New Travel Plans

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First of all, let me say that my recovery has been going better than I expected physically, but slow going on the mental end of things : ) A month after the surgery I could not walk on the treadmill for more than 30min before my scar would hurt and I’d have to take a break. Slowly I have been building up my endurance. The problem with working out was that the motion – especially moving fast – would cause me to be really dizzy, have headaches, throbbing pain on my scar, and disorientation.

So, I decided to take things slow, and to improve little by little, patiently, each day.

Now I can work out on the elliptical machine for 15min (a new record for me!) and then do 15min on the bike machine, and then if I’m up for it a couple laps in the pool!! All back to back! I like to think of this as my own mini-triathlon! In addition I have been learning to get back to myself. I no longer have daily panic attacks or bouts of depression. I still have thoughts and feelings that come to me when I don’t want them to, but I spend more of my day happy than sad! I am feeling like myself and feeling upbeat again! So, with my strength building and my feelings mostly under control Scott and I decided it would be good to get out of the UAE for a bit to relax, travel, and be together away from it all. What’s then plan, you ask?

Paris and Belgium

IMG_20140728_170240[1]Why Paris? Well, because it’s so romantic! I traveled to Paris while in college after studying abroad for 3 months in Tanzania with my good friend Heather : ) We had such a good time there and managed to see all the major sights! Since going, I’ve always wanted to return, and after meeting and falling in love with Scott I knew I wanted to one day return with him. 6 years ago, Scott attempted to make this dream come true. But we were just starting out and could in no way afford a trip to Paris, France. So, instead Scott took me to Paris, Ontario! Not quite the same thing, but I always love Scott for his thoughtfulness : ) So for a real blast from the past – here is a pic of Scott and I in Paris, Ontario in 2008 . . .

Picture 079And yes, I loved Scott’s long hair! We were so adorable : ) I can’t wait to get to Paris and add to this a picture of us, with the Seine River in the background instead of the Grand River. If you had told me, at the time of this picture, that in 6 years I’d be traveling to the actual Paris, France I would have laughed out loud in your face and said you were stupid. But, here we are, leaving tonight for Paris, France! Unbelievable!

But why Belgium? Because we love beer tasting and Belgian beers, and Belgium style beers are my favorite. Plus some of the Belgian beers are brewed in Trappist Monasteries! Now that’s really cool. In Amsterdam we got to try various beers from Belgium that you can’t get in the States and loved them all!

DSCN9775I mean, look at that beer list! Beer tasting in Belgium has always been on our bucket list since Scott’s sister and her husband traveled there. So, because there are so many exciting things happening over these next two weeks, I wanted to be able to share bits of our trip with you as you go. For the next two weeks, I will be posting a picture/snapshot each day so you can travel along with me. I am using Susannah’s August Break challenge as a springboard for this.

It’s really very simple – and you can join in to by clicking this link. All you have to do is take one picture, everyday for the month of August – that’s it! You can share on instagram, your blog, facebook, or just enjoy the project and keep the pictures for yourself. If you need inspiration, Susannah provides a word for each day for you to interpret into a photograph. I’m really excited about this and I feel it will be a great way to share our travels with you – as we travel! See you in Paris . . .

Moving . . .

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DSCN0008Sorry it has been sooo long since my last post – things have been crazy! We found out at the beginning of July that we will be transferred from Al Ain to Abu Dhabi! We are very excited and optimistic about this change. To be quite honest, Scott and I never felt at home in Al Ain. We are city people and love being in the hustle and bustle of everything. Al Ain was more like a gigantic suburb. There was nothing wrong about our time there, it’s just that lifestyle didn’t fit with our personalities. With our new place, Scott said it was like our quality of life improved overnight. Here is a picture of our new home as featured in a local magazine (we are the lower building that is curved with balconies):

Magazine Article ArcIn addition to that, our apartment in Al Ain never felt like a home – the layout was awkward, there was very little light (we called the place our cave), and despite efforts to personalize the place it just never felt like a home, like a place we wanted to be. We have been living in our new apartment in Abu Dhabi now for a week and already it feels more like a home than our old place ever did. There is an open layout, plenty of light, and it is just 5 minutes to the city center. We feel connected again, vibrant, and excited about being in this country. The city we now call home:

