Onto Bigger (smaller) Things!

We did it! We bought ourselves a little 29 ft. Camper-Trailer (We looked it up dear momma, this is the official name on the title!) And Blake, me, two toddlers, a golden retriever, and a massively hairy cat, are all living in this small 200-something sq. foot paradise (to us!). IMG_3962We bought this puppy a couple of months ago and I didn’t really have any plans to change anything, as we were so busy with packing and selling basically all of our stuff, then one afternoon as my boys snoozed, and much to my poor husbands dismay, I sat in the camper which was parked in our driveway, and saw the potential all around me.

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This thing was in awesome condition, but the wallpaper and floral cushions/curtains were nagging at me, saying, “I DON’T MATCH ANYTHING YOU OWN.”

My OCD kicked in big time, and by the next day I had read/researched every camper renovation guide/blog there was. A new sheet of wallpaper would be easier but WAY too expensive, but painting would be massively time consuming, and pretty darn cheap. I knew Blake had way too much on his plate to put any new projects on there, so I only took on what I knew I could attempt and handle. I chose the paint route, and set straight at it. 18927211_10213816166304082_1034867414_oI had no specific color palate in mind, but a pretty little neutral green caught my eye at the paint store. I carried around the sample and thought it through for about a day while I cleaned/prepped the camper, then committed the next day, also buying the tiny set of rollers and paint brushed. Painting this thing was the hardest most time consuming DIY I have ever done, but it was also one of the most rewarding! I had to start with two full coats of a special primer that bonded to wallpaper, then follow that up with three coats of paint to fully cover everything! It took me about a week and a half of working day in and day out, most nights till 1 or 2am in the morning.

During this awesome task, we had a bear visiting our house every night, so after this big fella poked his little head in the camper to check on my progress late one evening and nearly scared me to death, Blake made sure I was armed with his favorite pistol and his favorite pup, who barked and chased off the bear almost every night after this. I was beyond happy to finish painting! Imagine the smallest, hard-to-reach spots in any house that just take a ton of time/squeezing into tiny back-breaking spaces. 18927295_10213816161743968_1118812_oThat was this whole project.

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Thank you Lord for Daniel Tiger.

My back and neck took a while to recover. Sorry guys. We then had our quick trip up to Denver for appointments, so I got some tiny living inspired furniture from IKEA (I love you dearly) and we stopped by JoAnnes for some fabric to reupholster the benches/couch with. This, I knew would be the most expensive part of our renovation, and I was trying my hardest to stay within my budget, the budget being basically whatever furniture we sold, I could use the cash for the camper.

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Blake said no. Boo!

I was heading to checkout with a big fat roll of brown faux leather thinking how on earth I was gonna wing this, when Blake walked over with a big old grin on his face and showed me a coupon he had on his phone for 60% off fabric at this store. He won the day, and was pretty darn attractive holding that crafting coupon all the way up to the register. Saved our skin! When we got home, we only had a couple more weeks to pack the entire house, finish renovating the camper, and selling everything we could at a big garage sale the day after we were out of the ranch house.18817467_10213816158583889_456419773_o Busy didn’t even begin to cover our lives through the entire month of May. It passed in an exhausted blur. I reupholstered the bench seats, My first attempt at any reupholstering before (Thanks for the tips Syd!) And I’m pretty happy with how they turned out! They also clean off incredibly, which we found out after Titus overturned his entire cereal bowl on our first morning in the trailer. I also had to make curtains for all the little windows, so I used the curtains I had in my living room which I adore, and camped out at my sisters sewing machine for a few days.

The only “doors” we have for our room and the boys little bunks are curtains I got at IKEA which were about 4 feet too long, so I had to hem those as well. This was my first attempt at hemming curtains too, and, well, they all work! Just don’t look too close! I hung all my new treasures and decorated the whole place with our very favorite decorations from the house. Awesome thing about moving into a tiny space is that you can keep the best/nicest things you own, and start fresh again someday down the road (punny) with whatever you’d like! 18926350_10213816161303957_1993952093_oWhen I first started the renovation, I tried peeling up the border wallpaper at the top of the wall, but that thing wasn’t going without a fight, a fight which it won. It was actually tearing the wall off with it so I threw together a plan B and we went with a wood border instead. 18926549_10213816160423935_667883000_o.jpgI did need Blake’s help with this one as I don’t know how to run a saw and I think he was fine with this. He knocked it out in one afternoon and we loved the way it turned out! We moved our things in and spent our first night in the camper on May 25th! That was a particularly windy night and the camper slightly rocked, which had Ezra squeaking, “It’s gonna fall! Mommy, the camper’s tipping!” After I calmed him down we all got a great nights sleep and woke up bright and early to finish packing and cleaning the house.

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My mom and brother-in-laws came to help and there is no way we could’ve finished without their help! At 7pm, we turned our beautiful ranch home over to it’s new family and breathed for about 3.5 seconds before we headed over to my sister’s house where we were setting up for our garage sale the next morning.We worked late into that night, and were back at it at 6am the next morning.

The garage sale went great! We were able to sell all our big items and then some! We had some left over to donate to the thrift store and only a small load to take to the dump. We are so tired. I have probably said that ten thousand times over the last month and it is just now starting to wear off. I haven’t regretted taking on a complete remodel of our little camper the month we had to move, because every morning I wake up and love where I get to live now. I enjoy expressing my creativity whenever and wherever I can, and this was a huge opportunity I may not get again. I had way too much fun with it, and it’s a great warm up for the Spec house Blake and I are currently designing, a house that my Husband has given me a budget and almost no other limits on! I think I’m slowly proving myself to him, I hope so at least 😉

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Status: Blueberry!

My day yesterday started bright and early at the Neuro Ophthalmologists for follow up testing. My previous visit with them went great: optic nerves in both eyes showed significant healing and my eyesight was nearing 20-20 in both eyes. Inflammation surrounding the vessels in both eyes was receding as well. My field of vision test came back incredible, and at that time, Dr P. was blown away, especially with the massive improvement my right eye had made. Well, now we ran all the same tests, for the third time. Scans, lights, lasers, eyepatches, the works. The tests came back fairly positive, and while I was talking with my Dr. at the beginning of the appointment, I mentioned this spot that wouldn’t go away in my right eye. It’s especially bothersome when I am talking to people because I can only see their eyes, the lower half of their face is gone. It’s very distracting, and I never realized how much I relied on watching peoples mouths to hear what they were saying better. He said he noticed my eyes darting around a lot while I was talking, little movements I probably don’t consciously notice, but it made him turn to the page with the results of my most recent field-of-vision test. My stomach sank. Imagine a circle divided into four quarters. The bottom right corner of the test was almost completely black, meaning almost completely blind. Now I’ve had this spot since I woke up from surgery, so we were curious why the last test shows perfect vision. He reviewed it and believes it was a faulty test all around. It was almost too perfect, and I have been experiencing this all along. This bad spot also matches one of the worst spots pre-surgery, so it makes sense. That made me feel a little better, and he assured me this was not regression. He explained to me that my brain is darting my eyes all around to gather as many little details as it can to fill in this spot of missing information. It continues to do so because almost as quickly as it gathers that information to fill the void, it loses it. He hopes this spot will continue to diminish, but seeing as it has stayed steady, he kindly made sure I was aware that might not happen. He assured me though that the most likely scenario will be that my brain gets better and better at filling in the blank spot, and I will get better at ignoring it. It doesn’t affect my driving or walking or pretty much anything else. It’s just pretty annoying is all. We will see him again in the beginning of August to check healing/progress and monitor this blind spot.

