This is what life after brain surgery is like

27/08/2020 at 12:03 pm | Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment
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Nine months after surgery, this is what I’ve learned about brain injury caused by an acoustic neuroma…

Being alive is wonderful and to be appreciated for the miracle it is. Being alive is also often overwhelming. When I get tired, there’s no choice – I have to rest. Overall, I do less, but focus well while I’m doing it. The small daily achievements lead to progress, they really do. Being mindful has become a powerful necessity – it’s essential to stay focused to keep my balance, and also to hear better.

Simple pleasures, like cooking veggie casseroles, or cultivating lush jungle indoor plants, bring sheer enjoyment at my new, slower pace. Patience is a daily lesson, as I understand it takes many months – years – for nerves to mend and new neural pathways to form. Life is sweet and never to be taken for granted.

From brain surgery to book publishing in just seven weeks

11/02/2020 at 3:09 pm | Posted in Uncategorized | 6 Comments
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The universe has given me a major challenge recently. In the first week of January I underwent 10 hours of neurosurgery to remove a benign brain tumour – an acoustic neuroma. In the last week of February my new book, ‘This One is Special’, will be published. It’s a challenge because post-op I’ve had to relearn everything from walking to writing by hand. Book signings are a wobbly prospect!

I’m thrilled that this story of parenting my profoundly disabled son is about to be more widely shared. I’m relieved that a personal health condition that has dogged me for a decade or more has finally been sorted. And maybe the two events together are teaching me a valuable lesson.

The lesson is that we are not meant to struggle on alone. Over the past few weeks there has been a huge team of surgeons, anaesthetists, nurses, therapists and other medical staff helping me to better health. I feel deeply grateful to them all – and to the family and friends who have supported me throughout.

As a parent-carer of a young person with profound and multiple learning disabilities I know that statistically I’m a candidate for greater stress and ill health.

No one knows why I developed a tumour. It happened very slowly, rather like the pearl in an oyster grows incrementally in smooth layers around a grain of sand or some other irritant. Maybe it was genetic, or just ‘one of those things’. I choose to believe that it was my personal reminder that illness doesn’t discriminate – we are all candidates for something.

In my family, Tim has been ‘the poorly one’. He is the one who has spent over 100 days in intensive care, and has had investigations in a bewildering number of hospitals. Maybe it’s someone else’s turn. If so, I’m not sorry it’s been me. Brain surgery has consequences that mean I’ll never be the same. I still feel as wobbly as a foal. But compared with Tim’s experiences of critical illness, my surgery has honestly not been that bad, as I hope you can tell from the pic below, taken just five days after the event. Here’s to a healthy 2020!

You can pre-order ‘This One is Special’ here.

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