Friday, December 19, 2008

This is how we spent the holidays last year...

Pictures from left to right:
1. My Aunt and favorite cousin kept me company before my brain surgery.
2. Nearly all of my family on my mom's side traveled to the hospital while I was in surgery to pray and wait. Waking up to their faces was amazing!
3. I was in more pain than I can even describe...
4. When I came home, I spent the holidays learning how to walk again with the help of a walker. 5. My family made Christmas special for me.
6. My dad flew across country the moment he heard the news and was by my side those first few days of recovery.

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

The first year anniversary of "the surgery".

It's hard to believe that a year has passed since my head was sawed open. I've had so many triumphs and so many set backs, but still I’m pushing on. Some days moving forward isn’t hard at all, and some days I feel like I’m clawing and fighting the whole way. I don’t think the symptoms that I’m left to sort out have as much to do with the brain tumor itself as they have to do with the brain surgery.

In January I couldn’t even walk or bathe myself. A walker clustered up my living room and my husband would gently help sponge bath me. I was still taking some heavy painkillers, and my memory of that time is still pretty fuzzy. I spent my days and nights on the couch dozing in and out of consciousness and pain.

In February my surgeon took me off of the heavy painkillers and sent to my physical therapy three days a week. The girl that worked with me was named Kelly, and she re-taught me how to walk, how to keep my balance, how to bathe, how to reach, how to start living again. Through her teaching and my hard work, I received the green light from the surgeon to start driving again. I would still get confused and I was still forgetful, but I was starting to regain my own independence.

In March I was hospitalized for “pushing myself” too hard. The hole in my head (where the tumor used to be) had filled up with fluid that wasn’t draining causing a reoccurrence in my symptoms. My surgeon informed me that my idea of recovery was not realistic and it would take at least 18 months before I was “okay” and even then I may not fully recover some of the things that I had lost. Depression now accompanied my pain. Some good news was that I was released to work part-time towards the end of March as long as I promised to rest. That promise wasn’t hard to keep, working a couple hours and going to physical therapy totally wiped me out. Due to the persistence of my mom and Martin, I started seeing a general doctor as well. I had relied solely on my surgeon and he was 3 hours away. Never having a doctor before, now I had two.

In April I started realizing what a monster I had become to Martin and the kids. In the afternoons, I would be so tired and my head would hurt so much that I lashed out at them – a lot. And the depression didn’t help any. I’d make Martin lie when the phone would ring for me because the thought of talking to anyone just seemed overwhelming. I didn’t want to talk or play with him or my kids, and cried for no reason at all. I couldn’t sleep at night and would stare at the ceiling and plan out my funeral, just in case you know. I also started secretly doing research on the Internet for others “like me” and my findings were scary. The death ratio for people with non-cancerous brain tumors is 55% in 10 years. To me, that meant that I would be dead by the ripe ol’ age of 34. Towards the end of April, my depression was noticeable enough that my boss gently sat me down and suggested that I talk to my doctor about depression. I did, and finally received some help, although there are still some effects of looking death square in the eye that I just can’t shake. Also in April, I gave my notice at work. It was the hardest thing that I’ve ever had to do, but I just wasn’t able to do it all and work was the only thing that I could sacrifice.

In May I celebrated my 25th birthday, my son’s 3rd birthday, and our 4th wedding anniversary. Martin surprised me with a gorgeous ring that reminds me that he loves me no matter how ugly I might be, how grumpy I might be, or whatever I went through. He stood by my side through better or for worse, and even though he can’t relate or offer many words of comfort, I know he’s always there. I was also released from physical therapy because I had reached all of the goals set for me by my surgeon.

In June I said my sad goodbye to Albany Community Hospice, and my new focus was on my family and myself. Slowly the house started looking less like a natural disaster had hit and I started looking forward to the beach trip we had planned and paid for back in January with income tax money. It’s a good thing that we had already paid because living off of one income started hitting us pretty hard and on top of everything else, we now had money problems to wade through. We were forced to sell my car to reduce some of our debt and we took Caleb out of daycare as well.

In July I celebrated the 4th with my family and my favorite cuz, Erica, and her 2 sons. I had daydreamed of spending all day out in the sand, but that just wasn’t realistic. Exhausted by midday, I’d have to sulk up to our condo to take a nap every day. The pressure difference of actually submerging my head underwater made my head hurt so bad that I thought I would pass out, so there was no swimming for me. But still it was so nice to get away and the scenery was absolutely beautiful. By this point I looked totally “normal”. My hair had grown back to cover the seven-inch scar up my head, and my time in physical therapy had taught me how to walk again. By the end of July, my headaches were too excruciating for me to even function. I wound up back in the hospital and was referred to a local neurologist.

By August, my new neurologist had put me on 4 different medications to help manage my symptoms. He ordered an MRI of my brain before he made his decision and was a little surprised that I wasn’t on any medications already. He collaborated his treatment with my general doctor and my neurosurgeon. Within 2 weeks, I had noticed a change in the severity of my headaches and was able to sleep through the night. Against everyone’s judgment, I registered for school. We all worried that it would be too much for me, but I wanted to try. I needed to feel like I was doing something. Martin and I kept our financial struggles to ourselves, and one day I checked the mail and there was an odd envelope in the mailbox. When I opened it, a hundred dollars fell out. Tears just streamed down my face in thankfulness because God is truly our provider.

In September I had started school and was really enjoying it. I think I’m a nerd because my hand is always raised with questions and I get really excited about learning. It shouldn’t come as a shock that I’m going to school for nursing. After all that I’ve been through, I think I’ve got the empathy part down pat. I did notice that school was a lot harder for me than it had been before. I guess because of my sketchy memory, I had a hard time retaining information and studying proved very difficult. But still I kept chugging along.

Oh! I haven’t even mentioned the Bible Studies!! I’m not sure exactly when we started having the Bible Studies in our home, but we did. For the first several I would be in the middle of a killer headache, curled up on the couch, and in pajamas. But no one seemed to mind and the Bible Studies grew and grew and God’s presence definitely settled among us each time we met.

