Sunday, May 31, 2009

Hospital Stay - Day 19 - New Surgery Date & Today's Snapshot

We've learned that Dr. Couldwell is back in town and will do the surgery to seal the spinal leaks tomorrow instead of on Tuesday. Jodi is excited to get it done as soon as possible. We don't know for certain the time yet, but it looks like it will probably be mid-day.

Dr. Couldwell will need a good deal of fat for the grafts. He's not certain they will be able to find enough fat for this purpose from her stomach (wouldn't it be nice if all of us could have that kind of problem), so they will probably take some from one of her legs, along with some muscle to make the seal stronger and to help hold the fat grafts together. One of the doctors said taking muscle and fat from a leg will mean she'll be more sore there during her recovery than anywhere else. Apparently, when the leg muscle is stretched after a portion of it has been removed the resulting pain is "interesting" and takes awhile before it returns to normal.

Jodi really has enjoyed visits and calls from many friends this weekend. It's been a real treat. Also, yesterday, Tolan and the kids came for a visit. They watched a movie together complete with popcorn and goodies. You should have seen the room afterward...what a glorious mess! It looked just like a regular theater. It was great!

Jodi went for a 5 minute "unassisted" walk this morning. The nurse was close by, but Jodi didn't need any help (see picture below).

Jodi and Tolan are really grateful (as are we all) for the continued offers of help and for the assistance with all kinds of things --- whoever has been mowing their lawn, for the Rhoads who took the kids for an overnighter, for the amazing cards, flowers, gift cards, treats, and well wishes that continue to pour in. Whew! It's pretty breath-taking to see the many expressions of love and support, including the members of her ward, who are having a special fast for Jodi again today.

So far, its been a very good Sabbath day. For the third Sunday in a row there have been married students from the University of Utah who have come by with a spiritual message and the sacrament...just another way Jodi is being blessed.

Jodi wants also to thank her friends in the 5th Ward for the many things they have been doing, including the freezer meals, flowers, calls and well wishes.

Also, OC Tanner has been wonderful and supportive throughout this long process. Both Jodi and Tolan are so grateful for the many expressions of support. The company itself and many individual employees have been incredible in the way they have shown they care. OC Tanner has been simply amazing in the way they have been willing to support the Brown family...a special thanks goes to them!

All the Virginia friends who have reached out to Jodi after so many years have made a tremendous difference. That reaching out, even after such a long time, has been a testament to the power and wonder of the true bonds of friendship.

And finally, to the many who have never met Jodi or even a member of her family, yet who have shared their prayers, their faith, and their support have also become a blessed part of this on-going miracle.

Look at visible means of support!!!

Friday, May 29, 2009

Visits and a Horizontal Shower

Jodi has had some close friends drop by today with flowers, homemade cookies, and fresh stawberries. She has thoroughly enjoyed those visits.

She just took a horizontal shower (see pictures below). We've not seen anything like this before, but since it is too hard for her to stand or sit up due to the spinal fluid leak and the resulting spinal headaches, this is how she took her shower. It's a great idea. This contraption looks like it was made out of pvc pipe in someone's garage. Hey, it worked and she loved it...nice and clean and no headache. Wonderful!

Hospital Stay - Day 17 - Sodium Infusion - What fun!

Last night ended up pretty well after a difficult start to the day yesterday. Jodi went to bed looking forward to a long restful night's sleep. Is that even possible in a hospital? The answer is definitively, "NO!!!" So at 1:00 a.m. the nurse came in with 'wonderful' news. "Jodi" she said, "The doctors are concerned because your sodium level is low. We have been instructed to give you a sodium infusion."

Hey, folks, do you know what a sodium infusion is? Do you know how its done? Well, the nurse takes a gigantic needle for an IV and tries 5 times to get it into a vein, causing some pretty remarkable spikes in the pain level in the process. The needle needs to be so big, because the sodium compound that is inserted through the IV is a thick and gritty substance that can't fit through a normal IV. After the insertion of this huge needle the solution begins to flow slowly and creates a dramatic burning session in the arm that feels more like fire than an IV intended to be of help.

That process lasted about an hour until 2:30 a.m. The nurses left and Jodi tried to get back to sleep only to have the nurses return at 4:00 a.m. to check her vitals. Then at 4:30 a.m. a guy came in to take a blood sample to determine if her sodium level was back to where it needed to be. Then at 6:00 a.m. a nurse came in with three salt tablets and four other medications that Jodi had to take. The salt pills created a strong feeling of nausea and the desire to expel it all.

About 6:30 a.m. the doctors came by on their normal daily round. Jodi asked about the sodium infusion and none of them knew who ordered it, but they promised to find out...simply amazing!!!

So it wasn't a fun night. Still Jodi is feeling pretty good right now despite it all.

Today's nurse is the sister of Jodi and Tolan's bishop. That's kind of cool.

At the moment Jodi is reading the newspaper trying to catch up on what's going on in the outside world (see the picture below). We think it is going to be a good day!

By the way, Jodi loved hearing all the comments on the blog from yesterday. Thanks again for helping to keep her spirits up. It's working!

Thursday, May 28, 2009

Making the Best of a Difficult Situation

Trying to brighten her day, Jodi took a shower! After the shower we dried her hair and then she combed it like she would normally before the surgery. Note below the current view from the incision side of her head. Hey, it looks pretty good, don't you think? When she gets her smile muscles back and her eye works again she'll be as good as new.

Please record this day in history. Tolan is rubbing lotion on Jodi's legs. Do you believe it? Jodi said it felt great!

Everyone is trying to make the best of the current situation! Thanks for all of your help! You keep making a difference!

Jodi, from the incision-side, with her hair combed!

Tolan rubbing lotion on Jodi's feet and legs!

Surgery Required - No Doctor

We've learned that Dr. Couldwell won't be back back today afterall. He won't return until Tuesday. Dr. Shelton left last night. There is no doctor to do the surgery. So right now it looks like Jodi will remain in the hospital waiting for the surgery on Tuesday, when Dr. Couldwell returns.

Her fever, which had returned to normal yesterday afternoon, has flared up again.

Right now, I'm reading Jodi a book by S. Michael Wilcox entitled, "When Your Prayers Seem Unanswered." It is a wonderful book filled with insights that are uplifting and encouraging. This book was a gift from one the angels who stopped by to brighten Jodi's day on Tuesday.

Your comments on the blog have been a valued blessing this morning. Thank you!

Hospital Stay - Day 16 - More Leaking - More Prayers Needed

Jodi was scheduled to be released today. Things were looking good right up until late last night. However, when Jodi got up to go to the bathroom before retiring she began to leak spinal fluid through her nose. At first it was a few drops, but when one of the doctors came to her room around midnight Jodi was asked to sit up in bed and lean forward. There was literally a stream of spinal fluid pouring out of her nose. The Neuro ENT team and Neuro Surgeon team have both been notified. Dr. Shelton left town last night, so he isn't available to help. Dr. Couldwell is supposed to arrive this morning. It looks like surgery will now be the only option. As soon as we have more definitive information or any decisions we'll let you know.