From there we grabbed a quick bite to eat and headed down to Skyridge for my MRI. I have had a lingering dry cough for a couple of days, and was dreading trying to hold still for the entire hour-long scan. My nurse was great and assured me that she could always restart that portion of the scan and I should try and not choke myself! Well, I made it through most of the scan when a huge cough attack hit me. I didn’t think fast enough to hit the panic button, and before I knew it, the coughing got way out of hand and my heartburn kicked in. Coughing+heartburn+laying flat on your back with your head strapped into a cage= Disaster. Yeah, I threw up. In the MRI machine. While the nurse was trying frantically to pull me out. I always get so nervous about making a racket and messing up a scan. I feel guilty about moving my jaw just a little even though I know that wouldn’t make a difference on a brain scan. Well I don’t think it gets much worse than chocking and flailing like a fish out of water and then, yes, puking. I was mortified and when I told Blake about it immediately after, I was half laughing, and half crying. Weirdly enough, I am not as afraid of my next MRI because I literally can go no lower. I’ve hit rock bottom in the MRI department and now they can never be this bad again… right? I actually really don’t want to be proven wrong… Anyways, the nurse was amazing and sweet and got me some water but I still had to finish the scan, so back in I went! After the MRI, I had to wait until 4:00pm until we would see my neurologist and my neurosurgeon who would have the results of the scan. I didn’t let myself get into worrying about what it would show because it would make the next four hours unbearable. Instead, I distracted myself with IKEA! It’s right by the hospital so we spent the whole afternoon wandering around that beast of a store filled with pretty things. It worked and before I knew it, we were headed back to get some answers! My first appointment was with my Neurologist. We discussed the meds I’m still on, and sadly, the headaches and migraines that have slowly but forcefully been making their way back into my life. We came up with several different game plans to stop the “boulder” of a migraine before it got rolling, because once it’s going, you really can’t stop it. I will have to carry several different pain killers as well as some form of strong caffeine with me at all times. I need to catch it within the first one to five minutes or else I’m sunk. It’s a tightrope walk I’m going to need to learn because spending an entire day writhing in pain, popping a stupid amount of useless painkillers only to have them come back up within minutes, is not the way I want to live my life, or what I want my boys to have to experience. I will stay in touch with him and will need to see him again in three months. He wanted me back in just two, but was willing to work with us and consolidate our appointments on the same day in August!

From there we walked into the next exam room to see our Neurosurgeon and his PA. They asked how I was doing and discussed the few little bumps I’m still experiencing. My left arm/hand and foot (barely) is still kind of crummy. Certainly better than a month or two ago, but still lagging a little. Back to PT for me! I’ve also been experiencing some harsh neck, shoulder, and spine pain. We are hoping it’s just residual pain from my surgery, and that it will resolve over time. Dr. K. let me know I’m just at the beginning of my recovery. He thinks I’m healing very well and progressing fantastically, but gave me a very good reminder that this is a l.o.n.g. process that I’m just at the beginning of. We asked how long until I’m back to normal, and he said that about 90% of healing will be complete by about six months, but the full recovery is closer to a year. This was both daunting and relieving. I have a long road ahead of me STILL but I have that much more time to work work work! I will work my hardest to regain all my strength or learn to function entirely without the loss I’m experiencing. I was given some shaky and hesitant permission to start running after I asked (begged?) him. He wants me to start very slow and very short in a controlled or at least monitored environment. He is very excited about me getting back to my normal healthy routines and encouraged me to pace myself as well as push myself, advice that has remained invaluable throughout this entire process. Now, most importantly and biggest bestest news of all:

NO NEW TUMOR GROWTH

They removed a large portion of my tumor, and left the dangerous spot. The tiny bit still in there is about the size of a blueberry (kinda looks like one too!). This is a huge improvement from “Golfball” or “Egg” sized which is what they were comparing it to previously! It is sitting not just in the sagittal sinus, but right ON the major vessel we don’t want to even get close to, or look at wrong (probably…). We’d be “in a very, very bad place” according to the surgeons. I’m ok with this! I’m not 100% perfect, I’m still struggling with some similar symptoms as before the surgery, just on a much lower level. This is what my life is for now and to be honest, I’m perfectly fine with it. Navigating appointments, therapy sessions, and hospital bills has been the hardest part of this believe it or not! (I say that now, I probably wouldn’t have said that two months ago!) It’s amazing how much stress has been relieved every time we get to schedule one less follow-up appointment, or schedule it one more month out. I will have followups in August with two of my four amazing doctors, and will not need another MRI until May of 2018!! Of course that is if everything goes well between now and then. I will also see my Neurosurgeon at that time. This gives my blueberry plenty of time to decide wether it’s going to plump up or not. I know I will probably have these scans intermittently for the rest of my life, but that’s alright. Better safe than sorry.

I am and will be forever grateful for these four Doctors who have dedicated so much time and energy into getting me back on my feet. If it weren’t for the keen eye of my neurologist I wouldn’t have even been seen by anyone until march 29th. That is 21 days after my surgery. Instead they took the time, looked over my scans and my file, and decided they really didn’t like the looks of this. They sure didn’t need to and no body asked them to take a second look, they just did. I have no idea what my life would look like right now if they hadn’t cared so much. My poor surgeon and his awesome PA were so kind and endlessly gracious while having to work with me in the hospital for several days longer than we had anticipated. As you can imagine they are crazy busy and never once did I feel that they were rushed or bothered by how much longer I required their care. It was that patience and security that made me feel somewhat stable in the completely uncontrolled environment I woke up to post-operatively. Dr. P., my Ophthalmologist, is literally a genius. I actually don’t know if I’ve ever met someone as smart or as professional as him. And it actually made him incredible at patient care. He was as open as possible about every facet of my case. When we first started seeing him, he let me know he wanted to keep his suspicions and test results to himself until he had time to do some research and collaborate with the rest of my team. He of course ran this by me and made sure we were on the same page through every decision. This last appointment I had with him, he went over my entire case with me, start to finish. He didn’t leave out a singe blip. He showed me the scans, graphs, CT images, test results, and explained each and every one. He gave me ample time to ask questions and think this all through. It has helped me process this entire situation so much more and I will never forget what it feels like to be treated with that level of respect and compassion. In short, I have no idea how I landed such incredible and talented human beings to help heal and manage my mess of a body these last five months. I honestly couldn’t have picked a better group if I had all the time in the world. I pray God blesses the Doctors and their practice, and uses them to bring comfort, healing, and guidance to many many more that come after me.

