Tuesday 19 September 2023

Cerebellum Survey Results

Here are the results from the cerebellum survey I asked on my Hemangioblastoma Brain Tumour group on Facebook.The results are only from those who had a cerebellar tumour (not from those with a tumour elsewhere) and the subsequent surgery to remove it.

When I copied these results 54 people had responded.


When was your tumour removed? (latest surgery if had more than one operation)


Do you struggle with these issues?

The answers to 'other' were:

-Headache and occasional vision blurring.
-Overwhelm, then essentially mental “shut down” when faced with more than 1 or 2 things (even  simple tasks) to do at a time.
-Balance to some extent - e.g. can't turn head quickly from left to right and vertigo-like sensations (whether up high or not)
-Horizontal vertigo randomly
-Phantosmia - I smell burning sometimes, cigarettes, or more commonly like candles. Balance is technically fine in “tests” by doc/physio but I can wobble all over the place some days.
-Inability to multitask.
-Cognitive issues - problems reading faces, hearing what's being spoken.
-Tinnitus, eyesight issues, tingling down the arms, pain passing from my forehead along my head to my neck, loss of movement
-Very poor balance and mobility issues. Need to use a walking aid when outside my home.
-Hyperacussis (increased sensitivity to sound and a low tolerance for environmental noise), anxiety.
-Right hand tremor/
-Hard to hear with multiple sources of sound when tired.



Do you have any of these functional issues?


Are you affected by any of these?


Have your symptoms changed over the time since your surgery?


Do you class yourself as having a disability?


Have you been diagnosed with any related medical conditions since your surgery?

Other :

-The neurologist doesn't think the memory issues would be related to the tumor, different part of the brain, but his science is wrong because the whole body holds memory, not just one place. Eventually science will catch up to itself.
-Von Hippel-Lindau Syndrome (VHL)

-Stroke, Holmes Tremor
-Cerebrospinal fluid (CSF) issues
-Functional Neurological Disorder (FND), Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD)
-Additional tumor on spine
-Hemorrhage 1 week post op
-Under-active thyroid/ peripheral neuropathy/ fibromyalgia/
-Recurrence of tumour in cerebellum and additional tumours on brain stem and spine
-Short term memory loss
-Spinal stenosis (probably caused by imbalance issues), Lynch Syndrome (MSH6 gene)
-Holmes tremor. New tumour has grown
-Surgery worsened compressed nerve issues in my neck from positioning on the surgery table



Do your issues affect you…


-They come and go
-Anxiety is there most of the time
-Hardly ever once every few months if that 



Are you?


What is your age group?


In general, are your issues…

My first thought on seeing these results was 

'Its not just me!', 

combined with almost instantly with the sadness and anger of 

'Why dont they believe us?'


From Q 2:

73% struggle with fatigue.

49% have brain fog

49% have issues with concentration and attention

45% have memory issues

43% struggle to find the correct words

37% forgetful

35% confusion/ decreased clarity of thought

24% struggle to type/write words

23% say the wrong words 

17% spelling has got worse

Although from my experience of the various medical professionals - only fatigue and, maybe, brain fog are related to the tumour/cerebellum, the rest have nothing to do with it! Categorically saying to me speech issues such as these have nothing to do with the cerebellum! Therefore, blaming my cognitive issues on 'Functional' disorders instead, and definitely implying its my thoughts about them and nothing to do with my tumour, surgery or cerebellar damage.

Yet the lowest score here is 17%, saying their spelling has also got worse. Something when I have explained to various neuro doctors has changed for me - that I now have to really think and spell out words, and get the tense of words such as 'send' and 'sent' constantly wrong, rather than just instantly write or say them as I did before - I have never received more than a look of total derision and a 'it's not linked' for,

Only 7% say they dont have any of these issues.


