A BRAIN TUMOR TO CALL MY OWN

I have blogged about my emotions a lot. I have also blogged about the people in my life who mean the most to me and observations I make about them. However, I feel I should blog about something personal, something that changed the course of my life. This will be a long blog post but I hope, if you can make it to the end, it provides you with the idea that there is peace even during a storm and that even storms serve a purpose. I don’t speak of my Christian beliefs much but this story requires I make an exception.

“Instead of complaining that the rose-bush is full of thorns, be happy the thorn-bush has roses.” -Proverb

Several years ago, about 11 to be exact, I had a brain tumor removed. It was benign and I was very lucky, if luck is the word, to find it when I did. I had symptoms like strange spots on my right thigh falling asleep at strange moments but nothing that made me worry I might have a brain tumor. In fact, it was a very slow-growing tumor and in all likelihood I had this tumor growing inside me for at least 10 years previous to its discovery. I will never forget the moments leading up to discovery of this little hitchhiker.

It was a beautiful day, the sun was out, snow and ice had begun to melt, and I was meeting my mom in about an hour to have lunch and to do some last-minute Christmas shopping. The night before, I went to my husband’s work Christmas party. It was a lovely get together but there was alcohol being served. I am a lightweight so I don’t drink unless I have my husband with me to keep me out of trouble. Apparently, after a drink I got up to get myself some water and someone noticed halfway through my glass my behavior was a little off. It was Vodka…oops…so much for my husband taking care of me. Needless to say I was hung over something awful when I met my mom for lunch the next day. I could have cancelled but I really wanted to spend some nice quality time with my mom.

My mom and I had a great time despite the violent headache I was enduring. She knew something was wrong, just as all good and observant moms would. I told her of my night and she was clearly worried I might make a habit of such adventures. Actually, it was a VERY long time before I drank any alcohol after that night. As we were wrapping up our date I helped my mom into her side of the car just in case there was any ice left to be thawed by the sun. She was standing on her side of the car opening the door to get in as I eased myself around the car and happened to step on the ONLY piece of black ice left. I fell and hit my head squarely on the ground before I knew I was actually falling. I laid there for a moment when I heard my mom’s frantic voice looking for me, “Angie? Are you ok?” I quickly jumped up and opened my side of the car and said, “Yup!” with a huge smile on my face. I told her I slipped and we laughed the entire trip to my house. We made jokes about how it was lucky there wasn’t more ice or I would have been sliding through the parking lot dodging cars on my back. It really was very funny.

The next three days I felt dizzy and nauseous. My boss implored me to call my doctor. I thought it was really quite ludicrous to call but I relented just to appease her. I told the nurse how silly I felt calling her because I bumped my head but she assured me it was best to check it out. I was scheduled for a CAT scan. The scan was done and the tech came in to tell me they needed to inject me with some dye and redo the scan. They assured me there was nothing to worry about and I literally did not worry. I guess since I had never had a scan before I assumed it was part of the procedure. The next morning my doctor called and said, “I am sorry to be calling you so early but I just got your CAT scan results and, this is nothing you should worry about but, you have a tumor. I will make an appointment for you to see a neurosurgeon and get and MRI.” I am not sure I heard anything other than the not to worry part because I said thank you and waited to hear from my neurosurgeon.

I decided not to share the news with my mom until I knew something worth knowing. Besides, it turns out my husband was worried enough for an army of people so selfishly I wasn’t sure I could handle anyone else worrying. So if you read this mom you can blame it on your son-n-law. Incidentally, she was extremely unhappy I decided not to tell her.

A few days later I was sitting across from my neurosurgeon telling me I had a tumor and I had the option of having him remove it or leaving it to watch its growth speed. Watching it grow? Really? It wasn’t a growing baby. I know myself too well and I did not need one more thing to obsess over. “Let’s just take it out…is that OK?” I asked. He said yes and an appointment was made for a week later. At this point the neurosurgeon took interest in my husband and called for a nurse. He was speechless, pale and looked as if I had just been read my last rites. He started to shake as the nurse took him into the hall and gave him some water. I look back on this event and wonder why I wasn’t in shock, why wasn’t I worried? I am always worried, about everything, and here I was totally at peace. Before this blog becomes a novel I will just say I had the tumor removed which was fairly simple since it was in the lining of my brain and about and 1 ½ “ in diameter.

I will hold dear the memory of my husband singing Zoom, Zoom, Zoom, like the car commercial, as they were preparing to wheel me to surgery. I will remember my surgeon saying a prayer in the corner of the room as he is about to start. I will remember the voice that told me he was my anesthesiologist because it later occurred to me I knew that voice to be a friend who lived 5 doors down growing up. I tracked him down by the way to confirm this and we had a nice discussion about it being a small world and childhood crushes. I will always remember the supernatural strength that seemed to have been bestowed upon me during this time. It was the news the doctor gave me that makes me wonder if there had been a bigger plan in place the whole time. He told me that it was a good thing we removed it when we did because it had started to grow arms. It could have easily penetrated the blood barrier either killing me or making it impossible to remove surgically. Hmmm…lucky?

I grew up a Christian, I have always had faith, and I don’t know what it would be like not to have that faithful hope. My husband believes, shit happens, you deal and there is no rhyme or reason…who am I to argue? Who am I to say my belief is more important than his? I knew when I married him he wasn’t a Christian. I never pushed him to go to Church and rarely went myself. Naturally though, I believe it was part of a bigger picture I may never understand. There are things I do know are the direct result of this series of events.

