Well shoot! I have a sore throat! I remember my neurosurgeon’s nurse telling me that if I get an infection to call her. If the sore throat doesn’t go away by Friday then I will call her, but that means the surgery may be postponed. That will be a test of my new-found patience but that’s OK. Meanwhile I am focusing on balancing my throat chakra. Blue is the color of the throat chakra and I wore a blue outfit today to work. An unbalanced throat chakra may mean I am not speaking my truth, or not expressing myself. That’s why I am blogging right now, so perhaps this expression of my thoughts will clear my throat chakra. Today I had lunch with a dear friend and we chatted about deep values and beliefs. And tonight I chatted with a very old and dear friend – we met in 7th grade – and laughed and had a great time. So all of these things should strengthen my throat. Now looking at it from a more physical perspective I gargled with salt water, drank tons of water, chewed on a lot of Airborne, used essential oils, rested, and took some Micinex D, So I am being very holistic and “mind/body” in my approach to this. And if none of this works and the sore throat persists and the surgery is postponed, then what’s to worry about? All things will unfold exactly as they are supposed to .I have no need to control.
I do have to say that this morning as I was pulling out of my driveway, my youngest son was getting in his car preparing to leave for work too. I had a very strong impression to jump out of my car and hug him. I usually follow these impressions but I did not do it this morning. Instead I just drove off and he was on my mind all day. That was actually kind of nice, but I knew I needed to say something to him about it. So when I got home I told him about it and he said he would always gladly accept a hug from me anytime. Still not sure why I did not follow my prompting but I have to wonder if that contributed to my sore throat. The throat chakra is about expressing our truth, and jumping out of my car and hugging my son would have certainly been an expression of my love for him. So tomorrow I am going to add one more item to my throat chakra balancing treatment plan: When I feel the prompting to express myself, I’m going to do it! Just sayin’….
Countdown to surgery: 6 days to go. The last two days I have been super busy at work getting ready to take a couple months off. I am surrounded with loving, concerned and positive people. I am a blessed woman. A couple of people asked me today if I was nervous. I am not nervous in the least. I have been given a gift of peace and calmness. Not sure why I have been given this great gift, but I will just take it and say thanks. Maintaining a feeling of peace is effortless. It is just “there” for me.
Since my first symptoms appeared I have had insomnia. Last night I slept very well and had a wonderful dream. I was at a holistic nursing conference with new nurse friends. A conference symbolizes learning and nurses symbolize healing and caring. We were in a car traveling to reach the top of a mountain so we could hike down it and back to the conference. That was an interesting symbol – why would I want to hike down the mountain instead of up the mountain? Could the mountain symbolize the tumor or surgery and hiking down symbolize my readiness to get over the experience and continue learning (symbolized by the conference)? In the dream I looked out the window of the car and saw a beautiful, huge, very white pelican land on the water in the bay next to the road. It was majestic and spread its wings in a loving sort of heart-shaped way. Looking at it made me feel loved and safe and peaceful. I looked at the nurses I was with and knew they did not see it and I told them I saw a pelican. It seemed important for me to let them know I had seen it..This pelican image has stayed with me all day and when people ask me how I’m doing or if I am nervous about the surgery, I visualize the pelican and I am happy, calm and peaceful. I see the pelican floating peacefully on the calm water. Emotions are often represented by water in dreams. This symbol goes along with the symbol of “sailing through” this experience that I mentioned in another blog. I imagine the water being safe and calm, which I can use to calm myself if needed. But so far, I don’t seem to need calming. The loving, peaceful pelican symbol is just “there” for me, a part of my inner being. Is that cool or what??
Several people have asked me how my adventure began, what symptoms I had and what made me decide to follow up with my physician. So here’s the story. About 3 months ago I was driving home from work and a very vivid memory came to my mind. I did not lose consciousness or awareness, but I thought it was weird for a memory to just “pop up” uninvited like that. I honestly cannot remember what the memory was. The best way to describe it is that it seemed like a scene from my favorite TV show, Dr. Who. The memory kept coming daily, and then disappeared for a week, then came back daily again. I thought it must be a brain tumor but I was not scared. It seemed so vague I didn’t want to go to my physician with it. Then one night I was doing the dishes and the memory returned but was accompanied by the feeling that I was going to faint so I sat on the kitchen floor and felt OK in about 45 seconds, although some nausea persisted. Then a couple days later I could not remember what freeway entrance to take to get to work, even though I have taken the same entrance for months. That was uncomfortable, so I visited my family physician and he wanted to rule out mini-strokes. I was still pretty sure it was a brain tumor. He ordered a heart test that revealed a mild Patent Foramen Ovale – a hole in my heart – but it was not serious enough to cause my symptoms. Then on Father’s Day my husband Steve and I took a walk and I “had an episode” and sat down on the sidewalk. I asked Steve to ask me some questions and he asked me the name of my grandson, our dog, and another grandchild’s name and I could not answer any of his questions. It was like a file holding names in my brain had been deleted. Pretty weird. After about 60 seconds I was fine and could remember names again. So I figured it was time to visit my physician again. He immediately order a CT scan for the next day.
