A week from today, I go in for surgery. I have to admit there have been a few times I have felt like a cow being loaded up to walk the green mile… what’s really behind that door? Hmmm.
The funny thing is in all these life stopping moments, that in fact does not stop, it continues. Clothes need to be washed, and the potatoes need to be peeled.
It was during a particular potato peeling moment that I was reflecting about my friendships and some memories in particular.
Primary School at Haslem St 3620 was perfect. We had a class that pretty much stayed together for the entire 6 years. And if memory serves me right we were all friendly, to me, my class felt like a big family. I often reminisce about those days, and it fills me with a pleasant nostalgia. I had beautiful close-knit girlfriends that I still hold dear to my heart today, and thanks to the wonders of Facebook some of us still keep in touch intermittently.
Some of you who may know me or knew me as a kid may know that I was the kid without an eyelid. I was born perfectly formed albeit a lovely piece of skin that closes over one eye and zero eyelashes. It was extremely noticeable at an early age, gradually it improved with a multitude of operations. My mum says I was the first kid in Australia to be born with this condition. Wow! I think I would have preferred to be the first kid born with X-ray vision or super fast muscle twitch fibers but beggars can’t be choosers!
The gorgeous thing about primary school for me was that not ONE kid ever teased me in my class. I was never really aware of my disfigurement most of the time, which was bliss. Kids can be cruel, but my kids weren’t. My fellow primary schoolers were kind and fun.
Things changed once high school started.
We all know what High school is like, it’s survival mode and every kid for themselves, kids are trying to fit in, work themselves out a bit, hormone-crazed. I found myself suddenly a concave polygon trying to fit into a square. Not a great fit and a bit hard to breathe. I remember the day it dawned on me that I was the Green Sheep, I was a misfit and more than likely considered weird.
There were a few kind souls who became ‘protectors’ and looked out for me, but I still didn’t quite fit. The eccentricities in my character that were appreciated and found humorous in Primary school suddenly created a very different reality. My clothes mattered, my looks mattered, what street I lived on mattered, and I wasn’t funny anymore, and thanks to a ridiculously thin metabolism I was rake thin, scarily so. Skeletor and Ana-rex were nicknames coined. I yearned for chunky thighs and boobs.
“The best years of your life.” Nope. It should have been liberating, but the liberation didn’t happen until about Year 9. I don’t even recall now how it happened. But suddenly I found my crew, my little group of fellow misfits. I thought they were so cool, so awesome and they didn’t mind me hanging around. But suddenly I had treasure, so precious to me. A gold nugget kept tightly to my chest…I would never forget what it felt like to be alone and unliked, it was shattering. To actually have these humans not only like me but really care was like winning kid lotto. I was 10 foot tall and bulletproof! So I never resented or regretted my oddness or lack of fit, because without it I wouldn’t have found my fellow freaks. No beige here. No apologies.
One of them was so kind she tried to do eyelash replacement therapy with permanent ink when I was asleep at a birthday party. The spirit of acceptance. Its a magical word to a 15-year-old, Acceptance. Rolls off the tongue nicely, doesn’t it?
We were all good kids, but by God, we were ratbags, shockingly so at times.
Some of the antics particularly during later years make me laugh out loud now, full belly shake laughs even thinking about it. If I am totally honest, some of them make me cringe a little, actually… no, a lot. Teachers got tricks played on them, and a fair hint of rebellion. Those girls are still my girls now, they were our bridesmaids and are still my very best friends today. I say MY because it feels nice to have some ownership of our friendship. It is an Ego thing. I try to be a bit more enlightened, but its true. My ego still rolls around in the dirt like a happy puppy that I have friends, yippee!!!!
One of these lovelies sent me a Brain Surgery Kit after my craniotomy. The contents were golden. Panadol, a clown wig to cover my bald head and some fake eyelashes, some aspirin and a reminder not to feel sorry for myself. I was alive wasn’t I? Blind I may have been, but my humour was not lost. I am sure that if they were with me in rehab, they would have been trying to move the furniture.
Perceptions are funny things, aren’t they? Here I was in High School, a walking sponge, truly deeply shy but prone to extraverted outbursts trying to be funny to divert the attention away from my awkwardness. I am quite sure I looked like a knob a lot of the time. But that humour and the perseverance to try to be me, or not try too hard to fit in preserved some parts that were the cornerstones of survival some 20 years later.
I has a lot of people that held the perception of my situation as the suckiest most horrendous of circumstances the first time round.