DSCN1036It is crazy to think that we have been in this country long enough to move. This move has been really good for me mentally, though. I feel like I have a fresh start. The surgery is behind me and now I can move forward. Plus there is a doctor only 10 minutes away who can help me if I need anything (in Al Ain it would have been and hour and a half to the nearest doctor that could help with my situation). Not only that but our new housing placements are miles beyond our old housing placement in Al Ain. Included in our housing – for free – are 3 pools, a tennis court, basketball courts, squash court, and gyms. Plus there is a mall with a grocery store right across the street! It really is, in my opinion, shocking how different the housing situations in Al Ain are versus the housing situations in Abu Dhabi. We moved from a two bedroom apartment to a one bedroom apartment, but I think that the square footage is about the same. We have a nice, big, bright, livable living area with an open kitchen, plus a big bedroom with built in wardrobes! Plus a half bath and a full on-suite bath. Here is a snapshot of our place before we moved our furniture (hoping to post it furnished later):

Apartment collageour balconyour view:

DSCN0001the facilities:

facilities collageWe used a moving company to help us move – and for anyone following in the UAE and looking for movers, I would HIGHLY recommend these guys! They were extremely professional and took great care of our furniture. They were only a touch pricier than other companies I heard about – but I also heard that those companies damaged furniture, scratched things, and were not nearly as professional. It seems like you get what you pay for in this matter. The name of the company was Al Marazeeq Movers – they wore a uniform, came the day before the move to assess what they needed to bring, and even wrapped all the furniture before transporting it to ensure no damage was done to it. Plus, and this is the best part, not only were they on time but they were EARLY! Something that is a miracle in this country! They were efficient, careful, and respectful.

2014-07-10 08.59.122014-07-10 08.21.09They had to take apart our bed to fit it into the elevator so they disassembled it, wrapped each piece, and put it back together again in our new apartment. So, any of my UAE followers/friends if you need a mover – call them! Ok, now back to our new home:

IMG_20140720_172004[1]So, we are still unpacking boxes but are really enjoying our new home – and it really feels like a home this time. Plus the pool and gym have been great for my recovery. It is too hot and humid this time of the year to be walking outside so the cool water and air conditioned gym are perfect for me to get my strength back!

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I am really optimistic about this upcoming school year and looking forward to healthier lifestyle changes and a bit of city life!

The Psychology of Recovery: Moving Foward After Surgery

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arthur's seat 1After I found out about my aneurysm, life was categorized by lack of rest: there was fear, anxiety, restlessness, nervousness, worry, doubt, and a lingering unknown. I was able to cope with these daily feelings through prayer, reading cards and words of encouragement from friends and family, faith, allowing my husband to carry me during this time, and creating moments of peace (hot bath, meditation, reading). Because of these things I was able to enter the operating room peacefully, and as I went under I felt safe, loved, and ready.

IMG-20140422-WA0001When the surgery was over my family told me that I woke up 4 times, but I only remember waking up once (thanks anesthesia)! Each time my family said I did the same thing: I would ask if it’s all over, if the surgery worked, if the clips were put in, if my blood redirected, and if I was in the ICU. Each time my family would kindly respond that I was fine, everything worked, in fact things went better than planned, and that I was safely in the ICU. Each time I would smile, sigh, close my eyes, and say “Oh good,” and fall slowly back to sleep.

image()I love that story – but it shows the underlying nervousness I had about the procedure. I wanted, more than anything, to know that I was okay, that my problem was solved, that I was healed. It was not until 2 weeks after the surgery that I began to process all of my previous emotions. I was able to talk through a lot with my gentle friend Jenia who phrased things perfectly: She said that before the surgery it was almost like I didn’t want to raise my blood pressure or get worked up because I was fearful of my aneurysm rupturing. Now that my body understood that it was healed, it also realized that it could release all these past emotions because the fear of the aneurysm rupturing was gone. And that’s what was happening – a flood of emotions hit me. For the first 2 weeks I rode the high of being alive, of surviving. Then all those unresolved emotions crept back in: fear, anxiety, restlessness, nervousness, worry, doubt, and the lingering unknown. My surgery was over, but I didn’t believe it. I held onto those emotions.

