Wednesday, December 31, 2008
P. T. is still ongoing as well. I think I'll ask today how much longer I have. I'm surprised by two things 1) how much and how quickly it has improved my stamina and 2) how much of a weakling I still am. I realize surgery was really not that long ago, only 3 months, and yet it feels like I should still be able to do more then I can. I still have those unknown limits that I talked about in other post but fortunately the limits keep getting better.
Since it's New year's Eve I'll go ahead and wish everyone a Happy New Year. I'll try to be better about posting int he coming year. Anyone have any resolutions? My mom's is the same every year and one I can get behind "Try to eat more avocados this year then last".
Monday, November 24, 2008
No radiation yet. My brain has not healed enough for them to accurately say whether the big white spot on the MRI is tumor or scar tissue. Fortunately, the doc doing my radiation also assisted on my surgery so he KNOWS there is tumor tissue there they just need a clearer picture for the "ray gun". That means another MRI in December. I really hope the next pic is clear enough to see what we need to see so everything can get done before the new year and we have to start of with deductibles and all that fun stuff.
Speaking of pics...I posted a new one to facebook. I have some hair now and the incision looks more like your typical scar now. It also doesn't look quite as big since my hair is getting longer. though when you look at it from the front i have this lovely little part in the middle of my head--I've been calling it my no-hawk. It's also been called a reverse mohawk, a runway, and a landing strip...where do people come up with these things :)
Monday, November 10, 2008
I've also started physical therapy. I was having neck and shoulder pain along with the headaches before surgery and am now having lower back pain. Let me just say physical therapists are mean, mean mean! Nothing personal of course, I just find it counter intuitive that in order to get rid of pain you have to experience more pain. Anyone else see a problem with this?! I have about one month's worth of therapy for now and then we'll see after completing this round where things stand. I'm hoping all this stretching and stuff I'm having to do will add an inch or two to my height.
Friday, November 7, 2008
Wednesday, November 5, 2008
I had beef fajitas and it was beautiful. I'd been craving them for quite some time (maybe I need the iron) and today that craving was fulfilled. I'm a happy gal. Now I just need some Godiva truffles and my bliss will be complete. It truly is the little things.
EDIT: The hubby ATE my leftovers!! Grrrr....I really wanted them for lunch. Next time I'm hiding them.
Friday, October 31, 2008
Health-As with each topic I'm going to update there will probably be some good and some bad. Let's start with the bad news and get it over with--I'm having headaches. i don't say still because these are different from the ones before. I'm also having some severe muscle cramping/seizing in my neck, upper back, and upper right arm as well as pain in the lower back. It makes sitting for extended periods of time a little difficult. I had ANOTHER CT scan today to find out if it's a head problem and I also start physical therapy next week for my back and neck to see if it's a muscle problem. I also will FINALLY meet with a doctor about radiation treatment on Thursday of next week. There is a small possibility I won't have to have radiation but we are not counting on that. I am still not able to comfortably bend over or look down (at least for very long) which leads to a bigger complaint down the page.
Good news is that energy wise I'm feeling better. I still don't know what my physical limits are until I've passed them but my limits are getting longer. There is also an amazing group of women who have arranged for me to have help with housework once every other week until the end of the year. This has been such a blessing as it has taken pressure off both me and Brad in regards to all the housework; my frustration at not being more capable, and his at having to do so much in addition to work.
Finances: Bills have started coming in and so far have not been bad in relation to the kind of surgery. There have been a couple hiccups with insurance denying a few claims but after calling they are supposedly going to be taken care of. Insurance just needs to refile the claim. The relative ease of the finance aspect has been a big time stress reliever.
Spiritual: Brad will have to speak for himself, but for me I'm very frustrated with my inability to interactively study. I can listen to bible verses/chapters on line but that generally ends up putting me to sleep (as do Piper sermons--he has a very soothing voice). NOT that any of them are boring or uninteresting, I just need to be able to read and respond (ie journal) to feel like I'm really getting it. Praise music has been a great ministry to me (as it always is cause music is the best) as has the extra praying but I am a big reader and so miss that a lot. Emotionally there are still ups and downs. I'm definitely more up when I'm able to get out and be around other people--who knew how important community was, and this is really funny coming from me cause I'm an introvert--and lower when I have to spend extended periods of time at home with limited distractions and no hobbies available.
Right now, overall, I'm feeling pretty good. I'm signed up for the women's retreat next weekend and am sooooo looking forward to it. I hope it will be a good charge for the batteries before heading in to radiation.
