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Copyright © 2017 by Jo Barlow
I am still Jo
1st January 2017.
“So it has taken me this long to put pen to paper again.
I’m not sure if it’s laziness or fear of crying a river if I truly feel the magnitude of emotions I have now and have felt over the past few months.
But I think I have had to shut part of me away, for I wasn’t ready to cope with it.
Only today, 7 ½ months after my operation have I dared look online at where the muscles, nerves and skull actually are in your head. I wasn’t able to look and deal with it before. And now I know – there is basically one big nerve running up the back on each side of your head. And mines been cut…
I didn’t realise this before or just after the operation (I’m not blaming the surgeon – he probably told me. I just didn’t listen. I wasn’t ready.) Only the day after the op did I realise they cut my neck muscles to get in my skull! (Ahh! That explains the huge neck pain and swelling!)
Yet I still thought the numbness up the sides and top of my head was an after effect of the op, but that it would go with the swelling. Damaged tissue or something.
But when I went back at 3 weeks he told me that the main nerve was cut. I would always have a numb patch, although the other nerves would try and compensate in time.
I know I should be grateful it is one of the worst side effects, but it was totally a bolt inside when he told me. I didn’t realise before, but I would never feel my head properly again!
It sounds stupid, but I had to mourn it. I was in shock. As he said it and the reality sank in, once again I was trying not to just be a blubbering wreck. I could feel my eyes welling up and I just had to bite my lip and not express the enormity of my emotions. But even as I was hiding the tears I also knew that I was so thankful for what I still had (The tumour had gone. I was OK) and not what I hadn’t now got. And the enormity of that gratitude also hit me at the same time, and so I wanted to cry tears of joy too!
And now…if I shut my eyes and relax now… I am still Jo. I can shut my eyes and still feel the same bliss inside, or I can feel pain. Sometimes the pain wins, sometimes the bliss.
Sometimes I feel it’s a circle of feelings:
Itching – what feesl like it is under my skull and I cannot scratch it.
Tenderness – where I feel like I have a bruise near where the plate must be. Numbness – that if I lean on the ‘wrong part’ it feels like my whole right side of my head has an ½ cm thick layer of papier-
Nerve pain – where it feels like my hair has been ripped out and is sore.
Itchy scar at front – but the scar is too deep that I can’t touch it”