Arthur's seat 3It wasn’t long before I started to have daily anxiety/panic attacks and moments of utter sadness. I started to realized I needed to ask for help when one night while out for dinner with Scott and my parents I broke down crying – for no apparent reason. I wasn’t just sad – I was sadness. I had daily breakdowns. The surgery was physically over, but mentally, I was just beginning to process everything that had happened. It took me 4 weeks before I could say out loud that my surgery was over, that it was in my past, that I didn’t need to worry about it anymore. I was thankful my surgery went so well and I was so peaceful during that time, but now I had to relearn new strategies and for dealing with these overwhelming feelings in healthy ways.

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The problem with my anxiety/panic/sadness attacks was that they were so severe all I was in those moments was fear, or anxiety, or sadness. I could not think through why I was feeling this way. I was wholly, completely, and only that emotion. My parents, husband, and even neurologist agreed that seeing a psychiatrist would be a good option. I am sharing this because I believe that honesty heals, that sharing creates connections, and openness creates community. The more I talk about this the more I find that others have struggled with the same things. I have learned that there is no harm in reaching out to others when going through a time like this. And I have found that I have not been disappointed – God has surrounded me with people who support me – both here and far away.

giftsSlowly I am learning to let these emotions go. Slowly I am still healing. Slowly I am moving forward with my life. Because how do you move on after a life threatening moment like this? How do you go back to normal after your life has had a complete over-haul? How do you start up your life again after it came to a complete and shocking stop?

Slowly I am learning that it happens one small step at a time . . .

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Turning 27 . . .

Today is my birthday – and I am 27. For the first time in a long time I am happy to be turning another year older!

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Turning 27 means that I have made it through brain surgery – I am a survivor of a brain aneurysm!

Turning 27 means I can move forward with my life – I can continue to recover, grow stronger, and look forward to another year!

My 26th year was a tumultuous one filled with heartache, exploration, fear, strength, anxiety and faith. To be honest I am happy to see it over, but also I am grateful to have learned so much. Here are a few of the major things life was teaching me in this past year . . .

1. What I learned from Grandma Staley . . .

NYC and Renee's Wedding 059Back in October, Scott’s grandmother passed away. This was a devastating moment. Honestly, I thought she would live well into her 100s. She was vibrant, thoughtful, caring, and full of life, humor, and love. Flying home in October taught me many important things but most importantly it impressed upon me the immense importance of family. Seeing Scott’s family gather around her during this time, flying in from around the world, and holding her hand while she slept was such a beautiful picture of love at its most vulnerable and true form. To me, during those moments, I realized that family is key to solving the meaning of life. Family is what holds us together, supports us, and draws us closer to the face of God. While going through my brain surgery experience I often thought of Scott’s grandma – her strength, her positivity, and her vibrancy. And I knew I had a deep wealth of love to draw upon to support me – family.

2. What I learned from traveling . . .

DSCN0316 editedWhile I was 26, Scott and I were able to travel to 7 different countries. From up north in Scotland, down to Turkey – from the canals of Amsterdam, to the canals of Venice – and from the Danube River all the way up to the Alps in Austria. We have explored a lot of places! So, what have I found? The most comforting travel companion – my husband. As much as I love traveling, flying and getting around causes me much trepidations. But Scott is always there – holding my hand as a plane takes off, reassuring me during times of worry, and making me laugh and explore when I’d rather be shy and stay in one place. I have learned through traveling with Scott how to be bold, to fit in, and to relax.

3. What I learned from my aneurysm . . .

image(3)Going through the diagnosis of a brain aneurysm, tons of testing (MRIs, CT, angiograms), hearing that brain surgery was the only way to save my life, and then the actual brain surgery have taught me many, many things – things that I am still processing, applying, and learning from. Through the chaos of all of this, two things have become clear: 1) That I can trust God, and 2) that I can still hope.

DSCN8971 editedThis was probably one of the most scary, and life altering things that I have gone through. But I have learned that God is someone I CAN trust – and I am still reminding myself of this one. God carried me through all of this, and now I can trust that he will continue to carry me through as I move forward with my life. I also learned that I can always hope. Lately I have been struggling with a mix of anxiety and depression (something I will post about soon), but I CAN hope. I can always hope. I can learn to trust the positive thoughts in my brain over the negative ones. This experience is teaching me so much.

And with turning 27, I can learn to move forward, to take care of myself, and to love.