I also can not begin to express the gratitude we have for all the prayers, meals, party throwing, house cleaning, kid watching and driving offers that have come from everyone. I HATE to feel like a burden and we have been served so joyfully that it has made it easier to ask for help when we really need it; it doesn't mean I LIKE to ask for help (hate it as a matter of fact) but it's getting easier for me to ask which is progress, and that's a good thing :)
Monday, October 27, 2008
Wednesday, October 15, 2008
Sunday, October 12, 2008
It's been a while since we did an update so here goes:
Four weeks out from surgery--My mom left yesterday. I am slightly panicked by the thought of having to do everything she was doing and surviving (hello melodrama). Not only was she doing ALL the housework she was also taking the kids too and from school each day--this is the part that is the most scary as my body still hates me and will require 2 trips up and down the evil stairs--Brad is going to take them to school so that will help A BUNCH. We've (mom and I) been trying to get me out of the house and doing stuff as much as possible the end of last (or this week--I always get confused how to state that) and it made me realize just how far I have to go to be back up to full energy. Who knew surgery on my head would have such a total effect on my body?
I not yet met with the oncologist about radiation. It was not specify who I was going to be referred to so that had to be confirmed with the brain man before an appointment was scheduled. So I will probably be calling again on Monday to find out what the status is on all that. However I am NOT looking forward to it. Hoping to be a more informed patient I went and looked at side effects for the radiation here is some of the fun I might have to look forward to ( most of this is localized to the treatment area)
- Skin problems: redness, dryness, etc.. and DON'T EXPOSE THE AREA TO THE SUN FOR 1 YEAR AFTER TREATMENT ( How's a body supposed to swim?)
- Redness and irritation to the mouth/dental issues (there's a big old list of dos and do nots for food and drinks on this one--having to forgo coffee is a tear-jerker)
- change in skin texture
- eating and digestive problems (cause i haven't had enough of those...lol)
- nausea and lack of appetite (liquid diet here I come)
- hair loss--no biggie there BUT it may come back thinner and a different texture (PLEASE NOT CURLY)
- tumor in area being treated (rare, and ironic too)
So that's a few of the side effects. As irritated as I've been about recovery I hope I'll be too fatigued to care about any of the other stuff if it happens. :) honestly, I guess I'm just more resigned to the fact that there is more refining to be done both individually and as a family. I keep clinging thightly that there is a purpose for all of it, that good has and will come out of it--it doesn't I like it.
Monday, September 29, 2008
Thursday, September 25, 2008
I got to get out of the house Tuesday to go see the brain man. I have a hematoma (bruise) and basically look like my head is that of a new-born (think cone head with soft spot) and so we had to have it checked out. He said it looks fine but to call right away if it starts oozing (ewwww). I then got to go grocery shopping (those motorized shopping carts are surprisingly maneuverable) and had lunch at Jason's Deli. This was my first big outing since the surgery and I paid for it yesterday. I'm finding the most frustrating thing of this recovery is not knowing where my limits are. I feel really good physically--at least most of the time--and so am under the impression that I can actually do stuff like I could pre-surgery, well maybe not quite like I could but at least more then I could do post-gall bladder surgery. So the fact that I am coherent and mobile make the confinement to the third floor all the more frustrating (my stair climbing has been limited to about 1/week) Add to that staying on the computer too long makes me feel ill, as does reading, and it makes for a pretty boring day. If anyone has movies they want to share I'd appreciate it--there's only so many times you can watch animated ones. Thanks for letting me complain and to Melody for visiting and bringing lunch. It was a nice break in the monotony. I'm hoping to get to come to church on Sunday. We'll see if the warden a.k.a Mom releases me for good behavior :)
Prayer Requests: Patience, quick healing, be mindful to give thanks (cause this could have been a whole lot worse).
Friday, September 19, 2008
Tuesday, September 16, 2008
For those who can't make it down to the hospital, her direct line in her room is 324-7936. She would love to hear from you!
Heather is actually being released today. We should be leaving around lunchtime. So, alter your plans of visitation and come see us at home!
1. an effect or extraordinary event in the physical world that surpasses all known human or natural powers and is ascribed to a supernatural cause.
2. such an effect or event manifesting or considered as a work of God.
3. a wonder; marvel.
There are a number of ways of looking at the events of the past three weeks. Heather and I have presented our perspective and concluded that all evidence points to God's sovereignty throughout this time of tribulation. Some disagree. Some are on the fence. All agree that it has been an intense ride.
Right now, I would like to give you a very small glimpse at the timeline as it unfolded.
Saturday, August 23
Money has been tight. We have just wrapped up a series on Money Matters at The Stone and Heather and I have committed to stick to a hardcore budget in order to increase giving and be able to make a larger impact in St. John's.
