January 18, 2020
I am doing something that scares me today: speaking to some students. This is my longest stretch without formal surgery since the accident over four months ago, my appointments with all doctors went well this past week… and I have my next dental procedures on Monday and facial procedures on Tuesday here in Los Angeles. So if there ever were a ‘right’ window, I suppose this would be it.
I had my last major procedure exactly one month ago and have been recovering relatively well… aside from the internal bleeding and having to be rushed to the hospital by ambulance and then need to return to the ER three days later. But apart from that fiasco, I feel the best I have felt since September 6, 2019 both physically and mentally. Thank you doctors, treatments, medication, community and my mother.
So here I am — with prepared notes (atypical and a stark contrast to my extemporaneous style, but a necessity with my unreliable brain), a stool (for a head prone to dizziness and fatigued body), layers upon layers of full coverage makeup and drawn-on lips (a first since my accident and a first with pigments this rich at any time), no bandages (not even to protect my one still-open facial wound), and my hair strategically blown dry across as much of the wounded part of my face as possible (plus some product and bobby pins to keep it in place as best I can).
On countless levels, I am not ready — but will I ever be? These student leaders are a remarkable group, one I address every year, an event I look forward to with great excitement because of the hope it never ceases to provide around the power, capacity and proactivity of the next generation.
I will see how it goes, how I feel, how my body responds. My mother came down to Los Angeles to be by my side, to make me feel safe, to act as something of a buffer to the outside world, and so I wouldn’t be alone. While she doesn’t necessarily support my decision to take on this additional stress, she understands that it matters to me, respects how I arrived at this choice, and is here in full support of the daughter for whom she has been caring kindly, generously and diligently for months.
This cause is one of those dearest to my heart. And speaking to students about a passion of mine is (or should be) a low-stress activity in a safe environment surrounded by people who accept, support, even love me. Being here has always brought me immense joy and positivity, though I know not what today will bring. I will talk to students for 20 minutes and then return to my room. One thing at a time. Step by step.
Being here does not mean in any way, shape or form that I am ready, that I am returning to life, that I am healed, that I even feel half decent. Is this easing in? In my mind, I feel it may be, though perhaps I am entirely wrong. I pray it won’t end in catastrophe. My primary concerns are psychological, though nothing about my physical state is solid, nor indicates stability. But for some reason, I feel compelled to be here, a notion that terrifies me in and of itself, but on we go, nerves and lisp and jitters and all.