In the days of war (I can only imagine), facing an unknown opponent, you have no idea what their strengths or weaknesses are. Nor, do you know, what tactical moves they will use to defeat you. You either fear them or you don’t, strong in your resolve, to give this fight your best shot!
Your goal is simple – SURVIVAL.
It’s not unlikely, that you would have no idea which strategy to follow to defeat them, but you remain hopeful. It’s a fight which could go either way. However, the choice to stand and face it head on, is never truly yours. You also don’t know the purpose of the fight or the reason why you are there, in that moment, in time. All you know is, you need to show up and muster up the courage. Whatever sees you through, is what you rely on, of this world or the next.
War wounds turn into scars, in time, reminders of what you have endured. And, in modern day warfare, traumatic brain injury (TBI) and post traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), are the after effects suffered by so many. Undoubtedly, the remnants of memories are etched in your subconscious, triggers ready to pounce, when you least expect it.
Similarly, facing brain surgery, or treatment failure (Shunt or ETV), can feel like this. Triggers course through your veins, taking you down a path you’ve traveled, so many times before. You’d think having gone through an experience, more than once, that you’d get used to it.
FACT: Living with Hydrocephalus, leaves you with no choice.
The triggers, though slightly different, come in the form of being symptomatic (repeatedly) or simply going for a routine annual MRI! Your level of anxiety increases with each minute, as you physically feel the effects, of the storm clouds gathering above your head. If any of your previous experiences are tainted with anything negative, or bad, you will undoubtedly feel anxious. Sure, you get to decide how you handle any given situation, especially if it’s what gets you through. However, this is different for everyone. In the end, it’s you at the mercy of a seemingly unforgiving opponent, determined to bring you to your knees.
The fight is by no means fair…
Every man, woman and child, diagnosed with this condition, knows the layout of the battlefield. We know the stakes are high and, at times, the odds are in our favour. Sometimes…they aren’t. Regardless, we know fully the fight could leave us unscathed yet, we prepare for the worst…just in case. Truth be told, one can never fully prepare for it. It’s a tug of war on your emotions and a feeling of helplessness, despair and doubt, which clouds your outlook on life. Physically, mentally and emotionally, it drains you! It may even leave you a casualty of war, losing more than just a part of yourself. Many of us would rather not endure the torture but, alas, we have no choice.
Like a trained monkey you play along to the whims of the puppet master. You move as your strings are pulled from side to side. Reluctantly you follow the lead and do as commanded.
You are not in control!
Celebrating every small victory: a week turns into a month, turns into a year and then some. These moments, in-between surgery, are what defines “success”. Your treatment choice doing what it’s supposed to do. Your body playing it’s part and, all the while, you remain hopeful that it will continue.
There are times where you simply allow yourself to forget, just for a minute, until the sounding of the drums. It signals the start of something, yet, not apparent at first. You see, the trademark of this opponent is to leave you guessing, to question yourself and be doubted by those around you, to the brink of insanity.
When this call comes, be sure to stand your ground because you have seen this place before. You have heard the echoes all around, and you have come through it all, stronger than you were before. You have given it your all and you CAN do it again!
For those who haven’t, who walk this path for the first time, don’t be afraid, for you are not alone. There are others who you may find on the battlefield, facing the same moment as you. Follow their footsteps and draw on their strength. It matters not that you are strangers because, in the midst of battle, you become allies.
Regardless of whether you’ve had this fight before; You will master the art of survival, as this war continues to rage on! And, the enemy you once knew nothing about, will become more visible. You’ll learn all there is to know to see you through.