On March 18th of last year I was diagnosed with a brain tumour and it was life changing. I believe that no one should hear the words “you have a brain tumour”, but it will probably continue to happen. Which is why it is so important for me to support organizations like the Brain Tumour Foundation of Canada that help those of us unfortunate enough to have heard those words.
This is why I’m fundraising for Brain Tumour Foundation of Canada. Patients and families need information, support and education. We also need more research. There are too few treatments for this disease and survival needs to be improved. Continue reading →
I know that I have readers all over the world, and for those of you still digging yourselves out of the snow you might be surprised that my son asked for snow for his birthday. It has been 2 years since he has been able to play in the snow. I have fond memories of playing in the snow when I was a kid, and so I do understand his request. When asked if he wanted to go skiing or have a birthday party he opted to go skiing, which really impressed upon me how important this was to him.
So we rented a ski condo from a friend, packed up our (newly purchased/borrowed/knitted) snow gear and set out for the mountain. In an effort to make the most of our weekend I booked lessons for the kids and my husband who had never skied or snowboarded before.
I learned to ski when I was a kid and skied through highschool as part of the ski club but it has been 16 years at best guess since I have skied. To be truthful I was a little nervous that I wouldn’t remember how, or that I wouldn’t be much good. That whole brain tumour, metal plate in my head thing has made be overly cautious. I was also nervous about the movement and potentially getting dizzy. I am 100% OK when I am walking but I have had some movement issues post surgery. But I am so happy to report that I skied (wearing a helmet) for two days. My body was sore but my heart was full. I am happy to have been able to do something that I really enjoy.
The birthday boy unfortunately had a different experience. Five minutes into his ski lesson my husband took the call to pick my son up because he had been sick. They both missed their lessons, and the birthday boy spent the next two days in bed with the flu. I felt awful for him. He did get on skies briefly, threw some snowballs and went for a sled ride but he missed out.
My youngest however has proven to be a true snow bunny. My husband was able to reschedule his snowboarding lesson and would do it again, and I conquered a small fear, so all in all the trip was a success. We will be back at it next year, hopefully earlier in the season!
In true Making a Life fashion I knit the kids matching multi-colour hats and for myself a white/orange winter hats for the occasion.
Every once in a while it’s important to take a break. A break from things you love (like writing this blog) and things that you don’t. Recently I went on vacation and took a break from many things including parenting. My husband and I went away for a few days together because it’s important for our marriage. I love my kids but I love my husband too, and sometimes we need to be together without the kids. Thankfully my parents are happy to step in and have let us escape more than once.
We contemplated going on a cruise but I have in the past struggled with motion, and given that my brain is still healing we opted for a land based adventure. I may have been fine on a cruise but when someone was meddling around in the part of my brain that controls balance I am going to air on the side of caution for the next 6 months or so.
Our land based adventure involved a fair amount of driving, which for me means a fair amount of knitting. I knit a pair of socks while we were cruising around south Florida. We went to the Florida Keys and Miami. We had a few very relaxing kid free days with lots of time to chat (if you know my husband you understand the humour). Anyway it gave us time to reconnect which is critical to the success of our marriage.
We started just south of Tampa and drove to Homestead where we stayed in a dive (which was a bit of an accident), but we survived the night. We also took the opportunity to hit up Red Lobster. It has been years since I have been to Red Lobster (we don’t have one where we live), and those cheese buns are fantastic.
In the AM we made a quick escape to the Keys and drove all the way to Key West where we spent the day, and evening. We didn’t stay in Key West because it’s pricey, instead we opted to stay in Marathon (another of the keys). In the morning after a trip to IHOP (how can you resist) we drove to Miami Beach. Our hotel was perfectly positioned right on the beach. We walked the beach for hours while I took too many photos. We had dinner on the strip and I drank the biggest margarita I have ever seen, twice.
We spent the following day relaxing poolside before the drive back along alligator alley to life with kids. The kids had an amazing time with their grandparents (pictures below prove it), and we had a great time without them. It’s important for them to spend a little time without us, and for us to spend time without them, we all appreciate each other more after a little time apart.
A year ago today, on March 18, 2015 I was diagnosed with a brain tumour. It was a very dark day. The ER doc softened the blow as best as he could but I was still in shock standing in the hallway of the emergency department. I remember walking out of the ER in a daze to wait for my husband who was organizing childcare for the kids. When he arrived I told him I had a brain tumour and he didn’t believe me. He tried to tell me that I didn’t, and I showed him the paper in my hand that said I did.
That was a year ago, and a lot has happened since. There were a dark few days but I was motivated my by children to get my crap together and get out of bed, which is where I would have stayed if I had my way. A craniotomy to remove the tumour was performed in August of 2015. The entire process was terrifying and painful. Six months later I have some very minimal side effects but nothing that stops me from living a full life. Case in point, this past weekend I went skiing (my tumour was in the part of my brain that controls balance).