About a half hour after I returned from the CT scan, a physician called me and said I needed to go to the Emergency Department because the CT scan showed some brain swelling. I was not surprised because, like I said, I was pretty sure I had a brain tumor. I went to the Emergency Department and had an MRI, which showed more detail than the CT scan, revealing a meningioma behind my left eye. I must say that the next 24 hours were lost to me because I have claustrophobia related to the MRI and was given so much Ativan that I was pretty zonked out. Apparently I had a few long phone conversations with people that I have no memory of. What fun!
The Emergency Department referred me to a neurosurgeon the next day who told me all about the meningioma and his plans for surgery. He said I would come out of surgery with deficits. Like a personality change, and the necessity to learn to read and/or write again. He also suggested a second opinion. I had to wait 2 weeks to get the second opinion but I am happy to say that my current neurosurgeon will approach the surgery differently, resulting in less deficits. He said I have a 50% chance of having a droopy left eyelid and a wandering left eye, and double vision. But those should go away in 6-12 months. That doesn’t sound so bad now does it? He said the episodes I have are pre-seizure events and the medication he prescribed is to prevent me from having convulsive seizures. The medication makes me very drowsy, dizzy, and I still have an event about every 4 days or so. Not bad. He said the tumor is slow growing and I could have the surgery anytime in August but I said the sooner the better. So August 4th was set. And that is how this great adventure began.
I am doing so well that sometimes it feels a little nutsy to blog much about it. I am still drowsy a lot, but if I keep moving or talking I do OK. So here goes and I hope this doesn’t sound dumb: I saw HERCULES last night. It’s the new movie with Dwayne THE ROCK Johnson. Who doesn’t love him? Since I have had this tumor, I either get very bored very fast while watching a movie or I get totally into it and emotional. Well, I got totally into HERCULES. I love to talk about the symbolism and metaphor in movies, and this movie was full of meaning. It was totally the “hero’s journey” metaphor. And we are all heroes on a journey, right? At the beginning of the movie it was all about what other people thought about Hercules. And then by the end what really mattered is what he thought about himself. A big challenge (also called a “labor” in the movie) is what changed his perspective. As usual, I am seeing everything through my diagnosis, and I realized that my “big challenge” is inviting me to get to know who I really am. I am taking a look at my values and seeing that who I think I am is more important that who others think I am. HOWEVER, who others think I am is also important. Sounds counter intuitive I know, but lots of people were counting on Hercules to own who he was and really BE Hercules. Living an authentic life, both internally and externally, is powerful and meaningful. If I own who I am then I see my real self and others see it too and my life is balanced and congruent. And who doesn’t love a balanced and congruent life?
The countdown continues: 10 days until surgery…
Yesterday was challenging. I had an “episode” in my colleague’s office. It is hard to describe the episodes. My neurosurgeon called them “pre-seizure events” and he has prescribed Keppra to prevent full-blown convulsive seizures. The medicine makes me extremely drowsy but I hadn’t had an episode for about 4 days. So I was disappointed when I had one yesterday. Basically I feel like I am going to faint, I must sit down, and I can’t speak very well. It all goes away in about 90 seconds and then I’m fine. But yesterday I was nauseated and wobbly on my feet for about 3 hours after the episode, and talking to anyone while standing up was uncomfortable, like I was going to fall over. So I sat a lot.
The good news is the level of support I received from my colleagues at work. Well, I should really call them friends. I work with truly wonderful, smart, and caring people. A few minutes after the episode I decided a bag of potato chips (I especially like the kettle cooked variety) would settle my nausea, which meant going upstairs to the vending machine. I saw my executive assistant (also known as the Awesome Master of the Universe) and said, “I need a babysitter.” She dropped everything and immediately escorted me to the 2nd floor. I just didn’t want to have another episode in front of our awesome nursing students so I needed her just in case. She was very happy to help and kept an eye on me for the rest of the day. I so appreciate that. In addition many other friends at work popped in throughout the day to check on me. When one friend heard me say that chips settle my nausea she gave me two bags of Doritos. And I ate them both. She told me where she stashes them at work. I feel safe and loved at work and am thankful for the support and concern. I also feel bad about leaving them for 6 weeks because they will have to cover for me and that will be extra work for them. But nobody complains. This tumor not only affects me, but all those around me. It takes a village. I live in gratitude and awe.
12 days till surgery. We can do this!
I am amazed at all the totally awesome advice I am getting from so many people. I can’t even put it all in one blog – it happens throughout the day. I am thinking of taking a notebook with me wherever I go so I can write down these words of wisdom before I forget them by the end of the day! Sometimes I grab a sticky note when someone says something insightful, but most of the time I am busy and figure I will remember their “words to live by” at the end of the day, but I don’t. I am relying on my unconscious mind to absorb it all and make changes in my attitude and outlook. Here are some examples:
One friend said I would sail through recovery. That has placed an image in my head of a beautiful sailboat gliding effortlessly on friendly, calm seas as I recover. Ain’t that great?