School is starting on Monday and we have not been able to get school supplies for our boys. So, we make the logical decision to transfer money from savings in order to go school supply shopping. However, it can wait until after we go and pick up our grocery order from Angelfood Ministries (http://www.angelfoodministries.org).
On the way to the car, a lady from our apartment complex stops me and tells me I need to take my boys to the leasing office. Apparently, there is a church who is filling backpacks with school supplies and giving them to the residents for free.
Monday, August 1
I am sitting at my cubicle, feeling sorry for myself. I'm really getting down on myself for not finishing my degree and getting a better job to better provide for my family. I am a comfort idolater and, while our needs are being met, I would fell more COMFORTABLE if we had a larger financial cushion. At any rate, I'm worrying myself sick.
I pray and give it to God. I haven't provided one single thing for my family because, ultimately, He has given as we need from his abundance. Peace.
While sorting through my email, I stumble upon an old email that says I have a check that was not deposited, for $125. I call the HR office and state that the check was not received. The lady on the other end said she would reprint the check and asked if I would like to have the second check reprinted, as well. Second check? Yes sir, for the amount of $325. In my doubt, God is faithful.
Tuesday, September 2
I received a call from Heather's neurologist. It's a brain tumor, she says. I'm completely numb. I think I'm going to pass out. I quietly thank her and silently grieve. I cry out to God, praying that He be sovereign and glorify His name in this. Later, I find out the tumor is a meningioma which is 99% benign. If you have to have a brain tumor, this is the one you want.
I have a team meeting where I have won two awards, yielding another $125.
Thursday, September 3
I've been asked to run sound for a gig downtown. I was surprised with a $50 gift card. I thought the job was unpaid.
Friday, September 12
A dear friend at work told several people I work with about my wife's condition. Several people donated to a collection for us. God provided several hundred more dollars in a way I never expected.
Monday, September 15
Several friends come and sit with me in the waiting room during surgery. The wait was pure joy as we just enjoyed each other's company. A touching gesture, to be sure.
Surgeon is out. All went well. He got what he went in after. I get to see Heather. She says she feels better than she expected. In fact, she said that 20 times. She had some good drugs that zapped her short term memory. I pressed my luck a bit too far. She began to remember me making fun. Oops.
Tuesday, September 16
Heather has been moved to another room. She says if I bring the boys, she will walk down to the waiting room to meet them... walk... down the hall... she had brain surgery a little more than 24 hours ago... and she's walking. Nonchalantly, she says yeah, they may release me tomorrow. We were scheduled for 2 days in ICU and another 2-4 days in a hospital room. The surgeon said her right leg would be weak for a while due to the manipulating he had to do with her brain. There is none. The staff are very impresed with her rate of recovery.
Folks, I can only think of one way to sum up this epic journey... miracle. God be glorified.
Monday, September 15, 2008
Heather went in to surgery at 8:00 a.m. At 11:00 a.m. Dr. Stokes came to the waiting room and announced that Heather came through just fine. He was able to get most of the tumor and confirmed it as benign.
She is on her way to ICU where she will spend the next day or two. She will not be cognizant or coherent today. We're expecting her to have a room by Wednesday or thursday and we would love for you to come by for a visit. I will update the blog with her room number.
Thank you all for your prayers and support. The worst, I believe, is past. Now begins the long and arduous road to recovery. However, God has been faithful throughout this process and will continue to be faithful. All praise and glory belong to Him!
To those who say church is full of hypocrites, let me offer you the replacement word of sinner and confess that I too am a hypocrite. No matter how much I love Jesus, no matter how desperate my desire is to be like Him, it is my very nature to rebel, to sin, to put my selfish desires on the throne of my heart instead of my Saviour, but God being abundant in grace and mercy provides us with a helper in the form of His Holy Spirit and abundant forgiveness if we confess and ask for it.
TO those of you who were told the "condemnation gospel"--that's the one where someone comes up to you and rants and screams believe in Jesus or go to hell!--let me apologize to you and ask your forgiveness. This is not the message that Christ brought to us. He came to love us, to heal the rift that sin caused between us and God and to restore our relationship with Him.
It's now after 1am. I spent 40m writing (and deleting ) paragraphs about Jesus, and salvation and found what I wanted to say on the Desiring God website :
Please know that all of this comes from a place of love--love for my Jesus, and love for you. It is my greatest desire that you have a personal relationship with Jesus, that you be reconciled to God, and that we spend eternity together praising Him. Please. Please take the time to read the article. Open your hearts and your minds to who He is and what He's done for us. I love you.
