Writing "ReWired" has brought many positive interactions into my life. I regularly receive messages from people along the path of the spinal cord tumor journey. Some newly diagnosed. Some have had their surgery. Some are caregivers for people somewhere along the path. They ask me questions and I don't have the answers. But I know the questions well because I asked them myself. "Should I have the surgery?" "Would you do it again if you had the choice?" "What will my life be like after surgery?" Those are the questions I was desperate to get the answers to before my surgery. Nobody could answer them for me. I can't answer them either. It has, however, forced me to reflect deeply before I reply.
Lately I have come to this conclusion. The best way to be okay on this challenging path is to accept what is happening. The whole path is hard. It is hard to get the diagnosis; hard to decide about having surgery; hard to go through the surgery and hardest of all, perhaps, to find that surgery solves some problems and brings new problems. Our lives are forever altered once we get the diagnosis no matter the decisions we make. I looked for a magic answer. "What would be the perfect move to make in order to get the best outcome?", I wondered. It was like I was looking for the right key to unlock the lock the door to making it go away. I fantasized that once I found it everything would be back to normal. That would be great but it is a fantasy and one that was not helpful. There is no magic answer. There is no one key that unlocks a lock that makes all of this go away and 'be better'.
I also now believe that it is not possible for me to step back into the life I had before surgery. How could I? I have a completely different body with different abilities that speaks a new language. It is an opportunity to create a new life. Not easy. Not what I planned for.
That is where acceptance comes in for me. Acceptance that some days are pretty good and some are beyond challenging. Acceptance that I did the best I could in making the decision about when to have surgery. Acceptance that my life is forever changed which means I can't step "back" into my old life. My old life is no longer available to me in the way I used to live it. It is time to create a new life that fits with this new body. It is sad and it is exciting. My challenge is acceptance so that I can have peace along each step on the path. This is my experience. I stand in awe of people who have been able to step back into their old lives in ways I just have not accomplished.
If you are reading this and contemplating surgery you may not have my experience at all. It is impossible to know. I just felt compelled to put this out there as it has been on my mind as I have had the privilege of writing with two people who are considering surgery. I enjoy every interaction I have with people on the spinal cord tumor path. I am humbled and honored to hear their stories and to hear that the book or the presentation helped them in some way.
Look for Dawn's book, "Rewired", at Barnes & Noble and Amazon.
You'll feel her pain as she makes tough decisions and laugh along with her as she experiences her "new normal" and the mishaps along the way.