Saturday, January 14, 2012

I have a what in my brain?

I received some terrible news last week week. I've been dealing with some weird ear issues since last June. I was diagnosed with Patulous Eustachian Tube Disorder, where basically my tubes don't close off like they are supposed to. I thought it was originally due from flying to sea level back in May and June, but the doctors did not agree. I've seen 3 ENTS's (ear, nose throat, specialists) and saw one for another consult last Tuesday after the holiday weekend. I've also been getting headaches daily for 2 and a half months. I attributed those to my ongoing ear problem. After I saw the ENT, he decided to refer me to a neurologist. I happened to get in the next day, so last Wednesday. That doctor told me that my headaches were tension headaches, which made perfect sense to me since I was so stressed out with my Etsy shop before the holidays. But, I had my shop on vacation for over a month and the headaches didn't end. I saw the neurologist on Wednesday and he wanted me to get an MRI. There is a mobile MRI that comes to Heber twice a week and I was able to get an appointment last Thursday. After the test I was told it would take 2-3 business days to hear back on results. Well, Friday morning I got the call from my neurologist saying that he'd already spoken to the neurosurgeon, who would be calling me shortly. I had a large brain mass on the right side of my brain. When the neurosurgeon called me later he asked if I'd been told that I had a tumor. Um - NO - no one said it that way. He had me immediately come to the ER at Utah Valley Regional Medical Center to get admitted and for upcoming surgery. Cody's Mom came up to watch the kids and Cody and I headed to the hospital. Luckily it was Cody's 4 day weekend and he didn't have to work Friday or Monday. Now my only experience with tumors is that my Grandma and cousin had tumors, but that wasn't very comforting because they have both passed away. Oh and the only movie clip I could think of is this one with Arnold Schwarzenegger where he says "It's not a toomah." That really was what was running through my mind repeatedly. The clip can be found here.  

This picture is from my ER room before I was admitted. Cody took the liberty of changing up my doctor's/nurse's names on the board for fun. It had been a couple days since things had been updated. What an amazing team I had working on me!

The surgeon wanted me to be on steroids for 36 hours to reduce the swelling before they did the surgery.  I had another scan (spectroscopy) Saturday before my surgery was scheduled to make sure they knew exactly what we were dealing with. No change, still a neoplasm (tumor).
 I had to have my hair cut and shaved off so that they could operate. I should have been more worried about the fact that I had a brain tumor, but I was pretty sad about my hair. Although - I did not cry. The hardest most emotional part came from Tucker. Before we left for the hospital on Friday he told me that he thought I was going to the hospital to die. Then I guess he prayed that night that I wouldn't die. Plus all of the tremendous outpouring of love and support has brought tears to our eyes over and over.  I was able to see him a couple times and talk to him throughout the week and he's been doing great. The kids have been with friends and Grandma and Grandpa all week and have been having the time of their lives. Thank you to all of you who have pitched in to help out.  Thank goodness we live back in Utah with all this help.
Tucker is eating one of my treats here. I received a lot of darling hats/scarves and treats to hold me over for ever. So, if you are thinking of visiting, please hold off on the sugar, I can't work out and it will just make me feel like I'm eating crap and doing nothing. : )

Initially they put me in the ICU because there weren't enough rooms on the other floor for me.

 Cody and his dad came at 6:00 am Sunday morning to give me one final blessing before the surgery.
 They started to cut my hair at 6:30 Sunday morning and then shaved me to look like Cody. I kept my ponytail though, which is good because I found a website that will make me a wig with my own hair.

 Not too shabby eh?

 My hair is growing back in red and is fuzzy. Pretty normal I guess. You probably won't see me without a hat or headband on though.

After they shaved my head they wheeled me down for one final MRI before the surgery.  Surgery started at 8:00 am and I didn't get out of surgery until after 2:00 that afternoon.  It took me several hours for the anesthesia to wear off, and I don't remember anybody that came to visit me on Sunday, but I know I had a lot of family come by. The surgeon said that the tumor removal went well and seems quite optimistic.
Here is a photo of me once I started coming to Sunday night.
 On Monday the nurse took me for a little walk around the hall in the ICU.  Here I am with my Grandpa Foster and Mom in the hall.
 Crazy incision.

 My cousin, April, came to visit me yesterday and got there before they took the drain out of my head. She was able to take pictures of it. That white thing was underneath my skin. It hurt pretty badly after they took it out. The opening/ending was larger than what was sticking out, but I've been on percocet for days now and it does the trick.

The anesthesiologist took pictures during surgery and emailed them to Cody. I must have provided a phone number. I don't remember. We do have the following pictures though.   WARNING!!!! If you get squeamish with bloody photos, you might not want to proceed.  We think they are amazing though so we had to share them. The one of the petri dish is only half of my tumor. Since it was such a diffuse tumor they had to leave some of it behind because they didn't want to risk trying to remove it all with the healthy tissue surrounding it. I'm just praying that I don't have to have surgery again to remove more. The treatments, whatever they are, should take care of it.

 My neuroseurgon, Dr. Gardner, operating.

The skull has been removed and is showing the dura covering the brain.

My brain!  It really is beautiful to see the human brain like that.

Taking the initial biopsy.

After removing the tumor, the dura has just been replaced and sewn back together.

 Half of the tumor in a petri dish.

We still haven't received my pathology test back yet. They had to send it out for a 2nd opinion. The initial call was that it was a low grade 1 or 2 astrocytoma. We should know mid next week and then we'll also know the treatment from there. I'm assuming no radiation or chemo if it comes back as a grade 1.
They finally released me to come home yesterday, which feels great! I was bored and burnt out of being at the hospital. Everyone was great to me, the food wasn't bad, but it's not home and I have things to do and need to heal. The kids are all gone at friends or family for the night so it's just Cody and I.  A massive thank you to both Cody's mom and my mom.  The two have been a huge, huge help with the kids and the house.  Also thanks to everyone else for your help, support and prayers.  It means so much to us.

Tuesday, January 3, 2012

My new toy!

My sewing partner for the past 9 years broke down in my mad towel rush over Swiss Christmas weekend. It was a sad night. Luckily I have a great friend with a nice sewing machine that she never uses. I was able to borrow it for a couple weeks to finish up orders before I bought my new baby. I purchased the Brother Innov-is 950D. My main reason for going more expensive is the embroidery aspect. I've been appliqueing names on towels and this is going to quicken up the process and make it look more professional. I haven't actually embroidered on towels yet, but I did add names to my kids stockings. Unfortunately, I had to take them apart to put the name on, but they look cute and now Santa can't screw up on who's is who come Christmas Eve next year. : )

 (I did Tucker's first and it ended up upside down. I obviously need to still do some unpicking. )
I finished them just in time to take a picture and place them back in the Christmas storage box. If you want your name on something - let me know!

We love to party

We love getting together with our friends. Amber and Spencer Wade hosted this party and we were joined by the Linton's. It's so fun to get together because when we first met, there were 0 kids between us. Now we have 9!
Blake, Camden holding Afton, Cassidy, Cole, Will, Aubrey, Tucker and Brayden.
 With all the adults in the picture we had to have the older boys take our picture. This is the best shot we got! (Linton's, Wades, us).

Four Generations

One of my friends from high school, Luke Hansen, actually an old boyfriend, is/was a photography major at BYU. He was doing a 4 generations project for a class and I was able to participate and help him out. His blog link for the project can be found here. It's pretty interesting to look at each of our faces and see the similarities. He didn't want us to smile, which is extremely hard for me to do when a camera is inches from your face. I love the colored photo though. I come from an awesome posterity!