I posted a thank-you to my IntelFriends on FB and told them about how I was worried about “SLRP” when I woke up. SLRP (“slurp”) = “Strategic Long-Range Planning” – a 5-year forecast that’s a lot of work. Forecasting for one month was bad enough, (hi, Consol! Xoxo) but 5 years?!?! Sheesh. My boss, M, was talking about it in our weekly meeting when my head started to hurt. When I woke up over a month later I was concerned about SLRP. I had done a couple of SLRPs during my Intel sojourn and knew to expect high stress and unintentional weight loss. It took a few weeks for it to sink in that the forecast had long been submitted and my colleague from the next aisle had filled in for me (thanks, J!)
When two teammates came to see me (I didn’t know if they were really them) I was babbling and said, “SLRP gave me a stroke.” Mommy says I oughtn’t to say things like that. Okay, it might be kind of naughty to say such a thing but to me, it was factual. I had been super stressed at the moment when my brain bled bc I was thinking of all the things I needed to do and the information I needed to collect for SLRP. I felt horribly guilty that I had “gotten out of it,” I termed it mentally.
Now that I understand what happened I would have done SLRP 10x over rather than all this. But at the time I was horrified because that’s how I’m wired – I’m a worker bee and I always want to discharge my duties creditably. (This has not always panned out, but a girl can have goals, right?) I asked RMD1 or Dr. Dogan (my surgeon) if stress could cause a bleed. They said that stress could be a factor and I was so ashamed. I considered it a sign of weakness that my AVM ruptured while I was stressing over work.
In retrospect, I bled at the “right” time and SLRP’s deadline was just incidental. Anyway, I was initially aghast at the timing of it all. Seriously? I bled out right when I was supposed to be building models and sorting silicon in my head?
But now I think I might be over the “sign of weakness” thing. In order to make it through RecoveryLand there is some necessary posturing. Most importantly, I try not to show any signs of weakness, e.g. when I was SO concerned that I not cry on Dr. A. Frankenstein (6) when he taught me to walk. This is necessary in that tears would distract me from the task at hand and I need to exert as much control over all of my faculties and body parts as possible. It’s like why girls wear ponytails at the gym. You don’t want all your hair in your face.
In addition to the “worker bee” mindset, my personality has also been wired for some degree of toughness. Actually, it might just be lack of self-awareness. Like how I forgot that this is kind of sad and emotionally hi-jacked you all when I posted that email Daddy wrote. (Sorry, everyone! My bad.) I have that strange relationship with time now, and it’s not denial, I promise – sometimes I just forget that all this has happened. At other times I dial down the craziness and make it a more palatable form of emotion for public consumption bc that’s pretty much the only way I can participate in life without freaking people out routinely. But I assure you, I do feel the full weight of loss that came with my injury, even if I usually speak lightly of it.
BTW everything you read on here is an authentic presentation of Ann T. Ning Tan. I just told you that some degree of posturing is necessary in RecoveryLand and it’s true – but the only way I’ll adopt a specific stance is to actually believe it. My game face is turning into my all-the-time face bc, like I said last week, Recovery is a 24/7 pursuit and there’s no choice but to always bring your A-game or else you’ll crumble. (Note to friends: If you see signs of crumbling I need you to help!) My goal is not to put a positive slant on things to make things readable, it’s to gather enough strength to live another day.
I’ve been practicing being “tough” for over 2.5 years now, but I’ve recently become concerned that I might end up with a permanent suit of armor on. I mean, it’s good to put on the armor of God daily, but depending on the situation a hug can disarm and win someone more effectively than figurative combat.
I want to be tough so that stuff just rolls off my back but I recognize the value of being vulnerable and want to cultivate that, too. Vulnerability, though, is not a sign of weakness – it’s taking a calculated risk for a greater gain.
Specifically, I have been struggling with the idea of visiting my hospitals when I go back to Oregon. I have had a rule about not going back to hospitals, but I’m increasingly inclined to think that it might be a healthy thing to do – to go back, see these places, meet some people I only thought I dreamed of, and most importantly – to thank them. That’s what I want to gain: to thank them in a way I was unable to when I left, and to take the fear out of these places in my imagination. As Dre so wisely says in the Karate Kid remake to Jackie Chan/Mr. Han, I don’t want to be scared anymore. At first I was hoping to sneak into Oregon, empty my storage unit and fly back to D.C., not because I don’t want to see everyone, but because it still hurts too much. But what – if not now, is it going to be better in 5 years? I think not. So I’d better attend to this sooner than later.
Ideally, I’d like to do this in the right spirit. So although we don’t have firm travel plans I’m going to start now to get used to the idea. I’m going to see everyone and go to my hospitals and thank them. It’s the hospitals that are really bugging me out. I can imagine the hallways, and the people, and hear the sounds. I can smell it, too – because my eyes were worse then I relied on the scent of people’s soap to know who was picking me up for Therapy. I’m already tearing up. I don’t know what’s going to happen when I’m actually there. But I’m moving forward on the assumption that there will be enough grace in that particular moment for everything I need.