Day 17 of the Attitude of Gratitude Reflective Teacher @TeachThought Blog Challenge...
This is probably the easiest post to write, but also the hardest in some ways.
One year ago I was two months post-surgery for a rather large benign brain tumour - nicknamed Arthur - but it's real name, an Acoustic Neuroma - is pretty cool too. Surgery took around 8 hours and was completely, and somewhat unexpectedly, successful. I was one of the lucky ones. The only real side effect from the surgery was the fact that I was now completely deaf in one ear. I had been losing my hearing gradually for a few years so I thought it would be a piece of cake getting used to hearing from only one ear. I misjudged that completely! It's been incredibly hard and for a long time I was pretty certain that I wouldn't be able to return to the classroom as it's hard concentrating on hearing people and students need to be heard and discussions had - that's one of the things I love about what we do.
I'm pretty determined so I've pushed myself to try and cope with noisy environments etc. and to become very fit so that fatigue is not as much an issue as it is for many after an operation like this. The hardest battle has been convincing people that I am completely fine, in fact better than before the operation when my balance - or lack of it - was a huge issue as was the fatigue and headaches. I have none of that now and my memory is even better than it was before. People still hear the words 'brain tumour' though and seem to view it in a different way to other illnesses or cancers. Even though this was completely benign and I feel great, there is a stigma attached to 'brain tumour' - that's been the hardest battle of all.
I'm in good company with this 'experience' though. An actor whose work I really enjoy is Mark Ruffalo and in 2002, he went through the same procedure as I did to remove his 'Arthur'.
Arthur's well and truly gone now. I know that I can manage in the classroom more than ever before, apart from the hearing, or lack of it, being a little annoying. Watch out when I get my BAHA though - Bone Anchored Hearing Aid. I'll be hearing on all two cylinders - or ears!!
A year ago I didn't think I would ever teach again. Now I know I can. That's the best present ever!