It was a rough night. Neither Jodi nor Tolan slept last night.

Thank you so much for all your past prayers. Your continued prayers will be very much appreciated.

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Fevers, Flowers and Food

Jodi's fever is gone...another blessing for sure! Jodi's latest gift of flowers (they've all been beautiful and have been very much appreciated) was in the form of a paper bouquet with messages written on the backs from members of Jodi and Tolan's ward (see the picture below). To top off the day, two angels came by a few minutes ago with "real" food...wonderful meals from Olive Garden. The best for certain during this entire episode.

It's been a good day! We're feeling quite certain now that tomorrow will be a change in venue...from the hospital surrounded by people who have been dedicated to helping find the answers to a home surrounded by people who have been praying the answers would come!

There is still a challenging journey ahead, but the one behind has been literally filled with amazing experiences, incredible people, and blessings from Heaven untold!

Thanks to each of you who have been those "blessings from Heaven"! Please stay tuned!

Hospital Stay - Day 15 - Almost out of here! Tomorrow?

The doctors just came in and have taken out Jodi's IV. They are taking out her lumbar drain right now. Okay, the lumbar drain is gone!!!! Hallelujah! She needs to lay on her back for 4 hours to help seal the lumbar drain hole.

They are keeping her on anti-biotics, because she still has a fever and they want to make sure it isn't a cause for concern. The fever has been up and down for three days now.

Dr. Shelton has basically given Jodi a "go" to return home after the fever is gone. Dr. Couldwell also needs to clear her for release and he is the final one to make the call regarding the fever. He is out of town right now and will be back tomorrow morning, so we're thinking that Jodi will probably be released tomorrow.

Lots of good news! Now whatever is causing the fever needs to be addressed and then it is homeward bound!

Feeling Better

Jodi continues to feel better and her fever is down. Also, she still has not had any CSF leaks since Sunday afternoon. The doctors plan to remove the lumbar drain later today and see how she does. We’re hopeful she may be able to come home as soon as tonight or else tomorrow if she continues to do well through the rest of the day. We’re keeping our fingers crossed.


Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Encouraging Progress

Jodi has not leaked CSF since Sunday afternoon and the lumbar drain has been closed since Monday morning so that is encouraging. We’ve postponed surgery and if she can make it through today the doctors may release her from the hospital as early as Wednesday. This morning she had a hearing test and those results were also encouraging – there is definitely hearing loss in the right ear but it has improved and there is hope that it will continue to improve. She is still running a fever (about 101 degrees) and we don’t know why but other than that she is doing very well.


Monday, May 25, 2009

She’s doing better

Jodi seems to be feeling a bit better. We put her in a wheelchair and “escaped” from the hospital for a little while and she really enjoyed the sunshine and fresh air. She was also able to walk back and fourth down the hall for awhile – something she hasn’t done since arriving here. So far she hasn’t had any CSF fluid leak today. This is encouraging!


Here are a few pics I took


Jodi is tentatively scheduled for surgery tomorrow. How things go today will determine whether or not we proceed. The lumbar drain is turned off and we’re hoping the CSF leak has miraculously stopped so surgery won’t be necessary (she was leaking significantly as recently as yesterday afternoon). So, today is probably our last shot at avoiding a second surgery. If she does require surgery the doctors will go in through the same incision as last time and take more fat grafts to pack the area tightly in an attempt to stop the fluid leak for good. The same basic risks and recovery period will be associated with this second surgery as with the first which is why we have been sincerely hoping and praying it won’t be necessary.

Jodi also continues to have a fever and high white blood cell count which suggests infection but so far all tests have come up negative so we don’t know what exactly is causing that problem; just that she doesn’t feel good.

Jodi is sleeping right now and when she gets up we’re going to attempt walking a little and see how she does. We’ll keep you posted on how the day progresses…


Sunday, May 24, 2009

Dr. Couldwell Visit

Dr. Couldwell just came to check on Jodi. He's been out of town for a number of days. It was good to see him again. He has started the lumbar drain for today, then he'll check for leaks again tomorrow. He said there may be no leak anymore given the experience Jodi had last night of being up for so long without any problem of leakage. Dr. Couldwell is hopeful that additional surgery can be avoided.

Below, you can see a picture of Dr. Couldwell talking to Jodi, plus a picture with Mildred, Jodi's night nurse for three nights. She's from Kenya and is a real sweetheart. We've all fallen in love with her. You can also see a picture of Jodi's incision without the staples. They were taken out yesterday. Jodi said it didn't hurt.

Last night was a good night and this morning has also been good. We're looking forward to more times like these.

Jodi continues to be the recipient of flowers, gifts, calls, emails, and of course, the comments on the blog, all of which are immensely appreciated. Thank you again and again!

Saturday, May 23, 2009

Enough with this room already!

Okay, so today hasn't been there have been a few bumps in the what? Don't you think it is time to get out of this bed for something other than to go to the bathroom? Don't you think it is time to get out of this room altogether? Why not take a tour of the hospital? Why not look at the outside world? Why not go get a croissant, cream cheese, and ice cream? Why not have a little bit of a picnic?

All this sounded like a good idea to Jodi tonight too! So for 40 minutes we took a tour with Jodi in a wheelchair. Then when we got back Jodi sat up on the couch in her room for another 40 minutes looking out the window, enjoying the croissant and ice cream, enjoying being somewhere other than in that frickin' bed!

It's amazing what a change of scenery can do! Think of it --- leaking spinal fluid several times today, running a fever, generally feeling like "Get me the heck out of here!" After being confined for 11 days the "stroll in the park" was a blessing! Not a single drop of spinal fluid during the entire time...80 minutes of being "up and around" and not a drop! We haven't talked to a doctor about why this might have happened, but it has! Pretty cool, huh?

Jodi is hoping you all have a good night and a great Memorial Day Weekend! Love to you all!

Here a few pics of tonight's blessed experience:

Family Picture

This is a family picture taken just a couple of hours ago with Tolan, Jodi, Trenden, Lindi, Casen, and Daven.

Okay, what's the deal?

Today has been a crazy day! Jodi started leaking spinal fluid from her nose again. She has also started to run a fever and her white blood cell count is up. The doctors have taken blood samples for testing, as well as the spinal fluid, urine, and they have taken chest x-rays. We are waiting for the results of these tests. Dr. Couldwell is also supposed to be coming back to visit with Jodi later.

We're trusting all of this is just a temporary slow down in the overall recovery.

Jodi thoroughly enjoyed a visit from her children today. After their visit, Tolan took them to the zoo.

It is amazing to see how things can change from day-to day and from hour-to- hour. Yesterday was the best day yet. Today turned in the other direction.

Enough of this...we're going to watch the movie, "Mall Cop" to lighten the mood a bit!

Your prayers and well wishes continue to make the difference! Thank you one more time!