Another friend said I was an “extreme healer” and now it was time to focus within and heal myself. And she is right – I have participated in healing for others, which makes me remember that healing is so very possible, probable, and inevitable. If I can support others as they heal, I can certainly support myself.
Jerry Sonkens, MD, the founder of SHIM (Spirituality and Healing in Medicine) in Salt Lake City emailed me this: “It is more blessed to give care then to get it! You have done so much giving–try to be a good receiver!” Great advice! I think as a care giver it makes me feel somewhat out of place to be a care receiver. But that is what is before me now, and another lesson for me to learn – relax and receive. Thanks to all for your wisdom and willingness and support.
13 days until surgery. I’m excited! Let the healing begin!
Today was a great day – I made it all the way through my church meetings! Last week I only lasted a few minutes because the seizure prevention medicine made me so drowsy I just had to get up and walk to stay awake. Yesterday was not such a great day. The drowsiness was overwhelming. My husband and I went to the Downtown Farmers Market in Salt Lake City. The heat was in the 90’s and wow did I get tired quickly. On the other hand, it was actually a pretty great day. I really noticed strongly how everything I experience now seems to be filtered through the lens of my diagnosis.
For example, I really appreciate great artwork, thinking that I want to be surrounded with stimulating colors and beautiful things while I recuperate. We ran into Kelly Dick, who owns KDick Pottery and we bought lots of her beautiful pieces to decorate our new bathroom. We bought a whale, a seahorse, and a couple of fishes. These will remind me of freedom, and “going with the flow” during my recovery.
Another example is that I was getting super thirsty and would have grabbed anything to drink when we came upon the Vive Juicery booth. Talk about yummy and healthy! I thought how blessed I was to discover these fresh, pure juices and how I will drink them a few days before my surgery to do a sort of cleanse. Normally I would just enjoy the juices and not think so much about how they would benefit my brain.
I am at peace and joyful and happy, but I think about the tumor constantly. That is so annoying! I frequently invite myself into the present moment, but the thoughts are hard to stop. Other times I embrace the thoughts and have a lovely conversation with the tumor, whom I call Emily (not sure why I chose that name, but it means “industrious”), thanking her for the lessons she has brought me and encouraging her to be patient because the surgeon is coming to free her from my head so she can move forward.
I really like my job because I keep busy, I focus on other people, and I don;t have much of a chance to succumb to the drowsiness. But still I see so much through the eyes of my diagnosis. I wonder when that will go away?
Only 15 days until surgery! Yahoo!!!
My neurosurgeon told me to play with the dosage on my seizure prevention medicine, Keppra, so I did. I went from taking it 4 times a day to taking it twice a day. Nice try, but basically a failure. I had two “pre-seizure events” at work and I am now back to taking it 4 times a day. Wow am I drowsy! But I appreciate the neurosurgeon being flexible and willing to personalize my treatment. We all have different tolerances and reactions to different drugs. As for me, I can’t seem to get used to the drowsiness side effect. I think that should have gone away by now, but we’ll see. Whenever I talk to people I want to sit down or lean on a wall. And if I sit down too long, like when watching a movie, I get bored and super sleepy. So I will keep moving.
Last week I told a friend of mine that “I’m excited!” about my upcoming surgery. She told me that was inappropriate. At the time I thought that perhaps I shouldn’t tell anyone that I’m excited and looking forward to surgery, of all things! That does sound kind of weird. Then today at work our ER (Enchanting Receptionist) suggested that I start a countdown ritual to surgery. It would be like when we make a countdown chain out of construction paper before Christmas, and remove one link every day until the big day of celebration arrives. This surgery should be looked at as a celebration, not something to be worried over. I will celebrate taking a giant step towards wellness. I will celebrate healing. Sure, it’s something to get over and get through. But without the surgery, how can I move forward? So honestly, I’m excited! This will be a great adventure, and offer me more opportunities for healing and for looking at my world from a different perspective. And each day after surgery I will be faced with something brand new and never experienced by me before. I think that’s something to celebrate and certainly to be excited about! … 18 days to my surgical celebration!!! I’m exited!
Every day is different. After posting a few days ago about The World Cup of Tiredness, yesterday and today I took a walk with my son and his family after work and did yard work and am full of energy! Go figure. This morning I was extremely tired to the point I just couldn’t dry my hair and then style it. I figured I might have the same issue after the neurosurgery, so I got my hair cut after work so it would be easier to manage. I’ve also streamlined a few other things. For example, I like to read scriptures every day but it has been hard to squeeze them in on my tired days. So now when I wake up in the morning, I grab my iPhone and read scriptures from there, before I get out of bed. It is quick, easy, and inspiring. I’m also doing more prioritizing. For example I’d rather go on a walk with my family than do housework or sit and stare at the TV and whine about being tired. So I go for a walk with my family. Really, who could resist walking with a 2-year-old and a 1-year-old? The bottom line is once again this tumor is here to teach me and remind me what’s important. And long hair is not on the top of the list.