Sunday, March 26, 2017

Miracles Remix

Miracles Remix

Today’s Gospel at our Church was the story of Jesus healing the blind man—this story always grossed me out a little (spit and mud? Ew), but at the same time moved me, especially once I had a child who was going blind day by day in front of me.  As the deacon spoke during his homily today, my mind wandered back to when G’s vision was failing at a rapid pace.  Back then, if Jesus had offered some spit and mud for G’s eyes, we would have added that to the chemo regimen and showed the Pharisees some Jersey style onco-mom attitude if they had a problem with G getting healed on the Sabbath.

You wanna piece of ME?

Obviously, that did not happen.

But still—G’s vision improved. We aren’t sure why. Anecdotally, I think it had to do with changing chemos. Her tumors never got smaller after that first chemo fail, or the second chemo fail, or the third chemo stability/bone marrow burn out.  But her vision improved.

We gave BACK the Brailler.

A Brailler. G used to cheat and look at the dots to read things.
The only time I ever celebrated cheating. ;)
That was a miracle.

It wasn’t the miracle we prayed for. It wasn’t a clear cut miracle of complete healing or woohoo. But the day G told me she could see stars… “ you know, those tiny white things!”…that was a miracle.

She still has no peripheral vision in any direction. Her left eye still is weak (to her sense, she can’t see out of it, but she actually can). Within a narrow field of her right eye, she is correctable to 20/30. That is a miracle, based on the “counting fingers” report of 2004.

Making peace with miracles remixed is an ongoing work.  We’ve had other Miracle Remix kinds of days—March of ’06, when we found out the weird tumor thing G had going on after 18 months of chemo had NOT become stage four gliomatosis cerebri (a game changer, prognosis wise). We got to restart chemo #3. That was a miracle. The next 6 months AFTER that miracle day were brutal (Transfusionfest 2006, neutropenia-induced hospitalization, allergy to one of the chemo drugs), but it WAS a miracle.

My girls, with neurosurgeon Dr. Storm (the only guy
allowed in G's brain) and Research
genius Dr. Resnick(and his daughter), at Camp Sunshine.
Miracle Monday, 2012 – the day we found out the Avastin/Irinotecan/Temodar mix had dramatically reduced the tumor mass that had explosive growth while G was on the clinical trial.  I literally almost unraveled that day. That was a LEGIT miracle, we had never seen that kind of shrinkage EVER. We got to do nearly another year of that chemo, and it kept working (and has continued, after the fact to keep G’s tumors stable). Miracles.

Scientific progress—miraculous. Inspired. Fought for. I will take any kind of miracle that comes, even if it is ultimately in IV form in a day hospital, or in the skilled hands of a neurosurgeon. 
For me, one miracle--being able to talk to God again without using colorful language. And I don't mean red, orange, yellow, green, blue, purple. Or chartreuse. THAT was a different kind of healing miracle. Not the one I prayed for, but a gift that helped me keep on going in the face of extreme medical yikes back in '05 and '06.
yeah, not so much. I had no issue with
Jesus, just God. This is why I don't teach theology.

That guy with the muddy and healed eyeballs? He was grateful.

I am grateful.

Not going to lie, I would be totally cool with the complete healing kind of miracle. That just isn’t the kind we are going to get, and I have made peace with that, really.

But I do wonder, some days, if I am doing enough with the miracle of time we have been given.  Having more time is truly the greatest miracle of all.

As I type this, G is pondering what classes she should take at Community College (“Mom, what is “Aperture in Photography?”).

Time is the greatest miracle.

I don’t want to waste it.

Thursday, March 23, 2017

Me, the Big Rock, and Mount Yikes--Movin' Right Along--Again

She Bloggeth!

Ok, so that is a little melodramatic, but subtlety has never been a strength of mine. My loud face gets me in so much trouble at faculty meetings, I legit have to stare at my notes whenever any person is talking—because even if I say NOTHING, my stupid loud face says all the things that one should never say at any meeting. 

But I digress. I haven’t even started, and I am digressing…this does not bode well.

BUT—I am determined. Words are both powerful on their own, and empowering, and my inability to write ANYTHING after telling our family story two or three years ago alarms me.

Our penchant for falling into statistically improbable bad stuff just finally caught up with me, I guess, and I lost all my words.  For the last twelve and a half years I have been pushing a Big Rock around. Sometimes I can really get it rolling. Sometimes I end up squished under it for a bit (ok, for years at a time,  2004-2006, and then for a couple of months in the summers of 2008,9,10, then 2011-2013, then June 2014, then three months of 2016…*cough).

 Recently, I just got stuck. Kind of like this:
Obviously I did not fill the last few years with art lessons.

And by recently, I mean for like, two or three years. Maybe longer.

Last year my Survivor Kid had whooping cough, technically “pertussis-like syndrome” since she had been vaccinated—hers was a “mild case”.

On a couple of occasions last winter/spring we thought we were going to lose her.  Like, in my kitchen. Mild my fat fanny. I can’t imagine how horrifying the full blown version is…

For whatever reason, that particular pitfall on Mount Yikes really derailed me.  We had made it through brain tumor hell AND high water and a stupid regular illness FOR WHICH SHE HAD BEEN VACCINATED could make my kid choke and turn blue in front of us?  The ER doc who finally gave us a diagnosis was remarkably understanding about why the two psycho onco parents in front of her were in full blown HELL NO mode.
mom note: the whooping cough booster seems to last about 5 years, all might want to check on that. And just because one HAS whooping cough does not mean they are now perpetually immune. Fricka Fracka...
Even a year later, Survivor Kid’s little sister still gets twitchy any time Survivor Kid coughs.

This situation put about 4 tons more on the Big Rock, and added 15k elevation to Mount Yikes.  Mount Yikes was already pretty steep, school was tough, work was tough, life was life. Everyone has tough. That is what life is…we certainly have zero monopoly on Mount Yikes…

….And then we lost some of our long time BT and NF friends in the fall. I still don’t have words for that. So I shall just speak that dark moment, that moment that flattened me for a month, and try to keep pushing up the hill.

Since early fall I have been working through things, really focusing on exercise, and yoga (remarkably helpful, even 20 minute “Yoga for The Ridiculously Inflexible” videos that I do at home, by myself, where only the dog can laugh at me.  I talked to a doctor, and got some help getting my personal chemistry back in place.  I am trying to read things that will help or inspire me—even if I haven’t OPENED Full Catastrophe Living, it’s waiting here to be read.  I am talking to God. I am making an effort to connect more with other people, because I kind of moved into a bit of a cave on Mount Yikes during the last few years.

It is a work.

But I will do it.  And – well here I am. Writing something while both of my girls are at their new schools, doing great. My son—at his school, doing great (no random broken bones in January this year, well, not for him, just for third born. But we managed it.)   I am planning a two day getaway with Dave for the summer, it’s been two years and we need to just have a couple of days near the ocean, just being. 

The work is working. The Big Rock is slowly moving.

I still have trouble reading my words about Survivor Kid and all our family went through. We still live with the late effects of that journey every minute of every day. I read things I wrote years ago, in our life “Before Brain Tumors”, and I almost can’t believe that I wrote them.  Nothing like being at a youth group thing and realize folks are acting out a funny skit you wrote 42,000 years ago.  I used to be really sharp and funny, not just scary.   And you know what, I can work back there again. This is a first step.  Not perfect. I am trying (as always!) not to let the perfect be the enemy of the good.  Let's do this.

Big Rock has gotten mossy from sitting in one place for so long.  So let’s get moving.