Hospital Stay - Day 11 - Doctors' Plans

The doctors said during their early morning rounds that they would close off Jodi's lumbar drain again sometime today (we don't know what time yet) to see if the spinal fluid leaking has finally stopped completely. They also said they would take out her incision staples today. That ought to be interesting, hopefully not painful.

She's very much looking forward to seeing her kids today. It was last Saturday when she saw them last and she is missing them a lot.

She really appreciated again yesterday the comments on the blog, the calls, and a few visits.

Friday, May 22, 2009


Is it possible that Jodi could be feeling well enough that instead of just trying to survive the pain she's actually feeling bored? Such seems to be the case. She's had a number of calls from family and friends and a few suprise visitors. It is all quite amazing. The turn-around continues!!!

Testing the Leak - More Lumbar Drain Needed

Well, the test the doctors wanted to do by clamping the lumbar drain and having Jodi more physically active showed that there is still some leaking of spinal fluid. It didn't come out of her nose, but there was a small amount that came down the back of her throat. It has a salty taste and that's how they know. So they've restarted the lumbar drain at 15cc's per hour and will continue that until tomorrow and then test it again.

Jodi did get up to go to the bathroom and was up on her feet longer than she has been and of course she did the "exercising" a little earlier. While she is still on pain medication her head pain didn't explode the way it has done before, so there is clearly a lot of progress.

This actually doesn't feel discouraging, because there really has been so much progress and Jodi knows she is so close to having this leak problem fixed. She is still feeling much better. These past two days since the appeal for "extra prayers" have been wonderful evidence of those prayers being heard and answered. Thanks again to each of you!

Hospital Stay - Day 10 - More Progress

Jodi had another good night and is doing well this morning. In fact, for the first time the physical therapist has come in for some "real" exercise. Of course, it isn't much, but a little bit of anything will be a lot more than what she has had. She's doing shoulder shrugs right now. Now she's pushing her shoulders back into the pillow. She's now stretching her arms out to each side. You get the idea.

There is still no evidence of any spinal fluid leaking. That is great! They kept the lumbar drain going at 15cc's all through the night, which was different than the plan yesterday. They've clamped the drain ocmpletely as of this morning, which is also different from what was discussed yesterday. We don't understand why these changes. We've asked the nurse to page the doctor to make sure things are being done properly. Hopefully, the sealing over of the hole will hold through this rapid increase in pressure and with the increase in physical activity.

Sherri called this morning to tell Jodi that Trenden was fasting again today. This makes three days in a row. Sherri told him it would be okay to eat, especially since he'd fasted yesterday and the day before. He looked at his Grandma Orgill and said, "I'm going to fast for however long it takes!" What a demonstration of love and faith by a 10 year old for his Mom. We can all learn from his sweet and touching example.

I'll keep you posted throughout the day as to Jodi's progress. Things are looking good enough that the routine of laying in bed while being loaded up with pain medication is changing quickly.

Your prayers have been working and now we're praying that the progress will continue in the healthiest of ways.

Thursday, May 21, 2009

Hospital Stay - Day 9 - Making Progress

Jodi had a reasonably good night thanks to your continued prayers and she is doing okay today.

The lumbar drain continues at the pace of 15cc's per hour. There has been no leak of spinal fluid again today. If the leak doesn't come back by tonight the doctors will slowly start to cut back on the level of the lumbar 10cc's per hour and then 5cc's per hour and then finally they'll take out the lumbar drain entirely. The idea is to gradually allow the pressure to rebuild in the fluid around the brain. They don't want to do it too quickly, because it may force open the hole again.

If this progress continues Jodi will hopefully be able to leave the hospital and return home in a few days for the remainder of her recovery. That would be terrific! Of course, there is a ways to go and the doctors want to make sure everything is okay. She does need to gradually rebuild her strength, including her ability to sit up, stand up, and walk.

Jodi had another sponge bath this morning and had her hair washed and braided. Just this much really helped her to feel better.

She continues to be uplifted by your messages of encouragement and support. In fact, she asked me to let you know that she really wishes she could personally respond to each message, each card, each call, each comment, each email, because they do make such a difference and she is so very grateful!!!

Before closing this update I thought you would enjoy a few pictures from the visit by Jodi's children last Saturday.

Baby "D" (Daven) with his Mom.
Casen and Daven with Mom.
Lindi combing Mom's hair.
Lindi giving her Mom a big hug.
Trenden hugging Mom.
Jodi's brother, Scott, and sister, Tami reminding Jodi how to smile.

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Up and Down Process - Prayers Work & Prayers Needed

Jodi asked me to do one more update for today. She was in real difficult shape this morning when I sent out the first update and made the appeal for extra prayers. Then gradually things began to turn around and for several hours she felt quite good. This was also when she learned that there was no spinal fluid draining from her nose or down her throat. There was a surge of strength and the feeling that she had turned a corner towards where we all want her to be.

This afternoon she had a tough spell again as they moved the incline of her head, rolled her over for a shot, and didn't get the pain medication in time before her head pain exploded again!

The reality is that its an up and down process with so many variables at work. It is also a reality that your prayers have made and do make a difference...a big difference! The most important need is the healing of the spinal fluid leak and all the evidence right now points to that happening!!! How grateful we are!

As has always been the case, your comments on the blog, your calls, and messages continue to sustain Jodi (and the rest of us). Your prayers continue to bless her (and the rest of us). Your incredible love and kindness and support lift Jodi's spirits as little else could.

Right now, Jodi is resting comfortably and peacefully with the pain moderated. She is hoping for a good night's rest. She wants me to thank you for your prayers once again. Each of you and all of you are Heaven-sent blessings!

The Lumbar Drain!

Thanks again for all your calls and comments today and for your prayers! The prayers are working!

We thought you might be interested in the process of draining spinal fluid from around the brain, which begins by inserting a "lumbar drain" in the lower spine. The spinal fluid goes through a narrow tube to a collection reservoir and then into a holding pouch! This is happening at the rate of 5 cc's every 20 minutes. The good news is that with all the pain for so many days it does seem to be working. The hole in the membrane around Jodi's brain does seem to be healing. No evidence of leaks all day! Here's what this process looks like from our perspective:

Tolan checking on Jodi's lumbar drain.

Jodi's lumbar drain connected to her lower spine.

The lumbar drain collection tubes and pouch.

The lumbar drain collection reservoir - closeup. You can see the clear liquid, which is the spinal fluid.

Your prayers really do seem to be working! Thank you again and again and again!

Some Good News

Jodi just got up for a bathroom break. For the first time since the surgery last Wednesday she did not have spinal fluid draining from her nose. This is good news and is cause for hope. Again, the doctors want her to go for two full days with no evidence of spinal fluid leaking to be assured the hole has sealed over.

So many of you have made comments and called and emailed just since the update on the blog two hours ago. It is amazing and wonderful! You really are life savers!

Extra Prayers, Please!

Aloha, the more aggressive approach to the lumbar drain from 10cc's per hour to 15cc's has been an exceptonally difficult one. The medications just aren't touching the pain in a way that even makes it bearable for Jodi. They have her on her left side now, so she isn't laying on the tube being used for the drain. They also are going to a constant drip rather than more intensive flows of the drain to see if that will help moderate the pain.