Saying goodbye to my kids? Yeah, that was sucky. Not knowing if I would survive the surgery? Again, truly sucky. But waking up and finding out I was blind and had to learn how walk again and live again? Well that had its moments, but it was an adventure.
I got to walk in a blind person’s shoes, and whilst at times it frightening, like any adventure it was fascinating. The eyes are not only the window to your soul but your perception. My other senses went into overdrive picking up the slack, and there wasn’t much I missed out on after 2 weeks. It was here I learned the art form of incorrect perception. We are visual creatures, therefore if you cannot see a person, don’t know what they are wearing, what their body language is doing or how they look; you can’t get a grasp on them.
Suddenly you start picking up on vocal cues, feeling with your gut instead of your eyeballs. People that I thought were sometimes super assured had voices that portrayed a hidden nervousness or shyness that I would never have supposed with vision. The only thing that was really sucky though was a house with double brick walls, if you walk into them, they are very unforgiving, and brick marks in your forehead aren’t a great Winter accessory. You think blind, you think fear, dark, vulnerable. But again this wasn’t entirely correct. Shaving your legs is dangerous and there’s no point of having Art anymore. I know right? I could hear a fart a ward away. Now THAT dearhreart is a super power.
Learning to walk made me look later at babies learning to walk with a whole other miraculous perception. Walking 3 metres took 30 minutes and half my body weight in sweat. It was amusing too sometimes. It was. honestly and inappropriately. One side of my body learned quicker than the other and I do believe I may have invented two new dance moves.
I never again ran on these legs without a big smile on my face, to be able to run is a miracle. It really is. Trust me on that one. But my point here is, I had just about every physical ability taken away from me, and I had to earn it back. It was hard work, but I wouldn’t change it. Because it enhanced my perception of everything. You become an observer, and life is fascinating to observe. You pay more attention to your surroundings,(you don’t want to trip) but at the same time sometimes having to earn back the basic functions makes you understand that we can trip in life by not paying attention. People hide so much and because we are visual, we make assumptions about each other. If things aren’t obvious we don’t always see them.
It occurs to me regularly that the person acting strange or scowling might have something huge going on you know nothing about. If you are a teenager, an adult whoever you are, take a moment to See the person you come into daily contact with, heartache isn’t always apparent. Trust me on that one. Everyone has their pain and their journey they are on. Some are obvious and apparent, but most are hidden.
If there is a friend you haven’t spoken to or you miss, ring them. What is the worst thing that can happen? They might hang up. But you haven’t lost anything. I have lost a couple, and its an unfortunate thing to happen over the years. I’m not sure whether I left them behind at the supermarket or dropped them in the street, but they feel lost. Sometimes there’s a reason, sometimes its just distance or life in general. Sometimes it’s a good thing to release negative people from your life, of that I know about too. But if you miss them and they left a good imprint on your heart, it might be time to get in touch.
Life has bought new friends, sisters I treasure beyond words.
Friends are a wonder in this world.
It is less than a week away until I go in for the second surgery. Another aneurysm. This one nastier. Bigger. Deadlier. No operation though, all through an a little thread from my groin to my brain with a new tech called a FRED. I don’t look sick. But I have to kiss my three children on the forehead and convince them I am going to be okay. I have to say goodbye to them knowing there is a very real chance I may not see them again for a long time. I have written them all letters of advice, kept in a secret location. I have my affairs in order. How weird is that? But their faces reassured holds my strength together. We will be okay. Whatever happens, we are all going to be okay. For a while it felt like I had to leave the really cool party everyone else gets to stay and have fun at. That wasn’t a great feeling. Captain Obvious.
I am surrounded by humbling prayers and support. There are a lot of little miracles going on every day around me. My perceptions are kicking in on a whole other level now LOL. I am surrounded by super friends, I shall try not to roll around in the dirt too much.
The realness of life, the reminiscing of the moments that are the most important are always filled with the memories of laughter and friends and the importance of being kind. Always be kind. Family is important, the friend type and the relation type. Mostly the tribe type.
My family is a powerhouse of collective awesomeness. We are having a good time together, laughing, crying and being a tribe. I have a feeling come December I will probably be cringing at my honesty on these pages, being naked and self-indulgent assuming you will want to read this. I pray your perception shall be pleasant! Now I must go, for whilst I ponder with you I have a child yelling out for me to find some socks and I have more potatoes to peel…