Since the last time I blogged, I’ve made steady progress in the direction of adjusting to life with a VNS device implanted, cyborg-style, in my chest:

  • I went to my family doctor and found a better solution for my nausea.
  • I’ve almost completely eliminated ongoing pain by managing it with a combination of ibuprofen and Tylenol (after, of course, running this plan past my GP).
  • I’ve taken steps toward being more open about my VNS in ways that lessen my feelings of “I’m hiding something because I’m ashamed of it and it makes me look like I got a pointless body modification” while boosting my feelings of contributing to epilepsy awareness.
  • I’ve starting drawing an elaborate picture in the area around the VNS every day, using the VNS bump as the centrepiece; this helps me connect with the VNS on an emotional level. Yesterday, it was the desert scene from Super Mario Brothers 3, and the VNS bulge was the angry sun. (I’m kidding about this—I haven’t been doodling over and around my medical device—but I fully understand if you thought that I was serious. I can be a Super Weirdo, when I want to be.)
  • I named my VNS “Vanessa.”

This last point is true: I did, indeed, give my medical device a nickname. It all started when I went to my husband a few days ago and told him, kind of jokingly, but with that edge of “we all know that this is something I’ll likely end up doing” in my voice, that I thought I should, um, give my medical device a nickname.

“It’s like a third person lives in our apartment now,” I said. “Might as well anthropomorphize her.” (For whatever reason, I almost immediately sensed that “it” was a “her.”)

My husband didn’t even blink, hardened as he is to my harebrained schemes.

“How about Valerie?” he casually suggested. Good enough.

A few hours later, I mentioned to two of my best friends, via WhatsApp, that I was now calling my VNS “Valerie.” They were supportive of my latest life decision. One of them, however, made a comment that proved transformative for The Device Formerly Known as Valerie.

“Valerie is a good name. I woulda said Vanessa …” [insert citation].

Pure brilliance (thanks, C!). I made a beeline for my husband. VaNesSsa—not to stress the connection too much. How had we missed this? The switch from Valerie to Vanessa was swift and definitive. And yes, I probably am one of those people who’d give a puppy a new name if I didn’t like his/her/its original one. I don’t know what that says about me.

Screen Shot 2017-11-11 at 5.47.54 PM
If my VNS weren’t an inanimate object and could introduce herself, she would do so with the aid of a purple “Hello, my name is” sticker. #epilepsyawareness


I’ll summarize using another bulleted list because that’s all I have the energy for these days:

  • Things are starting to get a little better.
  • I’m not actually using Magic Markers to draw elaborate scenes under my collarbone to make myself feel better about my VNS bulge, though the temptation exists.
  • I’ve almost definitely levelled up, so far as my weirdness is concerned, and I’m totally OK with that. So is Vanessa.



2 thoughts on “Vanessa

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