In October the headaches were back big time. Still, I kept chugging. I was struggling in school but determined to finish. There were two occasions that the headaches were so severe, I had to run out of the classroom before I fainted in front of everyone. My general doctor prescribed me some pain medicine for the bad headaches, but I wouldn’t take it unless I absolutely had too. And even then I would usually wait too long to get the full benefits of the pain relief.

The headaches let up some by November, and the frequency of their occurrence was a lot more scattered than it had been months before. But now there was another problem. My stomach was killing me. I don’t know how to really explain how I felt, but I couldn’t keep anything down and yet my stomach felt so swollen. Every position that I would get in would hurt so much and so on to my general doctor I went. After a couple tests and visits, we found that I had a stomach ulcer probably due to the medications that I was on and the Ibephrophen that I popped like candy. To treat it, I was prescribed another medicine and I had to lay off the Ibephrophen. Guess what happened? The headaches came roaring back. I was given a doctors excuse to stay out of PE for a month because I wasn’t supposed to exert myself. But still I chugged on in my Anatomy and Physiology 2 class. Thanksgiving came and we spent the day with some friends that we had made in Bible Study. The day was really nice, but when we came home that night, and I put the tree and lights up, I totally freaked out. Martin and the kids had gone to the store and setting up the tree and worn me out. I laid on the couch and watched the lights and suddenly felt like I was being hit with a ton wall. Memories of last year came flooding back and I realized how sick I really was…

So now December is here. I’ve taken finals at school, and while I failed PE (the easiest class ever) because of that stupid month off for that stupid stomach ulcer, I made a ‘B’ in A&P 2. None of us were even sure that I could make it, and yet I did. Maybe I didn’t get the ‘A’s that I was used to getting, but I couldn’t be more proud of myself for chugging through. I may not be exactly were I was before, but I have come a long way. This last year has certainly taught me patience and that my “normal” may never be what it once was…. And that’s okay.

Friday, December 12, 2008

*Happy Sigh*

Took my last final Tuesday night, and I'm VERY relieved to have a break from school. I think that I made a 'B' in Anatomy & Physiology 2, but an 'Incomplete' in PE due to that entire month that I missed workouts because of that stomach ulcer. *Sigh* Oh well, can't have everything! LOL

Still having headaches daily, but sometimes they aren't as severe (meaning just that I can live through them and halfway function). Almost done taking the medicine for the stomach ulcer, and I have an appointment Wednesday to see if it's healed. My stomach's not bothering me nearly like it was, so we'll see.

Also Wednesday marks one year since my brain surgery!! Didn't know if I'd live to celebrate, so I'm pretty thankful. Of course you are well aware of how recovery knocked the wind out of me, but I'm adjusting. I mean, pre-surgery it would have been fairly easy for me to make 'A's in school (AND still work), but I've struggled and fought so hard for that one 'B' that I'm pretty happy. And even though I'm not where I want to be, I am still further than anyone thought. NO ONE thought that I would be able to make it through this semester at school, so I'm pleased that I kinda did. (-; Too bad that PE, the easiest class ever, messed me up. But at least I didn't have to quit like everyone thought.

We leave next week to spend Christmas with family out of town. I couldn't be more excited, but I am nervous. I'm wondering how I'll do with the change of pressure on the airplane? I know over the summer I couldn't go under water because the pressure change made my head burst in pain... Guess I'll mention that question at the doctors appointment Wednesday. Not real excited to take drugs and be all dopey on my vacation, but I also don't want to be in a pain crisis either... Anyone care to share their experience?

Funny how many aspects of life something so big affects, huh? I've come to accept that I may always come across circumstances that I'll have to handle differently because of the tumor/surgery. I used to get angry by it, but I am learning to adjust and change my way of thinking. Instead of thinking how robbed I feel, I think of how to tackle a new obstacle. And I know that I can tackle each obstacle because I'm not alone. God's right by my side. (-:

OH!!! And tonight we're hosting a Christmas Party for our Bible Study group. I'm SUPER excited about it!! And see, there is another reason for me to celebrate. Last year I couldn't even walk at Christmas, and this year I'm able to host a party!! *Me sticking my tongue out at brain tumors/surgery*

Thursday, December 4, 2008


I have got to be the luckiest girl alive because I have the wonderful opportunity to celebrate Christmas on the other side of the continent. Initially when my dad invited us to join him out in California, I was just looking forward to seeing him and all of my family. Well, now I'm still looking foward to seeing everyone, but I'm looking forward to making new memories this Christmas.

As the first anniversary of my brain surgery creeps up, I seem to be remembering (almost reliving) the agony of last year. At this time last year, I was still being bounced from doctor to doctor not knowing what was wrong, but I was experiencing a lot of pain in my head and back and my left side was slowly getting increasing numb. The numbness was spreading like a horrible rash. First in my foot, then my finger tips, my hand, and my face. I remember thinking that I was going crazy and I didn't tell anyone exactly how severe my symptoms were.

I was in school last year, and gearing up for finals. I can remember how studying was impossible because of the headaches. I was taking two classes then, and when I sat down to take the finals, I knew that I wasn't prepared. I remember the feeling of overwelming anxiety swallowing me as I sat uncomfortably in my desk trying my best to ease the pain in my back. I can remember fighting back tears of frusteration. I know that the only reason that I passed those finals was because God stepped in. I can almost visualize Him slowly sitting in my desk and putting His hand around my sweaty hand that gripped the pencil. And blindly He began answering the questions for me. And because of His help, I passed.

The night of Thanksgiving this year, when I stared at the lights on my Christmas tree, I sort of freaked out. All the events of last year just came like a crushing wave and I could barely breath. If that was hard, I can't imagine how Christmas would be. So instead, I have something to look forward too! I'm looking foward to traveling and visiting my family. I'm looking forward to a BREAK away from here.