Tuesday, September 9, 2008
We met with the brain man today to discuss our final prognosis and schedule surgery. So, here's what we found out.
The tumor has been growing for years. It extends toward the front of the brain and even further between the two lobes. Surgery will get most, but not all, of the tumor. A few weeks after surgery, we begin radiation therapy to fry a bit more of the tumor. There is also a cyst, kind of a brain zit, that the surgeon will "evacuate" while he removes the tumor.
We will be at the hospital at 5:30 a.m. Surgery will take about 3 hours. Heather will be in ICU for 2 days and another 2 days in a hospital room for observation. She may get to come home by Friday.
Heather will be subject to annual MRI scans from now on. The doctor also spoke of the possibility that we may have to do this all over again in ten years, or so.
And here all along, I was thinking this wasn't going to be fun!
Surgery is scheduled for Monday, September 15th. Heather has decided she is going to throw a head shaving party on Saturday, a requirement of brain surgery. Be looking for an Evite. Additionally, if you do not receive an Evite, it isn't because you're not invited. We would like everyone to come by on Saturday and celebrate with us.
CELEBRATE?!? Absolutely! While I am currently experiencing a lot of anger and remorse through this ordeal, carnally, I continue to rejoice spiritually.
Christ willfully submitted to affliction, suffering, and shame to redeem the relationship that was broken through man's sinful nature. To bring us back to the Father, Christ suffered ultimately and willingly.
We have an opportunity to share in the fellowship of Christ's suffering. We're not enjoying it by any stretch of the imagination. This entire ordeal has been baptized in our tears. Yet, our hope is in Christ. He is our joy and our rock. If Christ did not suffer for our sins, if He did not die on the cross and physically rise again, victorious over sin and death, then we are a people to be most pitied. We have no other hope in this life, or after.
My prayer, OUR prayer, is that once the smoke clears and all has been finished that, no matter the outcome, God brings glory to His name... whether through us or in spite of us.
Monday, September 8, 2008
Can independence turn into isolation? Our community group disbanded and we have yet to actively seek another. This summer I didn't work at the church but stayed home with the kids and had little to no contact with others except for on Sundays. I felt very isolated from life in general (I'm sure of you other stay at home moms can relate to that) and apart from the goings on in other peoples' lives.
Let me just say I don't think times of isolation are bad. We see Jesus frequently going off by Himself to be with the Lord and on the cross He suffered the ultimate isolation of being completely separated from God. God uses isolation to bring about change as He did with me this summer but we are not built to stay in it.
The isolation didn't start to bother me until the end of the summer when we started getting ready for the kids to go back to school and I realized I would have nothing to do while they were gone. I really started to feel isolated and alone. I began to wonder why I hadn't heard from anyone; was this isolation my fault; had I been lax in my efforts to maintain relationships that were once a daily part of my life; how do I go about correcting this; do I want to even make the effort to correct it? God really didn't give me a choice in that one.
For the second time in less than a year I am facing surgery; not a simple "day" surgery like for my gall bladder, but one that is major and carries greater risks and a much longer hospital stay and recovery time. I have no choice but to rely on others to take care of my family: spiritually, emotionally, physically, possibly financially (don't worry, we're not moving 3 days after this surgery is done) and to take care of me--the independent one who has no choice but to ask for help, because what do you know, I'm not superwoman. I have a community of people who are not just willing to serve but who are honored to do so, who genuinely care about the needs of my family and want to meet those needs because it is what Christ did for us. I am overwhelmed and humbled by their support and thankful to not be isolated anymore.
This also has me thinking about my neighbors--Brad likes to say they're called APARTments for a reason. How many of us have neighbors who might consider themselves isolated? Are we isolating ourselves and not being salt and light to them? What can I do to change this and truly serve them? More things to chew upon as I continue with the strange blessing that comes in the shape of a Brazil nut.
Thursday, September 4, 2008
Thursday, August 28, 2008
So I went to my GP and the symptoms jived with allergies for her too. Thus started the LONG and tedious process of trying different allergy medications. None of them worked and the headaches were starting to get progressively worse. By March I was taking OTC (over the counter) pain meds at least once a day. Went back to the GP in June and she had some Xrays done of my sinuses. Apparently she saw something she didn't like in them because I was on a double strength, double antibiotic for a month, but it STILL wasn't helping the headaches. So back to the doctor again and some med switch ups. She put me on a headache prevention med (which helped with the intensity of the pain but didn't get rid of it completely) and she gave me the name of a neurologist.
