Wednesday, 18 January 2012

Gamblers Fallacy...

This update is a bit different from the others in that it is not directly related to writing, it is more related to the fact that I have a pretty major surgery in five days time and to put it in Scottish terms I am "shitting it!"

The peculair thing is, that it is not the surgery itself that concerns me, or even the recovery time. Its the 'what if' that I have to deal with after it. I could go on and write screeds upon screeds about my condition using pretty impressive medical terminology (considering i'm not a doctor) but I wont. Suffice to say I was born with the ability to move only half of my face and by no stretch of the imagination is this my first operation.

The previous operations-despite the best intentions of many skilled hands-did not work. Or more accurately, did not work fully. The goal was and is to give me the ability to smile. The result was and is that I have partial-and by partial I mean minute-movement on the LHS of my face.

The operation being performed on Tuesday is similar to the last. They transfer a muscle from my thigh and graft it onto an existing nerve in the face in the hope that when the nerve is stimulated the transferred muscle reacts and manipulates my face in the desired direction. Essentially I should be able to clench my jaw or 'bite my teeth' and the LHS of my face will move up, giving me a fully functioning smile, essentially.

Here in lies my dilemna, and its only dawned on me tonight. To perform this surgery they must remove the muscle previously implanted, which is the muscle that is giving me partial movement at the moment, and replace it with the new muscle with the hopes that the effects will be more substantial. But what if they arent? What if this time, instead of some movement I have none? Is the juice worth the squeeze?

Best case scenario - The operation is a big success and I can smile fine and dandy.

Worst case scenario - I lose all existing movement and do not gain any.

There is no middle ground. One of the above will be the outcome. Here I am five days before the operation and I am seriously wondering how much I care about having the ability to smile. On the flip side, I can honestly say I dont know if I would care if I lost the movement I already possess. It doesnt serve any purpose, doesnt give me increased functionality, it certainly doesnt do anything to improve my smile (which is charming enough as it is all be it a little lopsided :P! ) But its there, and its mine...for now.

Now the bit about writing comes in :P

This whole thing has got me thinking about a piece I have written for Bloomsburys competition on 'Identity' next month. I chose to go with the approach of our appearance being our Identity. Its certainly what we use to identify others. When asked "Hey have you guys ever heard of Stephen Hawking?" the reply is not "Isn't that the guy with the masters degree in physics, the Einstein of our time?"

No dont bother lying to yourself.

It would be "Stephen Hawking, the guy in the wheelchair?" or words to that effect. Dont be ashamed, its what we do. We see people and make judgements and a persons appearance stays in our minds alot longer than their personality does. We have become a society of 'perceptionists' a persons physical appearance often decides which category of our pre-conceived perceptions a person falls into before they have uttered a word, and its not bad, its not good, its not something to get caught up about. Its just society and how it works.

Now lets bring it back to me (I know. Im self centered...what can I say?) my face is the same one ive had my whole life. Its mine. But its also everyone elses. Its the first thing they see when they meet me and I dont think its wrong that I want to improve it. The question remains, do I want to risk it...IS the juice worth the squeeze?

I know regardless of my thought process I am going to opt in rather than opt out. Because I am an eternal optimist and despite my best attempts cannot help but fall into the 'Gambler's Fallacy' which basically means that luck is bound to change. If the balls went red ten times then it simply MUST come black next.

No. You are wrong.

Just like the last ten times, the chances are 50/50. Despite my knowledge of this, despite this being an independent operation with all of its own pros and cons. I cant help but cling onto the notion that surely...surely after all the pain, the long hours on the table, the weeks and months of recovery time, the uncountable fingers that have poked and prodded my face and the indescribable feeling of gut wrenching emptiness when told it was all for nothing...surely this time, it has to work.

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