Every once in a while life stops. Plans are interrupted and life stops and you know that it will never ever be the same again. Monday, June 8th, was a day like that for our family. On Saturday my husband was helping our son with some drywalling in his new house. By evening when he came home he complained of a horrible headache, but he rested and took some Tylenol and it seemed to ease up a little. On Sunday he was able to rest in the morning, but later in the afternoon he coughed and the headache increased in intensity to an unbearable degree. He was sweating profusely and vomiting, but - thinking it was just a bad sinus headache - he didn't want me to take him in to Urgent Care. Monday morning the headache was still there, although not as intense as the night before, but there was an important work meeting he wanted to attend the next day so he called a friend who suffers from migraines and asked him some questions. His answer was really good... "The symptoms sort of match up, but if you've never had one before you should probably get it checked out." Soon we were on our way to Urgent Care. After a short exam, the Urgent Care doctor was not as convinced as my husband that it was "just a sinus headache" and ordered a CT Scan. Ten minutes later an ambulance was on the way, "hot", to transfer him to the hospital Emergency Room and a Neuro Surgeon was standing ready to meet him there and evaluate his condition. There was an abnormality in the center of his brain.
The day passed in a blur - but the grace of God was so evident. Further CT and MRI scans showed that there was no aneurysm or blood on the brain, but a 17mm cyst was blocking the flow of spinal fluid between the ventricles of the brain. According to our neuro surgeon - who was absolutely AMAZING - it had probably grown since he was a baby and had finally reached the point of completely obstructing the flow of spinal fluid, thereby causing problems that could no longer be excused or ignored. The pressure from the built up spinal fluid was intense but the blessing was that it had been found. Often the first indication is sudden death.
After being admitted to ICU, a day passed while the doctors got him stable, did a number of CT and MRI scans, and prepared him for surgery. We signed Power of Attorney papers, Medical papers and prayed for God's grace and mercy. The surgery would go directly through the right frontal lobe of the brain and the possibilities of him coming back with memory problems, an altered personality, blindness and/or the lack of mobility on his left side were very real and very overwhelming. The 5 1/2 hour surgery was scheduled for Wednesday morning, the 10th. It was a long day, as you can imagine, made a little worse for me because I had my own intense headache to deal with that day. But he came through surgery with flying colors. Praise the Lord! The next day, however, brought its own challenges...
After the headache passed that I had throughout the day, and after 3 days of sleeping in a chair or recliner in my husband's ICU room, I decided to go to the waiting room to stretch out for a couple of hours Wednesday night. When I woke up 4 hours later, I had no strength at all in my legs and my heart was racing. I crawled to the phone and called the nurses' station, and I was quickly taken downstairs in a wheelchair to the Emergency Room for a nine hour stay while they checked my heart and attempted to get my heart rate down... which wasn't happening, because I NEEDED to be upstairs with my husband!!!!!! By evening, after numerous heart tests that came back normal and a few bags of fluid, I checked myself out of the ER and, after a stop to see my very worried, one-day-out-of-brain-surgery husband and a stop to eat, I went home with my daughter to rest. Early the next morning, it occurred to me that I was experiencing heightened symptoms of Adrenal Fatigue - something I have struggled with for a number of years on a smaller scale. Our dear daughter drove me to the chiropractor - a 10 hour round trip - so he could begin to put me back together, and our son took a leave of absence from work so he could take my spot at the hospital until Paul was able to come home. We are so thankful for our children! I'm eating tons of meat, milk, cheese, and oil to help my adrenals make what is necessary for me to recover from the stress of the past weeks, and I think I am finally building a little bit of a reserve., but talking about the experience can still wipe me out for hours. I'm feeling very fragile! My husband, on the other hand is doing amazing-ly well, considering he had brain surgery a week and a half ago. He is up and walking - has no apparent complications - no loss of speech, motor function, memory or senses... just a heightened awareness of what a miracle each day is and what is truly important in life. He is doing so well, in fact, that I almost feel bad making a "big deal" out of what happened... until I remember the nurse telling my daughter in the hospital that often patients with this surgery don't get to go home. We are so blessed.
Can I list for you a few of the evidences of God's love and care - even in the midst of trials??
* We were able to fly to our daughter's college graduation last month. My husband hadn't felt well, but went anyway. That was the first time we'd seen her since Christmas and the last time before the surgery.
* My husband had taken a weeklong work trip to VA two weeks earlier. Again, he hadn't felt well, but God protected him and he made it home. How difficult it would have been to have had him in the hospital halfway across the country!
* God had prepared me for the fact that his diagnosis would be more serious than a headache. On Sunday night I packed a bag for myself with some gluten free snacks, water, and other necessities so I would be prepared to spend the night in the hospital.
* I was praying that the doctor would know what to do at Urgent Care and that I would feel confident in their diagnosis. When we arrived at the clinic, the attending Physician's Assistant was a precious gal that had been in my Mother of Preschoolers group during the year I was a "Mentor Mom".
* A dear, dear friend calling me just as surgery began. She was sitting beside her 19 year old son as he received another chemotherapy infusion for Ewings Sarcoma, and I was waiting the outcome of my husband's brain surgery. How precious for her to minister to me when her own heart was breaking.
* After spending so much time in the hospital and caring for my Mom I was and am much more comfortable caring for my husband now.
* The doctor's comment before surgery... My husband remarked, "I'm in your hands." The doctor returned, "You are in God's hands. I just show up."
* The outpouring of love and prayers and even financial support for us during this time.
There are so many lessons that God is teaching us now. I hope to be able to share more as the days and weeks pass, but we are still "in process" - learning and leaning on Him.
Please keep us in your prayers!!