Wednesday, May 23, 2012

the overflow

another overlaod of pictures. SO MUCH TIME TO MAKE UP WITH PICTURES!!
1) some of my loverly friends that came to visit me! i love them so much!! 2) what a wonderful night i had with my bestest friend Noi. we stayed up till after 2am talking, laughing and...crying. 3) My first hug from Noi after surgery. 4) feeling completely adventurous with my friend addi at my first concert ever, COLDPLAY! this concert would NOT have been doable without my oversized wheel chair. 5) out to dinner with amanda and her fam bam. 6) one of amamnda's precious little girls. this girls love is sweetness to my soul. 7) first time poker champ at family poker night! i give all credit to the titanium/terminator side of me. 8) me seizing the day. this was right before my cape came out and i flew around the city fighting tumors. 9) what a special friend i have in tami. this girls visits brought me coffee, laughter, princess balloons, mad libs and a felt coloring poster! what could be better? 10) what do we have here? my sweet aunt hand crafted me a bobble head! i am a bobble head?!
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so remember in my last post how i said that i nearly died? well this isn't my first near death experience...

in high school my brother and i got in a really bad car accident on our way to a track meet. we hit black ice coming down a very steep and curvy road. we flipped upside down and slid all the way down the hill and somehow avoided sliding off the cliff. the paramedics were telling us that the wrecks they see like ours, do not come with surviving passengers. they were calling us "lucky" but i saw it different. you see, before the wreck happened. before we even left our house, i was getting into the car and i had a feeling in my gut to recline the seat back just in case we flipped upside down in a car wreck (not even kidding) i also thought i should slide the seat as far back as it could go, and even put the pillows and blankets that we brought for the track meet into my lap. clearly this wasn't 'luck' i don't even know if i believe in that word at all. but anyways, God wasn't done with me then, and He still isn't done with me yet.
at that time in my life, i didn't feel a rush of life cuz of nearly dying. the only thing i really took away from it was that i need to listen to those feelings i get, cuz they can save my life. and learning what my sister and i wanted to 'pass down' to each other if either of us died. i would inherit all of her clothes, and she would inherit my letterman's jacket (since she hadn't lettered yet, something i LOVED that i had before her) little did i know, she actually would be in a car accident herself 9 months later, and be one of those un-surviving passengers. you can read about that dreadful day HERE.
p.s. i still have a lot of her favorite clothes and wear them as often as i can, and when i do i want to tell every one that i am wearing her clothes. i want them to know her as much as they can, maybe they will gain a little of her joy, a little of her heart, hear a little of her laughter if they see her clothes on me. these clothes mean the world to me.

well, this time. this near death experience of mine has changed my life for good.

waking up from surgery, after receiving my very delayed morphine pump...i hear:
"so, did you hear that they nicked your artery?"
"no?" i replied. not even realizing what that meant.
"yea, they nicked the artery and they couldn't find the hole. you lost a lot of blood. they had to call for a vascular surgeon to come in for immediate assistance"
"wow. really?" i say...
"yea, you almost died"- said my boyfriend. his face was pale. he got up and started to walk to the foot of my bed.
"wait, what? i almost died? what? what do you mean?!" i said frantic, wanting to know more of what he and my family just went through.
"yea, they called us into a small room..." tears rushed into his eyes. he grabbed my feet to rub them, but he froze and the saddest expression covered his face.
"babe, i am so sorry."

he still cant really talk about it. i don't blame him, i can't imagine losing him.

fast forward 2 weeks i am out of the hospital, and i am back home in Oregon. spending most of my time sleeping. for the first few weeks i probably slept about 18 hours a day. when i was awake i was eating, throwing up, or watching tv. quite a life right?
eventually i was able to begin wrapping my head around the magnitude of what it meant that my artery was nicked...that i could have died so easily. after the somewhat of a depression that it initially left me in. i began to see life in a whole new way. my relationships, my lifestyle, my beliefs... i began to have an overflow of gladness, of appreciation. like i started all over again. like God gave me another chance. i had never felt more alive than i did at that time.
an overflow of emotions has been constant, but not always for the good. sometimes, my pain is so severe that it breaks me down. and down and down i go, falling into my pit of despair. i become overflowing in weakness. overflowing in desperation for help and relief. nothing giving me hope.
this has been one of the wildest rides i've ever been on. yes, i have been through extremely hard times in my life, but never have i been so in tuned to my emotions, my feelings and what they mean. now i feel my grief like never before. i feel my grief with no walls to guard or hide its depth. and on that same level i have never felt my joy, gratitude and peace as greatly as i have in these days.
a couple weeks ago i was feeling so broken. in so much pain. but i knew that i was going to be ok. because God has always proved to me that i am in His hands. i wrote these words to be my reminder:

When all is taken away and yet we still see Him, its clear that in His hands is where we are. Its where we've always been.

i have been repeating this over and over again to myself and wanted to share it with you all. why must it take something huge like almost dying to let us understand this simple yet profound fact? why must it take over a thousand tumors for me to comprehend this?

yes, this ride has been wild. but as i step back, i see that His hands surround me. and that my friends, is the only place where i want to be. come what may, i will still be here. wrapped gently in my makers hands. its where i've always been.

