Posted in Family, Health, Holy Week, Mommy, Support, Thankful, Trust, Tumor, Unexpected

Here We Go Again.

In December I had an appointment with my neurosurgeon in Charlotte and since it was the last day of classes here and was a 7 hour drive, I decided to cancel it and find a neurosurgeon here in Gainesville.  I didn’t make this decision lightly and I looked up all sorts of things about the awesome program here and I asked around to a number of people.  I saw my new neurosurgeon for the first time on Valentine’s Day (ha!).  He ordered an MRI to be done the Monday after our spring break trip to Costa Rica (March 11th).  On Tuesday, March 19th while Mike and I ate lunch with Evy, the nurse called and said that the doctor recommended surgery.  She then set an appointment for me to talk to him about this for today, March 28th.

Mike and I of course called our parents.  I didn’t want to say anything about this before we knew anything, but needless to say, we’ve been pretty distracted this past week and because I try to be a reasonably transparent person, it was hard to preach on Palm Sunday or for either of us to function without a twinge of something always in the background.  My parents came to visit last night so that Mom could go with us to the appointment and Dad being the great MacMac that he is, could hang out with the kids this morning since they’re on spring break.

Three years have passed since the first surgery.  To review, my doctor in Charlotte removed what he could of the tumor but left a strip near the motor cortex of the brain.  The type of tumor I have is an oligodendroglioma and very thankfully it’s a grade II (low grade).  At the time, research and common practice said that you take a watch and wait perspective and treat symptoms.  Now, research says that you resect as much as you can of the tumor so that it does not increase in grade.  They will use computer guidance to make sure that they are as precise as possible in removing as much as they can of the tumor that remains.  All of the risks associated with brain surgery are still at play here (duh.), but even more than that, because this is on my motor cortex, there could be temporary weakness in my right arm, hand and face.  As he said, scenario A is much like the first surgery – I come in on Friday and have surgery, I go home on Sunday, and I go back to work on Wednesday (this is also because I’m a crazy person that likes to work – yes, I know).  Scenario B is I go into surgery on Friday, hopefully still leave on Sunday depending on some things, go back to work in two weeks, and then possibly do physical therapy and rehab for a month.  If removing as much of the tumor as possible gives me a higher means of this not turning into something worse, I’m willing to risk either scenario.  The doctor’s suggestion is to take the “earliest elective opportunity” to do the surgery.

I’ve decided to do the surgery in May – most likely either May 10th or May 17th.  What does this mean for our family?  The kids were 1 and just turning 3 when the first surgery happened so they thought Mommy was on a trip of some sort.  They’re 4 and 5 now so we’ll be handling things a little differently.  They’ll still be in school so that should help.  I am blessed with an incredible extended family….and in essence I consider y’all a part of that as well.  Mike has been an absolute rock in all of this and I can’t begin to thank him for living out the weight of our vows every day.  The irony of asking him today – do you want to have the surgery around our 11th anniversary (May 11th) or around your 34th birthday (May 16th)?  I know that God is with us and will provide – whether that’s within the surgery, recovery, sanity, financially or us trying to squeeze in two more days at Disney before June 6th when our passes expire =0).  I’m also looking at the beginning of May so that I can be present for all of the end of semester fun, but before things ramp back up for summer.  I didn’t plan on a surgery during my first year here in Gainesville, but I know that there’s an amazing staff, student leaders and board here and we’ll be good to go.  As always, I’m pretty open with questions – so if you have one, ask me.  I also tend to use the blog to process and answer things as I can. (Don’t be afraid.  I’m not “broken” or an invalid, and I’m still the same person.  Human as can be, but trying to figure it out….so ask, don’t just wonder.)

As soon as I get the actual date of the surgery, I’ll definitely post it and I will hugely appreciate all of your prayers!