I think that our decision to spend Christmas away might have offended some of our family's that are here, and I am sorry for that. But at the same time, have some sensitivity! I nearly died last Christmas. It was horrible. And when I didn't die, I prayed for death because the pain I was in was something so horrible I can't even describe. I almost started feeling guilty about our trip, but you know what, I deserve it. I think that I earned it.

I want us to have happy memories and I don't want any of us to think about last year. I don't want my kids to remember seeing their mommy crying, slurring, and confused. I don't want them to remember seeing my walker in the middle of the living room. I don't want Martin to remember handing me TONS of medications, or remember me screaming out at him in pain and confusion.

I just want us to have a Merry Christmas. And each of us deserves that.

So there was my vent for today. Martin says that he thinks blogging and journaling is theraputic for me. I think he's right. (-:

Saturday, November 29, 2008


So the strangest thing happened to me on Thanksgiving night. We had enjoyed turkey and laughter with some of our friends, and come home to decorate for the Christmas season. Joyfully, I cranked up the Christmas music and strung lights on my tree. I decorated my mantle and placed my little snowmen throughout the house.

I was too tired to add the ornaments to the tree, so I just laid down on the couch and watched the awe the beautiful lights on the tree - and then it happened. I had a breakdown.

Like a crashing wave, I was suddenly bombarded with memories of the bleak holiday we'd had last year. I would watch the lights then too as I dozed in and out of a drug induced sleep. I'd watch the lights on the tree as tears of pain would stream down my face of all hours of the day and night. Suddenly it just dawned on me how sick I really was, and how horrible of a sight it must of been for my children and my husband. I don't remember the things that I must have said or did, but I know that I could have said or done some horrible things out of pain and the effects of my pain meds. I can't remember when my husband took the tree down, and I can't remember the presents that the kids ripped open on Christmas morning.

So I laid there feeling sorry for myself, which is pretty dumb since I am nothing like that this year. And as I laid there sobbing, my husband came in the room and held me. And he said, "Jess, you are fine now. We made it through that. Let's rejoice and be glad that God saw us through". And you know what, he's right.

I have always said that I felt like God would use my brain tumor/surgery for someone else, and maybe that hasn't happened yet or maybe it has. All I do know is that I trust in Him. There was some sort of reason that I experienced that, and in the end it will be used for His glory.

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Thanksgiving (and I have to much to be grateful for)

One year ago, I could no longer deny the symptoms and the pain that I was having. My head and mid-back hurt and there was numbness in my left hand and foot. In my mind I had decided that after the Thanksgiving holiday, I would call and make a doctor's appointment. I did, and after bouncing around at different doctors for 2 weeks, I finally found one that believed me. Dr. Allen Brown ran several tests, including the MRI, and the MRI revealed a brain tumor. Finding him saved my life, and I am truly thankful.

I'm also thankful that I don't have to face the same fears as I did a year ago. I knew something was really wrong with me, but I wasn't sure what. You know what they say, the fear of the unknown can be overwhelming.

I am thankful that each day brings me closer to God, and without His strength, I would never have made it. He is my pillar when I feel so weak. When I feel so scared, I can turn to Him and He offers comfort. Afterall, He is the comforter.

I am thankful for my rather large and unconventional family. There was a time that I thought my family was all broken up, but, by the hand of God, those cracks have come together to form relationships that I never thought possible. It has been in this last year that those cracks have been buffed out and now a beautiful family has been restored.

Through my illness last year, my cousin and I have truly found friendship again. That means enough to me that I would not trade the brain tumor for that. All the aftermath, the huge seven-inch scar, the headaches, the material losses - all worth it for our friendship.

I am thankful that God hears and cares about my cries. I have desired true Christian friends for a long time. I've wanted the kind of friends that liked me just as much as I liked them. The kind of friends that I didn't have to chase and try to force to like me. The kind that just do. And the kind of friends that love God just as much as I do and together we all strive to be closer to Him. He's blessed me with these friends and I am so grateful. Each week we gather together on a Friday night to study the Bible together. Finding young people like us to share this passion with is absolutely amazing.

I am thankful that God has given me such a wonderful husband. Sure, he's human and has his flaws, but he is such a strong supporter, my best friend, and a dream of a father. Each year we've grown closer together, and the fact that he so diligently stood by my side over the last year is one of the reasons that I have come as far as I have.

I am thankful for my two beautiful, smart, and healthy children. There are so many mothers out there that lose a child or raise a sick child, and I know that I am lucky not to face those trials. My kids are both happy and have wonderful distinct personalities. They are the reason that I work so hard to become 100% better.

Next to my husband, I have a best friend in my mom. There isn't anything that I couldn't tell her, and even in the worst of times we just giggle and giggle when we're together. Some of the few memories I have of being in the hospital last year are of me, her, and my husband just laughing and laughing until tears were in my eyes.

I am thankful to belong to a church family and have a mentor to shepard and guide me. Certainly, I read and study God's word, but having my Pastor and his wife to answer any of my questions and love me through any confusions is absolutely wonderful. I don't think of them as just my Pastor and his wife, but I truly consider them my friends.

And I am thankful for life. I am thankful that the God I serve is alive and well and that bones can live again...

Monday, November 24, 2008

So annoying...

Yesterday was a pretty bad day. My head hurt so bad that it was painful to keep my eyes open or to walk. I spent the day on the couch - not studying (and I have a test every single week for the next 3 weeks). It's so easy for other people to forget that I'm not like them... I look great - my hair is now long enough to completely cover my scar. I have come a long way. But sometimes, I still feel pretty sick. Some days, I still have to take my emegency breakthrough pain medication. Some days, I want to just die.

I know that I have come such a long way. The headaches used to be daily, and now they are about every 2 weeks. I know that I should be grateful, but instead I'm just annoyed. I want to be "normal" so bad. I yearn for it. I don't want to worry about stress causing a headache. Or staying up to late will result in a headache the next day. I want to get through school without the effects of this stupid tumor slowing me down. I want to spend an entire day out shopping without getting tired, instead of hitting up 3 stores and then being exhausted.