From Q3:

55% balance issues/ataxia

54% feel dizzy/wobbly (these top 2 are accepted by doctors as linked to cerebellum)

47% sensitive to sounds/too much conversation (this Dr's imply is unusual for the cerebellum)

32% weakness

32% whole body coordination/clumsy

30% hand control (I have been told by all the neuro Dr's that my hand issues are nothing to do with my tumour/surgery, although a physiotherapist said my issues were clearly stemming from my neck or brain - she couldn't test nerve points past my neck to distinguish which)

28% tremor/twitching/shaking

23% blurry vision  (Again, vision issues are supposedly not linked by the neurologists or ophthalmologists I've seen, despite several also having some of these same vision problems at times?!)

23% vision that changes

20% sensitive to lights/flickering

20%  swallowing issues (again been told it's not linked)

15% double vision 

4% nystagmus /eyes flicker

13% have none


63% Anxiety

34% easily overwhelmed

34% depression

34% no patience/short tempered

32% fight or flight/startle response exaggerated

28% nerve issues in head

26% nerve issues in body

24% nausea

20% sexual dysfunction/loss of libido

19% insomnia

19% motion sickness 

4% psychiatric issues

8% have none 

Some of these the Dr's acknowledge may be an issue, but more as a result of trauma and the stress than a possibility it could be related to the cerebellum. (Which it could be? but how to Dr's know if we've never even been asked?) Yet only 8% of us have none of these concerns.



61% worse when tired

50% worse when stressed

43% worse when anxious

28% variable for no clear reason

20% constantly the same 

Again, the amount of times I have been looked at like I am lying, or strongly exaggerating at the best, when I explain that my symptoms can change vastly. Yet clearly it's not just me!

'One day I barely notice, the next I can barely cope with them.' 

Also I feel I'm not believed that when they see me they think I seem 'fine' and so they don't see an issue. I am sure the only reason I am normally OK when there is that I get a burst of adrenaline on the 'stress' of being back at the hospital and never being believed - which actually boosts my thoughts and responses. Plus, that also explains why I feel 'burnt out' shortly afterwards and almost fall asleep or can't talk properly when I get home. 


Things need to change. 


Cerebellum studies have been done since the 90's with Jeremy Schmahmann's pioneering work on the cerebellum and cognition and changed the belief of how the cerebellum works... 

... isn't it about times things start to change within the actual medical profession too? 



Friday 15 September 2023

Cerebellum - it isn't just about balance!

I got told at some point after my surgery that having a part of my cerebellum removed is the best area of the brain to be removed as "it doesn't really cause any issues".

Now while I fully accept that it would be far better than many areas, removing a 3cm area of brain and the required surgery certainly doesn't mean you will always have absolutely no issues!

Many a time since I gave spoken to a GP, or even a neuro specialist about the cerebellum's links with cognitive function, speech, anxiety or depression and they have looked at me blankly. They never say, 'I don't think it's linked to the area of the cerebellum your tumour was' or say anything to imply that I have understood it incorrectly - instead they clearly don't have a clue what I'm even talking about!
They sometimes say 'it mainly controls balance', then add 'you don't seem that affected with this'. But I've also been told "I've not heard of that link before." 
Are they the actual experts? 

Do doctors, even brain specialists, really know more than their patients?

Or could actually asking the patients 
'What things do you struggle with now?'
actually help both the medical profession and us patients out?!!

Even on Wikipedia it says this about Cerebellar Cognitive Affective Syndrome (CCAS)
"They reported that patients with injury isolated to the cerebellum may demonstrate distractibility, hyperactivity, impulsiveness, disinhibition, anxiety, ritualistic and stereotypical behaviors, illogical thought and lack of empathy, aggression, irritability, ruminative and obsessive behaviors, dysphoria and depression, tactile defensiveness and sensory overload, apathy, childlike behavior, and inability to comprehend social boundaries and assign ulterior motives"

This article 'The mysterious, multifaceted cerebellum', being a really easy to read and informative, the end of it saying.  
"What’s clear, however, is that the cerebellum can no longer be ignored — and that its connections throughout the brain and contributions to brain function may be much broader than scientists had initially imagined."

There are also these, basic but interesting, links (that every neuro doctor should know!) about cerebellum damage and its side effects.

