Sunday, November 14, 2010

Crossing the Red Sea

The Red Sea sparkles in the light, as the rays of sun dance on the peaks of the gentle waves. It is a beautiful and glorious sight. Over 14 years ago, I stood on the shores of the Red Sea, marvelling at the grandeur of my surroundings. The colors, sights, smells and sounds awakened my senses and overwhelmed my mind. I was at peace and at home in a foreign land.

My first journey to the Red Sea, Spring, 1996
Just over 18 months ago, I found myself standing again on these shores, this time in a figurative sense, as I frightfully watched the Pharoah's Egyptian chariots chasing me down, ever nearing the very shores on which I stood. My diagnosis was one that came with enemy soldiers and little chance of escape. But even in the moments of great fear, faith lived on and so God parted the water and I began the long and difficult but miraculous journey across my Red Sea.
A photo of my second time at the "Red Sea".

At some time, we will all face our own Red Seas. My hope for each of you is that when you near the shores of your personal sea, you will know that
You do not have to cross alone.
You can be surrounded by family members, friends, neighbors, angels and a loving Heavenly Father who is waiting to part the water.

"A Miracle for Jodi Brown" is now complete. Healing is still occurring and bumps still occur along my path, but my MIRACLES have happened, first and foremost because of a loving, caring Father in Heaven who granted me a second chance at life. But YOU also played a large part in my miracles. You are the angels who prayed and fasted with faith. You are the friends that brought dinners, cleaned my house, drove my children and took care of my family when I could not. You are the friends and strangers who sent me messages of love and hope, when I had little hope left. Each day as I crossed my Red Sea, you walked by my side, making sure there would be dry ground for my journey.

It is with mixed emotions that after 568 days of fear and faith, helplessness and hope, I bring this blog to a close. I feel total joy in knowing that I AM STILL HERE to be a wife and a mother, a daughter and a sister, a neighbor and a friend. I also feel a strange sadness to see this stage of my life come to an end. Though I will not miss my illness or my physical struggles, I will miss the feelings of being part of something bigger than myself, being part of true miracles from God.

I do know that this is the time for me to start fresh, with new-found hope for a brighter future. Please join me again, this time to help others find the inspiration and hope that make miracles happen! Mine is now a Life Under Construction, with detours and orange cones, but with improvements and beauty waiting ahead!

Go to: http://www.lifeconstructionzone.com/ and click on "Follow" to join me on a new journey, as we find inspiration and hope while navigating through the detours of life!

Before I say my final tearful "good bye" on this blog, can I ask one tiny favor? Please leave just a little comment to say you were here and part of my journey. Many of you have never even told me your names, while others I know well, but all of you are now part of my family, and to all of you, I express my love and thanks for making miracles happen!   Love, Jodi

Saturday, November 13, 2010

18 Months

Exactly 18 months ago at this very moment, I was in the middle of my first craniotomy to remove my tumor. Sometime that evening, I woke up in a hazy and somewhat confused state and realized that my face was paralyzed. Thankfully, time softens everything. Those moments are not so vivid and the pain is just a memory. I still couldn't help but have de'ja'vu as I got my MRIs yesterday and went through the motions at that very familiar place. Walking out to my car, I remembered all the emotions that engulfed me on that very first day, when my whole life was suddenly up in the air...

In total contrast, today I am busily cleaning my house and working in the kitchen, just like most of you are doing on this Saturday "job" day. I feel good and I am optimistic about life and all it holds. Yes, there are still frustrations, but they are not worth wasting precious time over. This morning I was frustrated with the help I wasn't receiving from one family member. But the emotions ran their course and we are back on track now.

It was easy to get back on track after receiving a special phone call from Hawaii. Some dear friends of my family, the Soukops, called me today, just to check on me and see how I am doing. Now, you must understand, they do not know me personally. I think I have met her once, and I only know of him. And yet, they send me letters and emails from time to time, and today they called, just to say hi and to check on me. Their love astounds me and I am so grateful for wonderful people like this sweet couple! If you know them, please pass on my gratitude, love and aloha.