We're creeping up on my one year anniversary of the surgery, and really I am doing so much better than I was then... I'm doing better than I was a few months ago... But I'm not where I want to be. And that is what annoys me.

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

And yet another side effect...

So for nearly 2 months now, I have experienced pretty serious nausea. In the beginning, I actually would vomit, but after a solid week of all that, I just felt sickly. Very sickly. So I've gone back and forth to the doctor to rule out the "normal" stuff, and we've finally figured out what's wrong with me.

Apparently, I have developed a stomach ulcer. The medicines that I swallow like candy to take the edge off of the headaches has "killed" some of the mucus lining and protection of my stomach. Since that lining has been eaten away, stomach acid has moved right in and caused an ulcer. Lovely.

Sometimes I feel like I'll be haunted by this stupid brain tumor forever.

With a doctors excuse, I missed a solid month of my PE class, so I'm not sure how that is going to affect me. I've still managed to go to my other class (frequently running out of the class to dry heave). And miraculously I have an 80 average right now. That doesn't compare to the 'A's that I'm used to making, but everyone keeps telling me that's good so I guess I'm happy. As long as I can cling onto that 'B'. I'll be devastated if I make anything lower...

Not that I want to come off as negative. I am pretty grumpy today because my head is killing me, but I am still thankful of how far I've come. I just have to keep reminding myself of that and not dwell on the negatives.

Thursday, November 13, 2008

Troubling News

Today my mom forwarded me an e-mail in which an old friend of the family informed us all that her husband has just been diagnosed with an Astrocytoma on the frontal right lobe of his brain. He was sent to the same surgeon that performed my surgery and a biopsy was done to see what course of action they will take. They do know that this tumor is inoperable, and I don't know the status of the biopsy yet.

Like many of us dealing with brain tumors, and their aftermath, he's a daddy and a husband. I know first hand the surge of emotions that this family feels and recieving the diagnoses is only the beginning. Let's all pray that God grant them strength, peace, and comfort in the days to come. Even though I haven't given their name, God knows who they are.

Saturday, November 8, 2008

Today is a yucky day.

11 months post-surgery and today is a bad day. My head is splitting in pain and I'm going to break down and take some pain meds and crawl under my covers. On the bright side, the headaches are less frequent, but today's a reminder that they aren't completely gone either.

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Nothing Important

So I started back at school to sort of prove to myself and to others that I could do it. Well, it's not been nearly as easy as I thought it would be and I was getting pretty discouraged because my grades have BARELY been passing. Before (brain surgery) I made all "A"s pretty easily. Not this time. Anyway, last night we were handed back our most recent tests in my Anatomy & Physiology 2 class and I made my first "A" of the semester!!!!!!!!!! Just the encouragement that I needed. I can and will finish college because I refuse my dream of graduating to be stolen by this stupid brain tumor.

That being said, the last couple of weeks have been hard. I haven't felt well at all and it all began with a stomach virus that meant that I couldn't keep any of my "brain" meds in, which meant that I ended up with a headache so bad that I was seeing double. But today I feel like living again. Not great, but a whole lot better.

I have days where I just want to give up and say, "What's the use?" But then I get so angry at the things that have been "stolen" because of the tumor/surgery that something in me wants to fight. I want to show myself and this world that even though I might have suffered greatly - I can still achieve some of my dreams. Why not, right?

Tuesday, October 14, 2008


The headaches have been back big-time. I'm not doing well in school and find that on tests it's the stupid stuff that I have a hard time with. Head hurt last night so didn't sleep well and up early. 10 full months this Friday. I have seen a remarkable improvement, but there are "signs" that I'm not out of the woods yet. *big sigh*

Tuesday, October 7, 2008

Yesterday was another reminder...

Yesterday I had my annual eye examination. I have not been since the brain surgery, so I had to go through the whole spill with the optometrist. I hate even talking about it because people are always shocked and then make all kinds of comments on how great I must be feeling and how great I look. I know that no one means harm, but I cringe because little do they know... I was already in a bad mood, so I didn't hold much back yesterday. I basically said, "No, I don't feel great. I have headaches every single day of my life, some days are so bad that I can barely get out of bed. My memory is full of holes and I can get easily confused. I had to quit working, so now we are broke and struggling. Nope, I definately don't feel any better." And my comments were just met by wide eyed stares because my poor audiance was at a loss for words.

So anyway, my vision has changed some, so the first words out of my eye doctors mouth were, "Let's just look and make sure no eye tumors are detected." Of course that just leds me to freak completely out. Eye tumors???? WHAT?!?!?!? I don't want an eye tumor! I don't want any tumor!!!

I went through a battery of tests, and thankfully no tumor was spotted. However, from now on every visit will include these tests just to "make sure". And of course our insurance renewal period was last year at the same time that we were going through this whole brain tumor/surgery thing, so my husband failed to renew our vision insurance. Lovely. That means that I'll get to be blurry for a couple months until his 2009 insurance kicks in. Fun stuff, huh?

So we get in the car and my husband could not understand why I was upset. Maybe it was stupid, but the fear that caught my breath hearing that the eye doctor wanted to make sure that I didn't have any eye tumors was enough to make me boil with rage. "Normal" people don't have to worry with such things and I don't want to either... And I just get grumpy whenever people talk about how wonderful it is that I'm still alive and doing oh so well. I guess I get grumpy because I do wish their words were true. I wish every day I felt great. I wish that I didn't take 50 medications and tote around a pill box. I wish that hearing my kids talk excitedly and loudly didn't cause my head to split open. *sigh*

I'm being silly, I know, but I just want so badly for this whole tumor/surgery thing to be OVER.

Wednesday, September 3, 2008

Quick Update

School is going great, of course I have yet to take my first test. LOL Actually, I am thoroughly enjoying it. There have been a couple nights that I went to class feeling wiped out and having a really bad headache, but I'm intrigued enough by all that I'm learning that it's worth the sacrifice.

