Month: February, 2012
Today is definitely a day of celebration, in a doubly good sort of way. It’s one of those huge birthdays for me… the over the hill kind… FOUR ZERO. Seriously?? How does time go by SO quickly? I remember when my parents turned 40. They each threw big surprise parties for each other. My dad’s was a celebration shared with another birthday friend in the gym of our church with tons of people and cake. My mom’s was a breakfast party… one where her friends came and woke her up at 8am on a Saturday and made her go to breakfast without any makeup on. And now mine. Boy, did my husband surprise me in a big way this past weekend. I had no idea and I was completely caught off guard, especially because the story he told me to get me to the party location involved me having just about each and every emotion possible by the time we made it through the doors of the restaurant (which was 3 hours away so that it would be easier for friends and family from my hometown to attend)… it involved canceling our big date he had planned for us and telling me a family member was terribly injured… he is quite the story teller!! I did slowly forgive him as I began to see faces and share hugs with friends I hadn’t seen in so long… 😉 I also got to share the surprise party with my sister-in-law because we have the same birthday! How cool is that? 😉
It’s also another anniversary for us today. A five year anniversary of something that wasn’t so fun at the time, but has become one of my favorite stories to tell. I didn’t know if I should or ever would share this story on this blog, but I decided to do it for this anniversary, just because it may be an encouragement to someone, or just give someone hope. Plus it is just a big part of who I am. Five years ago today I had brain surgery. After having 2 strokes (caused by brain bleeds), the blood vessel that was leaking and causing the problem needed to be taken out. It was too risky that it would keep having bleeding episodes, and the next one could be bigger and cause a lot more damage. I had already lost some sensation and use in my left arm and left leg, had a very hard time keeping my balance, along with trouble swallowing and some strangeness with my breathing. Brain surgery is never an easy thing, but because this bleeding area was in my brain stem (where regulation of respiratory and cardiac function and central nervous system takes place), it was even more delicate.
My husband was told of all the things that could go wrong, and all the things that were expected to happen, including the fact that my left side, which had been affected by the strokes, could be paralyzed. Because of where they had to perform the surgery, I most likely would not be able to breathe on my own or be able to eat following surgery, and would have to have a feeding tube for awhile and would have to go through extensive therapy to learn how to walk, eat, and do other things on my own again. And of course, it was possible that I would not make it through the procedure. As many friends around the world were praying for us, I went into surgery on my 35th birthday. It was one of those times where you don’t even know what to say or think. You just let the prayers of others and God’s arms carry you. I remember having an overwhelming peace… a peace beyond my understanding.
There are many details about these few months that I won’t go into now because they make for a very long story, but I can tell you without a doubt they were amazing details, all pointing to the fact that God was taking care of us. That He still reaches His loving, grace-filled hand down to move in supernatural ways. But the most wonderful part of those details came after my surgery. I remember waking up and realizing I could move my left foot… and my left hand… and there wasn’t any kind of tube down my throat. My husband later came to the door of my room, and seeing that there weren’t any machines or tubes hooked up to the person in the room who’s face he couldn’t see, he went back to the nurse’s station and told them he was at the wrong room and he was looking for his wife. They told him it was my room, and he entered to find me sitting up, breathing on my own, eating ice chips. Moving, breathing, swallowing completely on my own. Over the next few days, doctors and students and nurses came in and out of my room staring at me in awe. A therapist came in to see what physical therapy I would need in order to go home. They set up an obstacle course for me, and as I walked and dodged and stepped over objects, he looked at me in disbelief and said I was ready to go home without any intervention. I went home 4 days after major brain surgery. Without any therapy appointments. Without any machines. Without a wheelchair. At my follow-up appointment a few days later, my surgeon just looked at me and said he had no explanation for how I was doing all the things I shouldn’t be doing. We said we knew how.
Because this all had the potential to be a very scary time, we got to have many visitors out in California to come take care of us all. We missed our Illinois family and friends dearly, and were so overjoyed for the love and support they brought out west with them. We had only been living there for a few months, and besides our “angels,” the Young family, we didn’t know very many people in California at all. These pictures were all taken during the first few weeks following surgery (I chopped my hair off a few weeks after, as you can see in the last image, to help the spot they shaved off in the back catch up more quickly 🙂 )
“Now to him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work within us, to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, forever and ever. Amen.” ~Ephesians 3:20-21
It is so fun coming back “home” and being able to have a session with a very dear friend. Growing up is so crazy in and of itself, and then when you see your friends’ children and how they are suddenly teenagers and all… that’s just wild :). These friends haven’t changed a bit ~ they still look as young as they did when we were all hanging out at bible study and going to Disney World together, before any of us had kids. And now, I told them, they have these 3 gorgeous kids who looked like they just stepped out of a magazine… This family is beautiful, on the inside and out, and I absolutely loved being able to be with them for a few brief hours on a crisp late afternoon. We definitely have to do it again soon, with some cards and pizza instead of the camera :).