Last night I read John Grisham’s “The Tumor: A Non-Legal Thriller” and bawled through the whole thing. If you are interested it’s available for free from Amazon. Thankfully I was reading it this year and not last year because that would have been a disaster. Can you imagine reading a graphic novel about brain surgery the day before you are diagnosed with a brain tumour? Talk about bad timing. If you are going for brain surgery soon do not read this book until you have recovered. After reading Grisham’s thriller I am once again reminded how lucky I was, because it could have been so much worse. SO MUCH WORSE.
Along with the pain and fear of the last year I learned some very valuable lessons. In keeping with my need to make, I fashioned myself this bracelet just in case I forget that I am a survivor. Although I am still reminded every time I look at myself in the mirror, and the area of hair that was shaved for surgery is about 3 inches long and sticking straight out. I have started a brain tumour hair trend, I hope it never catches on, I don’t mind being the only one with crazy hair.
It’s fair to say that this was the hardest year of my life to date, but as the saying goes “what doesn’t kill you makes you stronger.” It didn’t kill me. I am stronger, but it’s probably just the titanium plate in my head 😉
When I turned 37 I wished for health for my birthday which in hind-site was like hoping to win the lottery without buying a ticket. My health wish was followed a few months later with a brain tumour, which isn’t all that healthy. Fast forward a year and a bit and the tumour is gone but my health is still a little dodgy. I love sugar, alcohol and carbs, and I am not a big fan of exercise.
Last year as in the start of 2015 I made the resolution to get healthy and I started exercising which is what led me to the brain tumour diagnosis. I am laying it all on the line by telling you that I started the “Bikini Body Mommy Challenge”. I can hear you laughing from here, don’t spit your coffee all over your electronic device. By workout number 2 I was lying flat on my back (it wasn’t part of the exercise regime). I experienced a pain in my head that was blinding. Which I now know was Timmy the tumour telling me that he wasn’t going to let me exercise.
For the 8 long months pre-surgery I limited my exercise to walking, lots and lots of walking. I threw in a reduced sugar, carb and alcohol diet. For the record it was my neurosurgeon’s suggestion to limit alcohol not mine, unless I am growing a tiny human alcohol and I are BFF’s. Post surgery I ate like I have never seen food and un did all my pre-surgery healthy habits. But I also learned how fast muscles atrophy from the 6 days stint I did in the hospital. My calves have never been so small (read jiggly).
Here I am now tumour free and recovered. I started the “Bikini Body Mommy Challenge” again (I can still hear you laughing) and have successfully made it past workout 10. I told my husband about my plans before I started and this is how the conversation went.
Me: I started that bikini body thing again, you know the one I tried last year
him: uh, hun
Me: it’s 90 days long, that’s a long time
him: you realize that fitness and being healthy is really a life long thing right (says the guy who goes to the gym everyday).
Me: oh crap (I know he’s right, just don’t tell him that)
He gave a rather short lecture (because he doesn’t ever say much) on the importance of exercising our aging bodies and the importance of strength. I know that this is not optional, if I want to be healthy I actually need to act, not just hope or wish. I am committed to the exercise daily and have reduced my carb intake substantially to one donut a day (just kidding, no donuts) but the alcohol stays.
Wish me luck on this 90 day (78 days left but who is counting) fitness challenge. If you want a good laugh come by any day around 4 I will be attempting my exercises with my trainers aged 3 and 6. One rolls on the ground by my feet and the other constantly yells “look at me mommy” while attempting to follow along. It’s a full on shit show and I am the star (at least most days).
P.S. Laughter is the best medicine. I hope you burned a few calories reading my post.
I received a call the other day from the neurosurgeon’s office about my MRI results after waiting nearly a month. I rarely have the ringer of my phone on so I missed the call. I was sitting getting my hair done (the old lady that lives at my hairline was back with a vengeance) when I checked the message. All I can say is that I have a tremendous sense of relief.
Timmy was fully evicted. The surgery was a success. No extra pieces of him are floating around in my brain. No subsequent tumours were found. My brain has “bounced” back to fill the void that was left from Timmy’s eviction. All that is left is a perfectly healthy brain. Fan_freaking_tastic. My next MRI will be in three years. My surgeon had told me as much after surgery but I didn’t fully believe him. Somehow knowing that someone else looked at a picture of my brain and they say that it’s all good makes all the difference.
Thank you to all of the good tax payers in Canada who have been funding my medical journey, I am going to stop spending your money now! My brain is as good as new.
Now on to the next adventure with my healthy brain.
P.S. I also have received all of my marks from last semester which was my first semester without Timmy and it turns out that I am smarter (at least in post-secondary education) without a brain tumour. Go figure. 😉 That bastard Timmy was dragging down my GPA.
