Friday, March 29, 2013

A little positive note

Wow.  It's been a long time!  Lots has happened and life is different.  Better in a way.  There have been more trials and tribulations, but for the most part I've come out a better person.  I am with the love of my life, and that seems more evident every single day.  Our daughter makes me smile with pride, and my heart swells with SO much love sometimes I well up with tears.

At the end of the day, I feel happier.  More content.  I have love coming at me from so many angles, it helps me get through the tough times that I've often felt overwhelming.  And it, in turn, throws love out of me from all angles, even at times surprising myself.  I'm generally healthy, and I have a great group of physicians working hard ... really hard ... to figure everything else out.  And I trust that time will come.

I'm doing my best to let go of stuff, and focus on the amazing things that have happened.  And why they are happening.

Follow your life's path.  If you look closely, there is a connection between everything that happens, that leads you to where you need to be.  Good AND bad.  Everything really does happen for a reason.  Patience is the link that will get you there.  Confidence will keep you there.  Love of yourself will ultimately result.

Thursday, November 15, 2012

Finally frolicking together ...

As most of you know, I was married before.  I was young and foolish and it didn't work out.  I call that period of time my "former life".

At the time of our separation, we had 3 animals: two dogs and a cat.  As I had to move into an apartment, that also meant I had to find a new place for both of my dogs to live.  And I was very lucky to find very good homes for each of them.  In fact, one of the homes was that of a good friend of mine and, therefore, I could kind of keep in touch with the dog (Jade) through her.  I even saw the pup from time to time early on in my "new life".  But time went on and I remarried.  My new husband and I rescued another dog, and we moved away.

That was 12 years ago.

Earlier this year, Abbey, the cat that I had in my former life (who stayed with me throughout the turmultuous years and who knew all my secrets), got very sick and the vet told us we should take away her suffering and allow her to go peacefully.  I've had to do this many times before, but for some reason it was extra difficult to let go of this lovely feline -- she was part of my life for 17 years!

Wow, this photo of healthy Abbey really drives home how sick (skinny) she got at the end.  :(

This week I got another blow.  Miss Jade, the dog who lived high on the hog with my friend, also went to collect her wings.  This hit me harder than I thought it would, given that I hadn't had her in my life for many, many years.  Oddly, only weeks earlier I had been in touch with my friend inquiring about Jade's health.  She sent me this photo of her in which she still looks as sweet as ever.

Jade living the high life

It dawned on me yesterday that both animals lived long and happy lives, bringing joy to their families.  Yet when they lived together, they faught "like cats and dogs".  Jade thought Abbey was a fun interactive toy.  Abbey didn't appreciate this.  And such was the day-to-day life they led together.  They weren't upset to see each other go, much in the way I suspect their owners were of each other.  lol

I guess life really does happen for a reason.

I hope that now that they have to "share space" again, they've been able to settle their differences!

RIP Jade and Abbey.  You were loved.

Monday, October 15, 2012


Well, things are progressing along quite well here in the Ottawa Valley.  Although I'm still waking up with a swollen eye on my left side, it goes away shortly after I get up ... and I'm reassured by my surgeon that, although it's some sort of spinal fluid that's accumulating at the surgery site, it shouldn't cause me much concern ... unless, of course, it gets worse.  And it's not getting worse so I'm continuing on with my life.

I'm actually quite excited today because it's my first day on my own since my surgery 6.5 weeks ago!  I'm still not allowed to drive but hubby and I decided that, in order for me to maintain my sanity (and hopefully retain what self-confidence I have left), we would try having me at home by myself this week.  With Andrew's schedule making him available to come to my aid at a moment's notice, it just makes sense for us to try this.  All I can say to this is WOO-FRIKKEN-HOO!

Which brings me back to my husband.  My amazing and wonderful partner who has gone through hell and back over the last couple of months.  I can't imagine being in his position and watching the person he loves go through what I had to go through, let alone the anger and attitude that resulted from some of the post-surgery pain I suffered and directed at him.  I didn't even have any idea what a bear I was from the severe headaches that plagued me a few days after surgery.  He's a saint in my eyes and I will never be able to thank him enough. 

And those nurses that have to deal with people like me on a daily basis should also be lauded for their patience and understanding.  I honestly don't remember even half of what I did, heard or said in the days after surgery.  It's quite embarrassing and mortifying to realize what your body can do to protect you from pain.

