Monthly Archives: October 2020

Reasons to live through

Sorry I didn’t write throughout September — and just as I come back to WordPress, suddenly they’ve completely changed the look (to the point of not even having boxes around the text you’re editing, so this is in a big white expanse)!  Ah, wait: there’s the “classic” editor, I can write this again (protip: go to the draft in the “all posts” list, and choose to edit it that way) — and yes, assuming I get through what’s coming with sufficient wit, vocabulary, motor skills, and password recall, I’ll be posting here more after the operation as well, whenever that’s going to take place.

No firm date on “Round 2” of my anti-tumour brain surgery, but I’m caught between wanting to get it over with, and not looking forward to (at best) losing intelligence, getting frustrated trying to remember words (more than last time) and needing time off before I can work again, and probably before I can exercise again, or even learn new things out of books without reading and rereading them!

(At worst, of course, I would lose control of my right side permanently, and have no way to say or do anything at all — even death sounds preferable, with my mother as next of kin getting my money!)

It’s going to suck, no matter what happens, and sometimes I wish I could go back in time and make one change, to stop this thing from starting to grow in the left side of my head — but what could it have been?  Though it’s impossible it could have only begun growing in the past few years, there are periods in my life that could have at least enhanced growth, before my first definite symptoms at the end of May 2015:

  • Getting my first wireless signal booster for my room in early 2015, having lived in houses with Wi-Fi signals since early 2005, and first using a mobile phone (always holding it to the left side of my head) in mid-2004;
  • Doing that horrible, shift-based job in late 2014 — coincidentally just as the Beeb reported that night shifts had been associated with brain difficulties;
  • Weight training with my personal trainer from 2013 onwards, which very much increased blood flow to my brain (especially “deadlifts” a couple of weeks before the first definite symptoms, complete with a headrush);
  • Travelling by plane, above the atmosphere and exposed to cosmic rays, many times over my adult years — 2014 (Michigan), 2013 (California), 2008 (Turkey), 2007, 2006, 2003, 2001 (all Michigan), 1999 (Greek Cyprus), 1998-9 (Michigan, but eight months apart), and 1997 (southern Spain), the one in 2017 (er, Michigan) being after the symptoms began, and my last time in a plane having been 1990 (Florida) as a child;
  • As a combination of the two above, jet lag (especially in 2007 when one of my housemates had some unrepentantly noisy friends visiting at night time), and being kept awake overnight in general (especially at university, and especially during my freshman year);
  • The shock of finally kissing a girl at nearly 21 in late 1998 (as per the above, after a plane journey) — I certainly recall, as I made out with her for the first time, a subtle voice in my head, urging me to “make the most” as it might be my only chance;
  • Discovering energy drinks in 1997 at university, but really hitting them from 2008 onwards thanks to being on holiday (as per the above, in Turkey) with my friends, and only really giving up upon discovering where taurine comes from — and now there’s a vegan energy drink (caffeine-rich), which I really shouldn’t enjoy;
  • Learning Japanese from 2008, or indeed from 2005 before I started night classes (remember that the damn thing’s growing in the language part of my brain), thus explaining why I hate dubs and dumbed-down subtitles;
  • The Sun shining on my head (indeed, the left side) during a long bus ride up to Enfield from Wood Green with my housemates in 2006, which left me feeling dizzy from what may or may not have been heatstroke;
  • Head activities in 1993 (surgery in the roof of my mouth) and 2010 (my ear passages swelling shut from scraping them too much for wax).

“I vill terminate ze toomah… trust me!”

The neuro-quacks reckon it’s none of the above, and just a mutation that was somewhat inevitable — but I can’t help wondering about when it really started, as symptoms such as depression and anxiety have been affecting me for a long time, so maybe my misery late 2011 wasn’t an early symptom of this specifically, but more general, and the result of circumstance rather than entirely spontaneous.  Similarly, in late 1992 (as I wrote my diary about my first school term in Worthing), my life felt so worthless that I wished I was dead… could it be some kind of self-curse?