I have been waiting for the results of the MRI I had on December 8th for a month now. I called before Christmas to see what the Dr had to say and learned that he hadn’t looked at my scan yet. So Christmas and New Years came and went and I am still waiting. I would like to think that no news is good news but I am not too sure.
I think that I might be turning into a hypochondriac though. When my head pain turned out to be a brain tumour it’s hard not to think that every cold and flu is indicative of something much larger. I am on my third round of sickness in the last month. Even though my kids and husband have been sick about the same time with the same symptoms I of course think that it’s worse than it is. That’s when the anxiety kicks in.
I spent most of the day in bed yesterday. I was very dizzy and nauseous and by the end of the day I was so sore that it brought back memories of the days post surgery when it felt like an elephant was sitting on my chest. Those first few days were rough my joints were sore from lack of movement and being clamped to the operating table for 5 hours even with all of the pain meds. It all came flooding back yesterday and it was scary.
Every once and a while I will feel something in my head around my scar which the Dr says is normal but it still freaks me out. The dizziness and nausea with the most recent bout of the flu was reminiscent of my pre-surgery brain tumour symptoms. I was not excited to feel that way again. I’m sure that this too will pass but until then I will play the role of a hypochondriac.
I have been celebrating a New Year and a new start daily since I had surgery to remove a brain tumour. But with the coming of the new year I still made a resolution.
When I was a kid my house was filled with music. No one actually had any musical talent, so it wasn’t filled with piano melodies or anything like that. More like constant classic rock blasting out of the speakers all day and night. My dad would turn on the stereo when he got up in the morning, and it stayed on until he went to bed each night. It didn’t matter if anyone was home to listen to the music, it played on.
He had an extensive record collection which was replaced with tapes and then CD’s and now his Ipod. He is musically obsessed to the extent that when he comes to visit me he brings his own speaker so that he can listen to music at my house.
Just after I was diagnosed with a brain tumour I couldn’t listen to music. I was interpreting every song as sad, and it was depressing. I asked my brother who inherited my fathers musical appreciation to make me CD’s of happy music, and my husband obliged as well with a happy playlist.
At some point when CD’s stopped being the method of listening and collecting music I stopped filling my house with music. When we first had kids the CD player got broken (that button that made the CD tray go in and out was so tempting to little fingers) and that was it, music died in our house. It has been my wish to get our house wired with speakers in every room so that when you move from room to room the music is already there waiting to welcome you to the next space. That has yet to happen, but the next best thing did.
For Christmas this year my husband bought me a pair of wireless speakers which we can add to over time. My resolution this New Year is to listen to music every day intentionally because it calms me and makes me happy. Whatever your New Years resolutions are I hope that they also make you happy.
It’s been 4 months since I had a craniotomy and it’s time to have a peek inside my brain. I feel like this is the moment of truth. Although my neurosurgeon claims that he got every last bit of Timmy the tumour, I still have a little fear that he missed a piece. When he told me about the surgery and how he had to slice and dice the tumour to get it out of the hole they drilled in my skull, I worry that maybe one of those little bits went rogue and is floating around in my head just waiting to create havoc.
Today I am going for a tube ride also known as an MRI to see the inner workings of my brain. The MRI creates images with magnets so of course another small worry of mine is what if the metal plate or the screws that are affixed to my skull aren’t titanium. What if by accident they used steel and that sucker is going to get ripped out of my head. I told my husband who is an aerospace engineer and he said that it’s not possible to pull screws out of bone with a magnet, but he builds planes so the jury is still out on that one. Maybe I will get an earth magnet and try see if it sticks to my head.
The last time I had an MRI I was nervous about the process and having my head clamped in the helmet device. It was a piece of cake except for the pain I felt in my tooth with the metal post and cap. Today I am hoping for no pain, no tumour and some good music!
Woo hoo, I made it to level 38. For the past number of years I didn’t celebrate my birthday. I was aging and apparently that was a problem. Since my run in with Timmy the brain tumour I am overjoyed to be a little older than I was yesterday. So today and everyday I am celebrating life.
On the aging front the little old lady that lives in my hairline will still be having her 6 week visit with my hair dresser. Even though I maybe 38 I don’t want the flowing grey locks of someone twice my age.
Last year after I blew out my candles my oldest said “I know what your wish was.” He told me that he though I wished that my husband and I didn’t get a divorce. It broke my heart and surprised me too. I am not sure where he came up with that one as there were no signs that it was going to happen. I didn’t wish for a happy marriage, I actually wished for good health. Isn’t that a kick in the you now what. I did get finally get my wish but only after some trauma in the health department.
So this year I learned my lesson and I am not wishing for health. This year I am wishing to win the lottery, we will see how I make out with that one ;).