Tonight Tolan and I are taking the kids to "Puss in Boots" at the Treehouse Museum. This wonderful children's museum puts on fabulous, family-friendly shows and tonight is our first of the new season. It is just one more indication that life is good and we have much to be grateful during this special season and throughout the year.

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Annual MRI

Friday I will go to the hospital for my annual MRI to check the status of my removed brain tumor. The truth is, while the MRI process itself is not fun, I am not at all nervous about the results. That is not to say that I think I will never have problems again, but instead, I now know that we can handle life, no matter what is in store. Our priorities, as a family, are in the right place, and that is what counts. Live or die, accident or illness, who know what is to come? Though we may not have a crystal ball, we have faith that our family can be strong no matter what stands in our way.

The funny thing is, this MRI almost didn't happen at all. Because of the metal spring in my eye, my MRI was put on hold for weeks until the radiology team could coordinate with my occuloplastic surgeon to find out if I am still eligible for an MRI. Metal can interefere with the imaging results, causing inaccurate results. But after much ado, I found out today that I should be fine and the results should be "mostly" accurate, despite the small piece of metal in my eyelid. Interestingly enough, the large 2.5 inch x 3.5 inch titanium plate in my skull causes no interference, which is why that particular metal is now used over other options. A little bit of trivia for the curious soul. :)

My imaging results will be sent to Dr. Couldwell, and in a few weeks I will probably receive a phone call or letter in the mail, notifying me that the scans were normal. Ahh, to be normal again is a wonderful thing!

Monday, November 8, 2010

And the Winner Is . . . .

Megan C. 
with a guess of $46,500!

The actual total of my eye surgery (at least if we don't get any more bills) is $54, 848.00. Wow, that is a lot for an outpatient procedure! I guess they do things differently in California!  That is nearly 27% of my TOTAL hospital stay of 34 days (and 3 brain surgeries) from last year, and this was only for 6 hours. Yikes. I guess I am blessed to live in Utah, where healthcare costs are low and quality is high.

In any case, congrats to Megan!! A gift card will be coming your way soon! Email me your address so I can get it in the mail ASAP. :) Thanks to everyone who guessed!

It is snowing/raining/snowing/raining outside right now, so I guess the season is finally turning from fall into winter. The ski resorts will be thrilled, as are all my little skiers here at home. Despite the cold outside, I am warm in my house, and warm inside, filled with the excitement that comes with welcoming the seasons of Thanksgiving and Giving! Hooray!

Saturday, November 6, 2010

My Best Friend

It was 14 years ago this weekend that I married my best friend. We have grown and changed in many ways over that time, but I can say for sure that our love for each other is stronger than ever. We have been through wonderful times and trying times, but we have come out of them all as better people. We are more committed than ever to each other and to our family. Thank you, to my amazing husband, for being everything that I never knew I needed in my life!! Enjoy these photos from our special day, all those years ago! (Wow, we look young in these pictures!)




BTW, if you haven't submitted your guess, leave a comment to let me know how much you think the bills are for my eye surgery in August. Winner will be announced in a few days! :)

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

. . . . . The Cost of a New Life

The bills from my surgery in August are rolling in. When I make the journey across the street to my mail box, I actually get a sick feeling in my stomach as I go through the little stack of envelopes in our box. Cards and notes are wonderful, but medical bills are not so fun.

So, let's make the process a little more fun, shall we?? :) Here we go... Make your guess for the total cost of my eye surgery in the "comments" section, or email your answer to me at brownjo76@q.com . At the end of the week, the person whose guess is the closest will be the winner!

Here's the info on my procedure in California:
  • 1 consultation visit (3 hours)
  • 1 eye surgery
  • 1 custom-made "spring" inserted into my eyelid
  • 1 prosthetic lift, inserted into my brow
  • 6 hours of anesthesia
  • 1 occuloplastic surgeon, 6 hours total Operating Room time
  • 1 follow-up visit (1 hour)
So, what is the cost to remedy the effects of paralysis??? Well, you give me your best guess, but I can tell you this, no matter the cost, the results are..... PRICELESS!