  7. nadbugs
    Nov 05, 2012 @ 06:09:00

    The more you raise your voice like this, the more possible empathy becomes. I never thought of that before. That if we really, forthrightly say what’s true about our lives in the moment, we’re inviting listeners to step into empathy. And the more I accurately feel — or receive — empathy, the less weight in my own bag-o-rocks. It really is that simple, for me.

    So you’re doing ME a favor here. With all this detail you furnish, I pause with you, I feel, I KNOW. And thus feel companionship, connection, community. Means the world to me.

    Same with “carnies” becoming “canaries.” Just that one example says so much. Which in addition to painting such a vivid picture of what you’re coping with, I gotta tell you was the best laff of the weekend. So there, Overachieving One! You hit it outta the park!

    That story (canaries) — b/c I have my own disorientation and can’t find where you made that comment, so I’ll answer here instead — involved a young woman other than me, who was seriously diabetic and left all her meds and needles and sh*t behind as she vanished and, turns out, was on the brink of hitting the road with a canary. My boyfriend’s father showed up as they were packing up the roller coaster and grabbed her back. That’s the story. Happened over thirty years ago but the memory is ever green.


    • lahgitana
      Nov 05, 2012 @ 06:24:26

      I’ve been recently commenting to people outside my blog about the blog and saying “I’ll tell anyone anything now. I just don’t care!” Which has been commentary from my former extremely private self….

      You have in turn brought this self-blabbing full circle–we are connecting in as basic a way as possible. Which contrasts with daily life, full of meaningless, anonymous noise–which tells me how lonely we all are, but are never really sure WHY.

      This reminds me of what Ivy said about confrontation–that once within it, we find it can’t hurt us. So, when we share our truth, nobody can hurt us with it because what’s to argue with?! Sticks and stones, at that moment.

      Thank you for the coda (?) to the canary story, girl. Your boyfriend’s father was a peach, the kind of grownup every kid/adult needs to have around. Which then reminds me of Dianda deciding to care for that cat that is neglected by its human.

      We have to step in. In deed. In thought. When we do, we spread peace. Because if we’re busy being all empathetic ‘n’ sh&t, we don’t have time to build bombs. (Go ahead Sartre, Proust, Kant, Whoever; write that more succinctly! hahahahaha!)

      So happy you took time this morning to visit, Miss AnitaBean! Thank you. What a day I’m about to commence upon!


    • lahgitana
      Nov 05, 2012 @ 06:27:59

      Canaries appeared in your Uproar post–which was easy to remember once I saw the titles of the posts in your sidebar. Canaries and Uproar go together naturally, yes? Naturally.


  8. ~ Ivy ~ (@ivyft)
    Nov 05, 2012 @ 10:20:25

    Well, I’m happy there is a ‘continuing’. Because as long as there’s a ‘continuing’… then there’s hope. For better days; for better moments; for recovery.
    I echo the suggestion for you to find distractions. However, not distractions in the sense of meaningless tasks to spend your time on, but rather distractions that fill your heart with something that lack of words cannot destroy: the beauty of a flower, the whiskers of a cat, the wind on your face, the touch of another human being or the result of artwork. These simple things, when we let them, can fill our hearts with a warmth that can be the strength one needs to move ahead. So… distraction, distraction, distraction! ;-)


  9. IsobelandCat
    Nov 13, 2012 @ 06:09:49

    WordPress has stopped sending me notifications when you post. I see I have some catching up to do. Your articulacy amazes me.


    • lahgitana
      Nov 13, 2012 @ 06:19:49

      Isobel, I had noticed your absence, but know too well that life can be, well, Life. Glad it was only WP. !! Very happy you are back. Hope you get WP sorted.

      Last weekend, I overheard a woman reading off book titles to a friend over the phone as she went through a shelf. It knifed me clean open as she struggled *word by word*. That is what I have become. I have had a lifetime of sliding through words, like swimming effortlessly, or like a hot knife through butter. Much to get used to….


  10. IsobelandCat
    Nov 16, 2012 @ 04:42:31

    Laurel, I don’t know if you have found Speccy. Just in case, here’s a link to her latest post She has ME and some of her posts really resonate with things you say too.


    • lahgitana
      Nov 16, 2012 @ 07:05:27

      Oh dear, Isobel. There is a name for this?! It’s a relief and a horror, which i know you’ll understand. I shall nose around her site. Thank you for taking the time to share this. L.


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