I've just come to a point where enough is enough and I refuse to let the side effects of the tumor/surgery to rob any more of my life. There are things that I want to do and I want some things enough to muddle through the pain and fatigue.

So I'm doing okay and I am totally that one in the class that all the kids hate because I ask so many questions. (-:

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

Facing a milestone (and I couldn't be more excited)...

So tonight will be my first night back to college and I couldn't be any more excited! I'm like a kid; my bookbag is all packed, I've sharpened all my pencils, and my notebook is full of paper.

I'm only taking two classes: Health/P.E. (on-line) and Anatomy and Physiology 2.

My mom and husband think that it's too soon for me to be going back to school. I still have a lot of "bad" days and my memory is like fudge, but I'm going to give it my all. The only thing that I can do is try, and if I don't push myself, I may never get back to the way I was.

So keep your fingers crossed for me!

YAY! ha ha ha

Monday, August 11, 2008

God is my provider...

Not working anymore because of the side effects of the brain surgery has made us pretty broke. My car has been up for sell for at least 3 months to cut some of our bills, but we haven't had much luck.

My husband and I made up our minds that we were not going to worry and just put our trust in the Lord. There have been times that has been really tough to do.

Anyway, I just checked the mail and noticed an envelope with no self address on it. I opened it and money fell out! There was a letter included but no signature. One thing that the note said was that God had laid us on the sender's heart...

Thank you Lord for hearing our prayers, seeing our needs, and being our provider!

Thursday, July 31, 2008

Today's Neurology Appointment

So I went to the neurologist this morning and he agreed that my "symtoms" (headache, foot numbness, exhaustion, etc) are probably a result of the surgery and not the brain tumor. Remember, the type of brain tumor that was found in me is very slow growing.

I have an MRI scheduled for tomorrow morning to see how much fluid build-up there is, and what we should do about it. Chances are that is the culprit of me not feeling so hot. My MRI in March showed some fluid, but not tons of it. If tomorrow's test doesn't show much more, then we may opt to just keep an eye on it. If the test does show an increase in build-up, we will talk to my surgeon in Atlanta to see how he feels we should go about releasing some of it.

I am now on a couple new medicines, so I have to bite the bullet and get a pill box. Guess I'm like a little old lady, huh? Hopefully these new medications will help (if not stop) some of the symptoms that I'm feeling.

In addition, this nuerologist wants to see me every 6 weeks for awhile to keep a check on things. I can now add him to my growing list of doctors! HA

I think it's safe to say that not only do I hate the brain tumor, but I hate the brain surgery. I feel like they are co-conspirators in robbing me blind. They have taken my health, my sense of security, my job, my finances, etc. When I gave the lady at the desk my bank card for my co-pay today, it was declined. Figures! I don't know if I've ever been so broke before!!!! Thankfully, she was so sweet and offered to just bill me.

So I'm going to rest now and try not to feel so aggrevated...

Wednesday, July 30, 2008

I feel like poop. )-:

So let me just whine for a second - I feel pretty cruddy. My head is killing me. I haven't felt my left foot for weeks. And my neck and back of my head (around my scar) is so tender and sore that it hurts to move my neck.

I saw one doctor yesterday who gave me more pain killers and medicine to help me sleep. He also called and got me an appointment for tomorrow at the nuerologist. Both of them feel like my "complications" are due to the surgery and not the tumor. That's what I think too. I mean, JPA is pretty slow growing and these are not the symptoms that I felt at all before the surgery.

I've been fearful for what all this would mean: more surgery?? what if I can't make it in school?? what if I'm forever in pain?? what if I get on meds that will make me blow up when I've already gained lots of weight??

So I've been studying fear in the Bible. It's really cool, because nearly every single scripture that I found regarding fear not only instructed for us to not be afraid, but it listed a reason why. God is my shield. God is my provider. God is my savior. Etc. God is pretty great.

But I still feel like poop and yearn for the day that I won't hurt anymore...

Thursday, July 24, 2008

I have enrolled in school!

I was half-way through school when my tumor hit, so I was forced to take the last two semesters off, but I will start school again August 18th. I am a nursing major (funny coincidence, huh), but I still have to take Anatomy and Physiology 2 and a PE before I am admitted. I also have to take a nursing entrance exam this fall... Fingers crossed that I'm actually accepted!

I'm a little nervous on how I'll do. My memory is really struggling and some days my head hurts so bad that I just want to curl up into a little ball and disappear...

But it's my effort to be "normal" again... We'll see how it goes!

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

I've finally caved...

For the last couple of weeks, I've had a persistant headache. I have also had numbness in my left foot and I'm sleepy a lot.

With some family "persuasion", I've made an appointment to see a nuerologist. This doc is here in town, so at least I won't have to drive up to Atlanta to see my surgeon.

There is no need for any panic, my symptoms are more of an aggrevation than anything and I've felt a whole lot worse! I am sure that there is just a fluid build-up where the tumor used to be (a battle that I've fought since the tumor was removed).

Right now I'm sort of on a stand-by, so I don't have any clue when my appointment is. The docs office will call me as soon as there is a cancellation.

The only thing any of us can do is just to keep my family in your prayers. I'll let you know something more when I know something more. (-:

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

Tomorrow marks 7 months...

And for the most part, I've come such a long way. I mean, I have come a long way, but I still feel aggrevated that I still have a ways to go. I can walk and drive and my hair has grown back to nearly cover my scar. I look "normal", which is a far cry from looking like the bride of Frankenstien! LOL

I'm still very forgettful. I still battle headaches (a lot). I still search for words or even use the wrong words without even realizing. Basically, I'm just "dumb".

For the last couple weeks my left foot has been numb again. That is scary, but I really don't want to head back to the doctor who will send me back to the hospital when I got back for my next MRI in September anyway. And I think (here's me diagnosing myself again) that I'm just tired. It's been a busy month for me and I've barely rested any.

But in 7 months I have seen some major improvements, and my doctor did say that it could take me a full year to recover, so I guess I'm on point...

