Today it has been 2 months exactly since my first life-changing surgery. I had an appointment with Dr. Couldwell, a follow-up to check on my progress. My father-in-law, Larry, drove me there and my sister, Kristi, came along to visit. Tolan met us there, too. The visiting time with my loved ones has been such a nice, unexpected blessing!
When Tolan and I met with Dr. Couldwell, we were both pleased to hear that he feels like I am progressing as well as can be expected. Many of my restrictions have been lifted, and as my strength (and sight) allows, I can start trying to be more normal (ie, picking up my kids and other objects over 10 pounds, getting weaned off some of the strong drugs with yucky side effects, etc). I will still get worn out and need rests, but I am allowed to purposely push myself a "little" more now. Again, my challenge is always to learn how to push without overdoing it (I have never been good at finding that balance, I usually overdo it!).
Dr. Couldwell also felt confident that my paralysis is temporary and reassured us that during the surgery they tested the nerves and they were in good working order (how you do that, I don't know). Though he couldn't put a time frame on it, he really believes I will be recovered from all the face/paralysis/skin/eye problems within a year or less! What wonderful news! My next appointment with him will be in 6 months, at which time another MRI will be done to exam the remains of the tumor. He said he believes the tumor may not re-grow because the pathology report on it showed that the tumor itself was nearly all removed. Though there are still some pieces of it on the brainstem, they do not believe these sections will be able to reproduce without the main "mass" of the tumor present. WOW! Best case scenario and truly one of the miracles we have been looking for.
So, despite originally being told I had an inoperable brain tumor in a very bad location, there is a good chance I will make a full recovery and still be able to live a long, healthy life without further brain tumor issues!! Miracles, miracles!
Though most of you have seen the photos of me in the days following my original surgery, I was quite shocked to see all of them when I got home. I was in tears when I saw how really sick I looked. (See the reminder photo below...rated PG and not nearly as disturbing as many of the photos we have on our computer.) I wondered how hard it must have been for my husband, parents, children, friends and loved ones to see me looking so frail and sick. I realize now it is much better that I didn't get to see the real "picture" of myself at the time...
In comparison to that, my life now is a piece of cake, with just a few crumbs missing. :)
So, the other piece of news is that Tolan is having surgery on Thursday, for a torn meniscus in his right knee. The truth is, he was in the process of doing all of this before I was diagnosed, but his plans were all put on hold when our lives suddenly turned upside down in April. His surgery has been rescheduled 4 times, each time thinking I would "be better" by the time the new date arrived. Well, I am still not all the way better, but he needs to have this done so he can start to get better, too.
Tolan will have surgery on Thursday at a specialty IHC facility in Salt Lake. My mom will stay with us through the weekend (she normally goes to her home to Orem on the weekends to recover a little) and Tolan will stay at his parents' house in Roy so Kay and Larry can take care of him. It is hard for us to feel like we are still a burden on our families and friends, but we truly appreciate all the help and support. Tolan is supposed to be "down" for 3-4 days, then can start to put pressure on his leg as he feels comfortable.
Please pray with us that he will NOT experience any complications (we are more skeptical these days!) and he will heal quickly and easily!
Thanks so much for all the continued support! We love you all and are still amazed by each of you!