Cerebellum Brain Damage: What Causes It & How Rehabilitation Works 

"Of note, the cerebellum also helps to regulate other visual functions, such as the vestibulo-ocular reflex (VOR). The VOR is what allows you to continue seeing a stable picture even when while you are moving around. These visual functions may also be affected by cerebellum brain damage."

This interests me as before I knew about my tumour, I complained to the GP saying my vision felt like I was looking through a video - moving up and down as I walked. Plus I have never felt my visual perception is back to normal afterwards, I can turn my head and lose balance and so can't look backwards easily, often feeling things are just not fully still around me. But again, I just get looked at like I spoke to an alien if I discuss it with a Dr!

Plus this article that everyone who has has, or knows someone who has had a brain injury should read.

Dealing with Sensory Overload After Brain Injury

Many of these approaches I naturally realised helped me long before I read this, and no doctor or therapist has yet to ask me, let alone help with them!

Also, as I had hydrocephalus before my operation, all parts of my brain must have been struggling beforehand. How can they know if being in this state for weeks caused damage or not? It drives me insane when they say its nothing to do with my surgery and yet the issues only started just AFTER it. Many a time I have said, it could have been the tumour, the hydrocephalus, the surgery, the swelling after... and I'm not blaming the hospital or staff in any way - but please acknowledge there is a problem! 

I also set up a survey for my Hemangioblastoma brain tumour group - asking those who had cerebellar tumours to list their current issues. The results are exactly what I have been saying for years and are so very similar, yet we are all ignored (and I cried when I read them) 

I will try and publish the results in another blog post soon x

And please search my previous blog posts on the cerebellum and its side effects for me. https://benignbraintumour.blogspot.com/search/label/Cerebellum

Missing area in cerebellum
The outside is missing!
Showing how messed up my neck is too!

Tuesday 12 September 2023

Empty Inside

How can I explain to you,
What I can't even understand myself.
That I just feel empty inside.
Or that a part of me feels broken.
Just following the motions in living,
but half of me just feels dead.
I don't want to die, 
just not too sure I want to live either.
Well at least not like this.
I feel useless.
Worthless as I am.
Constantly a burden to you all.

When I'm tired, I can't think.
I can't cope with my body.
Don't want the constant struggle.
Aches, pains, brain fog, fatigue, 
always fucking hurting or needing to rest.
Having to take 5 minutes.
Trying to switch off.

Never feeling rested.
Not able to fully relax.
My body pounding or exhausted.
Tingling, itching, sore or just plain numb.
That invisible itch in my skull.
constantly reminding me of that scene in Harry Potter -  
when Voldemort is inside him and he's just writhing from another's evil soul...

I have to be distracted to be happy.
Get myself out of my head. 
Switch off my negative feelings. 
But what the fuck can switch them off?
Every damn thing I enjoy I can only do for so long.
Before I hurt more, ache, feel dizzy, feel tired, can't think, can't type, 
forget what I'm doing while doing it.
Before someone notices that I'm not talking properly. 
That I can't pronounce something, 
Or said the wrong word.
Start dropping things.
My hands forgetting how to work correctly.
Can't see right.
Blurriness descending.
Hand eye coordination gone wrong.
Unable to move out the way.
While my head starts buzzing and pulling, 
Like its twisting inside.
Feeling all its weaknesses instantly. 
The physical and the mental scars start to breakdown.
And sleep tries to smother me.
Go to sleep.
Start again later.

Is it me just being weak?
Do I need to just get on with it?
Yet, if I try, I just fail.
I just don't know what to do.
The world is overwhelming. 
I don't know where to start.
There's just so much I need to do.
That I want to do.
But I just can't remember what. 
So I do nothing,
just scroll on my phone.
Until something reminds me.
Or I just want to cry.
Sink into the bedsheets forever.

Their tests say I'm fine
Because adrenaline hits well when faced with a challenge.
Something to make my life worthwhile.
A meaning.
Yet they tell me, 'Average, you're fine'.
No I'm not, 
And just maybe, just fucking maybe, 
have they thought this can't speak straight dipshit of a person was actually over average before?
That's,why I'm struggling now. 
Not that I've always been average,
but because my brain has changed.