Ab-normally Normal

Something I’ve heard over and over from people going through their own journeys and hardships is that they have to adjust to their “new normal”. This has been an interesting concept to me. My life is completely different that it was 5 months ago. My normal has changed weekly since even before the tumor. My normal is never normal. The last “semi-normal” time of my life that I can remember is when I was living with my parents and in high school. Playing soccer, riding down a snow covered mountain, hiking above tree lines, spending all the time I could with my big happy family. Ever since marrying the man of my dreams when I was barely 18 years old, my life has been an ever changing mega-maze. 14494815_10211241215691926_6504725058521555095_nA lot of the madness has to do with my health. I had never had a single surgery before I was married. 2 days after we got home from our honeymoon, I woke up in the middle of the night with horrible pains in my side. My appendix was out within 12 hours. Since then I have averaged about a surgery per year of marriage; That’s not a great track record. Now I’ve passed the years up. 6 surgeries in 5 years of marriage. This is a race I’m very unwillingly pulling ahead in. I don’t remember which hospital stay it was, but while I was fighting some kind of recurring pain strapped to monitors and IV drips, I was talking to my sweet momma who has been with me through them all, and had one of those moments where you realize what’s going on-what the plan here is. God has used each new ailment and bout of pain to “Chisel away” at my character. It is my hope that he produces the kind of steadfastness that would do him proud throughout all of this. And of course I hope that comes soon! I’m praying my hospital days are numbered and that number is dwindling!

As for getting used to my “new normal”, what is that exactly? My normal is constant change. Wether it’s health related (usually) or work related. My normal is moving to Joplin Missouri only a few months after becoming Mrs. Brueckner, accepting a job in Seward, Alaska only a few months after settling in MO, and spending a summer a continent away from friends and family. In fact, my normal included 4 moves (Pagosa-Joplin-Alaska-Joplin-Pagosa) in less than a year, as a newly wed, and in the end, taking on a job as a ranch manager with my husband (we’re doing what?) 14195270_10210994619207168_7157735609745184533_o14444750_10211229660003041_7968883619883425727_o15844477_10212296908443585_5031639594004212917_oOnly to fall in love with this gorgeous place we have called home for the past four and a half years, the home we brought our two children back to and spent those first blissful days and weeks together in. 14114869_10210919429327468_3866170456527677540_oMy normal included desperately wanting a child, losing our first precious baby, then having two perfect sons barely a year apart, only to lose our fourth little miracle just months after big brother was born, and through this process of loss, being mis-diagnosed with a mysterious form of cancer only to find out all was well four months later. 17990730_10213339713953071_1885903740417376735_n
My normal was delivering these children in ways I never imagined and was never prepared for.
Being thrown the joys and hardships of parenting alike while always feeling underprepared and undeserving of these perfect babies. My normal way of stumbling across a career path I had never seen coming, and falling deeply in love with serving women from all different walks of life in this sacred experience of birth and new life. Staring in on my education in this field only to be thrown a brain tumor as soon as I was getting my feet under me. My normal brain tumor experience (is there such a thing?) Receiving test after test, scans, appointments, you name it. Finally, nearly being diagnosed (for a second time in barely over a year) with cancer yet again. The short-lived fear of the big “C”. Going through a craniotomy-temporary blindness-left sided weakness-you know this part… I have come home to a life just as normal as ever. More appointments, living with a little whisper of a tumor for now, healing each day. A quick trip to the clinic which ended up in an afternoon at the emergency room for CT scans and blood work. Totes Normal. (Neck pain at the base of my incision shooting down into my shoulder and back, blurry vision, bad migraines,-but everything checked out OK for now.)

Then a week or so after we were settled back in at home, we rubbed our hands together, and decided it was time for some more normal! Blake and I have come to the end of our time at Mill Creek Ranch (aka the most beautiful place on earth).

We are passing the torch off to the most deserving people we could possibly ask for, and starting out on our own. In four days we should close on a piece of property we are purchasing as a site for our new spec home. While we build, we will be living in a 26 ft. Camper trailer we bought, with our two little guys and our golden retriever. IMG_3962We couldn’t be more excited for this new, totally normal, chapter of our life together. Don’t get me wrong, we. are. BEAT. We have no idea why this was God’s timing for us to start our own building company-weeks after brain surgery-but everything worked just the way it should, no if’s and’s or but’s about it. We know we will have to be incredibly flexible and work our booties off, but we are willing and (nearly) able! I have to wait for my big day of appointments and next MRI on May 11th until I start school back up again, but I’m kind of chomping at the bit here. My way of adjusting to the “New Normal” Is kind of my way of life. Take it as it comes. Know that each life and each story is as unique as the human being who is living it. “Normal” shouldn’t even be a thing in my opinion. I would love to see what that-true, normal, average life-looks like.13737474_10210600519114912_1956257920932367737_o

My life. My “ab-normal-normal” is going on, same as it always does. I will deal with the highs and lows same as I always try to. Each new high is as different as can be, as well as the lows. Some are higher; Some, much-much lower. Adjust, roll with the punches. Learn when to lean on others, and when to lean against the wind. Do your very best, even if your very best is curling up in bed with an ice pack stuck to your head and a bandana tied around your eyes (my last few migraines…). So go out and live your inspiringly beautiful normal life, and be sure to be willing and able for every crazy, wild, surprising, and devastating twist and turn of it.

Much love and encouragement to you beautiful souls.

The Hard Part

Last Wednesday Blake and I headed back up to Denver with the boys to make it to some followup appointments. We took our time driving up there which may or may not have been a good idea seeing as by the time we pulled into the hotel, it took all i had left to make it up to the room and into bed. The boys however had a blast seeing rivers and canyons and even the royal gorge!IMG_3506IMG_3462

 

 

We were up bright and early the next morning to make it to my first appointment with the Neuro Ophthalmologist at 8am sharp. I had seen him before my surgery and he had run every test in the book to get a good baseline of how everything was working.
We had received no results other than, “Things aren’t very good.” He explained to us at the time that he wanted to consult with my whole team of doctors and give this the attention to detail it deserved seeing as it was a complicated and confusing case. He didn’t want to scare me with guesses at that point and we all agreed to this plan. IMG_3566Well today was the day we would get some real solid answers, so after they scanned my very soul (again) and poked my eyeballs (…again) and had me wear eye patches and press buttons when the lights came on and “Is this one red, or is this one red?”  Dr. P. came in with my nice plump file and started sorting through the data. He showed us all the tests in comparison with the pre-op testing. He was also looking at these new results for the first time, so it was exciting to see and hear the relief and excitement he had at discovering just how much healing has taken place. My eyesight before hand was horrible. Not just the 20-20 type of stuff, but my peripheral vision was non-existent, especially my right eye which was basically blind, and my left was not a lot better. He showed us pictures of my optic nerve and the healing that was obvious even to us. He went on to explain all the different charts and graphs which made absolutely no sense to us, but still brought on joy and encouragement because this Doctor was blown away by how successful this surgery had been. We still are working on letting my brain completely heal and rid my eyes of these remaining “sun-spots” but all that will help in that department is time and rest. I will continue to see Dr. P. until I’m 100% healed. From there we headed back to Swedish Medical Center for my post-op appointment. I had no idea how difficult it would be walking back into that hospital where I spent weeks as a patient. I hardly walked anywhere in this entire building. In fact, I was wheeled everywhere until the second I stood up from the wheelchair to open the door to our car the day I was discharged. IMG_3578I was up and around for PT but that was only a fraction of the day in a gym on the rehab floor. It was very strange and disorienting walking around with my children in normal every-day clothes. It threw me off way more than I was prepared for. Seeing the doors to the ICU, walking past the radiology department, all while carrying a coffee and feeling quite close to normal. While these places and people brought so much healing, they were also places of fear and disorientation for me. I look back on those weeks with confusion still about what happened and why. I know I’m beyond blessed to have the outcome I’ve been given, but the sheer shock and trauma my body went through to get here was no joke. I’m working diligently every day to move forward and to turn those feelings of fear and trembling into strength and motivation.

