Saturday, September 01, 2007

I faced the unfaceable. I wept for a love that I did not lose. My heart broke with fear of the unthinkable. I fought away the tears of my love.

For 8 days, I prepared myself for my mother’s surgery. The tumor was in the crappiest of crappy places. It had, apparently, been there and affecting her life for some time, with symptoms that were easily blamed on other problems. I took the surgeon’s words into my heart and mind and felt the foundation of my very being shake with their weight and meaning.

Meningioma tumor.

C3 vertebrae.

Against or on the spinal cord.

Constricting the spinal fluid.

Nerves controlling the heart and lungs and all bodily functions below the neck.

Instant death.


Intense pain.

Physical therapy.


I refused to allow myself to weep in front of her. I refused to reveal the depth of my fears. I refused to cause her more worry.

I prayed. I poured my fears out to God. I begged him. Pleaded with him to not take my momma now. To not take her from Stinkerbell. To give Lucky time to get to know her and be able to remember her.

I wept. My tears stuffing up my nose and swelling my eyes. I couldn’t let Stinkerbell see those tears. I couldn’t reveal to her how terrified I was. The fear was too great and the burden too heavy to share with her.

Denial was not a possibility for me. I knew too much. I understood too well. I wished I weren’t that one for her. That person that she depended on for going with her to appointments, for asking questions and listening and remembering. I wish I didn’t need to be that person for her.

I told The Mighty Hunter that I would not be able to tell Stinkerbell that her Nanny was dead. He reminded and reassured me endlessly that everything would be ok. I couldn’t completely believe him. Yet, he knew my pain. He knew the fear. He lost that love once, not too long ago.

As I showered the day before the surgery, I wept aloud and cried out to God. I had never felt such pain.

As I drove to the hospital the night before the surgery, I searched for songs that spoke to me and for me. I sang along when I could control my voice through the tears. I prayed when I could bear it. I thought through the upcoming hours. I wished I had eaten dinner with her. I regretted many mistakes I’d made in my life. I thought about the things I had packed to bring with me. I imagined hearing the news.

The horrible, awful news.

I praised God as best I could in my fear. I sought His presence. I begged Him to take away my fear. I asked Him why I had been so fearful. I asked Him where He had been. Why wasn’t He with me?

I realized that I had failed to bring my Bible. But there was a book still in the van, left in there from vacation.

It’s Not About Me, by Max Lucado

And with the meaning of that title in my head, I felt His presence. The lights were on again. I understood.

I got it.

It wasn’t about me. It wasn’t about my fear. It wasn’t about my loss. It wasn’t about my mother. It wasn’t about my daughter or my son. It wasn’t about my heartbreak. It wasn’t about me.

It was about Him. What He had done to get us this far. What He had done to prepare us for the surgery. What He would do in her healing. It was about how He loves us. It was about sharing His love with others in this time. It was about praising Him for knowing our pain and sharing it with us and bring us through it.

It was about Him.

And my fear left me. My doubt was gone. My worries dried up with my tears. I smiled with the confidence of knowing my Savior lives. That He loves me. That He is with me. That I can depend on Him in this storm – and every other storm.

As she rolled through the doors into the surgical wing, I told her I loved her. I smiled. I squeezed her hand and told her I’d see her in a few hours. And I truly believed the words. I wasn’t bluffing anymore. I wasn’t saying the words that should be said. I was saying the words that were true.

And then after surgery, I sat with her. I told her that I had been afraid. I told her of the book title and God’s presence and the peace that filled my heart.

As she rested, I read to her. I listened to her breathe. Her puffing little snores. I looked at her face. That beautiful face. I held her hand and rubbed the back of it with my thumb.

I thanked God for her.

I thanked God that she could feel my hand in hers.

I thanked God for the blessing of my mother.

I thanked God for His healing.

I thanked God for His presence and courage.

Because it was His courage that relieved my fear. When I had no courage of my own, He gave it to me.

For me to live is Christ and to die is gain. Phillipians 1:21

Thursday, August 23, 2007, the tumor was removed. It was attached to her spinal cord. It was larger than expected. The vertebrae that were cut to provide access to the tumor had to be fused back together with 6 screws. The tumor was completely removed and was benign. It will not grow back. The surgery took about 4.5 hours. The halo that was applied to her skull during surgery was removed before she left recovery. She was given only a soft cervical collar to support her neck. She experienced a lot of pain initially and through the coming days. There was a “pins and needles” type of pain that she felt on her left arm, from the wrist to the neck. She felt this on a smaller scale on her right shoulder. Each day showed this pain to recede higher and higher on her arm. She was very weak on her left side, making it difficult to lift her left arm and move her left leg. She had good feeling with all her fingers and toes and was able to wiggle them freely. The top of her right thigh and collarbone were numb. She stayed in Surgical Intensive Care for about 28 hours and was transferred to a private hospital room. In this room, she continued to receive pain medication on schedule but on a decreasing rate. An attempt to move from the bed to the toilet caused her to turn her left ankle. It was only a sprain, but a splint was applied. Physical therapy began on Saturday. PT was painful and unpleasant. Xrays proved that the ankle was only mildly sprained.

Sunday was a better day. More PT with more progress. Monday was even better. Dr said she was ready to move to the inpatient rehabilitation floor. This finally happened Wednesday afternoon.

Thursday morning was rough. A lot of dizziness and nausea prevented her from going to PT. PT on Thursday afternoon was productive. With a walker, she walked from her bed to the hallway – approximately 15 feet. Before this, she only had stood at the edge of her bed, turned toward the potty chair and then reversed those steps. Friday’s PT was productive also.

She could be released from the hospital Tuesday or soon thereafter.

God has really given us all a wonderful gift. My mom, known for her sarcastic nature, has a better attitude than I’ve seen from her in YEARS. This attitude will prove important over the upcoming weeks and months.

She has weeks and months of recovery ahead of her. She may not be able to return to work, but she will recover. She will walk unassisted again. She will drive again. She will hold her grandkids again. She will visit the Smokies again.

Thank you all soooo much for your kind emails, comments, prayers and concern. You are all my sister and I love you all!

I don't promise to be here often in the upcoming days and weeks. I will be staying with my mom and running Stinkerbell to soccer games.

My life is full.

Full of blessings.


Jennifer aka Binky Bitch said...

I'm so glad you found peace and that your Mom will get better.

Anonymous said...



I am thinking about your Mom...please feel my virtual hugs...

Anonymous said...

That really was a great post!

I was so relieved to get the email that the surgery went ok. I've thought about you guys and prayed for you often.

You get all your ducks in a row, 'cause we got some celebratin' to do!

Beba said...

Your post made me cry. Not that i felt sorry for you, but the way you touched my heart with the words you wrote. I didn't read your post before i wrote mine, but i wrote about you fear as well. God bless you darling, God bless your family, your mother! You will be in my prayers.

For the Love... said...

So happy that you made to the other side of this peacefully. My thoughts are with you and your family.

Super B's Mom said...

God is GOOD.

You know I needed to read what you wrote. I needed to be reminded that it's not all about me.

When you think about it that way, your mother is touching more lives than you realize.

God bless and prayers will continue.

Especially Heather said...

Isn't it a great feeling to depend fully on Him? I cant tell you the fear I had of not seeing my family after my brain tumor was removed... But I had peace. I really had peace.

Always praying and praising :)