That Pencil

After my 6 hour brain surgery to remove a cavernoma in my midbrain, I woke up and remembered what the doctor had said — that I could lose some faculties from the surgery.

I tried to lift my leg. It didn’t work. I tried to move the other. I could lift it about an inch. Something was wrong with my eyes, too. What scared me the most was that I had trouble moving my right arm.

She was my age. I told her I didn’t want to try to write yet, because it would devastate me if I couldn’t. All those journals I used during my bouts with bipolar disorder saved me. She was nice about it and left me alone.

The next therapist came in sometime later. She did not seem to care – she wanted to know – could I write or not? She put paper on a tray and held out a pencil. It took forever to reach for it. When my hand got there, it wouldn’t open. My fist looked like a rose — a frozen rose or a rose made out of stone. I didn’t even know I was crying. I was trying to open the hand that had saved me again and again when I had nothing else. Finally the therapist had enough. She pried my hand open, closed my fingers around the pencil and asked me to write my name. With every effort I had I tried to write an ‘R.” I only made a tiny indentation on the paper. Nothing I did would make a bigger mark and it certainly didn’t look like a letter. Covered in tears now, I looked at the woman and told her to get out.

“I told you I wasn’t ready.”

I heard myself scream. “Leave.”

She did, but she forgot that pencil. I called the nurse and told him to take it out of my hand it out of the room.

It took awhile to stop crying alone in that room. Sometimes I think about that day, that hour, that moment. Sometimes it still feels like it takes something out of me.

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