Pixie Dust: A Brain Surgery Story

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First of all, let me apologize for not blogging in so long. I think this has been the longest I’ve gone without blogging. I have been recovering and physically my recovery has been really great. I have surprised even myself with how well I have been doing. I have even returned to work – well sort of. Right now it is exam time so going to work consists mostly of sitting around, marking, and catching up with colleagues. If I had to return to full-blow teaching, well that I mentally couldn’t handle right now. My thinking is definitely slower than before and it takes me longer to process and respond to things – conversations can be overwhelming. Emotionally dealing with recovery is another issue – one I plan to blog about in the future. So that’s just a little recap . . . now for a fun brain surgery story : )

image 6Before the procedure I remember sitting down with my doctor to talk about the technicalities of the surgery. I wanted to know how things were going to happen, where they were going to happen, and what exactly was supposed to take place. I knew that 2 surgical clips needed to be placed in my brain around the aneurysm. That meant metal in my brain – so the questions arose, “Can I get MRIs, CTs, etc. in the future?” The doctor reassured me that yes I could.

BrainI then said, “Can I get MRIs, CTs, etc. because of the screws and plate on my skull?” My doctor smiled a little and chuckled as he said “What screws and plate?” Well, this didn’t amuse me – he was the doctor, surely you have to put my skull back together somehow! I then said, “Well if it’s not screws and plates, how does my skull bone get put back together??! I’m not a puzzle, the piece doesn’t just fit back in!” Again my doctor, always amused by my questions, said “Don’t worry, it’s my secret.” Hahaha that certainly wasn’t what I wanted to hear. So I said “Common, what do you use? Fairy dust or something?!” And again, with that smile on his face and a chuckle in his chest, he refused to give me an answer. So I left the consultation and a couple days later entered the operating room still not knowing how he was going to piece my brain back together!

photo 2See that smirk on my doctor’s face!? That’s the one I’m talking about. He was full of humor and nice surprises! The best neurosurgeon I could have had. Anyways, after the surgery the doctor finally told us what he had done. Apparently in order to open the piece of my skull, 3 holes needed to be drilled. Then a tool was used to connect the dots, if you will, and release that piece of bone. When putting that piece back on my skull, the doctor drills more holes that are smaller and uses surgical thread to put it back in place. He also puts a bone glue in the three larger holes to seal it all up again. Then, over the course of this year my bone will fully heal. After the surgery, my dear friend Jenna came to see how we were doing. She had a gift for me that I just cherish and always brings a smile to my face:

IMG_20140623_175440This quote really recaps my experience – All I needed was (1) faith – in God, that he would carry me through, (2) trust – in God and my doctors and all the staff at Neuro Spinal, and (3) Pixie Dust – that magical glue that is holding my skull together! This has certainly been an experience for me, to say the least, and I am still, even a month later, processing all of it, but it has shown me how important my faith is to me and that it’s okay to trust God. Plus a little Pixie Dust doesn’t hurt : )

Can’ts, Don’ts, and Musts of Post Brain Surgery Life . . .

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Me Post Brain Surgery:

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The Can’ts

Life after brain surgery, I’ve found, is full of things that you can no longer do on your own. So make sure you have someone nearby at all times to help you. I was lucky enough to have my parents fly all the way our here to help me recover. This allows my husband to go to work but also it means I am not home alone. So here are some of the things you can’t do after brain surgery:

  • You can’t brush your own hair:

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  • You can’t shower on your own for at least 2 weeks. Make sure someone is in the house while you shower to help you in and out of the shower and is there in case you slip. Better still buy grippers for the shower floor and a shower chair/stool:

