The Swedish Meatball Versus The Blonde Vegetarian
Would you like to read a snippet from my memoir? Here is a story I never told last year when I was dishing up details of my wonk-a-donk life.
This story takes place while Victor (the new pseudonym for my then-husband) and I were still solidly married, I was a few years into my dizziness/Chronic Fatigue and I just got out of surgery to have the brain tumor removed. Hope you enjoy the story more than I enjoyed living it!
I woke up from the surgery. That was the good news. Nurses started grilling me like I held State Secrets and I needed to spill the beans pronto. My problems were:
- My brain wasn’t working very well, having just been drilled, fondled, hacked and screwed back together.
- When answers finally came to me, my mouth-bone seemed disconnected from my brain-bone.
One by one, Victor, Alex, Mom, Tina, Lisa, Victor’s parents, and two of my friends came to see that I was alive and mumbling. I smiled and don’t remember much else. The nurses kept asking me tricky questions about my name, the year, and even who was President. When I rolled my eyes and said with a bit of disgust, “Bush.” They chuckled and said, “Oh, she’s going to be just fine.”
Unlike all my other “female” surgeries, recovery from brain surgery was easy. My head didn’t hurt, even without the pain medications. I felt good enough to go home after the initial recovery period, but I stayed in the hospital for 4 days. Dr. Braindrill wanted to make sure the titanium plate and four screws (that sealed my gray matter from all the other colorful matter in the outside world) stayed put, thus preserving the shelf-life and freshness of my brain.
Unlike all my other surgeries, recovery from brain surgery was long. Dr. Braindrill told me to expect problems with communicating because the area of the brain he carved into was the Language Center. Plus, brain surgery creates brain trauma, which creates brain swelling, which makes you more stupid than normal for at least 10 months after surgery. Not only was I missing the mass in my brain, I was missing my words. For example, I could feel the screws holding down the metal plate where my skull used to be, but could only point to them, since the word “screw” wouldn’t come out of my mouth, which was probably a good thing. When I managed to point and, after a minute or so, spit a difficult word out like “chair,” I sure seemed like I had a screw loose, so I kept checking my skull to make sure everything was secure. I still do.
First impressions being what they are—first—my new and hopefully temporary speech impediment along with my Frankenstein-ish head and hair style became quite problematic almost immediately. We emergency-hosted a high school Swedish foreign student earlier in the year of my surgery. His host family backed out at the last minute for “personal reasons” or when they saw his picture, I’m not sure because I wasn’t privy to the details. Victor came to this kid’s rescue, which is what Victor loved to do.
“Let’s host this kid,” he said.
“I don’t know. We have a lot to deal with without bringing a stranger into the mix,” I said.
“But Alex always wanted a sibling and this experience will expose all of us to a different culture. As a sociologist, you should appreciate that.” I hated it when Victor was right.
“Well, do you know anything about this kid?”
“Oh yes! He’s a young man from Sweden. I’ve already spoken to the Program Coordinator about him and they’re so relieved that we’re interested.”
“You already said that we’re interested?”
“Well, I knew you would agree once I told you about this great opportunity.” Classic Victor. Whether he forgot my multiple health issues that stress only exacerbated or whether he remembered and thought that a host student would take our collective minds off of our collective worries is a mystery.
Swedish Meatball ended up being another big mystery. Even he didn’t know why he was in America except that his mother wanted him to go somewhere and America seemed like as good a place as any to be a delinquent.
He was an obese blonde wanna-be rapper whose idea of lunch began with four sandwiches and ended sometime around dinner. He also caused a great deal of trouble at school. Alex was grateful for his only child status after his months with that eighteen year-old. He was supposed to stay the full school year but left in January or February after committing a criminal act involving bribery and parts “down there” with a boy on the school bus. Being convicted of a sex crime would have violated the part in his contract where he was supposed to act as an honorable ambassador of his country.
During Swedish Meatball’s stay, we got to know another exchange student, Swedish Hottie. He was the kind of guy who most people think of when they think of Swedish male models. Unfortunately Swedish Hottie’s host family treated him like slave labor and refused to host his family when they traveled to America for his graduation. Again, Victor came to the rescue and offered our lake retreat, which was a camper, but at least it was a roof over their heads. Including Swedish Hottie, there were six of them, so they needed to use our home for showers and they wanted to spend time with us to show their appreciation.
Under normal circumstances, all these people (no matter how nice they were) descending upon my space would cause me to panic. But they came two weeks after I had brain surgery. Victor just invited them with his social graces in high gear and didn’t give my addled brain a thought.
I muddled through our time together as best I could. Smiling was my major contribution to our hospitality. It was hard to tell who was from the foreign country. Several years later, we went to Sweden to visit them. They were pleasantly surprised at my command of the English language and happy to see my blonde hair. I fit right in.
Of course, the book doesn’t have pictures and captions, because it’s a real book. Hope you liked this little preview!