Perhaps you noticed that I did not publish a post last week, perhaps you did not. I noticed. It wasn’t for lack of wanting to, it was because I had something quite big to process myself. I’ve debated on how to share this bit of news with the public world. I thought of keeping it light, I thought of going in deep, and I tried to figure out if there was an in between. I’m opting for “in between” for now. I took this same approach on my family blog years ago regarding my Mom’s battle with cancer. It wasn’t until her final days that I switched over in to “deep” mode. Perhaps one day I will change my mind, but for now, the following post is somewhere in between the full spectrum of what we’ve experienced over the past couple weeks.
As you know, we had a baby boy. He’s perfect. He is by far the most mellow baby we have ever had, which is saying a lot since our second daughter was immensely chill as well. He was over 24 hours old before we even heard him cry. He is still such a sweet little baby. Hopefully he is not lulling us into a false sense of security. Here he is on what would have been his due date. Instead, he was already 1 week and 6 days old when this picture was taken.
The first week following his birth consisted of a couple days of getting in to a new routine as a family of six and a couple days of adventure. I like to keep moving, so adventure is as much a part of my healing process as a good nap is.
On the eve of our little man turning one week old, my mother-in-law flew in to town to meet our newest addition. I was originally scheduled to be induced on the Saturday that our son turned one week old. My mother-in-law was in town to help with that process. Instead, she ended up helping with something we could not have possibly anticipated would happen.
On Sunday, July 20, at 6:05 PM, I walked in to my kitchen to help my husband and mother-in-law prepare for our celebration of National Ice-Cream Day. I tried to say something and I couldn’t get the word out. Then I began to apologize for my lack of ability to talk and couldn’t get my tongue to work. It was as though my tongue weighed a hundred pounds and had swelled up in seconds. I tried to say, “What the heck?” The next thing I know, my husband is rushing towards me and my mother-in-law has pulled up a chair for me to sit. I’m aware of something happening to me, I’m just not sure what. I flash back to two years prior when I had what was then deemed as a stress-induced seizure. Now, as this is all going down and I begin to cry and panic, I can hear my husband telling me, “You’re not alone. You’re not alone. You’ve been under stress. This is a stress-induced episode. You’re not alone.” My husband runs me through a series of tests they give in the Emergency Department to determine if you’re having a stroke. I struggle to perform most of the requested actions and fail at the others that I assumed I was passing with flying colors. I am now aware that my mother-in-law is trying to get my kids upstairs and spare them from the scene. I feel my speech slowly start to return and try to shake off the whole episode, as my husband debates back and forth as to whether or not I need to go to the hospital. I try to maintain my composure and keep things looking and sounding normal, but my husband notices my feeble attempts at normalcy and soon I am on my way to the Emergency Department, where my husband works as a Registered Nurse.
As my husband walks me into triage, he says the right words that get me a bed immediately. It’s not long before a doctor is running me through the same stroke tests that my husband ran at home, I have an IV in my arm, and I’m off to get what would be my first MRI of three. At this point, I’m vacillating between keeping it light with jokes and being terrified of the events of the evening. Moments after returning from my MRI, the doctor comes in to inform me that I have had a stroke. All my fears are confirmed and I began to bawl my eyes out. My husband assures me everything is okay. I respond through sobs with, “No, it’s not. It’s not okay. This is not okay.” The doctor has since walked out to give us some time to process everything. Once I’m calmed down, my husband steps out to review the MRI firsthand and doesn’t come back with a look that tells me that everything is okay. I later see this picture of the damage from my stroke (indicated by the white portion of my brain) and marvel at the size proportionate to my full recovery. A full recovery that still managed to buy me a couple days on the IMCU floor.
But, as I mentioned, I still underwent two more MRI’s. I had to have a second one in an effort to find the actual clot. No clot was found. Unfortunately, what was found was a tumor in my left optic nerve. Yes, a tumor. A tumor which called for a third MRI to get further answers. However, the third MRI did not give them sufficient answers. The real problem with this discovery is that even the doctors currently don’t know what to make of it. It could be something that is really slow growing, like really really slow-growing, and I’ve had it since my youth. Or, it could be malignant and then I have a completely different battle ahead of me. So, do you remember me saying I had a stress-induced episode a couple years ago? It was not to this caliber, but it did earn me an MRI back then. An MRI that will now likely hold the answers to the level of concern that this tumor will be for my future. If that old MRI shows no sign of this tumor, I’m in trouble. If there is an indication of a tumor being there previously, then we know it’s growing quite slow and is not an issue. So, now we play the waiting game. We’re waiting for the snail mail to deliver my previous MRI images to my new Ophthalmologist. A waiting game that is getting tiresome for both my husband and myself.
As I mentioned before, I am giving you the “in between” version. It may come as a surprise, but I can bore you with more hypotheses, concerns, and details, but this seems like sufficient details for now. I just have some closing thoughts to offer on the matter.
Customarily, I try not to get too spiritual or religious on this blog, but I would be lying if I didn’t say how many tender mercies from my Heavenly Father that I have witnessed in these events. Honestly, there are almost too many to mention. The things I am most grateful for are that my mother-in-law happened to be in town to help with the kids, my husband was at home during the stroke to evaluate me, that I was able to have a stroke with a full recovery that gave us this serendipitous finding that will provide us with a fighting chance if it comes to that, and that I had an episode two years ago that will hopefully provide clarification on what we’re dealing with now. For those that do not believe in a Higher Being, I am sure these are just considered coincidences. For me, I know of a surety that these blessings are directly from a Father in Heaven who knows and loves me. These events, as with each struggle I’ve endured, have reconfirmed my testimony in the Gospel of Jesus Christ.
I also feel the need to reiterate in this post the thoughts that I shared in my previous post Living a Life with Laughter. I can’t stress enough how important laughter is in physically and emotionally healing from difficult events. Friends and family seemed shocked at how well I was handling everything. While I had moments that left me overcome with emotion, I just kept repeating to myself the quote by Marjorie Pay Hinckley, “The only way to get through life is to laugh your way though it. You either have to laugh or cry. I prefer to laugh. Crying gives me a headache.”
This post may have left you with more questions than answers. I feel your pain. Our family has been left with so many unanswered questions that all we are left to do is have faith that our Heavenly Father’s hand will continue to be in our lives going forward as it has been thus far. I know for me, personally, I feel beyond blessed that I am home with my family and currently able to care for them in the manner in which I always have been. I feel great joy in counting my many blessings.