Tuesday, June 24, 2008

"The unexamined life is not worth living." Socrates

(This is a picture of me in December of 2007, learning to walk again.)
Oddly enough, when facing death head-on, a gift is blessedly bestowed. When I first heard the words that would change my life, "You have a brain tumor", instantly I began replaying my life in my head... I was thinking of all the things that I have done and have not done and wanted to do...

During the first couple months of my diagnosis and surgery, I was strangely optimistic. Maybe I was in such shock and that was my way to get through the rough times I was faced with. I remember thinking that I had just as much of a chance to die as I had to live, and, at the time, I was okay with that. But I lived and time has marched on and my own thoughts and dreams have become my enemies...

Now when I think of death, I think of all that comes with it. I find myself waking up at night totally worried about who will notify friends that I have made on this blog and support groups on-line. Or I worry that I have only picked out 1 song to be sung at my funeral (and how many songs should be picked anyway). Or I worry if my husband will know all the things to do for life insurance. But mostly, I worry about my two kids. I worry what will happen to them and if they'd be okay.

It wouldn't be any stretch of the imagination to say that the worry that I face brings with it sadness and/or depression. People have said that anyone can die tomorrow. Maybe a car wreck could take you out. That's true enough I suppose, but that doesn't ease my fears... If I was in a car wreck, I wouldn't have time to wonder about death!

When I was a kid I used to play a little game with my friends in which we'd wonder aloud if we wanted to die suddenly or slowly and how we would like to die. Remembering that does sound a little morbid, but of course at the times of those renderings we really thought we were invincible and we'd live forever.

Still I wonder... Dying suddenly seems to be easier... Sickness and a painful death forces you to look into the soulless eyes of death every single day.

For the most part, I think that I am positive. I know that I am guilty of the "why me's". Just yesterday I was sad because we've sold my car to further cut down on our expenses. I felt that selling my car was just another thing this tumor has stolen from me. However, instead of focusing on the negative - I have to remind myself to think of the positive. Yes, I've had to sell my car, but you know what? I am able to stay home and get better right now. Financially, we're tight, but it's not impossible. For some people, not having an income would be completely unrealistic. Besides that, at least I'm now able to drive again!!! It wasn't too long ago that I couldn't even drive at all!

Realistically, this tumor has forced me to look at issues that everyone should deal with anyway. Everyone should have a living will. Everyone should have open discussion with their loved ones about funeral arrangements. Everyone should keep affairs (like life insurance) in order. Everyone should decide whether or not to be kept alive by feeding tubes or ventilators. Maybe those are questions that I'm having to answer, but they should be answered regardless.

As for things that I have not done and want to do, I'm not dead yet!! Sure, some days my head is throbbing in pain or I have a hard time processing and feel "dumb", but some days are good days. Right now, there are lots of things that I physically can't do right now. That stinks, but there's still plenty of things that I can do. I can spend all afternoon casually blowing bubbles with my kids. Not worrying about a thing. Just blowing bubbles... Doesn't that sound great?

I don't know the number of my days, but I do know that I want my life to have meant something to someone. And that's how I'll live it... Regardless...

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

Healing takes time...

I guess I could have shared pictures of my brain before now, but in any case this is a picture after the tumor was removed from my brain. The "pocket" on the back of my neck is where the tumor used to be and keeps trying to fill with fluid and not drain. That was the case when this picture was taken.

When the spot fills with fluid, it causes me to experience many of the same old symptoms of having the tumor... Guess that's why some days are good and some days are kind of bad...

Yesterday was the official 6 month "anniversary" of my brain surgery, but this picture just goes to show what a long road recovering from something like this really is... Sometimes I get frusterated with myself for still not feeling good or being so tired all the time, but looking at this picture is a good reminder for myself that these things take time...

Wednesday, June 11, 2008

Short Term Disability

Recently, I resigned from my job due to the side effects of this stupid brain tumor. Someone mentioned short term disability??? I did get my seperation notice today and the reason for the seperation is "personal illness"...Is anyone recieving short term disability benefits? How do I go about applying for this help??


Tuesday, June 10, 2008

2 whole days of being "unemployed''...

Today is only day 2 of me being home with the kids, and as long as I stay really busy - I'm okay. The last two mornings I've been waking up early to walk a mile. Not only does it feel good to FINALLY excercise, but walking will eventually increase my stamina and cut down on me being out of breath and panting so much.

Yesterday I pruned all my bushes and they were WAY overgrown. They haven't bee pruned since last year!! Today I'd like to work some in my house. I must admit, I'm looking forward to feeling like my house is clean again!!! Of course it will probably take 2 weeks before it's actually clean, but I have all the time in the world now!

Of course I still take my 2 hour nap every day, but having more time for myself has been nice.
The kids are driving me up the wall as kids can do, but each week we'll have a "fun" day. This week I think we'll check out the Lee County Library and go swimming.

So I've survived a whole 2 days! LOL Hopefully I'll survive many more...

Thursday, June 5, 2008

How's THIS for facing my fears...

To downsize even further on bills, we're going to sell my car and we've bought a motorcycle. The plan is that the kids and I will drive Martin's truck (4 door Tacoma) so we won't technically be a single car family.

Martin's been riding the bike, but tonight we both went for a ride. I was really nervous on the turns, but I actually had a great time! Surely now I can ride my bicycle, huh??? LOL

On a sad note, today was my last day at work. I went out with a "bang" though... Today was the last day of a 2 day grief camp we hold each year for kids in our community. The camp is always beautiful, and today was certainly no exception. Even though I did cry a couple times saying "goodbye" this evening, knowing that so many children were on their way to healing made my transition seem so small...

So I guess it would be safe to say that today was actually a good day... A bittersweet kind of day...

Tuesday, June 3, 2008

Today has been a bad day...

First off, this is my last week working. I absolutely LOVE my job and the people I work with, but the doctor will only release me to work part-time till my next MRI in September and I'm so tired and my memory sucks so badly that I've resigned. So I'm grumpy because I feel like this stupid brain tumor has stolen yet another thing from me...