Maybe that's why I can see through the bullshit?
The constant, drip feeding of the nudge team.
The 'stop you thinking' media.
The glaringly obvious manipulation and agendas.
The lies, the puppets, the distractions.
I'm blind to it all and see clearly at the same time.
And it hurts, it hurts so fucking much, that when they say to jump, others just say 'how high'.
Bending over to lose their rights, and their health, and their freedom... forever.
That of their children.
People I love.

I don't want to be part of that.
It breaks me to think of it.
I don't want to know.
I can't agree.
Exhausted even more from the pain of that division.
My babies...

I try and make plans. 
It works for a while.
Then exhaustion returns and I have to stop.
For a day, or a week.
How much is emotional and how much is physical I don't know? 
But I can't cope.
And after, I'm so behind on the daily chores that extras just aren't possible.
So when, or if, I ever catch up.
(When others help out)
I've just forgotten what I was doing...

Over and over.

Books are half read.
Clothes are half sewn.
Jewellery never finished.
The crochet needle still with wool on it.
Letters never written.
Survey results never published.
Blog posts in draft.
So many to do lists.
Their reminders silenced long ago.

And still the floor needs vacuuming, the washing putting on and the rubbish going to the tip!!
But it's too much.
So I just don't start.
And once again.
Tears just roll down my face. 
As I'm sitting there blankly.
Empty inside.

Until a customer knocks at our door,
And I wipe my damp face, put on a smile, and they never even know.
It feels like an act.
It's not me.
Or we go out.
Escape the reality 
Drowning in natures beauty instead.
So healing.
So, so healing...

At gigs, I'm a different person.
The hidden me appears.
I even look different. 
I know I do.
I can feel it.
The switch has flipped.
I chat to anyone, I enjoy talking with others, laughing, 
Helping them, 
Being of use.
Being needed.
Being appreciated.
On top of it all for a while. 
Hyper focused and organised.
Even joyous!
And then we get home.

The energy vampire in this house haunts me.
Tiredness returns.
My brain starts switching off.
My face changes.
A part of me disappears again.
It's been used up.
Washed away with the make up.
And the crap part returns.
Back to the me that I don't want to exist.
Empty inside.


Wednesday 17 May 2023

Photo memories ...

I was talking to Dave, my husband, recently about photos. That he has so many pictures of me that are totally unflattering - mainly as for some reason I tend to look as pissed as a fart in about 90% of the pictures anyone takes of me 🙄🤣 Even though I don't drink and am sometimes the only sober person in the shot, I tend to look the worst! 😬
He has photos of me that to many would be blackmail material ...countless double chins, or in a bikini, walking around in my undies, or bending over or some similar, not so flattering, and often rather wrinkly, angles.
But I just laugh at them, at me, as I honestly don't care. 
As after this photo everything changed.

He took this photo of me 7 years ago today - the day before my brain surgery was due. We had just been told, that bar emergencies, I was having my surgery at noon the next day. 
As he took the photo, of me holding the matching fluffy toy rabbit to my 9year old son's one at home, whilst trying to type to friends online to hold me in their healing thoughts and prayers for tomorrow (it wasnt easy with vision affected by hydrocephalus); I was just sitting there wondering if this would be my last ever photo? Or maybe the last one of me ever being 'even vaguely normal' again? Would I forever be struggling, a burden to my family?
I was terrified. Possibly more terrified of waking up not fully with it or severely disabled and having to rely on others, than I was of not waking up at all. 

So when I woke up, while being wheeled out of the theatre 6.5 hours after entering it, seemingly intact, able to talk, then over the next day seemingly recovering as was expected, being able to walk (better than I had for months 🙏) yet still feeling as drunk as a skunk and struggling with it and the constant visual movement. All that mattered is that I had survived, plus had the hope that I would recover to something like a 'normal' life... 
I realised - nothing trivial mattered anymore.
These pictures are from the day following surgery,  the first when I was still in special care and wired up, with a drainage tube directly into my skull! But the relief is showing...along with actually looking like I struggling from having my head opened up for a few hours!! 😬😂

