Saturday, December 15, 2012

Bursting at the Eyeballs with a Creative Impulse



It's been a long time since I updated my blogs. I feel like I have a pretty good excuse. Apparently it takes a long damn time to recover from 9 and a half hours of open craniofacial resection surgery. Who knew?
Everyone says I look great. This is mostly because I have taken great pains over the years to surround myself with people who are kind. I may look pretty good for a guy who had his face peeled off and stitched back on, but that's a relative thing. That's like saying a woman looks good for her age. Everyone may agree, but the woman herself will not be pleased that you have noticed the ravages of time and qualified your assessment of her beauty accordingly. Relativity sucks.
I have an incision that runs across the top of my head from ear to ear. It is thick and pink and hairless and scary. It's also the only conclusive physical evidence that I've had major surgery. When my hair grows long enough to comb over it, no one will know the troubles I've seen unless I tell them. I'm trying not to be that guy...you know...the guy who burdens everyone else with his problems. (Writing about them in my blogs doesn't count. My blogs. My rules.)
I also have a mohawk now. It's not full blown because it starts well back on my head. It's more B movie interpretation of a Mongolian horseman than Mr. T. It's much duller than the one my granddaughter sports on occasion.


A friend of mine said the look combines the best aspects of Genghis Khan and Frankenstein, so I've taken to calling it the Genghis Stein. It's good for some distracted stares when I'm out in public, but I can't help noticing small children circling back to hide behind their mothers' skirts. I can't recommend it, no matter how many people tell me I look great.


How I look is really the least of my problems. More important, at least for the time being, is how I see. Not very well, although it is getting better.
The cancer had eaten away a lot of bone in my forehead and in my right eye socket. It also attached itself to my right eye. The surgeons had to remove significant amounts of bone and some eye tissue to establish what they call clean margins—that is tissue in which the pathology lab couldn't find any more cancer. They replaced some of the bone with bits of skull that they harvested from the top of my head. This still left my eye socket misshapen and my eyeball swollen.
Since then I've had a lot of difficulty getting my right eye to operate in concert with my left. The result is double vision, especially when I try to read or drive or even watch TV. After a few short minutes, the pain and discomfort from trying is more than I care to bear. The upshot is that I'm not getting anything done that I would call productive.
I've got picture frames to build to hold some of my latest large images. Operating power tools without depth perception or clear focus seems ill-advised. I've got blogs to write, a novel to finish, and new photos to take and edit. None of these thing are possible until the healing process has got my vision closer to normal—or the new normal, whatever that turns out to be.
Meanwhile the most productive I can be is to catch up on my reading via audio books. I'm into some science fiction just now. When I'm hard at work, you will see me lounging in an overstuffed chair, staring out the window at the squirrels and painted buntings in the back yard, ear bud wires tangled around my neck while Ben Bova and Poul Anderson transport me to worlds and times where existential crises result from stuff a lot more frightening than mere cancer.
It's okay, but it doesn't feel like creativity. I need to be making something. Not being able to is as bad for my soul as radical surgery is for my eyes.

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Comments are always welcome. Tell me what you like and what you don't. Information, encouragement, criticism--I don't care. A day where I don't learn something new is a day lost to me.