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  • Heat is even more brutal! I find I get more lightheaded quicker – and the heat here is pretty intense (just yesterday it was 115 degrees!)
  • You can’t deal with bright lights. I was never sensitive to bright lights before surgery but after it’s just sometimes too much. It’s hot and really sunny here in the UAE! Often I’m turning on softer lights or closing the curtains.
  • You can’t ride in a car without getting car sick. Ok, so before the surgery I was prone to car sickness, but after I am even more sensitive to it. After surgery I had to drive an hour and a half home from Dubai to Al Ain. My dad had the idea of giving me the eye patches from the flight over to get rid of the sun (couldn’t wear sunglasses because of incision) and to help me relax.
  • Can’t poop. Yeah I’m talking about poop here on my blog. Because of the pain medicines – and not to mention the trauma of brain surgery your body just went through, you will have trouble pooping. The intestines are the last thing to come back to normal after major surgery and anesthesia. So be sure you have some laxatives nearby to help.
  • You can’t get dressed without help for a while. Putting a shirt over your head seems daunting so be sure to have some button down pajamas and shirts. Also elastic will be you best friend – pajamas pants, yoga pants, anything with an elastic band is heaven!
  • You can’t watch T.V. or read for too long. Because the bone flap they removed was near my eye, using my right eye to reach or look at a screen hurt. If I read for more than 30 minutes I’d have pain. If I watched T.V. for more than 30 minutes I’d have pain. Don’t worry though because this improves over time. I’ve been recovering for 2 weeks and already I can do 2, sometimes more, hours of reading and watching T.V.

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  • You can’t do daily things so having people help you is huge – and allowing people to help you. You can’t shop, cook, clean, etc. My friend Jenia offered to help us out before the surgery with getting our errands done and it was a huge help for us! She offered to help and during this time you need to let people help you.
  • You can’t hear normal. You will pick up and hear different frequencies of sound and it will make you super sensitive to loud noises and high pitches. You will have ringing in your ears and think you’re crazy. I’ve gone to the door bell to answer the door when the bell hasn’t rung. You will hear video game noises in your ear – embrace it because its now the new soundtrack to your life. Some sounds will echo. For example someone will say something at a certain frequency like okay! and you will hear in your brain okay! Okay! Okay! Okay! And when you turn to tell that person to shut up you’ll realize that they haven’t been talking! Hahaha its best to just laugh about it!

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Don’ts

  • Don’t push yourself. Remember you just had brain surgery – its okay to rest. If you’re tired – sleep. If there is too much going on around you and you feel overstimulated – leave the room. If you’re hungry eat. If you want to lay by a pool and read a book – lay by the pool

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  • Don’t miss your pain meds. If the doc says take panadol every six hours – do it. Don’t let your pain get too high because it takes a while for the medicine to kick in.
  • Don’t sit or stand for too long. In fact, don’t stand up or lay down two quickly either because the blood with rush either to or away form your head giving you a quick feeling of lightheadedness.
  • Don’t walk alone. Or as my husband’s favorite football club, Liverpool, sings “Never walk alone!” When walking in a mall or out and about sometimes you’ll get tired so having someone nearby to lean on is a must!

photo 1Musts

  • Must be patient. Things will take longer and that’s okay. Have others remind you of your progress to help you stay patient.

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  • Must communicate with those around you. Many won’t know how to react or deal with what you just went through (and honestly you are still trying to know how you should react to all this). If you need quiet, tell those around you. If you need rest, let everyone know and go lay down. If you’ve had enough walking or being up, let those around you know you need a break.
  • You must keep a list of verses and quotes that will motivate and inspire you. Often after surgery I was feeling defeated, like someone hit me over the head with a baseball bat, or like I was just too exhausted. During these times I had my husband, mom, or dad, read a quote from my list and this helped me to stay positive and to keep going.

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  • Must eat healthy. You are recovering so you need to treat your body right. Some days I would just eat what was around – chocolate, cookies, ice cream. But really you need yogurt, fruit, salad and your body will crave these things. A fruit basket is the best thing for someone after surgery! Tell those taking care of you to remind you to eat healthy.
  • You must pray, journal, read – do what you need to in order to keep your faith strong. One devotional that really carried me through all of this was “Streams in the Desert” by L.B. Cowman.
  • You must continue to do what is important. For example a week and a half after surgery I attended my girls’ graduation party. Of course, remember my don’ts – as in Don’t push yourself. I only went for an hour and didn’t stay the whole time but being able to see my girls graduate and say some words to them was worth it (just take your pain meds before you go!). Also my mom and dad are here with me for 3 weeks from America. I won’t be able to see them for a while (we are unable to come home this summer) so I’m trying to spend as much time with them as I can!