Then, I work for the hospice. Normally that's not as depressing for me as most people think, but today we talked about a child admitted to us with a brain stem tumor. Lovely.

So THEN I'm holding a Bible Study every Tuesday night with about 7 other people. It's a great time to fellowship and I'm trying to face my depression head on. Guess how many people showed up tonight?!?!?!?!!? ONE!

So today is rough and I want to just crawl in bed and pull the covers over my head and a giant tub of cookie dough. )-:

Thanks for listening.

Saturday, May 24, 2008

Encouragement for myself...

So last night I was thinking about King David... I was thinking about how he encouraged himself in the Lord. While I wondered what that really meant, I started thinking of my favorite passage of Scripture.

This passage is almost always read at funerals. I read and re-read it several times while I was in the hospital. And yet last night, it spoke to me again...


1 - "The Lord is my shepard; I shall not want." First off, the word "is" is in italics. To me that says that God is my shepard. Period. He guides me, which means that He knows where I am at all times. Even when I feel so confused and so alone - He knows. The second part of that scripture reminds me that I don't need anything. God is my provider. I don't have to want for anything.

2 - "He maketh me to lie down in green pastures; he leadeth me beside the still waters." Wow. He maketh me... God is my creator, and He created me to have calm in my soul. He didn't make me to have turmoil in my heart... Hurt, fear, and blindness were never His intention for me! The second part of that scripture tells me that when I don't know which end is up - He's right there to calm my soul. He leadeth me... That means that I don't have to lead myself... I can't lead myself!! He'll take my hand and lead me to a place of rest, relaxation, and healing...

3 - "He restoreth my soul: he leadeth me in the paths of righteousness for his name's sake." God is my healer!! He restores my soul!! He speaks to the brokenness in my heart and heals it. He doesn't condemn how lost I feel. He doesn't put guilt on me. Instead, He restores me! Again, the second part of verse 3 says that He leads me... I don't have to find righteousness on my own. He's right beside me, holding my hand, and leading me...

4 - "Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil: for thou art with me; thy rod and thy staff they comfort me." I'm crying again now... Verse 4 is so powerful to me because that is how I feel. I feel like I'm walking though the darkest and lonliest valley that I've ever walked through. Death literally consumes me. And yet, I'm not alone. God is with me! Again the word "art" is italicized and that means that God's not playing! He's right beside me!!!!!! I can find comfort in the Almighty... In fact, He tells me plain as day that He holds comfort.

5 - "Thou preparest a table before me in the presence of mine enemies: thou anointest my head with oil; my cup runneth over." I can just invision myself surrounded by "my enemies"... Fear, doubt, hurt, this stupid brain tumor... And sitting down to dine with them all... I must not be afraid of them! They must no longer have a hold of me, which leads me to believe that they've been defeated! God anoints me?!?!?!? Again, I can't help but think He's not mad at me... He may not want me to feel like I do, but He knows me and He's with me and He wants me to feel better but He's not mad at me! I no longer have to duck my head in shame for being so lost! My cup runs over??? So God wants to BLESS ME? So here I am, feeling lower than I've probably ever felt and more alone that I've ever felt, and yet God wants to bless me? Not only does He want to take my pain away, but my cup runs over?!?!?!

6 - "Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life: and I will dwell in the house of the Lord for ever." Mercy. Now that's what I need, and that's exactly what's been promised for me! I'll dwell in His presence FOR EVER?!?!?! That just reminds me that He'll never leave me and never forsake me. There are no conditions. No strings attached. Verse 6 doesn't say, "I'll dwell in the house of the Lord if I never battle fear. Never battle depression. Never have doubts." The scriptures above let me know that God knows where I'm at, and STILL I will dwell in His loving arms for ever. And ever. And ever.

Thursday, May 22, 2008

On the verge of a panic attack...

Today hasn't been a great day for me.

First, I'm feeling upset because I only have 2 weeks left at a job that I absolutely love. Even though I went back to work (with the okay from my dr) in February, I ended up getting sick again in March. The tumor didn't grow back (thank goodness), but the area where the tumor used to be was full of fluid that wasn't wanting to drain and causing infection. That caused some of my same symptoms to return (headaches, loss of mobility, and left side numbness). Against the doctors wishes, I returned back to work about a week later. I still work part-time, and that is causing a problem. Ever tried cramming a full-time job into a part-time one? Doesn't work!

So I resigned from my job. Mostly because my family was suffering and it stresses me out not to be able to do all the things at work that I once did...

That decision has been very bitter-sweet. We've downsized vehicles; used our stimulus money to pay off bills; and my husband got a promotion at work. I'm looking forward to spending the summer with my kids and focusing on myself. I should be grateful that even though we'll be sacrificing, there is a way for me not to work right now. But I'm sad too.

I love my job and would never been in this position if it weren't for that stupid brain tumor...

Secondly, today has sucked because my confusion affected someone else. A friend at work was having a bad day. I thought I'd cheer her up by having lunch together. We decided to meet at the resturaunt. I waited and waited and waited. Then ordered my food. Then realized that I had gone to the wrong place and I had picked where we would go!!!! Of course being the only person in the world without a cell phone, I had no way to get in touch with her. Great!

Of course I've noticed myself doing "crazy" things like that... I've gotten dressed only to realize that I'd only shaved one leg. I have a hard time grocery shopping and ALWAYS forget something even though I now have a list with me. I've washed laundry only to realize that I didn't put any laundry soap in the washer. Things that don't seem horrible to anyone, but for me it gets really frusterating.

Thirdly, I'm feeling anxious today because the stupid brain tumor had fingers in my brain stem. What does that mean exactly? I was told that radiation might be necessary if the tumor re-grew in my brain stem. I thought that was because surgery sucked, but now I'm thinking surgery is really hard there??? I've also been reading that a tumor in the brain stem isn't very good... Too make me worry more, I have read very little positive reports about anyone surviving a second "attack".