Monday, May 7, 2012

one less.

OVER LOAD of photos...(WARNING: some photos are gross)
1 and 2) before surgery. bein silly to keep me from bein crazy.
3 and 4) the strongest man i know, and he just happens to love me like crazy. praying and loving on me before i went under the knife.
5, 6 and 7) in the ICU, learning i almost died. 
8 and 9) still in ICU showing off my battle wounds and my amazing blood drainage sack
10, 11 and 12) in my private room...
13) saying my goodbyes to some seriously amazing nurses.
14) in the ER a few days after surgery because my head was swelling. but they sent me home and said that it was only normal to have that swelling after this type of surgery. wanna know why? cuz they drilled through my skull in 4-6 different places and clamped it tight in order to keep my head still during this crazy dangerous surgery. yea...DRILLED through my skull. 
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im baaaaack! and i am with one less tumor! if your happy and you know it clap your hands!! CLAP CLAP!

days leading up to the surgery my mind and heart were numb. i knew that this was a dangerous surgery, but never did i imagine just how dangerous. a lot of you, facebook friends, local churches, friends and family were praying for me; and i am forever grateful.

so, there is so much to say. i really don't know where to begin.

first off, they got ALL of the tumor.

secondly, there was a "slight" complication.
this tumor (about a square inch) was so complex, not only was it part way in my spinal canal and messing with my spinal cord, but it was hanging out partly in my vertebrae entangling itself within those nerves and vertebral artery as well. when the surgeon tried to get that part (the final part) he nicked my artery. the nick so small, the team of surgeons couldn't find it. and even though the nick was small, i was loosing lots of blood, i lost about 40% of my blood in minutes. but you know what? God must not be done with me yet, because there was a vascular surgeon in the surgery room next door who was called into our room to help out. Dr Awesome found the nick, stitched it up and saved my life. i keep playing around with the ideas in my head of how perfectly detailed that the Lord orchestrated that day for me to still be alive. if the vascular surgeon wasn't next door, if he wasn't working that day, a slightly bigger nick...i could go on forever. its mind boggling to me that i could have died just like that. my poor family was called into a room to learn of what was going on, and to sit and wait. i feel terribly that they had to go through that. they still don't like to talk about it.

coming out of surgery was a hoot. i had to be taken to the cath lab to make sure my artery was fully closed up. since this was during the last hour or so of my anesthesia when i arrived in the ICU i started waking up....with NO PAIN MEDS. nurses still hadn't received orders from the doctor for my they couldn't give me any.

opening my eyes, i think.

'i'm alive! i'm alive i'm alive i'm alive!!!" i automatically want to check out my moving ability's since i was so terrified of becoming partially or fully paralyzed. so, i wiggle my fingers-check. toes-check. YES!! nurse notices i am awake, she also checks my fingers and toes and...she agrees...i can do it.
shortly after, i remember my mom showing up. i tell her i can move my fingers and toes. but, i hurt! i hurt so bad. after the thrill of not being paralyzed sort of drifts away with the anesthesia....this pain is like thunder. all in the back of my neck. HOLY crap bombs!! its all i feel now, i cant ignore this agony. i wanted this torture to stop. was i supposed to be awake yet? why does it feel like my neck is open and surgeons are ripping out my bones? the worst. the worst pain i have ever felt. now when they ask me, "if 10 is the level of the worst pain you've ever felt, what is your pain level at now?" i'm like, "um zero, zilch nothing? negative a billion?"
instead of screaming like i sooo wanted to do, i whispered. and tears slowly fell down my cheeks. i whispered to my mom not to do or say anything stupid to the nurses as we waited for my morphine (cuz obviously she didn't want to see me in pain, and was trying to get the nurses to do something about it). i had to stay in control. i didn't want any of my family to know just how badly i hurt. the quieter i was, the more calm they would be. and therefor the more calm i would be. i'm tellin you. it was nuts. no pain killer immediately after surgery, may as well been attacked by someone on the streets that did some crazy knife work on my neck. would have felt the same.

i was in the ICU till the following day, and then moved to my own private room (praise God) till that friday when i was finally released!! i stayed at family's house in california for about 4 days and then made the trip home to oregon. i have been home for a few weeks now and i feel like i have been on the most extreme roller coaster of my life. i will share the emotional side of it in a different post. but physically, the past few weeks, my incision and some of my body parts that were effected by the surgery have been healing well. however, i am still in more pain than i was before this surgery. my shoulder and arms? oh my shoulder and arms!! especially my right one. the surgeon told me he sacrificed some sensory nerves (no big deal) but he also had to remove the entire nerve that the tumor was on, and unfortunately this was a muscle controlling nerve. now my right shoulder and arm hang about 2 inches lower than my left arm and i feel like they function less than half of what they did before.

still waiting to go back for my follow up appointment. will find out more about how permanent these symptoms will be. so until then i try not to be too distraught.

thank you all for your love your prayers and all of your kind words. you are all a help and give me strength to keep up the fight.