This is even hard to watch. She just whispered to me, "Dad, I don't know if I can take this! It's killing me!"

I know you are already praying constantly for Jodi and those prayers are so appreciated. If it is possible could a few extra prayers be offered today?

This morning as Sherri was getting Trenden and Lindi ready for school, Trenden said he wouldn't need lunch today, because he was going to fast for his Mom.

Thank you again for everything for have done and are doing to help!!! We love and appreciate you!!!

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Hospital Stay - Day 7

We are wishing that we could share an update that described an incredible day of progress with lots of good news. Well, it just hasn't happened that way! Since last Saturday night things have been just about the same.

Jodi still has the lumbar drain. This has gone on for three full days now. Unfortunately, the spinal fluid leak continues. Because the leak is still there the doctors just decided to increase the amount of the drain to be more aggressive. It will be more than 10cc's per hour starting tonight, but we don't know the exact amount yet. They want the body to seal over the hole, of course, and want her to be leak free for at least two days before they are willing to let her leave the hospital. We really, really need this to happen so surgery won't be necessary. We continue to pray this will be the case.

An optomolgist examined Jodi's eye today. Because of the malfunctioning eyelid and the concerns with the eye drying out causing damage to the cornea, Jodi is now receiving special eye drops and hourly eye ointments. If these don't solve the problem then the doctor said he would need to suture the eyelid closed to protect the cornea.

One of the big challenges remains the problem of not being able to move. She feels sore all over from laying in basically the same position for seven days now.

The hearing in the right ear is still not there, but the "noise" she has been experiencing is lessened. That helps!

Her facial paralysis continues, yet there is gradual progress in being able to control more and more of her mouth. Right now she can move maybe 70% of it. That's not enough to smile, but it makes it easier to eat. We've been bringing her fresh raspberries, strawberries, blue berries, and black berries. These have been a real treat and a nice break from the hospital food. She also enjoyed some instant peaches and cream oatmeal we fixed for her. That doesn't sound like much, but it was great compared to what the hospital provided for breakfast. Actually, many of the meals have been pretty good and the people here try hard to find things that taste good and that are soft enough for her to chew.

In fact, the doctors, nurses, and aids have been wonderful to help in whatever ways they can. We are grateful for all they are doing.

Jodi continues to be uplifted by your comments on the blog, your calls, and your emails. These truly are the rays of light that shine through the pain, the discomfort, and the long hours. Thank you!

Honestly, as Jodi's Dad I wish I could give all of you a hug to let you know how grateful she is and we are and what a difference you are making! I wish I had a better command of language to describe how much you really have meant to Jodi and all of us. May God bless you!!!

Monday, May 18, 2009

A Repeat of Yesterday!

Today has been a day much like yesterday! Jodi stayed completely down except for two 60 second bathroom breaks. The lumbar drain continues...10cc's per hour. The spinal fluid leak is continuing as well, so we're not where we need to be yet. The muscle spasms continue. The pain continues. The challenges associated with just laying in bed around the clock continue.

The bright spots of the day have been all the wonderful and supportive comments that have come in on the blog, along with some special emails and calls. Each one has been a blessing! Each one has provided an uplift! Each one has made a positive difference! Thank you so very much! You are angels indeed! Your support is just as helpful to the family as it is to Jodi. Tears come frequently, but they are mostly tears of love and gratitude!

Sunday, May 17, 2009

Messages from Jodi and Tolan

Aloha, this is Jodi's Dad. I think it is important that you know each of your comments made on the blog are shared with Jodi as soon as they come in. These combined with the emails and calls, which we also shared with her make a huge difference in keeping her going. Actually, they are helping us all in a big way!

For the rest of this update I hope to be a faithful transcriber of what Jodi and Tolan want you to know tonight.

Jodi wants to express her love and appreciation to all of you --- family, new and old friends, and those she's never met. You have done so much to uplift and encourage her during these challenges. She wants you to know that her tears are tears of gratitude for the blessing you are in her life. It's never really been about the tumor. It has always been about how the God of Heaven blesses each of His children by working through others of His children. You have been the instruments through whom He has worked miracles in Jodi's life ... not just now, but always! She wants you to know how very grateful she is and how she wishes that she could reach out and hug each of you and whisper in your ear how much she loves you and how much she cares about you and how deeply she appreciates you.

She also wants you to know that every time one of the doctors or medical staff come into her room they comment on how her room is the nicest and best smelling room in the entire hospital, because of all the flowers...thank you! Many have asked if she plans to open a floral shop after she is discharged. Jodi says she couldn't do that because these flowers are heart-felt expressions of caring and are far too valuable to do anything with except to be enjoyed and appreciated.

Tolan wants you to know that Jodi has had a hard day. The lumbar drain is a painful process that intensifies the spinal headaches. A single two minute trip to the bathroom causes an hour of excruciating head pain. It is completely debilitating. She really needs to lay still in a dark and quiet environment. That's basically what she's been trying to do all day today. The purpose of this is to allow the body an opportunity to heal the spinal fluid leak on its own. Dr. Shelton said this works in about 90% of cases. If it doesn't work then Jodi will have to have additional surgery in the same place as the last one to place "fat grafts" in the hole to seal it. We certainly don't want her to have that incision opened back up and the surgeons forced to go back in. That's why she is going through the pain of the lumbar drain and why she has need to be isolated today. Dr. Shelton also said she'll probably need to be here for another two or three days. We keep praying the lumbar drain will be successful.

Thank you again for the wonderful things you are doing to help Jodi and the whole family. We are all so grateful! May the Lord bless you now and always for your goodness!

Risk of Infection - Limitation on Visits

With spinal fluid (CSF) from the area around Jodi's brain leaking into her nasal cavaity there is a real risk of infection, which could lead to bacterial meningitis, as Tolan mentioned in his update last night. To minimize that risk Dr. Shelton has put Jodi on anti-biotics. To further minimize that risk it will also be important to limit visits to Jodi's hospital room, at least for now.

Late last night the lumbar drain was inserted into Jodi's spine. She is required to lay flat with very little movement. She's been experiencing muscle spasms around her shoulders and her neck and needs to lay quietly with her eyes closed to moderate the pain in her head. The morphine, valium, and codeine combined aren't enough. Sherri is massaging Jodi's neck and shoulders to try and help aleviate the spasms, reduce the head pain, and to help Jodi relax.

Jodi just isn't feeling well right now. Along with your continued prayers she probably needs rest as much as anything.

