Alison has been moved to a room. She is in the bed, and around it is ranged 1,2,3,4,5 Piepmeiers and a Dinwiddy. Two more Dinwiddies are expected later today. And those Piepmeiers are big, you know? Whew! They're suckin all the oxygen out of the room.
Alison is very awake now and very lucid. Almost no word-finding problems, which is a surprise to me. We were told to expect some, maybe even "a fair amount," but while Alison isn't exactly holding forth about zines and her newest thoughts on her latest book idea concerning disability, it appears that she might be able to do it if prodded.
The tumor, as has been said many times, is a low-grade glioma. Gliomas are evidently a genetic matter, and can be very slow growing. As such, there's no way of knowing how long Alison may have had this thing in her head. It may have been there since birth, maybe 10 years maybe 5. I'm pulling for "since birth" because that would mean it's very slow growing. All that aside, evidence still points to quite a while. That's because the size of the tumor should've already created a lot of language problems--except that Alison has possibly been gradually moving her speech centers around to compensate.
Back last month we had what's called an fMRI. A functional Magnetic Resonance Image. The short version of the explanation for an fMRI is that Alison read words while getting an MRI. In real time, the machine noted what parts of Alison's brain lit up while she was reading. When the technician started to create his color overlay indicating those lit up parts, they were just all over the place. Quite a large bit was in her right hemisphere even. While the technician wouldn't totally commit to saying that these truly were compensations, he allowed for the possibility. I think she moved them, but then i'm given to a lot of wishful thinking, but then maybe "wishing" for someone else's well-being is a kind of unselfish prayer, and unselfish prayers, after all, are the best kind.
Anyway, Alison is evidently doing spectacularly. I think that wasn't the case yesterday. I think the doctors and nurses and even Alison's Uncle Joe were a little underwhelmed. I think they somewhat expected Alison to come out of surgery and be a little more awake, a little more responsive than she was. As is stands today, however, i think they're a little impressed with how much better she's doing than expected. They just didn't know Alison, after all, is a high- maintenance lightweight. Doesn't get her sleep? She ain't worth a plug nickel. One large glass of wine? Nighty-night. 10 billion milligrams of Dilantin, no sleep, stress and having one's head operated on would take it out of the best of them. It wonked Alison a good one. She just needed a little more time than other folks.
Now, while i assure you the future holds quite a few posts bragging on several above-and-beyond friends, i wanted to give a quick shout out to Alison's friend Sarah who drove up yesterday from near Greensboro to bring everyone in the waiting room a fantastic, delicious and healthy lunch. It even came complete with very cute plastic flatware and a table cloth. Because of nerves just about everything i ate yesterday, which i think amounted to perhaps 6 oz., was shoveled into my face only because i knew i was supposed to eat and mostly tasted like sand. That Chicken Tetrazzini, however, was spectacular and a very gracious gift. On behalf of Alison, Kelly, Lee, Suzanne, Trey, Aaron and Mary: Thank you so much, Sarah.
Finally, now that i feel i'm sort of out of the weeds, i'd like to address one more thing. Yesterday as i waited and waited, and was almost entirely consumed, for word that Alison was okay, i was still vaguely aware that there were a lot of strangers around me who were doing the same thing. It was a big waiting room and there were lots of names being called, lots of beepers going off, lots of people with lips just as colorless and pressed just as thin as mine. Experience has taught me that when i'm feeling most self-consumed, that's the time to reach out and help someone else. I pondered going around and actually talking to folks, listening to their story as much as i could, maybe just giving out a smile or two. I wasn't able, however, to overcome my own inertia. I don't feel guilty about that. I'd like to think that i have the karmic equivalent of, say, carbon offset credits, and just cashed in a few yesterday.
Still, i had to pass several rooms several times there in the ICU to get to Alison's. In a really brief way, i became aware of other people's stories. There was the woman all alone who's bed was being mechanically shaken so that fluid wouldn't collect in her lungs. There was a guy of my age and size with a sad and haggard face who sat silently reading in the room where what appeared to be his terminally sleeping Daddy lay crumpled and old. And there was the weeping woman in the waiting room who looked a lot like the woman in the room near Alison's. As i passed by at one point the staff were quietly pointing to a monitor that stood just outside her door. This monitor seemed different than what everyone else had. On it blipped by several lines, most of them very flat. The staff somberly pointed and spoke of flat t-waves having been there too long.
I don't like to see anything or anyone hurt, and while, outside of Alison, it took me all day yesterday to get there, i still eventually found my feelings going out for these folks. Now that so many good vibes have been sent our way and have done so much good (and although i was unable to do it myself) i hope everyone still has some of that left so they can send it to the other folks who need it even worse than we have.