There have been other symptoms over the years: why did I suddenly need glasses in my first year at university?  A couple of years ago, a helper in a certain optician franchise (should I go to them?) said that it’s very unusual, and that most speccies need the extra pair of eyes either very young or very old.  Could it be that I was already coming down with something at that stage?  Any relation to how I used to get patterns in my eyes if I pushed them in gently?

Around 2008 I also started experiencing very brief patterns of lights in front of my eyes (noticeable due to how dark our front lobby at Caledonian Road was), and while that’s almost entirely absent now, and could well have been the result of stress (I didn’t exactly like my job at the time, working in Camden Town Hall Extension), it led to me being advised at the time (albeit online in a web forum) to get scanned.  Ah, if only… or would that have given me a false sense of security, if the damn thing hadn’t even started forming at that stage?

How about on a bus home from school in Worthing in the early 1990s, when Star Trek: TNG was on Sky One every evening, and I thought about it but suddenly couldn’t remember Whoopi Goldberg’s name (until I thought about it later and it came to me immediately)?  I had problems like that after my 2018 surgery (e.g. having to look up Star Trek: First Contact on Wikipedia to remember James Cromwell’s name).

“Boss lady” at work said that this kind of thing happens to us all as we get older, and others say they often have words and names on the tip of the tongue; however, it’s most certainly something I don’t want to face, whether due to age or surgery, as I’ve always been happy about my memory working so amazingly well, and my vocabulary rising above f***ing casual f***ing swearing.

— — —

Whatever happens, once again I’m determined to go on living — but why?  Well, some things are obvious: I’ve got a good and well-paid job (which I’ve been able to do from home during the lockdown), my mother and grandmother’s love and support have been there for decades (I want to ensure I can look after them when the time comes too), and people like my personal trainer and dating coach still support me in terms of physical and mental health — and, of course, “best mate” is here at least a little longer — but there are new things in my life as well:

  • The latest incarnation of my ever-improving PC (thanks to being able to work from home and save money) means I could play Doom Eternal in hi-res without slowdown, and can achieve so much more than before;
  • On that topic, there’s a new sequel to Amnesia about to come out on the 20th, so I can finally play a new scary game with the lights out (with my operation hopefully being less intimidating);
  • A new album by one of my favourite bands, Gorillaz, is coming out on the 23rd, and of course I want to hear it while not in a coma (or a coffin), especially with Elton John making a guest appearance;
  • I’m trying out the guitar again (I can just about play “Should I Stay or Should I Go?” by The Clash), and if all goes well and I retain the use of my hands, I’ve pledged to get an electric one at long last (obviously not a stupidly expensive one that goes up to eleven!);
  • I’ve still got quite a few Stephen King novels to read, and hopefully I’ll be able to take them in well enough that the neuro-quacks insist on studying me for science (note that my next phone call with them will be on the 19th day of the month);
  • I have every intention of reading other things, such as (properly this time) Judge Dredd, and something else I’ve heard of, a 21st-century reboot of the old Transformers comics (yes, I have no intention of stopping being a manchild);
  • Somehow I’ll find a new place to live, and leave behind Finchley forever (much as I hope my family can escape Worthing once and for all);
  • Both senpai and “Asian Eddie Hitler” want me to learn new IT skills, to help restore my intelligence and also earn me a higher post at work, so they can get some new Helpdesk muggins to deal with the peasantry needing to turn their computers off and on again (though the post-op learning issue would come into play there).

Most of all, though, my relationships: as well as wanting my folks to be able to stop worrying about my brain, and nurse me back to health so I can live again, and as well as Best Dog in the World 2.0 (who misses me so much that she barks at other blokes who aren’t me), there is my special one in the Far East, who I truly hope to meet in person again — maybe at last we can hug for more than a brief, lockdown-lawbreaking moment, and go for a long walk together, talking directly to each other instead of over the Internet…?

Needless to say, I’ve got another one of those bold and underlined, all-caps centred statements about determination: