Hello all! Welcome to The Cheerful Heart. I started this blog to write the gray away and hopefully bring a little light to someone else’s life in the process.
I am a Texan native, born and raised. I try to be a sweet Southern woman (though I often fall short), and enjoy a glass of sweet tea as much as I do my super-secret chocolate chip cookie recipe. I love each and every animal on God’s green earth, family vacations, and time with my incredible boyfriend. I am a pre-nursing student with a dark sense of humor, so prepare yourself for what devilish jokes (or attempts at such) I may write ahead.
The Beginning of the Path
I have always been a lucky child, with very few health concerns, save Scoliosis and the relentless seasonal allergies that plague my brother and I, keeping our cabinets bursting with Mucinex and Claritin. A year and a half ago, I began having what I and two of my doctors deemed “panic attacks,” where I would get very distant and my heart would race. As a nursing student prone to anxiety, this was nothing I deemed a more positive outlook on life and a little yoga breathing couldn’t fix. Other than that, I was healthy as the proverbial horse.
On Sunday, November 19th, at 2:00 a.m., I woke up in a cold sweat in a panic, running for the bathroom with my hands over my mouth. The moment my knees met the floor as I knelt over the toilet, I passed out over the edge of my tub. I regained consciousness (I don’t know how long later), only to press myself back up enough to fall back against the cabinet. This happened several more times, during which I was playing a game of “Passing-out Ping-Pong.” Don’t try that at home, folks. Trust me, it’s not half as much fun as it sounds. (And it doesn’t even sound that fun, does it?) As I regain consciousness for a few seconds, I can hear my dad outside the bathroom door asking if I’m okay (I thank God, just this once, I’m not an independent college student who lives on my own). I manage a “no” before I’m out again, and that is enough for him to spring into action as the hero he has been since my childhood. My mother came upstairs, at which point they realized I passed out against the bathroom door and couldn’t reach me. Eventually, I shifted enough that she slipped in and sat holding me, limp and non-lucid, on my bathroom floor for five more minutes as I passed in and out of vague consciousness. After finally coming to a final time, I vomited what seemed to be more than I thought my stomach could hold, and regained self-awareness like a switch had flipped. I didn’t know what was happening, felt shaky and unsure, but I was back on earth for the time being.
At this point, my mom pulled me into the hall, where the EMT’s had arrived. My vitals were taken, my medical history discussed, I squinted at them all like a blind owl (My contacts were still in their case on my bedside table), and they referred us to Presbyterian Hospital Rockwall, though it was likely a case of bad food poisoning from the watermelon I’d indulged in earlier that day. How could my favorite food have done me so wrong? After a sleepless night of blood testing, CT scans, and just about the most uncomfortable beds man has ever created, the doctor came into the room around 6:30 a.m. with the test results.
The Blessing of Not Asking Why
I have always had a history of crazy dreams, so, until this happened, a dream about a brain tumor, while unsettling, was just that: an unsettling dream. Now I wonder, looking back, if God was preparing me. Preparing me to be strong and unabashed in the maelstrom of this moment. My parents sprang forth with tears at the news, holding my hands in theirs and pressing plaintive kisses on top of my head. But for me, the tears didn’t come. Not even the oh-so-expected panic attack I had become used to in moments like this. I did have questions; no, not the expected Why, as in: “God, why would you do this to me?” with head tilted to the heavens, but what. What was God’s purpose in this? To draw me closer to him? To give me the life experience to empower me to touch other lives in the future? Perhaps I’ll never know. But I knew questioning wasn’t the answer. My parents have often said, “I wish it was me,” but I’ve asked them not to. God chose me for this journey. He chose me to be strengthened and bolstered on this path, to lean on those around me, and to rely fully on him. I have never questioned, or gotten angry (which I believe I’m fully in my rights to do, if that does lies ahead). All I could think of in the moment was moving forward. What was this? How will I get off from class? Will this affect my lovely French Silk pies at Thanksgiving?! I had questions, and wanted answers
“Just the facts, ma’am”
The next day was a flurry of facts and tests and a ride in an ambulance, which was a fun new experience for me and my carsickness, during which I found out my “panic attacks” are Tachycardic episodes caused by my tumor. I was transferred to Presbyterian Hospital Dallas, where we are blessed enough to have some of the most talented medical professionals in the country. Hugs abounded from hospital staff, though the highlight of the day was the mix of the warm blankets, the hour-long MRI, and the Hydrocodone I’d been given for pain. Maybe this brain tumor thing wasn’t so bad after all. Alas, the MRI ended too soon, and I was wheeled out to meet Dr. Jason Taub, an incredible neurosurgeon (if you Goggle him like I did). He informed my family that I had a glioma (which is likely cancerous) a little over the size of a golf ball in the right front lobe of my brain. Being the stickler for details I am, I pored over every scan he showed me, trying to wrap my brain fully around this.
This is it. And now we move forward with it. I have surgery next Thursday to remove as much of the tumor as Dr. Taub can, at which point he will ascertain whether it is cancerous or not. If it is, we will move forward with chemotherapy and radiation, if not, I will have a cute little scar and pictures of a gross tumor to take home! Which, by the way, I’m not joking about Mom. I really want to see it. For the time being though, I’m at home, praying incessantly, eating whatever I want, and living it up. I’m fully prepared for whatever God has lying ahead for me, and invite you to join me too.
“Rejoice always, pray without ceasing, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you.” I am in His hands, and He reminds me of this daily; through the doctors, nurses, family members, and friends who have given up an absolute show of love and support for me. Yes, I have a brain tumor, and no, I have never been more thankful in my life.