Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Coming in for a Landing

Delicate Instrument Handle With Care

Last week I was given the OK by my neurologist to start tapering off the anti-seizure medication carbamazepine (aka Tegretol). I should be done with it by early October. I'm hoping once it is out of my system I'll feel better - less tired, more energy, etc. And I hope I will find that I no longer need it. As an added bonus, alcohol and extended exposure to sunshine are back on the table, two things I've had to avoid while on this drug. Of course, nothing comes without a price. Monday morning I woke up feeling VERY dizzy. I stayed home from work in the morning and spent a few hours watching Pawn Stars and American Pickers on The History Channel, two recently acquired guilty pleasures. It turns out that coming off these brain-altering medications can cause some of the same side-effects that occur when starting the meds. I'm hoping that is what caused my dizziness. By Tuesday morning I was feeling better, but still had some occasional dizziness.

On a brighter note, we had a GREAT time this past weekend. Saturday morning we drove to San Francisco to have lunch with one of my photographic mentors, Frank Espada and his wonderful wife Marilyn.

I took several classes from Frank in the late 80's through the now-defunct UC Extension program in San Francisco. It was his teaching that put me on the creative path I've been on ever since. Gayle came up from Santa Cruz to join us with a platter of red velvet cupcakes in hand. We had a great visit and enjoyed looking at Frank's prints and left with a few treasures. Frank will soon be turning 80 and you would never know it to meet him. He was a great documentary photographer and teacher for decades and for his recent work has pointed his camera to the coastal beauty of Fort Funston. Here's a pic that Frank took of us as we were getting ready to leave:

From Frank and Marilyn's house,  the girls headed to the maul (sic) to find Sarah a dress for the homecoming dance. I headed to my buddy Ron's house to hang out and enjoy the ocean view. Once the shopping task was complete, the girls joined us at the Goloubow's and we had a great visit and amazing meal made by Ron and his better half, Chris. We crashed at their house Saturday night, then got up early Sunday to deliver Gayle to Lake Merced where she competed in her first half marathon (second place in her division!) We cheered her on and enjoyed some people-watching under the gray San Francisco sky. Sunday afternoon we and the Goloubows went out for a delicious Thai lunch not too far from my favorite hospital. After lunch we said our goodbyes. We headed back to Placerville and Gayle pointed Horace (her car) south for her trip back to Santa Cruz where she will be starting her third year of classes this week.

So yeah, it was a great weekend spending time with very good friends. During our drive in, it occurred to me that this was the first time in a LONG time that we've driven to San Francisco without ending up at some sort of medical facility. I like it better this way.

Finally, thank you for all the supportive comments to my last post, both here and in the emails that were sent. I've said this before, but I don't think I can say it too often, your thoughts of support are appreciated more than you know. I think I'm finally learning what being a patient is all about: being patient. And I've never been very good at that...

Monday, September 6, 2010

"How Do You Feel?"

This is the question everyone asks when they see me. I know it's with good intentions, but I've found that I automatically answer "fine" because I think that's the answer people want to hear. Well, the truth is I don't always feel fine. It's weird because the first two weeks after surgery I was feeling good and seemingly recovering quickly, but the subsequent six weeks have been up and down. The truth is, I'm not sure how I'm supposed to feel 8 weeks after a craniotomy. Carol did some googling last night and it may take three to six MONTHS for full healing and recovery. In a way,this was a relief because I know I'm not 100% yet and it's comforting to know that this is probably "normal". Fatigue and lack of motivation are probably the main issues. I tire easily and often just don't feel like doing anything. I'm definitely sleeping more than I used to and that's probably a good thing since I used to sleep only four or five hours a night. Sometimes I just don't feel good - whatever that means - but I rarely feel like Good Old Me. And I think I'm a little depressed because I'm not 100% yet and things seemed to be getting better so quickly at first. I've been back at work for three weeks. The first week was a struggle as I came home exhausted every night.  The subsequent two weeks have been easier and I'm getting back in the groove again. I have a workshop coming up in October and have decided to postpone it a few weeks to give me a little more time to heal.

My hair is growing back pretty quickly:

August 29

And here's a new picture of Carol. I like this one:

August 29

So, don't be afraid to ask how I'm feeling. I appreciate your concern! But, I'm going to try and be more honest with my answers in the future. I'm hoping that soon enough "I feel great" will be what I answer most of the time.