Our appointment went great! We were shown the post-op MRI and saw the left over fluid/bruise that’s taking it’s time to heal. It’s likely the cause of most of my post-op complications (left sided walking stuff) and they explained that this will take a good amount of time to heal, as the brain doesn’t absorb fluid or blood as quickly as the rest of our body. As for the tumor itself, we are still figuring out what the deal is with it, and why it caused so many issues. It was a benign meningioma as we first thought, but it was bigger than we were initially told. I was experiencing a whole plethora of symptoms that didn’t normally accompany a meningioma. My entire team of Doctors are coming to the conclusion that this tumor came on quicker than normal and raised my intracranial pressure creating an imbalance and forcing pressure on my cerebellum and spinal cord. Removing a good majority of the tumor has relieved this pressure letting my brain function return to normal. Now my body and muscles need to catch up! My left leg has improved incredibly to the point where my neurologist would mark it as no different than my right (other that muscle atrophy) My left arm/hand/shoulder has about a 40lb deficit compared to my right, so we are working on strengthening and reworking those muscles and coordination. As for the tumor itself, I still have one. It’s not as big and bad as before, in fact its very tiny and as far as we know, not causing any problems. They needed to leave that little bit behind because it was in a very dangerous spot they didn’t dare approach. We will discuss out options in May after I have another MRI done to check and see how that little things doing in there. So far, my Neurosurgeon has mentioned some sort of radiation to nip this little bit left, but we have time to decide that, and really will base that decision on the scans.

I do have to say, this beautiful miraculous road to healing is hard. While the PT every day is something physical I can handle and work on, the mental side of things has been a challenge I never could’ve prepared for. It’s a hard thing to explain or even talk about, but here’s to transparency. I’m grateful beyond belief to the team of Doctors who have worked tirelessly to get me to where I am right now. I know I still have a long road ahead of me as far as healing goes. My injury is literally in the control center to my entire body. It’s hard to grasp sometimes when I feel great physically, I am on no pain medications, I have no outward injuries that you can notice (my hair hides the scar very well). So sometimes when I’m standing in my room thinking about how I want to start this little Pre-K school book with Ezra, but I’m too tired mentally to take on a task like that just yet, I feel so guilty and get on to myself to the point where I make things worse. I go into a panic. When will I be able to focus again? When can I start back at school? When will I feel that fire of motivation that I so thrived on before? Have I completely ruined my brain? It’s terrifying beyond belief to feel these things because YES: It is all in my head and YES: It is all V.E.R.Y. real. It’s hard to have to remind myself of that day in and day out. Right now might be the most challenging part because it’s all on me. Back when I was at Swedish, right after I was transferred out of ICU to the Neuro floor, a neurologist I had never met, never before even seen, came in to check on me and decided (after showing me a couple funky pictures on her phone) to diagnose me with something called conversion. She explained it in a way that sort of made sense but that also completely and utterly crushed me. Conversion is where your brain is responding to all this horrible stuff happening by creating these “phantom” symptoms (like not being able to walk right or see anything) and really it’s just up to my brain to decide when to stop. She explained that it could take anywhere from days to months or years for this to let up, and that I had absolutely no power over this. She suggested that we go home and that I talk to a psychiatrist and wait around until by brain turned on again. After dumping that chaotic mess onto my shoulders, she got up and left, never to be seen or heard from again. I sat in my bed and tried to process this for what seemed like days (I think it was only a few hours). I was devastated because up until now, I knew at least I could try my hardest to heal and re-train my muscles. I fought to walk down the halls with that darned walker, and I focused on weaning myself off as many pain meds as I could so I could re-gain my mental capacity (and not sleep 24/7). I was ready and rearing to go, and when I was told, you’re powerless and you can do nothing but sit around and wait, I melted. Thank the Lord for my husband Blake who knew after listening to just 5 minuets of her “explanation” that something did not sound right at all about it. When my surgeon came in to check on me later, I hardly remember it. I will totally admit it, I was done. I didn’t see the point of trying to see how many fingers he was holding up, or squeeze his hands with both of mine, I didn’t want to keep up my “I can do it!” attitude which he had encouraged me so strongly each day to have. I could tell he was a little concerned, and Blake was as well. Blake followed him out of the room and very respectfully asked him what in the heck was conversion and if he agreed with that new neurologist. He did not agree and while he admitted that conversion is a thing, he said he wouldn’t even think of it until months down the line when there was no other explanation for what was happening. Right now I had several different issues playing against me (not even a week out from a craniotomy, bruised brain, fluid on the brain, brain tumor, shock from removal of most of the tumor, the list goes on…) He went on to tell us that I absolutely had power over this and while rest and time are crucial, so was hard work and dedication. He wanted me up and at it as soon as possible. He hated every day that I was in that bed, wasting away (Fun fact: every day you spend in a hospital bed, you lose 1% of your muscle. I was in the hospital for 15 days.) Thanks to my husband’s intuition and my doctor’s unwavering and tough encouragement, I was able to kick my butt back into gear. I’ve had time and time again where the whole “conversion” attitude will creep back in and I feel powerless against this mess, but I remember what I’m capable of and who I’m doing this for. I remember that I started walking again because I strained and pushed my leg to move forward and each step I took made the next one easier. Those steps were my decision, and I had that power over them. It was not easy, but I was not some brain dead zombie waiting for nothing to happen. Now I’m at an entirely new stage in this process. I need to learn how to do it on my own at some point, no incredible Doctors or surgeons, no caring and compassionate nurses to lead the way (at least not for another month). I’ll see the physical therapists periodically until I’m back to normal, but it’s up to me to put the work in every single day. And there is a part of me (the normal Kassidy) that is dying for everyday life, and everyday thinking, but the ouch in my brain is a huge roadblock I’m trying to figure out. I know that there is improvement each day, huge improvements that I am very grateful for. I get overwhelmed sometimes though, seeing how far there is to go. So each day I’m going to stick to my motto that has seen me though this far: Do the next thing.

