Deb Brandon: Living in Radiant Color

Slowing Down

ME: So my neuropsychologist asked me about overdoing things.
BLOODY BRAIN: Haven’t you slowed way down?
ME: Yes. Especially when you compare to my pace before the bleeds. I look back, and I can’t begin to imagine how I did it all. Working full time, weaving, reading, WARP board stuff, all that knitting, and raising young children.
BB: I guess I did something good—I made you slow down. Quite frankly, I think that many would agree with me that you were doing way too much.
ME: It didn’t feel that way. I was tired but normal tired. I felt like I had plenty of down time, just to knit, weave, spin, and read. And hang out with the kids.
BB: Listen to yourself. You were always busy doing something, even in your “down time.” Knitting, spinning, and reading, though enjoyable, all require brain energy. What about just vegging, resting? How about a leisurely stroll or lazing in bed, letting your mind roam wherever? Or just basking in the sun?
ME: I never liked sunbathing.
BB: Okay. How about stargazing?
ME: I didn’t feel the need at the time. I don’t think I got it, what down time truly meant. Now I do. Now I really need it.
BB: Duh. So what did the neuropsychologist say?
ME: I was telling him about my various projects. You know, my writing—the books, the blog. I also mentioned the trips I’ve taken and plan to take. And of course, my workload at Carnegie Mellon.
BB: That does sound like a lot. Not much different than you used to do before the brain bleeds.
ME: But I have slowed way down. And I’m continuing to work on slowing down.
BB: But is it enough? Shouldn’t you be functioning better? As in no horrific headaches, no vertigo. And you do have trouble accessing vocabulary, and your attention span really isn’t the best…
ME: But if I slowed down even more than I have I really wouldn’t have much of a life. I actually write less—when I’m tired, I quit. I’m much more aware about my brain blanking out and don’t try to push through it like I used to, most of the time. Well, actually sometimes I do. When it comes to work, I can’t slow done much. It’s the other things that suffer, the things that actually help, like yoga…
BB: I know you feel that way. Maybe you should travel less.
ME: I travel mostly for family and writing. I can’t give those up. I have to live, I want to live. I can’t just spend my time in bed resting and resting and resting.
BB: I get it. But…
ME: I feel like I’ve given up so much. Most of the time it’s okay, but sometimes I feel a bit of a twinge. Like when I have to cut a trip short to make sure I’m rested before the new semester. Or when I’m too tired to write. I hardly write in the evenings now. Most of the time I just can’t. Having to compromise with my writing really bothers me. It also bothers me when I make arrangements to hang out with friends, which happens rarely, and then have to cancel.
BB: Okay, okay, let’s not do the pity party.
ME: As I said, most of the time I’m okay with it. I don’t lament having to stay away from crowded fiber occasions like Maryland Sheep and Wool Festival or Convergence. I’m okay with missing most parties. And I’m fine not dragon boating again (except every great once in a while, when I see posts on Facebook from dragon boating friends). After I stopped going to practice and attending races, I realized it had been really hard on me, bloody brain.
BB: Just don’t do the life-is-good thing. It gets tiresome. You know, the whole inspiration thing gives me the heebie-jeebies. That holier-than-thou thing—yech.
ME: But overall, life is good.
BB: Yech.