Saturday, May 16, 2009


Hello, this is Tolan. In addition to the facial paralysis and loss of hearing we discovered another complication today that’s potentially serious. Jodi is leaking cerebrospinal fluid (CSF) out her nose. We didn’t initially notice it because it isn’t noticeable when she is lying on her back (because it drains down her throat) but when she sits up it happens. We’re not talking about a few drips; it’s a pretty steady stream. This explains the continuation of the severe “spinal headaches” that feel just like the ones she had about a month ago when she received a lumbar puncture (spinal tap) and had to get a blood patch. The blood patch solved the problem for her that time because the leak was from the spinal area but since the leak is in her head this time the solution may not be so easy and according to Dr. Shelton there is a risk of meningitis. As Dr. Shelton explained it, the brain is surrounded by the CSF which is a clear liquid and the brain essentially “floats” in it. It acts as a cushion or buffer for the cortex. If there is a leak and the pressure is low when the patient sits up the fluid flows down the spine leaving the brain without the optimum cushion effect and leads to debilitating headaches forcing the patient to remain lying down constantly, which is exactly what Jodi is experiencing right now. Any doctors/nurses out there are probably laughing at the way I botched the above explanation…

Since we had the fluid tested earlier tonight and the results confirmed it is indeed CSF Dr. Shelton ordered a large dose of antibiotics to protect her from bacterial meningitis and they are in the process of putting a catheter in the spine to create a slow drain, called a “lumbar drain”. I’m not sure exactly how that works but it’s a first attempt to help resolve the leak problem. I suspect she won’t be released from the hospital until we can resolve this problem.

We continue to receive lots of support from family and friends daily. The Young Women in our Ward planted flowers around our house and pulled weeds Friday night and it looks wonderful and someone (I don’t know who) mowed our lawn today while I was with the kids up at the hospital. From meals to help watching our kids the support continues to be tremendous and has allowed me to spend valuable time at the hospital with Jodi. I sincerely appreciate and support.


Here are a few pics I took today...

Friday, May 15, 2009

Pictures - May 15, 2009

Jodi and Grandma Lisenbee's "Prayer Bear" that recites The Lord's Prayer. From this side Jodi looks completely normal!
Jodi's Mom (Sherri) blow drying Jodi's hair after her first shower.
Tolan and Jodi laughing as Tolan is taking pictures of the incision area.
The question mark scar complete with staples! She really did have brain surgery!
Trying to smile when only one half of her facial muscles are working. This is one of the really tough parts of this experience. Some restful sleep even though she can't get her eyelid to close. With all she's going through she is keeping her positive outlook, is bolstered by your faith and prayers and looks forward to a day in the future when things will be normal once again!

Dr. Couldwell Assessment & Pathology Report

Dr. Couldwell just came to Jodi's room to share the pathology report, which showed that hers was a "low-grade tumor". This is exceptionally good news! In fact, this is like the best case scenario!


Dr. Couldwell indicated that there should be no further treatment needed, except to help with the temporary problems she is experiencing. He believes that in a few weeks she'll be past these challenges. He did say that as a future precaution an occasional MRI would be done to see if what remains of the tumor has grown, but nothing else should be required.

This is such an incredible blessing!!! We are thrilled!!! We know that all of the prayers have been answered and that the Lord has been watching over Jodi throughout this entire process.

We will continue to update you on how Jodi progresses with the eye, ear, facial muscles, and spinal headache challenges.

Once recovery from the suregery is complete it will then be possible to assess if any of the original symptoms (headaches, dizziness, veritgo) remain. If any of those symptoms still are apparent, it will be the symptoms that will be treated not the brain tumor! It is possible that permanent damage may have been done to the nerves where the tumor was located. That means there is still a possiblity that some of those symptoms could remain in the future.

Thank you again for all the prayers, fasting, and faith! They have made all the difference! Before the surgery Jodi would be blessed with some "good days" where she was able to function a little bit. Some days there were only a few "good hours" or a few "good minutes", but all of those good moments came in direct response to everyone's prayers. Today's news feels in a real way like a culmination of these special blessings.

We know there are still challenges to overcome and it won't be easy during this recovery period, but Jodi and our entire family feel so incredibly blessed...more than we can ever adequately express! Thank you again for being such a critical part of this amazing miracle!

Recovery - Day Two

Jodi wanted us to start this update with a wish to all of her friends running in the Ogden Marathon and Half Marathon tomorrow. She says, "Good luck!" and she wants you to know she'll be thinking about you and sending strong positive vibes your way.

Jodi started out this morning feeling quite a bit better than yesterday. She is able to control the facial muscles around her mouth a little more. She sounds almost normal when she speaks. Learning how to eat is a challenge, but she is making progress.

Dr. Shelton visited this morning and indicated that Jodi's progress is good and she shouldn't be worried about the things she is experiencing.

She does have a difficult time opening and closing the eyelid over her right eye and her hearing remains about the same, not very good. The nurses have to put drops in her eye frequently to keep it moist.

The doctor took her bandages off this morning. The incision is a large horizontal question mark shaped one. With the bandages off she was told she could take a shower if she was careful not to get the incision area wet. The shower was feeling great right up to the point where some water got in her nose. When she tried to blow the water out she felt like her head exploded. She had to have a nurse help her out of the shower and back into bed. That intensified her headache for a few hours.

Jodi enjoyed talking by phone with her kids this morning before Trenden and Lindi left for school. She misses them a lot! Tolan had "fun" trying to get them all breakfast, espcially since each one wanted something different.

Jodi is hoping her spinal headache goes away soon. That is one thing that continues to make this whole process hard, particularly when she needs to move at all.

The physical therapists keep coming in to work with Jodi to try and get her up and moving around, but with the spinal headache she can only do a very limited amount.

She still needs a lot of peace, quiet and rest.

It continues to be wonderful to read the comments posted on the blog and to receive all the emails and calls. Jodi appreciates everyone so much and so do the rest of us!!! Thank you so much!!!

Thursday, May 14, 2009

The Day After Surgery Update

Jodi is feeling much better today than she was yesterday. She was moved mid-day from Neuro Intensive Care to Neuro Acute Care. That's good! She also had a sponge bath and was able to brush her teeth, both of which made her feel better.

We've been able to talk a lot and it was particularly enjoyable to watch her as we read yesterday's posts to the blog and the comments all of you made. She had tears in her eyes and a smile in her heart as she heard the expressions of love and support. Thank you again! You all are wonderful!

She continues to experience some of the natural consequences of this type of brain surgery. She has a severe "spinal headache", blurred vision in her right eye, little and only fuzzy hearing in her right ear. The headache is a result of the loss of spinal fluid associated with the surgery. The eyesight and hearing challenges are from swelling, which is also natural with this surgery. The doctor said these should all be better in a matter of a few days.

The facial muscle paralysis will take weeks or months to improve, according to Dr. Shelton and Dr. Couldwell. They confirmed that the nerve controlling the facial muscles is in good condition and should heal itself, but that is a slower process.

Because of the paralysis, Jodi is having a difficult time with trying to eat anything. She can only control half of her mouth, so it is hard to hold in any liquid. She can't chew. The movement of her jaw causes too much head pain, so she is really only able to have soft foods for now. Even that is a bit of a challenge. She can't open her mouth much at all so we've had to use the handle end of a spoon to give her pudding, etc.

