The Week I Got My Brain Back

Last week’s post left off just as I was about to go into hospital to find out when they’d be booking me in for surgery. I had been hoping that it might be fairly soon, since I’m apparently an urgent case and I’ve barely been able to leave the house in months, but hope is a treacherous and flighty beast, and of course things didn’t go quite so smoothly.

The waiting list for surgery is 4-6 months long; the minimum amount of time in which I’ll be booked for surgery is four months. Then there’s an eight-week recovery period, so basically whatever happens I’m essentially taking the rest of the year off.

They can’t push me up the list unless my Angry Internal Organs actually rupture, which made me start wishing they would, until I remembered that would have irritating potential side effects like involuntary sudden death. So I figured maybe I’ll obey the doctor’s instructions and not do anything to make this whole situation any more precarious, and look after my Angry Organs, and hopefully maintain this tenuous truce for as long as I can.

The doctor also said there’s apparently a mystery appointment in the diary for August, from the team who did some tests a few weeks ago. It’s marked as ‘Important’, but there aren’t any other notes, and as far as she knew we’ve already been through all the test results, so apparently I just have to show up and find out what that’s about on the day. Nothing like a lucky dip with organ failure thrown into the mix… 🙄

I’m actually surprisingly OK with taking the rest of the year off from most of life. It’s providing me with some time for a reevaluation of things; getting me out of a couple of contractual obligations I didn’t really want to be in in the first place; reminding me what’s important to me and who my friends are; and, more than anything, giving me reams and reams of time.

All this spare time was previously quite annoying, because my brain wasn’t working due to the pill-fuzz, so all I could do was sit around watching Netflix. Which can be fun, but after four months? It starts to get kind of old.

However, in amongst all the disappointment about waiting times at last week’s appointment there was a teeny smidgen of hope.

There’s that word again.

I told the doctor about the discovery I made last week: that the pills I’d been taking were giving me side effects that actually made the symptoms of my condition worse. She prescribed new ones, told me to stop taking the old ones (leaving a gap between the end of the old ones and the beginning of the new ones to make sure I didn’t accidentally overdose on a pill cocktail), and said these new ones should hopefully reduce the symptoms. Which is good, because that’s kind of what medication is for.

The downside of this was it meant I spent a lot of last week lying around clutching my mid-section and begging my organs to stop being a pain.

However, the upsides are (a) that should stop now I’m allowed to start taking the new pills, and (b) I got my brain back!

This is so exciting. SO EXCITING.

I am an incurable bookworm. For most of my life, I have read on average one book per day.

I even have a Pinterest board dedicated to book-related clothing.

For the past four months, I have barely been able to make it through a book, and even when I could, it’s taken me a couple of weeks.

But now? Now I can read again!

It’s so exciting.

Another couple of good things that have happened because of this whole being ill and staying in the house malarkey:

– I’m being forced to live by my body’s natural patterns in a way I haven’t done in – oh, I don’t know how long. It’s been quite nice to remember what my preferences are and to get into some kind of rhythm, even if (or perhaps because?) it’s a much slower one than normal.

– Being a massive hermit introvert, I am also greatly enjoying the extended alone time, and the built-in excuse not to go to any social occasions. I have a Pinterest clothes board for that, too:

So, what does all this mean for the next few months? 

I’m still not going to be working at my normal capacity. Yes, I have my brain back (for the moment, at least…) but I still have a severely depleted supply of energy, and a body that needs to spend a lot of time regenerating.

So for the rest of the year, I’ll be focusing on the basics work-wise, and spending a lot of time chilling out, reading, and getting to know myself again. It can be surprisingly hard to do that when you’re working on a hundred different projects and racing around all the time to various appointments.

The reading list

Boosted by my pure joy at being able to read again, last week I read nine books:

  • Every Day by David Levithan – a very good novel about a boy who wakes up each day in a different body. It’s the kind of book that sounds like it shouldn’t work, but it really does. Also, the ending is pretty much perfect.
  • Seconds to Snap by Tina McGuff – a memoir by someone who had anorexia, spent some time in psychiatric wards, and ultimately recovered.
  • Highland Hermit by James Carron – a biography of James McRory Smith, who lived in an isolated highland bothy for years and had very little contact with other people.
  • Stick Figure by Lori Gottlieb – extracts from the diary of a girl who struggled with eating disorders from the age of eleven through her teenage years. A fascinating insight into this area of psychology, and eloquently written, particularly for one so young.
  • The Stranger in the Woods by Michael Finkel – the remarkable true story of Christopher Knight, who one day got in his truck and started driving, then stopped in a wooded area, started walking, found a place to camp, and didn’t come home until someone found him decades later.
  • Anorexic by Anna Paterson – another memoir, this time one that tells the story of a girl who suffered abuse by her grandmother, the effects it had on her life, and how she ultimately overcame it.
  • Consolations of the Forest by Sylvain Tesson – a beautiful book by a French guy who decided to go and live in a cabin in the Siberian taiga for six months. I think I’m going to have to read it in French too, because the language was so exquisite even in English, and we all know French is the most beautiful language of them all. 😉
  • Solitude by Michael Harris – an intriguing read, because it’s about solitude but it’s by someone who found spending time alone very difficult. As Michael struggles to deal with his anxiety and researches why some people are solitary by choice, he gradually comes to comprehend what drives people to choose to be alone, and why it can be a positive thing.
  • The Couple Next Door by Shari Lapena – I rounded off the week with another novel, this one crime fiction. It’s about a couple whose child goes missing, and is a pretty classic whodunnit. I did guess the ending before it happened, but there were enough twists and turns to keep me interested all the way through.

Other things that happened this week

The book is nearing completion! By “nearing” I really mean “inching gradually closer at about the pace of a particularly lethargic snail”, but at least it’s getting somewhere. In related news, one day last week when I had a fever but needed to get some writing done, I came up with an… ingenious? solution:

In related news, I now have an author page on a publisher’s website! This pleased me greatly.

This is what happens when you’ve been starved of books for ages, and then suddenly the possibility of reading is reopened to you:

Forensic Focus, a website on which I am Senior Editor, won Digital Forensics Blog of the Year in the Forensic 4:cast awards.

I watched season 3 of Jane the Virgin. Somehow, a show I started watching as a sort of in-joke with myself has become something quite moving.

I also watched this documentary about people who marry other people from very different backgrounds:

And I watched this very interesting talk by Sadhguru Jaggi Vasudev, with whom I agree on many points:

Interesting things on the internet this week

  • Something everyone should be aware of: NaviStone are claiming to be able to match “previously anonymous website visitors to postal names and addresses”:

And with that, I’ll sign off for today. The doctor has said I can tentatively start to try gently to incorporate some more elements of life again, so this afternoon I am going to try a short walk. Might as well make the most of the English summer while it lasts… 😉


  1. I love a book about someone living in the wilderness! Got a few more for my wishlist, thanks 🙂 Glad you’re feeling a bit more compus mentus too!

    Liked by 1 person

  2. As if I didn’t have enough to read, now you are piquing my interest in even more! 😉 I’m so glad to hear you are feeling a little more like yourself. I had terrible brain fog for years, and I can relate to the feeling of it lifting. As for your enforced time off, your plans to make the most of it sound like exactly the right attitude. Just, go easy on yourself (I know, I laugh when people say that to me) — we introverted hermits often don’t realize when it’s time to back off or ask for help!

    Liked by 1 person

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