Tons of love to you all.

Home again (For a Minute)

Life at home has been beautiful to say the least. We were released nearly a week earlier than expected. So picking up our boys after 17 long days away was a feeling I won’t soon forget! We walked through the door of my in-law’s house to two shocked blondies! It took them a moment to gather themselves, then Blake and I were smothered in more kisses and “I yuv you!” ‘s than we could count! We whisked them back home and snuggled in just in time for my family to bring us quiche and all welcome us back home.17458071_1668661063150144_1520341023858387993_n

I can’t pick anything up over 10 lbs. until 6-8 weeks post-op which is a big challenge with two toddlers, but thanks to the help of my hubby and amazing family, we’ve managed very well. I have been keeping up with my PT diligently because I can tell each and every day how much strength I regain. I know I still have a long road ahead of me, but as for right now, I am thankful to be at home surrounded by my little people and critters while walking that road. They help me down it faster than I ever could manage on my own. Recovery from brain surgery is so different from anything I have ever experienced. I have to pace myself. I tried diving right back in on our first morning home, and I got so muddled and confused I ended up needing a checklist just to manage the boys breakfast, and followed it up with a good nap.

Common tasks around the house are a slow process and learning to ask for help and depend on others has been interesting. While in rehab, I over did it one evening and acquired a splitting headache, pounding in my head, roaring in my already ringing ears, and a pressure so strong, it felt like I was wearing an extremely tight hat. My nurse helped me relax and gave me what I needed to reduce the pressure in my head, and warned me of the complications of raising my ICP. She told me it would do no body any good if I ended up right back where we started, so do NOT over-do! It’s been difficult at times, but with all the help from all my incredible people, we have managed better than I ever imagined.

My babies are very interested in my big 5-inch zipper scar on the back of my head, but really don’t like the idea of momma going back to the doctor. When we told them they get to come with us this time, they lit up like two little sun beams! They have talked of nothing other than “Dember” and the “Doctors that fixed momma up” and “gave mommy that cool bed!”. My goal was to not frighten them through this entire ordeal. That’s why we waited so long to bring them up to see me. Ezra caught on the first time we went up and was worried for weeks about “momma’s head”. He got scared any time I had a headache or was sick, and I’m overjoyed he gets to see this healing process. Whenever I have to take a rest or lay my head down, he strokes my hair and says “Your head hurts momma. But it’s ok, cause you’re getting better and better.”

I’m so grateful to the nurses who, instead of treating my toddlers like a nuisance or a bother, told them to hop in bed with me, then wheeled me, two kids, AND that big heavy bed all through the hospital to our new room. IMG_3043They made that experience for my babies, let them know I was well taken care of. It’s the little things, I’m tellin’ ya.

Adjusting to this slightly altered Kassidy has been pretty overwhelming. So much to remember about walking, grabbing, looking, stepping, bending, and turning that I never had to think twice about before. As I’ve already said though, each day brings with it less stress and more ease. When I’m over-stimulated or over-done, the sun-spots get a lot worse, so I need to work on managing that as much as I can, but really, time and healing is all that can help as of now. One issue that has been becoming more and more apparent over the last week is something called Tinnitus. We are going to talk to my Dr. about it when we see him in a couple of days, but it is a constant ringing in my ears. I woke up from the surgery with it, and it has been constant ever since, not letting up for even one second. I can usually manage to ignore or deal with it for most of the day, but by the end of the day or bed time when the house quiets down, the ringing is almost deafening. I’m praying this will let up as my brain heals more and more, but I’m also aware that some people have to live with this complication.

We will be heading back up to Denver tomorrow after some appointments here in the morning. We will see the eye specialist (one of only a handful in the country, and he’s been with us though this whole thing, even before the surgery!) as well as my Neuro Surgeon. We will have a lot more post-op information after these appointments, so I’ve really been looking forward to them! Thank you for your prayers and support though all of this!

Fam-A-Bam!

This is the sappy post I’ve been waiting to write till I knew I *sniff* had enough *sniff* gumption to *sniff*.

OK, let’s face it, I will never-not in a million years-be able to express the gratitude towards the friends and family that have surrounded us through this experience. Without hesitation, people were lining up to help with the boys, the animals, the ranch, lodging up here in Denver, and random expenses. Our church had a potluck to bid fare-well to my husband as he has decided to step back from youth ministry for the time being, and we were showered with more love and gifts than we knew what to do with.  Our brother and sister have taken care of our beautiful (but shedding) golden retriever for the past few weeks and I know to some it may be a little thing, but to me it makes my heart sing that my pup is surrounded by a happy family and little people to snuggle and play with. One less thing for us to worry or stress about. (Thank you guys!)

The day of surgery was mainly filled with a lot of waiting, but my sister drove up at the very crack of dawn to be there with us for as much of it as possible. She told me about the beautiful sunrise over the San Louis Valley, and the huge migration of the Sand Hill cranes that was beginning (some of my favorite birds) She  brought coloring books and her incredible spirit into the mix of medical drudgery and even though she drove all the way to a “Swedish Urgent care” in Arvada, and had to backtrack on an already long and rushed trip, she walked in the moment they were rolling me down for my big MRI. IMG_3126She cheerfully joined the entourage and was ready and waiting when I was all done. I can’t express enough how the simple presence of friends and family comforted me during this time. I know something else was going on behind the curtains because I had a peace that surpassed all understanding. Love and a whole lotta prayer! We waited patiently the rest of the afternoon, probably ate Chick-Fil-A at some point, read the Magnolia Journal I bought the night before, talked with my mom who assured me that both her and my dad would be there the following night (meaning they had booked an earlier flight out of Hawaii than they had originally planned. That is true love peeps.) My Grandma and Auntie’s kept us entertained with somewhat disturbing, and a smidge competitive, Haiku poems composed by, of all critters, their beloved dogs.

