Tag Archive | Schwannomas; brain tumor

LIL’S LIFE LESSONS:

HAPPY ANNIVERSARY TO ME!

It’s April Fool’s Day!  And that day will forever be etched in my mind, at least for now. Because I can, I’m going to take a few moments to reflect on that anniversary.

A year ago I woke up on this date and my life was fairly normal–a few challenges but nothing I couldn’t handle. By the end of the day, my life had forever changed!  I didn’t actually know that then, but I know it now!

FIRST LESSON:  APPRECIATE AND ENJOY THE PRESENT-WE DON’T KNOW THE FUTURE.

It started with a funny little tingle in my lips. As I ate my spaghetti later that day, I was messier than normal (and that’s pretty messy!).  I went to the mirror and it looked a little odd, but hubby said he couldn’t see a problem! Within two days, we both saw the problem. I had no movement on the left side of face– my lips, my eyes, or my forehead.  It ended up being Bell’s Palsy which is an inflammation of the facial nerve that causes partial or complete paralysis of that side of the face.

I am a speech pathologist in my day job so no lip movement was sort of a big deal for me. But some of the doctors assured me that most people regain use of most of their facial muscles back but it could take up to a year. And looking in a mirror didn’t make me happy either–everything sagged and was crooked.

One of my family doctors insisted I get an MRI–just to be safe!

I thought it was unnecessary but I followed doctor’s orders–something I’m not always prone to do!

Turns out I was wrong.  The MRI showed I had two brain tumors. Yeah, it was quite the surprise since I had no symptoms. Suddenly, I was feeling blessed that I had developed Bell’s Palsy.  What often appears a “problem” actually becomes a blessing as you go through it.

SECOND LESSON:  GOD’S WAYS ARE NOT OUR WAYS BUT HIS WAY IS THE BEST WAY!

The tumors are called schwannomas and almost always benign, but that doesn’t mean they can’t cause problems so ignoring them isn’t an options. My schwannomas are wrapped around my auditory nerve, which means they caused a hearing loss. Traditional surgery would leave me completely deaf so that is always the last resort with these tumors. Instead I had Gamma Knife Surgery which is actually a very powerful radiation treatment. I had the treatment in August and life continued as normal except for the fact I didn’t have a job anymore–and not by my choice! Education cutbacks!s

Financially, it wasn’t a problem. The problem was me. Everyone wants to retire on their own terms, I suppose. I kept telling myself I wasn’t too upset or depressed  about it, but the truth was I was more upset than I realized at the time. I found a private student to work with as well as some subbing for a nearby district. The problem–the subbing made me crazy!  I had no peace about it. Every morning, I’d wait for the phone to ring–when it did I’d be irritated. NO PEACE! And no peace translated no creativity in my writing life.

NO PEACE! I recognized it as a nudge from God.  But…. the extra money was good… but it got me out of the house…. but it made me feel useful… but…. but….  I don’t like feeling anxious and not having peace and joy so I told them I wouldn’t be able to sub any longer.  Within a week, my life had changed again–and not for the better!

One moment I was sitting alone watching TV and the next moment (literally) it was as if a sound bomb had gone off in my head or my house–I wasn’t sure which!  After about 45 seconds, I knew what it was!  COMPLICATIONS!  I’d been warned and I knew what to do. I immediately started taking the emergency steroid pack I’d been given–in case!  As soon as that dose was finished, I was given a much stronger steroid to continue with.

The complications from the steroids were bad!!  I was sleeping anywhere from 2-4 hours a night. Most days I was only able to a do an hour or so of writitng-related work, but couldn’t actually do much writing.  After that, it was a matter of naps, sitting, watching TV. Most days I didn’t bother to get dressed. One thing for sure, there was no way I would have been able to continue working–as an employee or as a sub.

LESSON THREE: GOD REALLY DOES KNOW WHAT HE’S DOING!

During this horrible time, I really was grateful that I didn’t have the stress of having a job to worry about. God knew what he was doing when He insisted I quit subbing or even worrying about finding another job.

Oddly enough, from a spiritual point of view, I was OK. I felt at peace and I can’t say I fel joyful–I was too sick and miserable for that, but I was at peace. I did a lot of praying during this time. Mostly for patience to endure and for better health, of course. But mostly, my prayers were telling God that I trusted HIM. The doctor finally started to take me off the steroids and I started feeling better.

Until….more complications!! More complications meant more steroids!  I admit I fell apart for a while but then I remembered LESSONS ONE, TWO, AND THREE, kept praying and kept trusting GOD!

That was about six weeks ago and in fact, this last time on the steroids was much easier and much less disruptive to my life, even though it was the exact same dosage as last time. I slept better, started creating stories again, and finished the final edits on two different books!  Not bad for a woman with brain tumors! And more good news–the first brain tumor has died!

I don’t know what the future holds for me–but then again, nobody does! We only think we know what’s going to happen tomorrow or even in the next five minutes. The plan is to wait six months and then we’ll start treatment for the second tumor.

I can truthfully say I’m NOT  glad I got the tumors. I hate my tumors–and rightfully so!  But I am glad that my faith, my dependence on God, my relationship with God has grown during this past year.  So HAPPY ANNIVERSARY TO ME!

 

FIRST LESSON:  APPRECIATE AND ENJOY THE PRESENT–WE DON’T KNOW THE FUTURE!

SECOND LESSON:  GOD’S WAYS ARE NOT OUR WAYS BUT HIS WAY IS THE BEST WAY!

LESSON THREE: GOD REALLY DOES KNOW WHAT HE’S DOING!

Bell’s Palsy–A Blessing?

Well, it’s been awhile since I’ve written a blog. Ive been a bit busy. I developed Bell’s Palsy on April 1 (yeah, great April Fool’s Day prank). And to make it even more funny, I’m a speech pathologist. So, I’m a speech pathologist whose mouth isn’t working at the moment!

If you don’t know what Bell’s Palsy is—it is facial paralysis. It usually occurs only on one side but it can affect both. Thankfully, in my case it only affected one side. According to my doctors and websites I’ve visited, it is usually caused by a virus attacking the 7th cranial nerve but it’s not always caused by a virus. Anyway, recovery can happen quickly or slowly, even up to six months.

So, one of my doctors insisted I have an MRI—just to be sure. I thought it was unnecessary but I did it. And turns out they found something else—of course! They found schwannomas—which are a type of tumor—on both sides of my brain.

Here’s the interesting thing, my neurosurgeon isn’t sure that the schwannomas are the cause of the Bell’s Palsy. According to him, it might be or it might not be. They are very, very tiny and the larger one is on the side not having Bell’s Palsy. On the other hand, it seems too coincidental that I have Bell’s Palsy and the schwannomas. At least he thinks so.

 Me—I don’t think it’s coincidental at all. God has His ways of getting things done. Catching the tumors in their early stages is a blessing and that means the Bell’s Palsy is a blessing!

 So, what experience have you had that seemed awful at the time but turned out to be a blessing?