So today kind of sucks.

And although my family is wonderful, sometimes I feel so all alone... When I'm forgettful, they try to play it off. If I worry, they just tell me not to worry (as if the thoughts can escape me that easily). And with my decision to quit working, they try to be encouraging by reminding me of all the positive things I have to look forward to.

But I know that my mind isn't quite right. I know that I'm going to miss working and I'll miss my co-workers and I'll miss that "normalacy". I know that I wish I had of never had a brain tumor. And I know how bad life will be for so many people if the tumor ever comes back...

I try not to be morbid. But I find myself thinking about my own funeral arrangements. I find myself wondering what my kids will do without me. I find myself wondering how long it would take my husband to move on.

And I think that I'm just being realistic. I feel like I am... Oh I just wish there was someone out there that has been where I'm at and would talk to me...

Monday, May 12, 2008

God did not give me a spirit of fear... (Romans 8:19)

Logically, I know that God did not give me a spirit of fear, and yet I feel so very afraid...

Sunday I had every intention of going to church, but the weather was bad. Well, even though the weather has NEVER bothered me before, and it's been much worse than Sunday, I stayed at home because I was scared. I wasn't scared that we'd get struck at church, or that power would go off, or anything half way rational. Instead, I was scared that we'd get in a car accident because it was so windy and my scar on the back of my head would pop open and my brains would spill out all over the road. Sorry to be so graphic, but that's honestly all I could think of. I nearly worked myself into a panic just thinking of how awful it would be to have a gapping hole in my head... again...

The doctor assured me that there was no chance of my scar ever "popping" open. Yet I won't ride a bike. I worry that I'll be hit by a car. I worry that I'll fall and land on the back of my head. Just crazy stuff!

So I pray that I won't feel afraid. I pray that fear won't cripple me. Yet sometimes, it does...

Friday, May 9, 2008

Maybe I should just shave my head again...

This is my constant complaint, I know, but if I looked as "slow" on the outside as I feel on the inside - people might be more understanding. Not that anyone intentially makes me feel bad, but it happens. Yes - I have lived through surgery, but it's a lot harder for me to process information in my brain. Afterall, it was cut wide open!!!

I'm forgetful and I can tell that I'm not as "fast" as I used to be. Will I get better, or is this the aftermath that I need to learn to live with? I now get very easily distracted and my judgement has definately been affected.

Plus, I'm tired. Yesterday I got pretty annoyed when someone tried to be sympathetic by saying, "Yea, I'm tired too." I wanted to scream,"NO YOU'RE NOT!!" Tired really isn't the right word for the way I feel... Exhausted maybe??? Every past of me is just worn out. It's honestly nothing that I ever felt before.

I don't want to sound like I'm complaining. There is a fine line between complaining and just being real. I don't want to be negetive, but sometimes I get aggrevated. I get aggrevated at myself, the stupid tumor, and other people. Guess I shouldn't because it is what it is!
(In the picture is my Papi and me at Easter. I'm lucky to ALWAYS have supportive parents that LISTEN!!!)

Sunday, May 4, 2008

Happy Birthday to me!

Tomorrow is my birthday and I don't remember ever being so excited. Not because I'm having a party. Not because I'll get cool gifts. Simply because I'm alive! Honestly, I don't think that I thought I'd ever see another birthday again.

And yet here I am... Turning 25 tomorrow!

I don't blame this tumor on God. I think that "bad things" happen to all people simply because that's part of life. If I didn't love God - I would have gotten the tumor. And knowing God - I still got the tumor.

Knowing and loving God has only served to help me through some of these dark days. His word and promises have sustained me and I know that even when I've felt all alone - He's been right there with me.

Some have said things that almost rubbed me the wrong way. I don't think that they meant to hurt me, but sometimes people do. I've heard that God was still working on me. To me that suggests that I somehow brought the tumor on myself. That's hogwash. Can God use what I've been through - sure! But did He allow me to become sick because of my errors - no. God loves me and I don't think my suffering brings a smile to His face.

The hardest thing for me to hear is that I'm alive and God must have spared me for a great and mighty reason. I know that my "story" is awesome, but what if now something else equally as awesome should happen.

What if His healing me was enough. Will people be let down? What if the tranformation in my soul is it... Did God not do a great thing because no one walked on water or Red Sea's didn't split? Maybe this doesn't made sense to anyone else, but for me it does. (-:

Anyway, all I meant to say was happy birthday to me! Don't know how I strayed from that!

Sometimes I wish the outside matched the inside...

So yesterday I decided that I almost wish that I didn't look so good on the outside because it's so easy for people to completely forget that I'm still healing on the inside. I wish that I was still bald and had those big ugly stitches down my neck and up the back of my head. I know that no one means to down play how I'm feeling, but I guess unless you've actually experienced it yourself - it's pretty hard to relate.

Someone at work asked me to do something after work for work at night. Used to I would have totally said yes, but this time we had to look for another option because I am just too tired. I could almost see them thinking, "You're planning to be tired???"

Wednesday, April 30, 2008

Pictures from the tumor...

This a picture with my cousin before surgery. Wasn't I too cute with those electrodes all over my head??

This is a picture of my dad holding me up. I made it home for Christmas!

Today has been a hard day...

Ever feel like you just want to crawl into bed and pull the covers high above your head? That's what kind of day I have had today. The scars from my brain surgery have healed nicely. My hair has grown back. I can walk again without using a walker. On the outside everything looks "normal", but on the inside I feel like I have a long way to go...

I get confused easily. I'm tired all the time. It's very hard to stay focused on anything. I forget a ton of things. I am not allowed to be as active as before, so that means that I've gained weight and everything feels too small. *sigh*

In the big scheme of things, I shouldn't complain. People probably think that my whoa-is-me attitude is crazy. Yet some days it's really hard to shake myself out of the blues.

I'm trying really hard to be "pro-active". I'm trying really hard to get back to my "normal" routine. And yet I just wish that I really was normal again.