IMG_3138We knew it was just about time to head down to Pre-Op when an old friend and pastor came in to pray with us. We had no idea of the visit, and it was so reassuring. Immediately after (actually during that prayer) Our pastor came in the room! We had no clue he was planning on making the long drive up here, but we were overjoyed at the sight of him! We hardly got a hello in when the nurses came to wheel me down to Pre-Op, so off we all went. Having people-my people-no matter how much of mine they actually were, became my rock. I knew we had some friends headed in to be with Blake during the surgery and that my twin would be here in just a short while. Any time I started to worry about what I could wake up to, I could hold tight to the fact that I WOULD wake up to my people. Weather I could see them, feel them, touch them, hear them, or even if I didn’t wake up at all, I wouldn’t have to do any of that alone.  I prayed a lot, in a way, during this time. I say pray, I did talk to God, I asked Him for His will to be done through this, I asked Him to let me see what that will was, but my most fervent request was that he take care of my babies if I couldn’t anymore. Most of all though, I was just with him. I took comfort in the fact that even when I was wheeled away from my sister, pastor, and husband, surrounded by unfamiliar, cold, sterile-ness, I had my person of all persons right there with me. I felt centered and whole. I felt the peace that surpasses all understanding. When I woke up to a world of pain and delirium, I remember fiercely wanting a hand, anyones hand, (in-between the buckets) just to make sure I was still there. IMG_3123Thanks to the wonder-drug Valium, I remember very little about who-what-when things happened in the ICU but I remember never, not one single time, feeling alone. Not that I could’ve done much about it, as morphine, diloted, phentenol, raglan, diazepam, decahedron, and who knows what else were very present in my blood stream at the time, but I knew deep down when I was being held or not. IMG_3128I remember at one point missing my grandpa so much, I could hardly focus on anything else. IMG_3125My mom had come at that point, holding my hand tightly, and let me know he would grant me full admittance into the “tough-club” (Gramma’s and Auntie’s have that authority now, you know.) My twin came soon around that time, and with the help of the three “Smith” girls, they gave me a somewhat decent hairdo (THANK YOU). I was also brought a ThErApY BABY! Nothing lifts the spirits like a huge dose of cute chubby EDEN!17264713_1657609170922000_153141676977059761_n We have had family and friends come and hang out here (here not being the most exciting place on earth) and we have eaten up every second of it. (Thanks Bowlands!) There’s not much I can remember more than people being. Being by my bed. Being there when I had to try and stand, or see. Being there when I was trying to manage the pain. Being there when I was most definitely not. To all of you who were, regardless of wether I remember it all now or not, thank you. I know for a fact that there was never a face I was disappointed to see. No matter how well/little I knew you, thank you from the bottom of my heart. And also I should probably insert here an apology or fair warning as well. I have no idea what I said, looked like, acted like, and while I am grateful I don’t remember my indecency, you probably do… comes with the territory! Blake and I cannot wait to get home to our babies, our family, our friends, our critters, our mountains, and our people.

We love you all, thank you for seeing us though this overwhelmingly big time of life. If this experience has taught me anything, it is this: love. Love covers a multitude of sins. The greatest commandment God has ever given us is to love. So if all any of you can glean from this little time of my life is to show love to anyone and everyone, please do. You have no idea the turmoil or loneliness that faces each human on a day to day basis. So love and be loved just as He loves us.

For Now

Writing, although challenging to see these little fleeting letters, has proven incredibly therapeutic for me up here in Denver. There is NOT a lot to do. I have about three hours of PT and OT a day, other than that, Blake and I fill our time by wheeling around the hospital and finding new little nooks to sit. and. wait. I know rest is a good thing. Right now, my brain gets so overloaded so easily that going to the cafeteria for lunch is a challenge (one I love, but one I do have to recognize). For someone who usually loves to have 18 different things going on all at the same time, this is a huge adjustment. Concentrating on turning a key in a lock during occupational therapy yesterday proved challenging whereas three weeks ago I was: cooking tacos, while folding laundry,  dodging Hot-Wheels, studying for a test, moderating a toddler MMA match, listening to music in the background, cats and dog in the mix, and loving every second of it. I am confident in the fact that it will simply take some time to get my brain back in order. I mean when you brake your leg, are you kicking a soccer ball again in a week and a half?

The therapists here are some of the most incredible, patient, kind, observant, and encouraging people I’ve ever met. In fact, I’d like to take some time here to point out the monumental difference any staff member makes on a patients recovery. From neurosurgeon to housekeeper (ours is named Comfort and we are in love with her) their attitudes have had such an impact on my recovery and MY attitude. 17202875_1657609214255329_1183930754708382407_nThe times I had supportive nurses, holding my hand, guarding my space when I’d lost all dignity, fighting when they knew I didn’t have the strength, pushing me when they knew I did have it, or simply just being kind, those are the times I remember feeding off of what good I could tell was coming from this. I knew these people meant well and were going to protect me.

Also, Therapy Dogs.

God bless every therapy dog.
I have to say, there were one or two nurses who did NOT protect or encourage, they stuffed me full of medicines I did not need which left me sick and sleepless for nights on end, then, they were irritated when I needed to call them “too often” so I could be sick through the whole night (bed alarm meant no getting out of bed without a nurse and tech present). Those were some of the most scarring times of this entire experience. I don’t believe it’s just because I felt so awful either, it is because I was made to feel awful about feeling awful. I was a whole lot sicker a week ago in ICU but felt supported and strengthened by staff members.  The thought of having that same night nurse was probably scarier than not knowing how many walls I’d run into that next day. (I only had her two nights, I’ve slept like a baby since!) On the Neuro floor, my nurse for the majority of the time was pretty new, so he tripped up here and there-thankfully nothing too big-but his attitude about it made it much better. We were friends, and he made sure of it. He made sure that whatever wrongs he did, he made right. When we did have a concern (um, I think you forgot to flush the line), he completely swallowed his pride and dealt with it, thanking US for helping. I am ever so grateful for his attitude, and I believe he will make an incredible nurse. When I was finally stable enough to head down for a post operative MRI, my IV was compromised and they needed to place a new one in order to inject the contrast during the scan. I have crummy veins to begin with, and it took no less that four different nurses and 2.5 hours until we were good to go. (When it was all said and done, I ended up having 19 different IV’s placed, removed, blown, etc.) IMG_3053IMG_305017191400_1653018361381081_3893266492757173717_nThe people working with me that night were doing everything in their power to comfort me try after try. They kept asking me how I was doing, and even got me some music to listen to at some point. I don’t know if my arms will ever be the same again, but oddly enough, my fear of IVs has not increased too much from this experience.

 

In physical therapy, they started by showing me how to properly use the walker and gait belt and all these different pieces of equipment, but now I’m doing things like stairs and cobblestone paths (still gait-belted of course). I have to remain in a wheel chair for now unless supervised by a physical therapist, but Blake has been properly trained on how to help me around the room which was MONUMENTAL. No more bed alarms and nurses flying in from every direction if I rolled over to quickly in bed! I feel myself getting stronger each and every day here, and even though I feel weird and clumsy, I believe all my limbs are just fine, they just got jumbled for a minuet.IMG_0697

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My mom sent me this. I can’t tell you how much I can relate…

Occupational therapy is interesting. I can manage most of the things they give me, my strength on the left side could still use some improvement, but the factors of these tasks that I’m struggling with are not meant to be struggled with. I can’t see the questions or the key holes or the puzzle lines. It’s not that they are blurry, or black, or even that I have double vision. Sometimes are better than others, but I just realize, it’s simply not there. Kind of like a sun spot. You can’t usually make them out, you just know they are there and it’s hard or impossible to see though them. Imagine those little buggers getting in the way, moving and dancing all the time however they darn well want. Rude. It definitely gets worse the harder my brain works, and my right eye struggles a lot more than my left, but for now, that is basically the extent of our knowledge. The eye specialist we saw right before surgery is trying to come see me as soon as he can here (could be today) to try and get a grasp on whats going on. Other than that, we wait and get stronger each day!

 

 

What just happened?

