Really–unless the incision site is only gonna be a couple inches, then you’re better off starting from scratch. It’s liberating having your head shaved–especially when you’re naked(1) and oblivious to what’s being done; they give you toasty blankets. front; after just a little while

(May, 2004; I’m smiling and laughing in this picture. At least I think that’s why my eyebrows are uneven. Very funny!)

I’d done the eyelid surgery in January, and documented progress of healing (the surgery itself such a surreal experience being conscious, but having vision blocked, while Dr. B. did upper-lid goldweight and injected Gortex to raise the lower lid*), but only thought of getting a picture of this one at a single point in time**. While I did save my staples from my very first brain surgery (1991) for the Przybysz museum, I was fortunate to have a handfull of intracranial surgeries/head incisions amenable to stitches between that one and this one (and to survive them!).

It wasn’t until months later, when this next picture was developed (yes, as in actual film), that I realized how, umm, perhaps shocking the scar may have been to casual observers. While I’ve never minded expanding boundaries to be more inclusive, I also don’t set out to make others uncomfortable just for the sake of some empty shock factor. Actually, that’s counter-productive to my general goals in life. If there’s shock, I want it to really mean something! (At the time I was going to restaurants, with this attitude that I didn’t need a bandana, hat, or head covering, because I was most comfortable without something rubbing against my incision (individual) and because I figured if I went out, not making anything of it, and just being in public (now that I’m well-enough-accustomed to being me), that it might allow for others to feel more comfortable, in general, around people who may have attention-diverting attributes–or if they themselves acquire such an attribute. On third thought, really, I stand by my initial inclination–I’d been through the surgery and figured I was entitled to being as comfortable as possible for my sake. Plus, people probably don’t notice us as much as we think they do anyhow***.

From the rear, after some meticulous clean-up of the dried blood–thanks Mom! Whoahahaha! (Note previous scars and indentations, as a bonus preview! Though, sniff, this was the first surgery after which my own mother no longer found my bald and deformed head “cute.”)  Though the one thing I’ll never be cavalier about is the stress that familes and friends endure while I’m basically sleeping in the O.R.
Wickedly awesome brain surgery scar

The MRI freaked me out more than this scar. Way more. Though only for twenty minutes, or so, until we’d developed a treatment plan, thanks to Dr. C. and Dr. P. Weird seeing a mass covering a quadrant of your brain. Kind of funny when it gets to be old hat, though.  Ok, more like crazy–the multi-colored version. I’m currently just hoping the ones that want to get a little too intimate with my brain stem (again!) will settle for the ambience in the general vicinity. From what I’ve heard, they really dig the mental landscapes in there. I enjoy the view from my angle, too, as well as gathering more material to add to the mix, which is precisely why I’d prefer to keep this baby moving along!
Oh! That’s what I meant to write about: pain, tolerance, reinterpreting it, and all the wild stuff that comes with it. Funny stuff!!! For another time. (This going on and on thing, when re-narrating retrospectively, is exactly why I’d been seriously considering limiting the blog to WRITINGS I’ve got a good deal of temporal distance from. My mind bends rather easily, which is cool, but it means I’m prone to spurts of hypergraphia and such. So enough for now. Great to be alive (if only I’d had that exact scar configuration at another time of the year…)!

(1) That is unclothed and alone, for those in the Freshman Year know. Well, not really alone alone, but alone in consciousness or unconsciousness/anesthesia. (Always get the premium cocktail–you don’t want to be puking and risking aspiration and pneumonia, especially if your swallowing is already compromised. Recovering from the surgery is usually eventful enough in itself. My anesthesiologist rocks, too. And the surgical nurses–M., T., and nerve-response monitoring dude–Dr. K., and some of the residents have been pretty good to me, too.) Ah, the social production that is surgery and life!

* Both to help with eye closure, to combat chronic dry eye caused by tumors compromising facial nerve function. I missed my smile tons in the early days (several years actually), as well as my dimples, and doing crazy looks with my eyebrows, but I’m creative enough to find other schticks to elicit similar responses from others that my smile did.

** The post-operative high following this one, though not necessarily allowing me tons of energy to do everything I wanted, did have my mind racing, thinking about everything I thought I was capable of doing. Ok, there were some personality changes that freaked me out, too, but I thought those were induced by anti-seizure and neuropathic pain meds. I see it, and the process that’s unfolded since, in a different light. Perspective is highly under-emphasized; and what’s worse is realizing when you lack it, right when you don’t have it. With time, relaxing about it, and connecting with various social influences, sometimes we get it back–and that’s grand. Constantly changing, so I do hope it keeps up.

*** If you’re with some friends in a bar, and someone comes up to ask what the deal is, it helps to have confederates (primarily consisiting of sociologists and philosophers) taking part in a “support group.”  Widely construed, everything’s accurate!

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