Monday, August 04, 2008

The center of Jan's brain

I imagine that if there was a cockpit, or a driver's sit in my body from where I control everything my body does; where I receive all the input from my 20 or more senses; or where I decode all my experience, it would be somewhere in the center of my brain. I'm not too far, because brain anatomists say that where all the right side functions and the left side functions coordinate and come into one is in a connector in the middle of the brain: the driver sit!

I don't know where or who is at the center of Jan's brain. It has moved because of the partial lobotomy she had during her aneurysm. The music is all there, safe in the right side. The numbers and words were all disorganized and are slowly being re-stored or filed in an orderly way, so Jan can access them. The movement of the right side is compromised, some days more than others, with what is called "right neglect". It is strange to think that her brain just decided to ignore her right side, to neglect to pay attention to it. So, when Jan moves her right hand or foot, she has to concentrate on that action. I don't remember when was the last time I paid attention to my right side, it probably was when I hit a bench with my right knee that sent me hopping on my left foot in pain. Jan does this often. She forgets that she has a right side and is reminded when she has hit something or she has put her right fingers in the hot soup. Ouch!!

Last night, at about 3am she woke up with shooting pains in her right leg. I asked her, are you OK? what's the matter? to which she responded: AAAGHHH! OOOOHHH! STOP, STOP, PLEASE STOP! This went on for about 3 minutes, while she was holding her right leg up in the air. Then, she pointed to something in her night table. I could barely see with the light from outside what she was pointing at. She became very frustrated and still with little command in her words she said "I, I... headache". I grabbed the bottle of painkillers and gave her one with water. She fell asleep soon after.

Over the last few weeks, my biggest struggle is with her belief that I am trying to make her heal faster -which would be nice if I had that power--, and my belief that I am being as compassionate and caring with her as I can; and when I reach my limits, I continue beyond just by pure grace of God.

Really, there are times when I don't know with whom I am talking. The woman who sleeps in my bed feels like a stranger, as the one that feels attacked or criticized for no reason or cries because of depression forced on her by medications. Who is in the driver sit of Jan's brain? Does she recognize herself? or has she blended her identity with her aphasia and right neglect? I try to talk to the Jan I knew, but often it backfires.

In my brain, I struggle with two voices, one that says:
-you didn't bargain for this. You should've been running a long time ago. It's time to counts your losses and pack; and so forth.
This voice sounds like a victim, like someone really wounded, like a child who has lost his candy.

The other voice sounds calmer, it is the one that says:
"you are your word, if you make a pledge, you are obliged to fulfill it. The greatest love is to give your live for someone. Pain is as much a part of life as is love and happiness, and, they are not mutually exclusive. Jan needs you and is waiting for you, go now..."

So, I wonder, what's going on in the center of Jan's brain. As for mine, I'm beginning to discover how my brain's center has changed...


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