Deb Brandon: Living in Radiant Color


In three days, I’ll be boarding plane for trip number four to Israel since the surgeries, or is it number three? And I am once more apprehensive about it.
Aerial view of Israel. Aerial view of Israel.
The first time after the surgeries I went to visit my family in Israel was in May 2012. Before the trip, I was extremely anxious. From past experience I knew that the journey would be extremely taxing.
When I’m home, I can pace myself to suit the bloody brain. But when traveling, I have less control over my agenda. Combine that with my reluctance to slow others down, I tend to overstep the bounds set by the bloody brain.
Anticipating the worst, I asked Joyce to accompany me on the trip. My request wasn’t completely out of line—she has close family in Israel as well, and it was an opportunity for her to spend time with them. Also, at the time , Joyce and I were still dragon boating, and both of us were excited to participate in the first annual Israeli dragon boat festival.
The bloody brain objected to the trip in a big way. Fatigue plagued me from day one and continued throughout the entire visit. My difficulties processing high volumes of sensory input during family get-togethers led to several meltdowns on my part. And after I returned to the U.S., I suffered from debilitating headaches and continuing fatigue. It took me a good couple of months to recover from the trip, and by the time I felt like a functioning human being, it was time to start the academic year.
I went back to Israel two years later. This time, I went on my own. And once more, I was afraid.
In the hopes of preventing the worst, I asked my sister to keep an eye on me. She has also experienced brain bleeds and therefore fully understood my issues with fatigue and headaches. In addition, she is more assertive than I am, so I knew that she would help rein me and my family in and make sure that I got plenty of rest.
While doing well, I have a tendency to forget how bad it can get. At one point, I ignored her urges to decline a last minute invitation to visit my brother’s family. And, of course, as usual, I paid the price—an excruciating headache that incapacitated me, forcing me to stay most of the next day in a dark room.
By the time the next semester began, I was still mid-recovery from that trip.
And now, here I am, a year later, about to make another pilgrimage to Israel to visit my family. This time, I will have neither Joyce nor my sister to help me. Also, after my return here, I will only have a week to recover before the next semester will be upon me.
Yet again, I am anxious.