The week before school started I went to the neurologist--my brain lady--and she took me off all OTCs. I was up to 4-6 Advil a day and she took them away from me. Turns out she wasn't just being cruel, though you couldn't have convinced me otherwise at the time, but there is a thing called analgesic overuse syndrome which can actually cause you headaches. So she was right. Mark your calendars people, I said someone else was right. Getting off the OTCs helped with one kind of headache but not the other. Did I mention I was having two different kinds of headaches? The "pressure" headaches were the ones that concerned the brain lady so she scheduled me for an MRI, and the rest is history.
So when I'm told that I'm "handling this well" it's partly because there is FINALLY an answer to what has been a long and frustrating process. There is a reason (well, possible reason if you go by what the brain man says, brain lady gives better then 50-50 odds on the tumor being the headache cause) for all the headaches I've been having, and it's a relief to know it's something treatable.
This is not to say that the whole process has been easy. There have been times when the pain has been so intense that all I could do is cry (literally) out to God for comfort and help and healing. The ONLY reason I was and am able to handle it well is because I trust in God's sovereignty. That there is a purpose and a plan for all of the things we are going through (I say we cause the poor hubby gets to go through it too), even if it's just to rely on Him more and bring us closer to Him. That doesn't mean I haven't been frustrated or worried or scared, it just means when those emotions start to take over I can now tell myself "Stop. That's not yours to handle. Give it back to God so He can take care of it for you. He can do it better anyway" I can truly say that without faith that God is in control, without Christ as my Rock and without the training I received at The Stone and the spiritual growing that has accomplished this would not be handled as well as it has been. Not even close; probably more fits of hysteria and much weeping and gnashing of teeth, so thanks to all The "Stoners" out there.
Whew! Sorry for such a long post. Take it in small bites, it'll be easier to digest that way :)
Wednesday, August 27, 2008
So i officially probably have a meningioma (the docs gotta leave room for that 1% just in case), which in case you are wondering is not officially a brain tumor since it has no brain matter as part of the tumor, and I might have surgery to remove it or have radiation treatment or they might just leave it alone. The best part is it may or may not be what is causing my headaches. Now that you have the politician answer here's what I actually know and also my impressions:
There are 3 basic treatment options with my kind of tumor: surgery, radiation, combo of the former 2, and to leave the tumor alone. My impression is the brain man is leaning towards option 3. So what does this mean? It means I have to undergo another procedure called a venogram (to map the veins of the tumor and surrounding brain area), then have as much of the tumor mass as possible removed by surgery, and destroy more by radiation. I apparently have an unusual tumor in that it has tentacles (not his word, it's mine and I don't don't know how else to describe it) that are also growing across the top of my brain--think moss on the side of a tree. Surgery will require a 4-6 day hospital stay with a couple days in ICU. No functions (speech, walking, etc) should be affected by the removal of the tumor and rehab will not be required. There is always a slim chance that it is malignant but they won't know that until after pathology is done on the tumor.
Needless to say I'm pretty tired right now and a little disappointed and frustrated that more didn't get accomplished.
So, some of my family is a little freaked out about it and I find myself being the one to offer comfort. My grandmother keeps telling me "you're so strong, you're so strong" but I'm not. I am a weak-fleshed human being. The ONLY way for me to "be strong" is to be weak and let Christ be my strength and work through me. I am not strong but can do ALL things through Him. He is my rock and my salvation.
One of my favorite people asked me yesterday "How's your heart?' I loved being able to tell him that I'm excited. Some of you are probably now having to go back and read that sentence again because surely I couldn't be crazy enough to be excited about a tumor? Hey, i have a tumor, i can be a little crazy. :) I'm so excited to see how God is going to use this to show others just how AWESOME and amazing He is, I'm excited to have the opportunity to grow to trust Him even more with health, with life, with finances; I'm excited to see how He is going to use me to show His overwhelming and abundant love for us.
If there's anyone reading this who isn't a believer, at this point, they are really thinking I'm crazy. This crazy chic has a tumor and continues to believe that God loves her abundantly--my response would be the line to a MercyMe song that goes "Could circumstances possibly change who I forever am in You?" So who am I? I am a holy, and beloved child of God, saved by grace through the loving sacrifice of His son Christ Jesus who faced the punishment of God and died so that I might have an eternal life, and relationship with Him instead of separation and wrath. A brain tumor is nothing compared to what Jesus went through for me; He knew me before i was born, He knit me in my mother's womb, He has all my days counted, He hems me in and there is no where I can go that He is not there. There is nothing else I COULD do but praise Him, and love Him (so overwhelmingly) and thank Him for being who He is and allowing me to serve Him in this way.