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  • Must use humor! Phrases like “That blows my mind!” or “peace of mind” or “don’t want that in the back of my mind” will have a whole new meaning and make you laugh! And laughter is good so laugh away! My doctor had a sense of humor too. When I woke up from surgery and was in the ICU I said “Doctor is everything ok? Is it all over?” He just smiled and looked at me and said, “What do you say we do this again tomorrow!” Hahahaha can you believe that??!! I owe that man, Dir. Bitar on the left, my life:

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  • You must make things to look forward to. The road to recovery is long and it can be overwhelming when you look at the whole picture. So plan little things in the week to look forward to. Maybe tomorrow you will walk a little further. In a couple days you’ll meet up with a friend. In a week you’ll go out for coffee with your husband. These little things will make check points for you mentally.

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  • You must get super cute pajamas before surgery because after surgery this is all you’ll want to wear – and the cuter the pjs the happier you’ll be. I got pjs from my mom, family, and my good friend Jenna. All cozy, comfortable, cute, and fun!

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  • You must treat yourself in little and big ways – remember you just had brain surgery so you can basically do what you want! For example when we went to Applebee’s for dinner yours truly ordered a Shirley Temple instead of her usual water – it’s the little things that make me smile. My husband even treated me to a piano! This will really help me recover : ) Also the weekend I was to get my staples removed in Dubai we decided to treat ourselves big and stay on the Palm Islands in Dubai and live it up! Only 3 of my 57 staples hurt when coming out! Not bad if you ask me : ) Also while staying on the Palm in Dubai I treated myself by calling the minimart from across the street because they delivered ice cream to our door!!

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I hope you enjoyed this list. Those are just a few of the things that stick out to me. I’m sure there’s more I’m forgetting to tell. But most important remember that you’re body has just gone through A LOT – rest, sleep, and be gentle with yourself.

 

Life Lately

Here are some things that I have been thinking about/that have touched me lately . . .

UntitledIt’s amazing how you will always need your parents. Things have come full circle. As a baby my mother fed me, washed me, combed my hair, and made sure I was sleeping enough. Since the surgery she and my dad have been right by my side. So often I am touched by their love. While combing my hair I could not help but think of when I was a small child and my mother would do this for me before school – and here I am an adult, and I still need her as my mom. While growing up my Dad’s home made chicken noodle soup always made things better – and after brain surgery as an adult nothing is better than his chicken soup. It’s basically a bowl of love:

IMG_20140523_193656I was also touched that my friend Thahnah took the time to visit me at my home when I returned from the hospital. She brought me gorgeous flowers, chocolates, and the warm joy of her company. She has been such a sweet and gentle friend for me through all of this.

IMG_20140524_122031 IMG_20140526_063648Last has been my amazing husband. He still calls me beautiful – even with 50 staples in my head. He has been so strong for me through all of this – never letting me doubt, never letting me be anything less than positive and hopeful. I could not have made it this far in my recovery without him. He has been my rock, he is the love of my life, and he has stolen my heart forever. I am overwhelmed by how blessed I am.

IMG_20140525_191608I even want to give a shout out to Susannah Conway and her blog. Before all of this happened I was taking a class offered by her called The Sacred Alone. You can take it too – she is offering it again this fall! And it is totally worth it. During this class we learned how to be reflective, meditate, and journal. The whole idea is to be ok when you are alone. The word sacred is not too far off from the word scared – and I find when I am alone I am often scared. This class completely prepared me for my experience with brain surgery. So often I was alone – either in an MRI machine, on an operating table, in a hospital room, or even just sleeping at night. Instead of being scared, this class taught me how to find the sacred in those moments – through meditation, prayer, and reflection. Being alone doesn’t have to be scary and I’m so glad I learned that before having brain surgery. Often the doctors would remark at how peaceful me and my family were and how well my body worked with them during the surgery and procedures – coincidence? I think not. Through that class I have learned to pray continuously and I know God was with me through all of that. I have found peace in and through all things – a peace that surpasses understanding. I know I will get through this surgery one step at a time, one moment at a time, one breath at a time. So, here’s the the journey ahead of me and to improvements each day, joy each day, and peace through it all . . .

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An Update from my Mom

So hello again everyone! I am so happy to say that my surgery went “Perfect” – that’s right perfect! That was the word the doctors used : ) I feel so lucky to be alive! While recovering in the hospital over this past week my mother has taken many pictures and put this update together. Since I’m still not cognitively ready to put a whole post together, I thought this was perfect. Enjoy . . .