And with these pictures, what I did know, is how I thought I looked didn't matter one iota. 
It doesn't matter what others think of me, but what I think of myself and at that moment I had just love. I knew I needed to love myself, accept myself, trust myself...and life. Something I wasn't that good at doing.
I no longer cared if someone thought me ugly, wrinkly, grumpy, or anything... 
I knew right then I was totally unfit, looked like shit, had no energy, my face showing the trauma I'd just been through, totally at my worst... but I didn't care. 
I was alive. 
I was human and having a normal human response... So does anything else matter?
Many others are too scared to show their own humanity, and hide it under a veil of make up and fakeness... But why? 
Why do we all have to pretend? 
Pretend that we are skinnier, more toned, more beautiful, have the perfect pout or whatever...  just not actually being yourself. 
Like what the fuck is a filter about?! 🤔😂 To pretend you're 20 again? Hey, fuck it, I'm 50 next year, and I'm happy if I've got a few white hairs and wrinkles... It's better than not getting this old. My life could so easily have stopped at 42...

The last few months before these pictures were taken had shown me I could no longer pretend at all (not that I've ever dyed my hair, had my nails done or gone to a beautician!) I'd been reduced to being totally dependent on someone else to look after me, then more to save my life. (Not even able to see the mirror even if I wanted makeup. Although it would have soon been smudged all round my face from tears anyway!) What good was looking nice to please others? Absolutely fucking nothing! 
So, as long as no one is violating or ridiculing me ... You see what you get and post what you want. (and if you do want to ridicule, take a long look in the mirror first and work out why you feel its acceptable to laugh at others? Does it make you feel a better person as you actually feel worthless yourself? 🤔)

And yes, sometimes I do put on make up and dress up... I even have been trying to make myself fitter by going to the outside gym daily... But thats a whole different story.

7 years.

Yet it seems like it was only a year or so ago, but also forever, at the same time. 
Thanks again Tim 💖✨

Wednesday 1 March 2023

I thought...

I thought I was angry, a stroppy red head,
But I'd had so much trauma, I often wished I was dead.
No-one seemed to notice, no one seemed to care,
They couldn't see past the surface on what really was there.
I'd been scarred as a toddler, scared as a kid,
Abused as a teen, not fully realising what he did.
I thought it was normal, thought it was fine,
Didn't know that my childhood really wasn't mine.

I thought I was grown up, I thought I was cool,
But all along I was played like a fool.
Yet everything was hushed up, "Don't mention it again",
Until in the end my soul was crying with pain.
So the anger exploded, the fears came to light,
But I was just judged, "She really isn't right".
Of course I wasn't, these traumas lay inside,
Haunting me daily, opening my fears extra wide.

I thought I could tell them, let my truth start to be seen,
But no one wanted to hear that perfect they'd not been,
"Forget about it all, just focus on your now",
Although my mind didn't seem to understand how.
And still no one listened, still no one cared,
"Just don't be so sensitive, be glad you were spared".
But, how can you be normal when you're dying inside?
Too scared to live, just wanting to hide.

I thought I was crazy, I kept reliving the pain,
I must have been guilty, felt I was insane,
Never once mentioned by those that had known,
Memories haunting me, I felt so alone.
I didn't want to be me, yet to scared to tell,
That every day I felt I was living in hell.
So I blocked up the pain, pushed it all down,
Until one day it burst and I felt like I'd drown.

I thought I'd address it, I thought I'd be brave
But it also felt like I was digging my grave.
I wasn't the bad one, it wasn't my fault,
But my life as I knew it, had come to a halt.
So the pain just erupted, there for all to see,
Finally, someone was listening to me!
Releasing the trauma, releasing the fears,
Connecting the dots, and a lifetime of tears.

I thought the old me is going, a new life begun,
I often wish it'd been sooner, so it could all be redone.
To look back with fondness, rather than wish it away,
To love every moment, to live for the day.
I realised I was powerful, realised I was true,
Happy with what I have, appreciating what I knew.
Finally knowing what it means to be free,
And for the first time ever, I finally could be me!