First, I may have always been a Christian but I had no idea what the Bible said. I knew in my heart that I loved Jesus and felt his comforting ways….I knew he would guide me through prayer. I didn’t grow up in Church so other than my early childhood church experiences I am not sure how I gained such faith. I decided to read the Bible and along with my husband, who surprisingly happily agreed, went to some church classes with me to get through it. The Bible I should say is a fantastically exciting book if you put yourself in the times and places it takes place. Of course, the first few books are a bit hard to read but set the stage beautifully. Moving on…..we both go to Church. I suspect my tumor could have caused my husband and I both to consider the important life questions so this in and of itself is not really that extraordinary.

The other main change in our lives is extraordinary as far as my husband and I are concerned. You see, our whole family had given up us giving them grandchildren. It was the furthest thing on our minds….we agreed….no children. My husband refused to say baby, he always said little person. We joked about how if I got pregnant he would be skipping the country. I didn’t want to hold any babies and was about as maternal as a hamster eating its young. We both decided that we wanted a child. I can’t put into words how amazing it is that both of us wanted to have a child 10 years into marriage. The funny thing is we tried and couldn’t get pregnant. It wasn’t until after we finished reading the Bible and had given up on having a child that I got pregnant. I found out I was pregnant on Labor Day!

I am always horrified to find out a friend has discovered they are suffering from cancer, or a tumor, or any other number of horrible diseases. But I have always looked at my ordeal fondly with a dream like quality to the memory. Maybe the fact I felt Jesus hold my hand before the surgery and the amazing peace that came with the whole ordeal was shock. All I know is I crave that feeling of strength and comfort and peace every day. In my mind it was a gift given to me from a God who loves me beyond measure.

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20 thoughts on “A BRAIN TUMOR TO CALL MY OWN

  1. I grew up in a very religious home, but sort of fell off in my twenties. There have been a few major moments in the last few years that have definitely reaffirmed my beliefs. I don’t think it matters about what you believe, but realizing there’s more to this world than just what we see. I randomly came across your post and I am so glad I did. I feel silly because I’m reading it at work and it has brought me to tears, but your story has touched me beyond words. Thank you for sharing it.

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    • I get what you mean about the fear of others’ reactions, but you aren’t saying anybody is wrong if they have a diffent view; you’re just speaking from your heart about your experience and how it impacted your life. You’re a great writer – keep it up!

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  2. It was a good job you did not rest to see how it grew. On the back of my mother dying in 2010 I developed myocarditis and was told it was a good thing I went for a check up after having chest pains. I had a CAT Scan and MRI so I can share in your experience. I’m not Christian myself, but I grew up with a Christian family, had a muslim girlfriend in my teens, and have always been interested in Buddhism. I suppose all experiences that take life or have the potential to do so bring us close to our faiths and/living in general. I may not follow the book of God, but I do follow the book of nature symbolic-speaking. Congratulations on your first pregnancy to you and your husband. I wish you a smooth, happy and healthy transition. Thank you for sharing! 🙂

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  3. I’m not sure what religion has to do with a tumor, but I’m glad it was caught in time and that you are here to tell us about it, and all the other amazing things you tell us about.

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  4. I appreciate you sharing such a personal story. Well done!

    It is so often when we come to the end of ourselves, our resources, and our strength that we turn and find that God is right there with His endless resources ready to carry us through.

    Do not miss the purpose behind what has happened. It was not random coincidence. It was God’s plan and intention. Keep pursuing Him and His purpose.

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  5. It seems star-crossed. As if it were all meant to happen exactly how it did. I am glad you are ok. I can’t imagine the fear you must have felt during that long week prior to your operation…powerful and well-worded prose, here.

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  6. hey, let’s get something straight. when i come to your blog, i expect nothing but happiness and picture of those beautiful, hypnotic eyes, and i want to wonder why you’re not modelling, and i want happy sexy thoughts. keep the reality away and let me dream my dreams about you. got it? good. 🙂

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  7. This is a great post. What a story and thanks for sharing. I used to keep my faith a big secret, have found when you share, it does touch other people so much.

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  8. Reblogged this on MT BLU and commented:
    “Instead of complaining that the rose-bush is full of thorns, be happy the thorn-bush has roses.” – Proverb
    Agreed.

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  9. Thanks for liking my blog today. It led me to your blog and I am now subscribed! This testimony is a rich blessing for me in many ways, thanks for sharing. God moves in mysterious ways his wonders to perform!

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  10. Pingback: CRAZY TURNED TWO | Hastywords

  11. This is incredible, and wonderful, and I’m so glad you wrote it, thank you. It does me good to hear that this kind of mixed marriage can still work for so long, and last the distance and…adunno. It does me good, is all.

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  12. And we continue to have so much in common. I had brain surgery a few years ago and cysts in my spine because if my neurological condition. I also felt I was lucky in so many ways. I also never wanted children, wasn’t maternal and also thought I couldn’t have children. When I married my husband, finally a good man, the right man, we got pregnant on our wedding night. I’m a firm believer in fate, that everything happens for a reason and that we are part of a bigger plan. True or not, it definitely makes life easier for me and more enjoyable. So loving getting to know you sweet SW.

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  13. What an amazing amount of fortitude on your part upon the discovery of the tumor. I wonder why the doctor gave you the option to wait and watch it “grow” if it was causing you nausea and other symptoms… I would have done what you did, except with far less grace.

    The anesthesiologist offshoot story is such a lark, by the way.

    My brother and his wife had their first child ten years into their marriage as well. If I were young and chose the marriage and family route, I would do the same: Have a ten-year adventure like you and your husband did, and then start on a whole other with our child.

    Finally, even though this post is about the tumor ordeal, I get such a sense of you as loving person, and it truly warms me. Your husband comes across that way too. The image of him all pale and in shock at the hospital — so poignant and touching.

    Thanks you for sharing this.

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