I ask myself this a few times a day right now. The last ten days are so jumbled. I’m doing my best each day to wake up and sort out what/how things happened. On March 5th, Blake and I headed up here to Denver to get started on a treatment for this crazy little brain bubble of mine. Here I am, thirteen days later, mostly tumor free, and working each day to get back to “me”.

During the appointment with my neurosurgeon on March 7th, he explained to us that he felt my tumor was, if anything, a-typical and growing faster than a normal or benign meningioma. He had been consulting with the neurologist and felt it could be cancerous and that they would like it out ASAP. He also wanted to perform a spinal tap at the same time to gather as much information about this as we could. He was leaning towards diagnosing it as a lymphoma, and assured us that if he was correct, we found it nice and early. Of course he said all of this could only be confirmed by removing the tumor.

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Ready to get this d.o.n.e.

If it wasn’t cancerous, however, he still deemed it necessary for removal due to the symptoms I had been developing. He was informative yet kind while delivering a possible cancer diagnosis to a 23 year-old mother of two (That takes skill man!) He also knew we lived so far away and that we were nervous about drawing this process out for our boys, so he sent us to be admitted through the ER that night at Swedish Medical Center.

He scheduled the procedure for the following evening and had us stop by a book store on our way in! The next morning I had these super attractive green “cheerios” placed by the neurosurgeon before heading to MRI (for mapping purposes during the surgery). Thus began the ever-changing haircut that I still haven’t gotten around to figuring out what to do with – we’ll get there!) IMG_3020Right as we were wheeling down for my MRI, my oldest sister showed up (PhEw)! After the MRI we did a whole lot of WAITING! My surgeon came in later that day and informed us that the tumor had grown and started to entangle itself in the sagittal sinus (the portion of your brain that allows for all the blood to drain… kind of a biggie). Their plan was to perform the lumbar puncture, remove a portion of the tumor, and send them both to pathology immediately. If they were cancerous, they would do their very best to remove as much of the tumor as they could with it being in this new tricky spot. If it was not, they would still remove as much of the tumor as they could, but steer clear of the portion that was entangling the blood vessels, and we could deal with the rest down the road. (Mind you, I’m hearing all this like, RIGHT before surgery.) Right as we were being wheeled down to pre-op, some friends and our pastor showed up (most perfect timing) and I was able to keep some-what calm while getting ready. I knew I could wake up to a whole slew of different life-altering changes, and I realized there was absolutely no sense in going over the “what-ifs”. There were simply too many.

I said goodbye to my family, and was wheeled into the cold OR. Everyone was sweet and comforting. The insane amount of lights and instruments I had never seen before was overwhelming. I remember them putting a hair net on me and wondering, “Um, why?” The anesthesiologist was holding my hand and letting me know she wouldn’t leave me for a second, while I felt the thick sleep come on. And then… sick.

17159124_10212427227740919_3163815532292061284_oI’ve never been good with anesthesia. Waking up for me is a nightmare beyond all nightmares. Besides being so confused, I always wake up violently ill. I am allergic to most anti-nausea medications which doesn’t help things out.
Throwing up just hours after having your skull cut open is not an experience I recommend. I could hardly catch my breath, aside from the thick, heavy blanket of drugs I was fighting out from under, my nausea and vertigo made me tense, and my head felt like it was splitting (which in all fairness, it already had). Aside from that, I realized I could hardly see. IMG_302417191400_1653018361381081_3893266492757173717_nThe nurse immediately called my surgeon at 2am
to figure out what was going on. I only remember little blips and portions of that night: my amazing nurse who made eye contact with me even though I was only about 8% conscious, just to tell me they would not leave my side until I was ok, my poor pastor handing me my bucket time and time again, realizing I could barely see the surgeons face as he asked me questions.

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Not my most attractive hair day, but this hug gave me something to grab onto, and I’m so grateful to whoever captured it.

Sometime by that next day, they had tried me on an anti-nausea medication that sent me into an incoherent paranoia. I started panicking (probably more internally than anything) but I was terrified. 17211904_10212450226715879_3711355357743823815_oThe new nurse cut to the chase and gave me Valium, stating that he had the exact same reaction to that medication, and it was horrifying. Then came sweet relief. I was still a little sick, but mainly I slept for a long time. I woke up long enough to learn my new friends name, and decided to dub him the “wizard”. (Disclaimer: I am still entirely unaware of how many people I was sick on, bled on, fell in love with, or passed out on. I actually ran into my ICU nurse today in the cafeteria and was able to properly thank him. I think he likes his new title though.) I remember looking at my monitor at one point and seeing how insanely low the numbers were, and then realized my nurse was trying his hardest to get me alert and awake again.  I think it had been a few days by then, when we were only anticipating a maximum of 24 hours in the ICU. Slowly I came off the heavy drugs while being able to hold my stomach and bear the vertigo. The oxygen came off and I was standing up for a few seconds at a time. I always woke up back in bed though which meant I was still passing out on people. I was transferred from ICU to the Neuro floor feeling just a little more alive. 17265046_1656528617696722_1974585099085252715_n

My eyesight was still unwavering at this point, which kind of threw everything off. Once or twice, we got behind on pain meds but were able to catch back up pretty quickly. The staff was working really hard to get me up and walking a few times a day, which felt like running a marathon each go. I usually didn’t make it back to the room, but at least by now I was remaining awake until I got back in bed. It felt so weird having about 5 different people needing to assist me each time I did anything. There was the gait belt monitor, then someone had to turn off the alarm to my bed, then someone else had to roll along the IV pole, then another person had to help me with the walker, and usually a family member would follow with a wheelchair. I usually needed Blake to walk right in front of me so I could concentrate on where I was going, or else my brain got overloaded and I didn’t quite see a hallway anymore. IMG_3043Each time I walked, I felt like I made huge improvements, and before we knew it, our Dr. was suggesting a short stay in rehab before sending us home. Right around that same time though, we were all realizing that my vision was NOT improving. Even now, after moving to rehab and receiving a much longer anticipated stay than we were guessing (almost two weeks total) we still don’t know much about what is going on. Follow up CT and MRI scans show fluid and blood on the brain where the majority of the tumor was removed, which could be an explanation, but we have many more appointments and tests to run before coming to a conclusion. We are taking it one day at a time, each day accompanied by such an array of emotions and a fierce longing for our beautiful boys. These days are very long and pretty darn lonely, as we only have about 3 hours of PT a day, and I’m just now allowed to be wheeled around the hospital by Blake (which has completely saved my sanity). We can’t wait to be home, but I am very grateful that I am getting the highest level of care for whatever is going on in my brain right now.

All the Feelings

Blake and I had to leave our babies today and there has been nothing as hard as driving away from our children, not knowing when we will see them again. They handled it like champs, in fact, when we dropped them at Gramma’s house, we lingered as long as possible saying “bye” and giving kisses until finally Titus said, “Ok momma, bye!” and closed the front door himself! It was a sad drive up here, but we both know they are F.I.N.E!