I thought I had got there, thought I finally knew Jo,
I wish she would stay though, the negative of me go.
Yet the darkness keeps returning, I have to again turn on the light,
Once again I'm trying, as I want to look back knowing I did alright.
Know that I healed my soul, that I healed my pain,
And never, ever would it happen again.
But for now I keep trying, knowing my goal,
That every part of me finally feels that I'm whole. 


Thursday 23 February 2023

Prayer and nature

Today after my dog walk round the park, I once again sat on my favourite tree by the gates. Sitting right next to the road where my mother, my aunt, and I know my grandfather walked to school on the then dirt track.

Where on his way to school he used to go scrumping apples from the then orchard where I am now sitting. Where my great-grandmother also had walked to that same school well over 120 years ago. My great-grandparents and my great-great-grandparents probably also walking past this spot on their way to church for several decades. 

Where my family had been living since 1875, always less than 130 metres from my house!

As I sat there, on this spot that connects me to them,  I once again thought about my ancestors and the many times I've prayed for them to support me, give me the strength I need to continue.

And I realised sometimes that's all we have left... prayer.

Many people on my brain tumour group say they are sending prayers to others, many say they pray themselves, that praying gives them strength and it's there when there is nothing else left.

It doesn't matter to me of you call it God Allah, Jesus, Grace or the Divine Source . The intention is the same.

The knowing there is a bigger plan is the same.

The love is the same.

And with that thought and the tears rolling down my face, a robin appeared in the branches of the tree I was sitting. Singing its amazing song. Stretching its body, up and down to balance itself against the movement of the branch in the wind. trying to keep its balance. Going with the flow of life...

Prayer and nature, sometimes it's all we've got. 

But sometimes it's all we need. 🙏🌱💖💫 


My Great-Grandparents

My Grandad riding (backwards!) on the road at the side of the park!



Saturday 11 February 2023

The woman waiting for the plane.

She's waiting. Sitting on the hard, formal, chairs of the airport lounge with tears quietly running down her face. Others, talking excitedly, walk past but as they see her they turn their heads away to avoid eye contact. Pretending she's not there. Not one person offering even the kindness of a smile. The reassurance of a gaze.

To others, she doesn't feel she even exists. Invisible. Just like her thoughts. If only they knew. If only they could see. Would then someone be kind enough to smile? To offer a kind word? To just understand?

Life with anxiety. Where even a positive happy experience can be turned into a mountain of fear. Terrified of what could possibly go wrong. Trauma reoccurring. Just as it did before. Those experiences that over time shaped her into what others see as a nervous wreck.

"Sitting here waiting... waiting... I'm waiting for my holiday but inside I'm sitting here waiting for brain surgery again. Waiting for something where I have no control of the outcome and am terrified at the possible prospects.

So now, I'm overthinking all the 'what if's' and just feel scared. I don't know what will happen. I can never know.

I just have to trust. Again.

Accept that Post Traumatic Stress Disorder has reared in ugly head again and in that acknowledgement it's a kind of release.

A fear still, but a release.

I might be crying at an airport terminal, or tears streaming down my face on the plane. But it’s OK.

I trust it’s OK.

I have to.

There is no other way.

I've won far harder battles before."

It doesn't matter if her anxiety is caused from nervousness, excitement, or downright fear. Her body just feels the same, it responds in the same way. Blank. Empty. Full of terror. Her fuzzy brain magnifying once again into the floaty, wobbly feeling she has been accustomed to for the last 6 years.

The invisible injury of a cerebellar brain tumour and the surgery to remove it. The resulting brain fog, loss of balance, coordination, and fatigue. A brain injury. The loss of words when her brain feels like its shutting down. Unable to explain to even to those who love her and will listen. 

Other people, most of the time, think she looks vibrant, healthy, and well; they cannot see the inside injury. Her scar is invisible, some of it hidden by her trademark red curly hair, the rest is internal. Her trauma is in her brain. But then there is the judgement of her looking and sounding like she's drunk, when in fact she's just tired. Sometimes physically tired, but others just emotionally.

An invisible illness.

A life where she often doesn’t belong.

Only a few understand the fight every day to keep going. Finding the joy and happiness in life rather than be drowned by the fear, getting frustrated by the parts of her she lost in exchange for her life.