We are still assuming it will be Monday or so before she will be able to leave the hospital.

Mom and Dad Orgill were with her for 6 hours today and Tolan will be there until late tonight.

We'll let you know when it is okay to visit...maybe in another day or so.

With all the physical challenges, Jodi is still pleasantly and gratefully overwhelmed, as are we all, with the continued outpouring of support in the form of comments on the blog, emails, phone calls, etc. etc.

If anyone wants to send a get well card or flowers they should be sent to:

Jodi Brown
Neuro Acute Care - Room #5
University of Utah Hospital
50 North Medical Drive
Salt Lake City, Utah 84132

Thank you again and again for all of your love and support!!!

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Jodi is doing well

This is Tolan. It was a long day at the hospital. Jodi seems to be doing pretty well. She’s coherent and seems mentally sharp and aware of what’s going on but in serious pain as expected right after a major brain surgery. She didn’t want to talk much so we mostly sat in silence. I suspect she won’t want visitors for a day or two until she recovers a bit more.

She has facial paralysis (palsy) on the right side of her face which impacts all her facial muscles on the right side. Dr. Shelton believes it will likely last weeks or months (rather than a few days) as nerves tend to repair slowly but he did mention that the facial nerve looked good during the surgery and he believes it will improve eventually. She also has some diminished hearing in her right ear which Dr. Shelton believes will improve in a few days. Dr. Couldwell said they were able to remove most of the tumor and once the pathology comes back in a couple days we will know more. That’s about all we know at this point.

I thank everyone for the outpouring of love and support we’ve received. The response has been amazing. We’re blessed to have such great friends and family.

ICU Visit

We're visiting Jodi in the ICU. We haven't been able to see Dr. Couldwell yet, so we don't have our questions answered.

Jodi has been nauseated by the effects of the anthesia and has vomited twice. The doctors have her on morphine for the pain in her head, but the pain is stronger right now than the morphine, although they are now giving her something for the pain and to help her sleep.

She has what she describes as a "fuzzy" sound in her right ear. She isn't talking much, but when she speaks it looks like the muscles around her mouth on the right side where the surgery took place appear to be "numb". Before the surgery the doctors did say that it was more common for a patient to feel nauseated when there is surgery on the brain and apparently it isn't uncommon for the facial muscles on one side to experience some temporary paralysis. They said it takes about 24 hours for things to "settle down". Then it is a little easier to make an assessment of how she is doing.

We are anxious to talk to Dr. Couldwell, but he is in another surgery right now, so we don't know when that will be possible.

Clearly, it will take time and rest for her to get through this and our prayers are still very much needed.

We will keep giving updates as we have new information to share.

Thank you again for your prayers and fasting and faith. We hope we can all continue in this vein as she goes through the recovery process. Much love and appreciation to you all!!!

The Surgery is Done!

Dr. Shelton indicated that Dr. Couldwell has taken out all of the tumor he could get, which is most of it. They still want to run a series of additional tests on the tumor to learn everything they can about it. Dr. Shelton wasn't actually in the operating room while Dr. Couldwell was performing the surgery, so he was giving us basic information. We hope to get more details when we can talk to Dr. Couldwell.

Jodi has been taken to the ICU to begin the recovery process. It will take awhile for her to come out from under the anthesia. They will let us know when we can visit her. We don't know how long that may be.

As we get more of the details from Dr. Couldwell we'll let you know. Dr. Shelton did indciate that the tumor was pressing on nerves that could well have been causing Jodi's dizziness.

Again, thanks for your continued prayers.

The Latest News

Just in --- the nurse just indicated that Jodi's vitals all look good and she is doing well that way. Dr. Couldwell has taken out a portion of the tumor and is having it tested to see what they can learn before he moves forward.

That's all we know right now!

Thanks again to all of you who are continuing to pray and who are sending messages of is a real blessing to us while we are waiting and I know Jodi will be touched by the expressions of love and support.

You all are simply amazing!!! Thanks to those who have left comments just today, including Jodi's cousins: Diane, Rachel, Nicki, Rebecca and Sharon; Uncle Randy and Uncle David and Aunt Teresa; Sue, Cami, Ashley & Kirt Davis; David & Carolyn Ralph and their family. Thanks to long-time friends, the Rhoads, who have always been there. Thanks to good current and past neighbors like Brandi Stuart and the Eastmans and the Datos. Thanks to Britt, Kelly Pia, Kelly Flint, Veeda, Jeff DuBois, Grace Miller, and childhood Virginia friend, Josh Griffin.

Thanks to all of you and so many more...what a blessing you are!!!

More Waiting

The nurse just indicated that Dr. Couldwell only now arrived in the operating room. We don't know what has been happening with Dr. Shelton during this time and we don't know why Dr. Couldwell only just arrived. So we continue to wait and pray.

While waiting, we've been busy. It has been so touching to read the comments so many of you are leaving and the emails coming in and the phone calls. What an incredible blessing you all are to Jodi and to the whole family.

May the Lord bless each of you for your goodness!

Interesting Process

We just received a brief update. It took about 35 minutes in the operating room for them to finishing prepping Jodi. Dr. Shelton just started making the incision 10 minutes ago. He is getting everything ready for Dr. Couldwell, who will arrive at 11:00 a.m. to surgically remove the tumor. The nurse said we'd hear more at about 12:30 p.m.

Thank you again for your prayers.


Aloha, this is Jodi's Dad. I'm here at the surgical waiting room with Tolan and Sherri (Jodi's Mom). Jodi went into surgery about an hour ago. I arrived from Hawaii about 10 minutes before she left the prep room. She was doing considerably better than she had through the night and earlier this morning. It was wonderful to see her smiling face and to give her a big hug.

She was surrounded by medical personnel who were getting her ready. In part, this meant putting in IV's --- one in her right arm, two in her left arm and one in her foot.

We've been told that we should get an update at about the two hour mark. That's in an about an hour.

Half an hour before she went into surgery Jodi received a call from her Uncle Randy who lives in France. He let her know that he is praying for her and that angles would be attending her. What a special experience. This meant so much to Jodi!

I want to express my appreciation to all of you who have been praying, fasting, and exercising faith on Jodi's behalf. What an amazing outpouring of love, concern, and support!

Stayed tuned for the next installment.

Getting Started

Jodi was just taken back to get her head shaved and be put under. She had kind of a rough night last night. She was up late and sick most of the night. I think her nerves were finally getting the better of her. Even the car ride over to the hospital this morning was a challenging one, she needed help holding her head up from the dizziness and nauseousness she had been experiencing.

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Houston we are a go...

Jodi went into Salt Lake again today for one last MRI before the surgery. The doctor said there was no change in the tumor so everything is cleared to go. Jodi was originally scheduled for surgery in the afternoon, but was moved to first in line. She has to be at the hospital at 7:00 am, surgery is scheduled to start at 8:30 am. If everything goes accordingly the process should take between four and five hours. The doctor drew a picture for Jodi today of where her incision would be located, she told him she would really appreciate it if they left as much of her hair as possible.