I also have a say a special thanks to my parents and Andrew's Mom and step-father who have gone above and beyond to spend the last 6 weeks sharing time with me when I couldn't be alone -- helping me to clean my house, do my laundry and run errands around town that I was unable to do on my own.  I am truly blessed with all my family & friends.  I certainly couldn't have gotten through this without them.

There was a reason we ended up where we are and I'm so happy that everything has turned out the way it has.  Only 2 more weeks and we have a follow-up with Dr. S at the Civic.  Can't wait to see what he says and to bounce my two-page list of questions off of him.  Hm.  Maybe I should call his assistant and ask her for a 2 hour appointment???  :)

The moral of this "story"?  Always remember and never forget to be thankful and enjoy each and every day.  You never know what tomorrow will bring.  And appreciate those around you.  It's amazing to me how many people will rally in support of you in the time of need.

To all of those people, and you know who you are, thank you.  From the bottom of my heart.  xoxo

Friday, October 12, 2012


... it's coming ... honestly!

Friday, October 5, 2012


Continuation of previous post ...

On August 30th we arrived at the Ottawa Civic Hospital at the crack of dawn for a surgery I'm still convinced happened to someone else.  I never anticipated hearing the word "craniotomy" in direct association with my name.  I'm a Mom to a 4 year old!  How on earth did I have time to grow a 4 cm tumor in my head, let alone a second smaller one?

I've been told this amazing surgeon I was referred to is one of the best ... if not THE best ...  brain surgeon in Canada.  And, on top of it all, he's personable, treats his patients AND his staff with respect, and polishes off his all-round self with a pretty great sense of humour.  Seriously.  Sounds pretty unreal.  And if I hadn't met him myself, I wouldn't believe he existed.  I hope I never have to, but I would highly recommend this fabulous guy anytime!

Despite what I thought, I didn't have to shave my entire head.  The doc only shaved a strip over the top of my head from ear to ear. Thus began a 12 hour surgery I wish I knew less about.  I'll just say it involved words like removal, peel, titanium plates, path lab and suction.  'Nuff said, right?  Right.  Might I just add that the OCH has some of the kindest employees; from nurses to doctors and therapists, let alone my surgeon's assistant whom I think helps to elevate him to angelic status.  I was treated so incredibly well, with respect and kindness, I almost didn't beg to go home after a few days.  Almost.  Of course, when I did ask, the doc snickered at me and strolled away shaking his head.  And thankfully so. I was in no way ready to venture out on my own!

Apparently, I didn't know the extent of my post-surgery "wounds".  Or I was, at the very least, in denial of the reason I couldn't see through eyes that were completely swollen shut,  bruises from fingertip to arm pit, and a headache that rivalled a jack-hammer pounding on my head.  That is, until I accidentally looked in the mirror while washing my hands in the bathroom one day approximately a week after surgery.

They should warn you or black out any reflective glass in the rooms of patients after such an operation!  The instant I saw myself, the air left the room and I started to cry.  I had absolutely no idea who was looking back at me in the glass.  That person had black, puffy eyes; bruises from cheek bone to chest; and the biggest scar across her head that anyone could imagine unless they were watching a slasher flick.  I also wasn't prepared for the memory loss, the dizziness, the struggle for words and the emotions that flowed so easily down my cheeks.  I didn't remember the surgery, or much after it, how could I be so bruised and broken from something which, in my mind and memory, didn't exist?

After 10 days in-hospital (and many requests), I was finally allowed to head home.  This under the premise that I not be allowed to drive, lift anything over 10 lbs., walk without a walker (until I was steady on my feet), and essentially not be alone until my follow-up with the surgeon at the end of October.

So, while trying to continue on with my life and trying not to hide away, my family and I have dealt with weeks of people staring at my bruises and scars with sympathy, and then at Andrew with contempt.  We actually had one woman ask me at a restaurant during a washroom break on our way home from the hospital (while picking up her jaw from the floor and glaring at Andrew) if I was okay.  I find this so frustrating!  Andrew is such a kind-hearted man and anyone who knows him knows what these people were thinking is beyond the realm of possibility when it comes to him!  But, as he would, he doesn't let it get to him.  He just takes it in stride and lets them think what they think.  One of the reasons I love him even more.

More about those reasons to come ...