Jenna had a really good night last night.  She did need a shot for the pain before bed, but that took care of it and she only woke two times to use bathroom.  She hasn, t needed more than like a Tylenol since and is eating normally, up and around , and now taking a cat nap ( it’s 2:00 PM ).  Tomorrow (Wednesday) is routine follow up angiogram, then home Thursday!
The blessings and love we have received has been over whelming, and much appreciated.
They have sooo enjoyed opening up all the many, many cards and gifts from you all!  We have been rationing them and she will probably be opening them for a few weeks!!!!
Luv to everyone!
😊😉😍😘

 

Surgery day 1 ( Saturday ):  post op, ICU
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Day 2 (Sunday):

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Day3 AM (Monday):

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Day 3 PM: after her shower and bandage removal and revealing of her Headband Crown or better yet her Princess Tiara!!!!

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About 50 stitches to the tiara !

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And now Day 4 (Tuesday)

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And the blessings continue !
Jenna had a really good night last night.  She did need a shot for the pain before bed, but that took care of it and she only woke two times to use bathroom.  She hasn, t needed more than like a Tylenol since and is eating normally, up and around , and now taking a cat nap ( it’s 2:00 PM ).  Tomorrow (Wednesday) is routine follow up angiogram, then home Thursday!
The blessings and love we have received has been over whelming, and much appreciated.
They have sooo enjoyed opening up all the many, many cards and gifts from you all!  We have been rationing them and she will probably be opening them for a few weeks!!!!
Luv to everyone!

I’m having brain surgery . . .

That’s something I never thought I’d ever have to say . . . “I’m having brain surgery . . and . . I’m having brain surgery this Saturday.” Wow, it still hasn’t sunk in, and at times I just can’t believe it.

BrainAs of last week the doctors thought that putting a stent in my brain and doing a more non-invasive surgery was going to be a good option to treat my aneurysm. After further review it looks like if the stent works I will be on blood thinners and will be at a high risk of stroke because of how small the vessel is. The reason treatment options have not been so clear for me is because my aneurysm is unusual – unusual – a word you don’t want to hear when talking about the medical condition of your brain! Anyways, after reviewing with some of the best neurologists in Paris, my doctors came to the conclusion that brain surgery really is my best – if not only – option. . . I tried to be strong, but the doctors saw some tears.

DSCN9913 editedRecovery will take initially 6 weeks. From there I can hopefully go back to work. After 3 months people say their cognitive stamina is better. By six months most people are almost normal; they just tire really easily. And then in a year my skull will be fully healed. I want so badly to wake up from the surgery and know it worked and know I’m ok and just need to recover.

DSCN9894Things have been super stressful lately and the to do list is piling up. Really, how can you prepare for brain surgery? Unfortunately our job has no personal days so I can’t take off work without getting my pay docked. I was also told that my final marks for my students need to be done before I leave (basically sum up a whole trimester in a week) and that it is my responsibility to prepare my students now for their final exam in June. Not to mention all the cleaning around the house and shopping for post surgery things: like linens, pajamas, button down shirts, shower stool, etc. I need a day to myself to relax, decompress, and be with my husband. I have moments where I am overwhelmed and stressed, but then I get an email, or a card and I’m reminded to be strong, to be positive, and that I will make it through . . .

DSCN9899Those of you who have contacted me recently have totally helped me in ways you probably don’t realize. Each time someone says they believe I’ll make it through this, or they know I’m in good hands, that I’m in the right place, or that God is looking out for me, I feel such reassurance. My continual prayer is that I get through this surgery safely, I recover safely, and I am able to get back to normal over the course of this year.

Mom and DadThe number one thing that I am most thankful, grateful and blessed about is the fact that my parents will be here on Friday. They will be able to give Scott so much support – taking care of me, cooking, laundry etc. I will not be able to do much and knowing that I have them to help me shower, clean, and get through each day makes me feel so blessed. My husband has been nothing short of miraculous for me. He has tried to maintain a sense of normalcy in this chaos, he has held me when I cried, reassured me when I’m scared, and has never been doubtful. I could not have made it this far without him.

VeniceSo, what does this mean? Well I might not be blogging for a while! I have no idea how I’m going to feel or cognitively how much I will be able to put up with. I will have Scott get on the blog and update all of you when he can. Of course prayers for a safe, clean surgery and a good, healthy recovery are much appreciated. I know I certainly have a long journey of recovery ahead of me . . .