We brought them on our first trip to Denver and were unable to find any childcare during our appointment with the Neurologist, so we decided to stock up on gummy snacks like there was no tomorrow, and hope for the best. It went alright but the appointment took TWO hours longer than expected and was followed by an unexpected MRI. Ezra started getting a little worried after several different doctors came in and ran test after test and, in turn, freaked out. The tumor had grown, that much was apparent. My peripheral vision was much worse than even I was aware of. My left eye had swollen vessels on the inside, which they discovered by shining a light in there and sitting 0.3 millimeters away from my face for like a minute solid. These were warning signs that perhaps we should move quicker than we had originally planned, but when he started to test reflexes and strength, it got pretty frantic. He kept asking if I’d noticed how weak my entire left side was (I really hadn’t paid much attention to it). He even called in the senior neurologist of the practice to run certain tests. They were very thorough, and I knew they were on top of things, I just didn’t really know what those things were!

They decided to send me for an MRI immediately to see what was going on. As we were packing up the boy’s dozens of trains, and filling the little trashcan with gummy wrappers (pretty sure both of my toddlers were on the verge of an over dose, but it kept them sane-ish through the appointment), the amazingly kind nurse told me, “It’s gonna be ok, I can take them until family gets here if they have to admit you tonight.” I hadn’t realized they were THAT worried yet. We headed over to the health imaging place which was right across the street and I got started on the scan. At some point during the 45 minuet scan, a woman came in, introduced herself as the manager of the facility, and informed me that they took a look at my case and saw we were still waiting on our insurance to kick in and that we were completely uninsured at that pointShe let me know that they would cover the entire scan! I wanted to cry and to thank her, but my head was strapped in this cage thing and I never even got a look at her face. They had no idea what that meant for my small family. After the MRI, the Doctors informed us that we did not need to be admitted at this moment, but they really wanted me to meet with the neurosurgeon ASAP and get this thing out. We were able to talk them into waiting until the first week of March so that we would (hopefully) be insured by then.

So here we are. Meeting with an eye specialist tomorrow, and the neurosurgeon on Tuesday, when we will find out details on surgery. We had to pack for 3 days or possibly 3 weeks (which was more challenging than you would think) but again, leaving my babies… No thank you. I’m learning right now to trust God with those sweet boys, and I know they are in good (gramma’s) hands!

My Tumble

 

I was woken up early in the morning of December 22nd. A call, a birth. As a new student midwife, each time my phone rang before the sun rose, my heart leapt and I knew it would be a beautiful and wondrous day. This day in particular, I had no idea what I was in for. The entire day was a perfect one, accompanied by a magically heavy snowstorm (one of those really peaceful ones that reminds you of Narnia). My friends were all going to see the new Star Wars movie that night, and I didn’t care one bit that I was probably going to miss it. I left Durango as the wet snow started to pile up, taking care at each curve or stop. Driving in snow is one thing, driving in slush, yuk! It throws you from side to side with little to no warning. I was going nice and slow on 160 all the way home, got a call from my husband on the top of Yellow jacket pass telling me the movie was awesome, and he was headed to pick up the kids. I was excited to get home around the same time as them to tuck in my beautiful boys.

I had the same person following me the majority of the drive over, while people passed us slowpokes. I was coming down a hill just outside of Pagosa when I hit some deeper and icier slush and slid a little. I didn’t panic and tried to correct it, but instead just fishtailed the other way. Attempting again to regain control, I realized I was sliding a little further each time. All of a sudden, it felt like someone shoved the back of my car and I was spinning in circles down the middle of highway 160. I saw headlights and wondered if it was the people following me, or if it was oncoming traffic. It all happened so fast, but I remember thinking (so calmly, it was kind of weird), “Okay, I’m gonna go off the road. I don’t think I’m going too fast, it should be alright. It shouldn’t take too long to get back out. I probably have a cell signal…” Then everything in the car hit the ceiling as my car flipped and rolled down the hill I wasn’t expecting. I saw my window hit the snow, then face the sky. I saw my windshield splinter out like a spider web. I felt my foot pressed down firmly on the gas and knew I couldn’t remove it or I would tumble too (I did have my seatbelt on, but it didn’t hold me down very well. I know it made a huge difference though!).

My car landed upright about 10 feet from an icy creek and about 40 feet from the road. I knew I hit my head a whole lot on my window so I took a second to orient myself and make sure that foot was OFF the gas! Before I knew it, someone was at my door trying to get it open. We had to break it open, as it had taken probably the most damage. I stood up right away and regretted it. The truck that was following me saw the whole thing and they were able to call 911 immediately. A plow truck came around the corner about a minute later and turned their lights on. I sat in the front seat of my car while we called some people letting them know what happened. I remember freaking out about my headband. I knew I was wearing one. I think it fell off. Where is it? Where’s my freaking headband?! (This poor guy) I found my headband and decided to walk up to their truck to get warm. As soon as I got up there, the ambulance arrived and I hopped in the back to be checked out. My head hurt pretty bad and by now I was feeling the other bumps and bruises, but nothing serious that I knew of. We were discussing whether or not I should get checked out at the hospital or not when my neck decided to do this weird spasm, so off to the hospital we went. They gave me

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The car was totaled, but held up like a boss.

some pain meds for the drive and I think I was winking and shooting finger guns within a few minutes.

I had a CT shortly after arriving at the hospital and Blake was there soon after that with two sleepy boys in tow. The Doctor came in with the results and told us the neck CT was clear and I could take that funky collar off. Then he pulled up a chair, sat down, and heaved a big old sigh. “So. On the brain scan we found what we like to call an “incidental-noma”. It’s a mass about the size of a nickel in the left occipital portion of your brain. We compared it to the CT you had two years ago, and it’s new. The old scan was completely clear. We’ll need to…” He went on to explain what the next steps would be for us, and asked which doctor we would like to see through this ordeal. I don’t know how to explain what those first few moments felt like. I started running those words over and over in my head wondering if I heard him right. By this time, it was almost 2:30 in the morning and I had almost been up for 24 hours
straight.  15726557_10212152253267296_736249874180874285_n

I wanted sleep. But sleep meant getting back in a car. Thankfully by that time my mind was so overdone I don’t remember anything about leaving the hospital or driving home. I could’ve been sedated for all I know. I was in and out of it until the sun came up to reveal a beautiful puffy blanket of snow covering our whole valley. I didn’t know where my car was and Blake didn’t feel comfortable leaving me right away to go find out, so in the truck I got. I tucked in a ball and hoped for the best. My husband is a wizard at driving in the snow so there were no scares. We slowly called our close friends and family to let them know what happened.  And that was it. That was the start of this new stage of life. The say there are two ways people deal with traumatic events. Some people’s brains block out everything and they are barely able to recall anything about the ordeal, others remember every single detail and their brains like to replay the feeling of rolling and swerving and “Brain tumor” over and over and over. I think I know which one I am. I’m thankful every day for the way things turned out. It’s scary and overwhelming but it is exactly where God wants us to be right now. So here goes it…