No Rest for the Weary, or, Brain Surgery, Round 4, Fight!

No Rest for the Weary, or, Brain Surgery, Round 4, Fight!

This post was written very late at night on very little sleep, my apologies for any incoherence.

You know what, fuck that. I’m not sorry. This post was written before I spent two days in the ER because the poor guy also has influenza A, and I’m just beyond guilt at the way I’m expressing my exhaustion. It is what it is.


The thing that sucks the most about waiting for brain surgery #4 is that it still feels like we’re in the middle of brain surgery #3. Did I not mention before that we’re waiting for brain surgery #4? My apologies. We’re waiting for brain surgery #4. This is new. So-new-I-have-not-processed-it-at-all new. But unlike the last two brain surgeries, we’re moving at get-it-out-now-worry-and-about-details-later speeds.

He’s having his fourth brain surgery this week. Probably. With hospital schedulers, who knows. Nobody gives a shit about our lives and our calendars, what our kids are doing (it’s a LOT), what we’ve got going on, who’s in town visiting. It’s just their week, over at the hospital.

It’s our lives, and that’s something different.

As you can probably guess, Mike’s tumor is growing again. Fast. Which sucks.

It sucks a lot.

But on Friday night when he was feeling like crap, coming down with a cold or cough (wouldn’t it be something if he had to put his brain surgery on hold for coronavirus?), and he was heading up to bed, he told all the kids to come back downstairs and give me a hug, because I haven’t had enough hugs since my surgery.

Did I mention I had surgery? Yeah, I have a metallic implant around my esophagus now. I was going to say something, but that bit of news got a little overshadowed.

Anyway, he sends them downstairs, and they all hug me, and he goes to sleep. And you know, if that’s not marriage, I don’t know what is. The two of us, we are struggling. We are struggling all the time, with things that are in many ways our own, and our own only. And we take care of each other, both by instinct and through intention. We are a team, and we are individuals, and nobody on my team is better at taking care of me, making me feel that all is right in the world, and everything is going to be okay, and like I am valued and worthy and deserving of good things like my husband.

So the thing that sucks the least about waiting for brain surgery #4 is that we’re an old married couple. We’ve been married so long now, twelve years in two months, so long that we are part of each other.

I annoy the hell out of him. I do it on purpose. He makes me laugh even when my diaphragm is stitched together. He does it on purpose.

He makes me want to make him happy every day. Every minute.

He makes me want to be a better mother. Not because he tells me I’m not good enough, but because he thinks I AM so good. And he’s always been like that. He’s why I went back to school, why I got the jobs I did, why I made the choices I did. He believed I could be competent and functional. He believed I was those things. Now he believes I’m a great mom, and I try to be, for him as much as the kids. He believes I’m a good sister and friend. He believes I am the best version of myself I’ve ever imagined. Better than I can imagine.

The thing that sucks exactly as much as you’d expect when you’re waiting for brain surgery #4 is that so little of it is difficult. Oh, I have to call the schedulers again? Oh, I have to harass another set of nurses for another doctor? Oh, I have to update all the lists of his medications? Pssh, way ahead of you. I’m still updating my editorial calendar. I’ll pencil that in for 9:45, 2:00, and 4:15 tomorrow.


I don’t want him to have to have another brain surgery before we’ve reached any kind of equilibrium. I don’t want it for the kids, I don’t want it for him, and I don’t want it for me. But I don’t get a say in that. He needs it. So he’s going to get it. And then we’ll help each other, and I’ll do my best to make him happy, and make the kids happy, and allow myself to be happy, too.

And we’ll see what sucks most next later.



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Read about waiting for brain cancer to strike here: The Routines of Bravery

Read my most recent post here: In Memory of JM Bates

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