It is a strange thing, to change. Obviously, we are not talking about an outfit or a preference in music. To actually experience your personality change in a considerably short period of time, it can be quite confronting. To experience a change in the way your brain receives or responds to certain stimuli, for no apparent reason, well let’s just say that can be downright scary. But first let us go back to think about the nature of change and for lack of a better approach I will share with you my opinion on the subject.
You cannot make someone change
There is an old saying about change and a leopard, or tiger, or zebra, or whatever. I think you understand what I am getting at. The phrase is intended to imply that an individual is not able to make meaningful long-term changes to their core-self. Or something like that. This never seemed to me to be accurate and I may have misunderstood it, or it may have become garbled in my mind over time. To me the true and most realistic adage should be (if it isn’t already) something more akin to the following: An individual is capable of great change to themselves, over time and under the influence of perceived to be more knowledgeable and wiser peers if they are prepared for willing and accepting of this change. Philosophically, I think this has kind of covered the foundation of an issue I struggle with on a semi-regular basis. But what if you are the individual and the change made is a superficial one?
What if the change I am wanting to discuss isn’t philosophical?
Let us now bring my focus in from the larger ‘personal growth’ style change to a more everyday event. Before my lesions began to develop I was very interested in art of all styles and varieties. Mostly though I liked taking found objects and merging them with things I had made to create surrealist sculptures. I was a yoga practitioner who would wake at 5 am and undertake an hour and a half of practice daily. I was moving to a mostly raw and vegetarian diet and I read each night but it was a hobby. I was learning to surf and windsurf, travelling up and down the coast of Western Australia with my paddle board. I was a young woman living a free and full life and it was great.
Not all the change is involuntary
Sometimes things happen and we have no control over them and these are the changes I want to discuss. The lesions have brought about significant change in me. Sure I lost all the active activities and it became wiser to eat any food that was put in front of me, for a time, then anything that wouldn’t make me sick for the rest of it. Now my diet remains mostly ‘if it doesn’t kill, you eat it’, no matter how much I wish I could be a vegetarian at times. Reading is now a life line for me, as is writing and any form of linguistics. I struggle to listen to some of my old music, the heavier rocks and metals being predominant, and I know I will never make it to another concert or music festival. I am beginning to teach myself to draw again, but surrealism as a concept is too abstract for my mind to comprehend. I have become afraid of the ocean and exercise now. I just don’t know what somethings will do to me and cannot risk the blowout, it isn’t worth it.
Some of it is
The most hurtful fact is the one I live with presently. The brain is such an unknown entity that even now scientists and researchers have not worked out too much, other than some things about electrical impulses and the designation of areas to behaviours and senses. A fact that causes me a lot of concern, anxiety and pain is that my lesions change me. The size, location and behaviour of a lesion activates a change in me and can determine who I am during the time it is present. An example of this is August 2015. There was a lesion roughly orb shaped and 3-4 cm in diameter in the center of my brain between the two hemispheres. The precise location was amid the occipital lobes of the cerebellum. In this location, it was pushing on my language and coordination functions so at times I could not speak or move accurately, as my brain intended. Words wouldn’t come out my mouth as I thought them in my head, my thinking was slow and the words I heard wouldn’t be received by my brain in a way I could decipher.
But you know of these changes
What about the cute little ones that are just as painful, the ones that sneak up on me in the middle of the night? This new lesion in my brain is at the back. Not so near as to be on the outskirts, it is still quite central in fact. My new little lesion is near my hypothalamus. If you are a bit vague on your human biology knowledge, the hypothalamus is the body’s regulator of internal temperature. If you live in or near Perth, you will know that our weather has been on a roller coaster since late January. Warm-hot days and chilly nights. I have been wearing singlets in the day but by 6 pm you can find me in my ugg boots, hooded jumper and tracksuit pants. On the days, over 30?⁰C I begin to get confused and a migraine washes through me, if the barometer dips below 20⁰C bring out my furry rug and socks, I just want to sleep!
And the worst part is?
With this new lesion, I cannot drink coffee. The revelation that a lesion has that much power over me, to take away my one consolation, the one thing that has kept me grounded and together and comforted throughout this whole terrible ordeal is more than I can bear. Well, it would be if today wasn’t so hot!