I  I survived brain surgery and had the best care my HMO could buy.

The brain surgery is over. Now what?

I woke up. 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:

  1. My bean wasn’t working very well, having just been drilled, cut, and fondled.
  2. When answers came to me, my mouth-bone seemed disconnected to my brain-bone.

Your fancy instruments aren't helping. I still don't know what year this is and where the heck I am.

Nurses: What’s your name?

Me: Um.

Nurses: Where are you?

Me: Ah.

Nurses: What year is it?

Me: 19..

Nurses: What’s your name?

Me: Hmm. Lo-a?

Nurses: Collective sigh. Cancel the call to Dr. Braindrill. Good girl, Lorna. You’re going to be just fine. You’re family has waited a long time to see you. Do you feel like some visitors?

Me: Um.

One by one, Chuck, Alex, Mom, Tina, Lisa, Chuck’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 disdain, “Bush.” They chuckled and said, “Oh, she’s going to be just fine.”

What? I just didn't didn't have a lot of confidence in him.

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 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 stayed put.

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. I sure sounded like I had a screw loose, so I kept checking my skull to make sure everything was secure.

Some women can pull this look off. I wasn't one of them, especially with a big circular scar above my left temple. I could feel the screws, but couldn't only point to them, since the word "screw" wouldn't come out of my mouth. Probably a good thing...

Before we left the hospital, I got the news that my tumor was benign—just a calcified tangle of brain junk that I probably had since birth. I didn’t need the surgery, but his students learned a lot about how tricky it is to read an MRI. Glad to be of service.

I recuperated over the summer, pointing to objects because I couldn’t come up with perplexing words like book, plate, or time. I also nodded and shook my head a lot. My dizziness worsened because I was less able to use my mental focus to keep the dizziness in the background. I was busy using my mental focus on seeing a sock and trying to say “sock.” Oddly, I could converse, it’s just that people had to play fill-in-the-blanks with me.

Determined not to let my health issues get in my way, I contacted the college, assuring them I could resume work in September (just shy of 3 months after the surgery), but only half-time just the administrative part of my job. Teaching was out. I didn’t want to be remembered as Dr. Ditzy.

In August, the Academic VP called me in for a pre-semester planning meeting. I didn’t want to go because my hair was half an inch long and I was having trouble barking speaking on command. He assured I could just listen. Since it was summer, I wore a Kentucky Derby hat and hoped no one would notice. In the middle of the meeting, the VP asked me to briefly report on the status of my project. What?

So maybe I went a bit overboard. The pearls were too formal for a college meeting.

Rather than taking my Mint Julip and sashaying out of there on my high horse, I stumbled through a summary of my work to date. The discomfort was visible on everyone’s face, well everyone whose head wasn’t down or averted. Typical articulate and sharp Lorna was a muddled mess of incomplete sentences and pauses as pregnant as the Octomom. Some people filled in words for me. If I made it out of the building before I started sobbing, it was just barely.

Each month, I lost fewer words, but I never fully regained my ability to speak extemporaneously in my trademark easy, eloquent manner. I also developed a finger-to-brain coordination problem, something that proved exasperating when I tried to tackle few online courses in the spring semester. I typed backward more than forward because I made so many spelling mistakes and silly keystroke errors. Everything I typed—comments to students, online lectures, emails, policy proposals, correspondence—had to be proofread at least five times. Chuck complained about the excessive time I spent on my work. I couldn’t admit that I was spending so much of my time correcting my own communications gaffs. Dr. Braindrill said he only took out a small amount of healthy gray-matter to be sure he “got it all” in case there was anything to get. Whatever he took I needed. I still have problems with typing. If I tpye a sentnce an don;t bother ot corrcet it, ti loks like ths.

I wish this is my problem...

After 3 years of constant dizziness, I was dead tired and achy. I finally believed I had CFIDS.