My dad or myself is going to update the blog throughout the day tomorrow as we have any news during surgery. We are still grateful for every prayer and hope they continue in abundance especially during our nerve racking day tomorrow.

To get her mind off of her life changing event in the morning, Jodi along with myself and Mom went and had a day at the spa. Exfoliation, massages, steam room, and was unanimously decided that having this pampering could be very easy to get used to. It was nice to get away and have a fun distraction with just the girls. We missed our sister Kristi and hope that next time she can be there with us!

Monday, May 11, 2009

2 Days and counting...

The call from the University of Utah Hospital finally came this morning and things are set for Wednesday. Jodi will find out the exact time for everything later today, but at least they know that she is for sure on the surgery schedule.

She is starting to get nervous now. She has been feeling sick to her stomach all morning as reality has set in that she is really having brain surgery in 2 days. She is also thinking about all the "little" things, like whether or not she will have any hair left, if her kids will all be OK, and whether or not someone at home will remember to register the kids for soccer on Saturday. :)

Jodi and Tolan will be going down to Salt Lake today to meet with Dr. Couldwell one last time, plus she may have to do a lot of pre-operation things, like meet with the anesthesiologist, get registered, etc. She is hoping to accomplish this all in one trip, rather than going back tomorrow as the U requested.

So, please keep her, the family, and the doctors and medical team in your prayers as we prepare for D Day...

On a happy note, Jodi had a wonderful Mother's Day. She felt good for most of the day and enjoyed celebrating with her family. They had a fun picnic dinner at Tolan's parents house and enjoyed a nice visit together. The family also celebrated Trenden's 10th birthday on Saturday, though the poor kid ended up getting sick for much of the weekend. This is always a special time because Trenden was born on Mother's Day. He likes to tell people, "I made my mom a mother on Mother's Day!" and indeed he did. So, they enjoy celebrating the occasions together!

Jodi wants to again thank everyone for the thoughts, prayers and fasting. Thanks to her Young Women at church who are going to fast this week! Also, thanks to family and friends: Tolan (for EVERYTHING), Tami, Kristi, Dad (for all the WONDERFUL Mother's Day goodies), Tolan's parents, MOM for being there through it all, Cathy for the Mother's Day bracelet, Clementine and Randy in France, Grandma and Grandpa Ketchum, Leslie, Terra, Meijken, Weny Taylor, Jeanette, Brenda, Jim Hopkinson, Debbie and Brandon Rhoads (We love you!!), Carol Liptrot and family, Noellee, Heidi, Heather, Annette, Cami, Brittany, all the neighbors, RS ladies, and friends. Thanks to all!!

Hope all the mothers out there had a WONDERFUL Mother's Day!! Here are some pics of Jodi on Mother's Day.

Thursday, May 7, 2009

Major Update: 6 days til Craniotomy (Brain Surgery)!!

Jodi had an appointment with a Neuro ENT, Dr. Shelton, today. A Neuro ENT specializes not only in the ear, but the connection between the ear and the brain. Dr. Shelton works with Dr. Couldwell, the neurosurgeon, and has been involved in Jodi's case for a few weeks, though this was her first time meeting him.

There were many details discussed at the appointment but here is the summary:

* An entire team of specialists is now involved in Jodi's case. The radiologist is one of the best in the country. Between all of them, they still have no idea what kind of tumor (if it is a tumor) it is.

* A biopsy was going to be the next option, but they have decided to do the "full" surgery and take out as much of the tumor as they can. They will get close to the brainstem, hopefully without touching it.

* The surgery will be performed using a "middle fosa" approach. They will start the incision in front of Jodi's right ear, then create a large question mark shaped incision that goes back and up so it ends in the right middle side of her head. They will have to shave her head around the incision, but will try to preserve the surrounding hair to help cover the scars.

This method does have risks, as follows:
1. Risk of hearing loss +/- 5%
2. Risk of facial paralysis +/- 10%
3. Risk of death +/- 1-2%
4. Increased dizziness and imbalance (moreso than now) +/- 30%
5. Increased ringing in ears +/- 10%
6. Post-op infections +/- 10%
Other risks:
Spinal fluid leak (Jodi let him know she's already "Been there done that")
Blood Transfusion problems
The good news is because of Jodi's age and overall health condition, she is less likely to experience many of these risks. However, the tumor's proximity to the brainstem increases some risks.

* The surgery will be about 4 hours long. She will be in the Neuro ICU for 24-48 hours, then in the Neuro Unit (at the University of Utah Hospital) for another 3-4 days or so, with a total hospital stay of about 5-6 days or so, if all goes well. They will not release her until she is up and walking on her own.

* She will experience a temporary increase in her dizziness and balance problems (unlike the chance for more permanent issues as listed in the risks above). This will be a major part of her recovery time, in addition to managing the pain and care of the incision area.

* They cannot leave the space in the brain "empty" so they will take fat from her stomach (in a procedure similar to liposuction) and fill it in her brain. Her kids have decided her new name will be "Fat head", which she thinks is great. Many people have volunteered to give up their "fat" to put in Jodi's head. If you would like to volunteer your fat, Jodi says she is creating a list of potential donors. :)

* If all goes as planned, this will take place on WEDNESDAY, May 13, at the U Hospital. (They should get final word within the next 24 hours and will know if it is a "go" for sure.)

* The doctor said he doesn't believe the surgery will take away the symptoms. Analysis of the tumor will hopefully result in answers as to what "it" is and how to continue treatment. It may not be a tumor, but a mass that is indicative of something else all together. It may or may not be cancerous. It may or may not be causing all of the symptoms. They just don't know. Regardless, after surgery, they are going to try out some different migraine medications for Jodi. Some of them have been known to help the headache/dizziness combo, so they may help relieve or lessen her symptoms.

In the meantime, the team at John's Hopkins has some of the medical information and the rest should be arriving by tomorrow. So far, one specialist has been recommended to Jodi, based on his work with this area of the brain,however, they do not have a diagnosis either.

Some good news, the doctor said after her initial few weeks of recovery, the remaining few weeks can take place anywhere, so if she feels up to it, she can still go to Hawaii to see her mom and brother graduate from college! That has her excited and hoping she feels good enough for the trip.

So, that is the big update. There will be another appointment on Monday with the neurosurgeon to finalize plans before the big day. The prayers and fasting have already created miracles, so please keep them coming for the surgery and recovery time.

More thanks: To The Baileys, Jean Francom and Jodi Carlson for the kind emails and to Jodi's Dad for the amazing Mother's Day flowers!! Love to all!

The Prayers are Working!

This has been the best week that Jodi has had in several months and after talking about it, we all think it is directly related to all the prayers and fasting that have taken place on her behalf. Thank you to everyone for your faith and prayers! Keep 'em coming!

Jodi has been able to be up and functioning for about 2 hours at a time, all day, throughout much of the week. After 2 hours she has to lay down and close her eyes to shut off the vertigo and help her head to feel better, but then she is up and going again. She even drove herself to get her haircut (don't panic, it was only a mile away in her neighborhood). She's had some great days, thanks to all the prayers!