So all that to say, I don’t have any big actual blog “reflection” tonight.  We just completed the Maundy Thursday service and I’m pretty spent at this point, which I guess is just about right with Good Friday coming tomorrow.  I am increasingly struck this Easter season that there’s no fast forward button between Palm Sunday with the Hosannas and Easter.  I also appreciated a song that my parent’s sent me when I told them this last week.  It’s Tenth Avenue North’s “Worn.”  Hope that during this Holy Week we are reminded of our redemption, peace and hope in Christ in the midst of the sometimes dark despair.

For those visual people out there that want to pray over an image….rock on.

Image

Posted in Community, Easter, Faith, Health, Holy Week, Miracle, Prayer, Support

Miraculous

ImageI got a phone call on Friday after a long week of good, fun, tiring and yet rewarding work.  It was not a number that I or my phone recognized and I’m usually tempted to let those go to voice mail since you never know if it’s a survey or a wrong number or who knows.  But for once, I didn’t.  It was a student who had something to give me.  A pastor of hers knew that she was a student at Winthrop so she wanted to pass something along to me.  That’s all she really said.  So I had no idea what this could be.

When she stopped by Wesley, she handed me a beautifully colored picture.  I love rainbows and bright colorful things so I liked the picture instantly.  She then said that it was a Mandala and as the picture says on the back – it’s a contemplative practice.  Rev. Annie Edwards who I don’t know, created this for me during my brain surgery in 2010.  She started it at 11:45 am and finished it at 1:30 pm – truly roughly the time of my surgery.  As she writes on the back, “This was done for you during your surgery, with love and compassion.  Your Dad is my friend.”

It’s beautiful and something I’ll treasure.  As are the prayer shawls, books, pictures, everything that has been passed along to me that I can share with others.

I am admittedly sometimes flippant about the surgery and I in some ways am pretty successful at brushing it off.  In my day to day life – I don’t walk around with a sign around my neck that mentions it.  When I get an invitation to the survivor’s dinner for Relay for Life, I am more often than not – surprised.  But I think, as is often the case with the things that we are flippant about, most of my bravado comes from a place that is truly grateful and humbled by the outpouring of love and support – so much so that I don’t know if I can express how much it means or how much even when it’s not at the forefront of my mind – that I depend and rely on the prayers and the Spirit of mercy and grace that I feel ever present.

It’s not something that I’m afraid to talk about, but it is something that’s deeply personal.  So yes, I keep it on the About Me part of the blog – though I’ve debated that – and it becomes a part of the fabric of my life.  Not definitive of all of who I am, but yes a defining moment….among many.

One of the things that struck me on Friday was yes, the picture, but also what the girl from Winthrop who I’ve never met, said to me as she delivered.  She talked about what a miracle it is.  I asked her what she meant and she said, “You.  It’s miraculous.”  No, this is not a big head moment.  I’m not slapping myself on the back. But part of me did want to slap my forehead at the “Doh!” moment.  I don’t know about you but I think it’s easier for me to see the miracles around me – my students, Spring, healing of friends and family, the birth of a child – but it’s harder to see ourselves in that way.  I don’t know if we can even wrap our minds around that.  But we can sure as heck be grateful.  And hugely grateful at that.  For the prayers of so many, for the love that encircles us, and for the hope of the resurrection.

During this Holy Week, my hope is that I not rush straight to the resurrection but that I take time to attend to the twists and turns between Palm Sunday to Maundy Thursday and that I’m attentive to all that is the darkness and despair of Good Friday because we all have felt and walked and witnessed times like that.  And that when I hear the Good News of the resurrection on Easter morning that I feel both the impossibility and the miraculous and the ever present and real hope and promise that it offers.  May we know and see the miracles in each of our lives, our communities and the world around us and may we claim and treasure them!

 

**  Dad’s reflection on this time period – Holy Saturday Redux – http://wtmcclendon.wordpress.com/2010/06/16/holy-saturday-redux/  I think about it around this time of year…and I appreciate his honesty.