Monday, September 28, 2009

Wardrobe Malfunctions

Gosh, we've just been adrift in a sea of unwellness lately. Stupid bodies and their stupid not-working... Rob came down with something last week that looked suspiciously like swine flu. He is one of those maddening people who NEVER gets sick, so seeing him all lethargic and feverish and ache-y was an unusual sight. He stayed home from work for a few days, which I don't think he's done since graduating from medical school. It passed quickly, however, leading us to believe it was probably not swine flu but some lesser, not-so-famous virus and *FINGERS CROSSED* no one else has gotten it. Then yesterday I came down with a migraine, an unwelcome occurrence that happens a couple times a year. I hate getting them because my symptoms are so disorienting and make me feel mentally unstable. I typically start out losing my peripheral vision on one side, then sometimes all my vision on that side, then I move on to numbness on that side of my body in the face, arms, and/or legs. It is then that the actual pain starts somewhere on the other side of my head, yesterday a stabbing pain behind my right eyeball. When I get a really bad one, I lose my ability to understand language; I will hear people talking but I won't be able to understand what they're saying. I haven't had one like that in years, thank goodness, since an episode in grad school when I freaked out my officemates and ended up sobbing in an emergency room not really understanding what anyone was saying to me. I guess it all just depends on where the over-dilated blood vessel is or whatever, although describing my symptoms is good for causing doctors to look concerned and make you do those goofy neurological tests where you tap your fingers and the like. Anyhow, I lost my Sunday to the migraine, a haze of misery and feeling slightly unhinged.

Our much, much more serious instance of physical selves failing us involves Rob's mom. She was diagnosed with colon cancer this past summer and although everything seems to be going OK with that health issue, she had a whole-body PET scan as part of oncology care after her surgery that discovered a cancerous tumor in her throat, about where one of her tonsils would be. There is still a lot about the situation that is uncertain and unknown, but it appears that the doctors are sure it is cancer and that she will have surgery very soon. There is some concern that the tumor may involve the base of her tongue, which would be not good. If you are a person who considers yourself a believing/persuaded/praying person, as we are, we would so appreciate you taking a minute to pray for Rob's mom-- for wisdom for the doctors, for healing, and specifically that her ability to talk would not be affected.

All this sickness rubbish has made me ponder our physical corporeal selves again. I think I walk around with a bit of a Platonic/Gnostic mind-body dualism in my mind (or my brain?! which is it?!), sort of believing that the real me is just walking around in this human-being suit, that we would all be happier if we could be disembodied mind/souls whooshing around without the fetters of these imperfect, malfunctioning bodies. I attribute at least part of this to my un-athletic childhood; I am not someone who spent her formative years really enjoying her physical self and what it could do. I don't really think that's the way things are, though; we're all embodied creatures and my body is just as much part of the "real me" as the parts I can't measure. I believe that I'm more than the sum of my firing neurons but I'm also somehow entangled and intertwined in my cells and DNA and biochemical processes. This freaks me out the most when I think about Grace and Violet. If, for instance, something makes me really stop and recognize that there is a tiny heart beating inside Violet, and slim bones and muscles and a tiny set of lungs, I get very weirded out, I think because it makes her seem at the same so mysterious and vulnerable. On the other hand, it has been motherhood that has brought me the most peace with my physical self, as well as the most intense realization of how beautiful our bodies as humans are.



Eva said...

You know I don't pray, but I will certainly keep Rob's mother in my positive thoughts. I hope you get reassuring news soon.

Willyanne said...

We will keep Rob's mom in our thoughts and prayers. Also, if you want to discuss anything about the cancer or surgery, pretty much throat and tongue cancer is Dan's specialty so you can call anytime.