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.