Sunday, September 30, 2012

Life Changes in an Instant - Part I

It has been quite a while since I went into blogging hiatus.  Since my last post, my life has changed dramatically.  In March of this year, I started waking up with daily morning headaches that wouldn't subside until medicated.  A couple of months later, I realized that I was unable to smell those things that meant the most to me (the top of my daughter's head, my husband wearing his favourite cologne), nor could I taste a variety of foods: coffee being the one that stands out the most.  These things, added to the ever constant pain, and our impending posting to Ontario, encouraged me to see my family doctor to see if I could (a) get this resolved while I still had a doctor; and (b), if need be, get a referral to a new physician upon our arrival in Ontario.

Initial blood tests and early diagnoses brought about little in the form of relief so I was sent for  more tests.  My first CT scan was scheduled for the day the packers arrived at our house to prepare for the movers' arrival the following day.  Yes, we were leaving exactly two days later for our new western destination.  Anyone who has had a CT scan can understand that they're pretty uneventful.  You don't have to do much but keep your nervous body still while hoping that at the end of the procedure someone will be able to tell you some results, those being good or bad, and you can move along to deal with them.  This, I found out, is not the case.  However, I kind of had an idea there was something wrong when at the end of the procedure the technician told me they were going to redo the test with dye as "the doctor wanted to have a closer look".  I'm sure on the pictures from the second test they could tell I was panicking by the size of my eyes ...

The psyche, however, is an amazing thing.  Somehow, despite the fact that they couldn't give me any information after my CT scan about what the doc was focussing in on, I was able to block out all of the "bad" diagnoses I could come up with in my imagination and concentrate on our move.  How I did this, I have no idea.  I'm someone who thinks too much and has some sort of sick need to contemplate each and every thing that could happen, to the worst degree I might add, and go from there.  I think, at this point, my condition was assisting me by keeping me from doing just that.

The day after we took possession of our house in Ontario (barely a week later), we were at the grocery store stocking up on supplies when my cell phone rang.  I picked it up and immediately realized the worried tone in my Moncton doctor's voice.  I hurried outside to try and hear her clearly.  Turns out I had this thing they call a meningioma:
Meningioma: A common type of slow-growing, usually benign brain brain tumor that arises from the dura, one of the meninges, the membranes covering the brain and spinal cord. A meningioma may occur wherever there is dura (the outermost of the three meninges), but the most common sites are over the cerebral hemispheres of the brain. Meningiomas are the only brain tumors that are more common in women than in men. They tend to occur in people between ages 40 and 60 but can occur at any age. A person may have several meningiomas. Very rarely do meningiomas become malignant. The symptoms depend on the location of the tumor. Treatment ranges from observation to neurosurgical resection.
This brain tumor was growing in my head and it was about 4 cms in diameter.  In fact, I had two of these creatures making themselves at home in my head, one larger than the other.  My first question was, "Is it cancer?" and my second was, "What happens now?"  The doctor told me, "Meningiomas are not usually malignant."  Then she said I was being referred asap to a surgeon in Ottawa to get an MRI and to discuss the future plan of action, and that this surgeon would be calling me that very day to get information on a drug store to forward a prescription for steroids and accompanying anti-nauseants for me to start taking immediately.  At this point I think I blanked out because the doctor asked me if I had any questions and, while my head was swimming with information I wanted to communicate, I couldn't get one iota of information out of the gaping hole that was my mouth.

The next number of weeks were also a blur.  I had to tell my family, immediate and extended, and my friends what was going on.  This was difficult for me.  I'm a pretty "private" person, and definitely one who doesn't want people feeling sorry for her.  I've been learning since then that talking about it has been quite therapeutic (hence why I'm here now bombarding you with this story).  I also had to have an MRI ... seriously, people, I'm not a claustrophobic person but boy did that procedure send me over the edge!  Who knew wearing a hockey helmet with your eyes closed while being stuffed into a tin can and shaken about for 15 minutes would cause someone to freak out like that!  Again, not sure where I gathered the courage to get through that one, but I talked myself through it and refrained from mangling the panic button in search of rescue.  Thankfully the technician warned me about the shaking part or I would have thought we were having an earthquake!

Less than an hour later we were meeting with my hero.  An angel disguised in scrubs who was not only smart and knowledgeable about my situation, but also kind, funny, and in no hurry to get us out of our initial meeting.  No question was silly.  No tear was mocked.  He was (and is) a genuinely fine surgeon and an amazing person.  I can't say enough good about this man who essentially came to save my life ... (to be cont'd)

Thursday, February 16, 2012