Yet, most days she smiles, talks to anyone, especially those that she can feel also need the comfort.  She can tell. She senses their pain. She knows the frequency they are resonating. Always there for anyone who needs her. Others saying she's the only one who cares. Who understands. Thanking her for helping them deal with their own anxiety and trauma. Thanking her for her support and encouragement, her advice and experience. No matter the cause.

She's the one who tries to be there. To stop others feeling that pain she's felt far too many times before, when she felt all alone and that nobody else understands. 

A life full of anxiety. Anxiety that was only able to be acknowledged by others when they classed it as a 'traumatic experience'. Her thoughts and her life before that didn't count. No one saw her pain, even those that knew what was happening. They turned the other way, although they knew the traumas she endured, but they never uttered a word, never gave her support. Never said sorry. Her pain has always been invisible. So, she just kept silent. She learnt that no one listened when she shouted anyway.

Her emotions never mattered to those they should have. They were a nuisance, not easy to face. It was easier to say she was too emotional and distract her. So as a consequence, they stayed bottled up inside until they could no longer stay hidden. When she had a valid ‘excuse’ to be upset. When it all exploded.

The release from finally being allowed to cry.

So now, once again, she sobs, tears releasing the memories hidden in her cells. The feelings that need to be expressed to be able to move on from. 

She may look weak, crying, and pathetic. Yet she is stronger than many in allowing others to see the real her. In keeping going when she wants to stop. Caring when others can't see pain. Loving when others see hate or anger. That’s stronger than most of those people that walked past her blankly, grabbing a beer on the plane, a drag on a cigarette, to keep them going. She’s facing her fears head on, letting them wash through her to be released.

As she fights every day, both from people not seeing her struggles nor those invisible fears and demons in her head.

The ones she wants to remove from the rest of the world too. 

The strange thing... when she sees others in that same place as herself. She smiles, asks are they OK. She listens. She cares.

Silently she sits on the plane, eyes shut, listening to a meditation on her phone, taking it one breath at a time. Allowing the physical discomfort in her head from the altitude of the plane to wash over her, along with the discomfort of her mind. Reminding herself it will pass. It always has.

Her husband is holding her hand, but right now she can’t even explain it to him, she can’t easily explain it to herself, plus her thoughts are too painful to say out loud, then there are others she wouldn’t want to hear what she says. She doesn’t need the judgement now. So, she smiles at him, says she’s OK and needs to zone out, while fully appreciating the strength and support his presence brings. She couldn’t do it alone.

She keeps going. She has to trust.

She's more than halfway there when she gets off the plane. The heat hitting her like a wall to bring her back to reality. Once again, she's fought the demons in her head, so now she’s feeling blank, exhausted, and empty. Yet still trying to act normal and not draw attention to herself when really, she just wants to sit down alone. Maybe get some sleep, the easiest way to be able to restart again. 

In the car ride, she can feel her soul start to relax... that familiar smell, the sound of crickets chirping, the warm air, the amazing views, the sights she's missed so much... she knows the way although she hadn't been back for years. 

It's been so hard to travel for a while. Brain surgery, having to be cared for, fatigued, not able to cope with planning or change. Not to mention that having no money from her husband losing his business while having to look after her and the family, playing a rather large part! Then lockdown, isolation, rules she couldn’t agree with…

Now, for the first time in decades, its just the two of them alone. 

Eventually, she arrives at the village she's known for 37 years... loved since she was 11. 

The place that as a child she never wanted to leave. Where she dreamed of living in a villa with an olive grove, being able to fall asleep hearing only the sound of the sea, of nature, of her joy.

Not much has changed. She just appreciates it even more now.

As she finally sits down in the sun. Feeling the much-needed warmth on her skin, hearing nothing but the sound of waves, leaves rustling in the breeze and the crickets. Swallows and butterflies flying all around her. 

She cries a bit more. But this time it's tears of joy. 

They are welcoming her home… once again she feels she belongs in this world. 

Her soul can finally start to heal.


The Woman Waiting for the Plane