The other things that have been amazing are all the cards, notes, emails, packages, flowers, fruit, etc. that have come from so many "long-lost" old friends. The other day Jodi received a wonderful Harry and David fruit package from her friend, Michelle Tavakolian. Michelle and Jodi were best second grade! Michelle moved from VA to CA when the girls were only in 4th grade. They have seen each other only once since then, when they were 12. So, after 20 years, Michelle still cared enough to send a great pick-me-up gift to Jodi and her family. When she saw the name on the card, she started to cry, overwhelmed by the love and support!

Yesterday another wonderful gift arrived, a huge bouquet of "fruit flowers" from Mindy and Michael, Teresa and Jared, and Lisa and Leeland, all of Jodi's sisters-in-law and their husbands. The tears came yet again as she felt thankful for the kindness and love.

Other far away friends have also touched her heart, including Lucy Davis, Quinn Aubry, Jason Greene (thanks for making her laugh and smile), Tamee Sutherland (Jodi LOVES the journal!!), Clark Hartley and Melissa Orchard.

Of course, she doesn't want me to forget all the "close" friends who are also still doing so much to show their love and support.

Jodi, Lindi and her mom also got a special treat yesterday when a friend, Kathryn Bloxham, took them all to get pedicures and have lunch. That was a wonderful and relaxing experience for Jodi, who enjoyed the massage chair as much as the pedicure! Lindi and her best friend Mandy loved having their toes painted, too. Thanks to Kathryn for such a fun morning and lunch!!

Also, many thanks to: Noellee, Michelle Bocchino, Brittany, Annette, Rose Bell (thank you, thank you!!), Kim and Marty, Stacey, Kelly, Cami, Celia, cousin Brad, sister Tami, sister Kristi, brother Scott, MOM!!!, mom-in-law Kay, dad-in-law Larry, and all the wonderful friends and neighbors who stop by and call. Jodi doesn't want to forget anyone,so please just know you are loved and appreciated!

Jodi has an appointment today with an ENT in Salt Lake, so another drive down with her father-in-law Larry. :) She should find out in the next few days when they will be scheduling the surgery to do the biopsy. They are shooting for the end of next week. We will keep everyone posted.

One more request, Jodi has asked that you also pray for her friend Jodi Carlson (see earlier post) as she has gotten very sick with the flu. Her immune system is very weak after all the struggles of the last 18 months. So, she needs prayers, too!

Thanks to all! Enjoy the fun pics of some of Jodi's fun surprise packages! Oh, and one picture of her kids in their Easter Sunday clothes, just to share for fun!

Monday, May 4, 2009

Weekend Excursions & Exercise

Jodi was very excited because she got up and exercised this morning, for the first time in over a month. She did 12 minutes on the rowing machine, which may not sound like much, but it is actually quite a workout. It wore her out completely and her head was spinning by the end, but she did it. Another "little" thing previously taken for granted.

She enjoyed the weekend and getting to spend some time with Tolan. The neighbors, Curtis and Vener, (who are saints) took the kids for several hours on Saturday and Tolan and Jodi ran errands and went to lunch. Not being able to drive, Jodi has been quite stir crazy, so it was good for her to just get out of the house. She had some dizzy spells while they were out, but said it was still worth it.

Jodi says her friends are the most wonderful people and they are spoiling her. Her good friend, Becky, always does her hair. At the end of last week, she was feeling "blah" so Becky gave her a great cut, which perked her right up. The best part was just getting to visit together, oh, and she loves to get her head massaged and shampooed. :) Then Annette came over and did a treatment on her fun for her to get pampered a little.

She did go to church yesterday and did well for a while, but had to leave before the meetings were over because she became too dizzy. She has realized that she usually has a window of good time, and that lasts for about 2 hours max. After that, she goes down hill quickly. So, at least she is figuring things out and will try to schedule her activities around her good times.

More thanks to the great friends who call, email, drop by with treats, bring dinner and send cards in the mail: Quinn (beautiful card), Tamee, Joan, Noellee, Melissa, Mary Ann, Liz, Cami S., Janene, Kara, Annette, Brittany, Cami H....thanks to everyone. She has a hard time returning all the calls and emails, and is feeling guilty that she hasn't gotten thank you cards out to anyone, so please know of her love and gratitude. Special thanks to all those who fasted and prayed for Jodi this weekend. She gets teary-eyed every time she hears of family, friends and even complete strangers who are fasting and praying for her. Thanks to all!

Friday, May 1, 2009

A Tribute to Jodi Carlson

Hi Everyone. This is Jodi. Please allow me to share someone with you that is very special to me. Here is a little of her story:

In November of 2007, Jodi Carlson gave birth to her third child, and her first daughter. Just a few weeks later, this mother of three was in the hospital, clinging to life after she experienced a stroke. At least twice she "blue lined" and died on the table. Through a series of pure miracles from God, she survived, but life is not the same anymore. The stroke left Jodi partially blind, partially deaf, paralyzed in half of her face, and without many of the physical abilities we all take for granted.

Jodi Carlson is a good friend of mine. We worked together for a few years, but more importantly, we became friends with similar situations and values. Jodi's stroke and her subsequent medical challenges have been on my mind DAILY since the moment I heard of her situation. Jodi is a fighter, and it is a good thing, because her battle has been, and continues to be very big. She has endured more in her short 30 years than many people experience in a lifetime. Her life is still hard. After 15 months of being bed or wheelchair bound, she is walking again (hooray!), slowly but surely, with her walker. She is swallowing and eating again (a huge accomplishment that allows her to enjoy life and food again!!) and little by little is relearning all the things that were once so easy and natural. Her mind is 100% there, but her speech is slowed by her damaged nerves and facial paralysis. On the inside, she is totally Jodi Burton Carlson, but people who see her physical body see one that is less functional than it was a few years ago. Jodi lives with her mom during the week, but is now able to go home to Robert and her 3 children on the weekends. This is a wonderful blessing, but there are still challenges as she struggles to do basic things to care for her family.

Yesterday, Jodi and her mom, Connie Burton, came by to visit me. I have been wanting to talk to Jodi for quite some time. I knew that she would have a perspective on my challenges that no one else could have. We spent a couple of hours in my living room, sharing stories, experiences and feelings that no one else can really understand. Mostly, we cried together as we talked about life and its unexpected trials.

Jodi Carlson is one of my heros. She will be the first to tell you she is not perfect, but she tries so hard everyday. I love her, respect her, and admire her more than words can say. And now, more than ever, I am looking to her as an example of how to face my own challenges.

Thank you, Jodi and Connie, for the words of advice, care and love, and for the tears we shared together. Thank you for teaching me about endurance, patience and love. I still have much to learn from both of you.

Please pray for Jodi Carlson, too. She is a living miracle, but all of us could use a few more miracles, and Jodi is perhaps the most deserving of all.

For more on Jodi, visit her blog at: