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  • OKIE IN EXILE: The black-eyed pea

  • I had surgery in the last half of May. It was for a tumor on the pituitary gland. It was benign. In some sense, the tumor was like a mole. Phrasing it that way made it easier for me to think about. The technical term for this is “denial.”

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  • I had surgery in the last half of May. It was for a tumor on the pituitary gland. It was benign. In some sense, the tumor was like a mole. Phrasing it that way made it easier for me to think about. The technical term for this is “denial.”
    You see, the fly in the ointment is where the pituitary gland is: It’s right in the middle of your head. Yes-sir-ree-bob, smack dab in the center. It’s like a little black-eyed pea hanging off your brain.
    I once had a black mole removed from my butt under a local anesthetic.
    I dropped my drawers, they numbed the area, and the surgeon removed it while espousing his right-wing Republican political views. His first words upon seeing the mole were, “Yep, there’s a mole that belongs under a microscope.” Then he started talking about high college costs.
    While I was spared a political discussion with a knife poised at my butt-cheeks this time around, there was a little more to this procedure. To get a mole off a black-eyed pea hanging from your brain, you go to a brain surgeon.
    We did this. I say we because my dear wife was with me every step of the way. Indeed, since she was awake during the surgery and I got to sleep, she was in it longer than I was.
    During the old days, they had to take off the top of your skull to do this. This strikes me as awkward. The pituitary is on the bottom of the brain. Did they lift it up like an engine on an A-frame? I don’t know. Nowadays, they go in through your nose. Seriously.
    They took an instrument not unlike a soda straw and stuck it into my nose and then operated with the aid of a special microscope and a pair of tweezers. (At this point, you make start making jokes about those who work in educational administration. Brains, microscopes, and tweezers provide a rich environment for humor to be created.) You’d don’t want somebody doing this that hasn’t done it before because, like in real estate, this is about location, location, location. The pituitary sits right where the carotid arteries and optic nerves enter the brain.I don’t know about you, but living and seeing are just about my two favorite things. Getting a tumor out of there is one of the big incentives for surgery.
    To help it heal and to stop up the hole (I guess) they took a piece of fat from my gut--not a rare resource at all--and put it in my nose. I am now a fat-head in every sense of the word. I mentioned denial above. Well I am a master of it. I’d convinced myself that it was just having a mole taken off.
    Page 2 of 2 - That wasn’t exactly true.
    That was over a month ago, and I am still working my way back.
    The main part of it has been energy and I’ve noticed it mainly in my writing. I love to write. I’d imagined that, even if I weren’t able to walk around very much, I’d still be able to write. I could remove the adverbs out of a book I am working on.
    I’ve discovered that, while writing doesn’t take a lot of energy, writing requires you to be at a certain energy level. It is a level I’ve only been able to manage for an hour or half-hour a day.
    Regardless, I was pacing around like a caged wolf at home, so I made myself go into work for half-day stretches at first. During that time I met with students who needed help, and in doing so, I discovered that talking and listening requires energy in much the same way writing does.
    It’s coming back, though. Part of that is due to healing, and part of that is due to weight loss.
    A lot of stuff has been going on connected with the treatment of this tumor. I was put on some medication. Because of the surgery, I couldn’t breath through my nose and, as a consequence, my mouth dried out. Let me tell you, it’s not fun to eat with a dried-out mouth.
    And then there is hospital food. Need I say more?
    As a consequence of all this, I’ve lost about 40 pounds. The upside is that I feel a better; the downside is that I was so fat only the folks closest to me notice I’ve lost anything. But I am going to keep at it. And you will see me out more, because the doctor gave me the go-ahead to restart my daily walk.
    See you around.
    Bobby Winters, a native of Harden City, Oklahoma, is Assistant Dean of the College of Arts and Sciences and Professor of Mathematics at Pittsburg State University. He blogs at redneckmath.blogspot.com and okieinexile.blogspot.com.

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