Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Surgery

This may be a somewhat long post again because it’s been a while since I had a chance to update, so I apologize in advance.
So, we have had some ups and downs the last few days. Mark did not have any more seizures, but he was having a little more trouble with the right side of his body. Also, his nerves were really out of control for a couple of days. He was super irritable and worried about his surgery coming up. Thankfully we made it past those days.
One blessing I wanted to share is the one from last Thursday. At CLC, I was surrounded by a small group of AMAZING women who prayed over me. Hearing them talk to God about Mark just touched my heart. It was very emotional.
On Sunday, there was another group of women who came to help me do some gardening. They planted all of our flowers and some trees and bushes and now our yard just look great with all of the colors and life. That was a very nice blessing.
The surgery was yesterday, and it was a LONG day. It was tiring, emotional, and full of blessings! Mark and I got to the hospital early, so we were able to meet his Aunt and Uncle who had driven from Midland to be here for us. Then, my dad came to the hospital, so we got to spend some time with him as well. Mark went for his MRI and then people started showing up to wait with me during the surgery. One friend brought lunch for everybody. It was so nice of her to do that! So, we had Mark’s aunt and uncle, mom and dad. My mom and stepdad were here, my friend Kim, who brought the lunches, and my friend Regan. My mom and John’s pastor came by to visit. We were blessed with a visit from Neal Jeffrey, who had a nice prayer with us also. Mark’s surgery was delayed, so we had a very long wait before he went in. He did finally go into the operating room at about 2:15. His surgery lasted about 6 hours. During the surgery, we had more people come visit. A deacon from the church, Michelle Pinkston from CLC, Luann Ivy from the children’s ministry, and another family member, Jackie Durrett came. I am completely amazed at the amount of love and support we have received. Once Mark went back for surgery, I had a good cry. I completely trusted God to take care of the whole situation, but I had been holding back all of my tears and emotions all day so that Mark wouldn’t worry about anything else. It felt good to be able to release all of that and have my friends there to hold me and comfort me too. Once the surgery was over, Dr. Barnett came to talk to us. He told us several things and it wasn’t what I had prepared myself to hear, so it was a little difficult for me to handle it even though it wasn’t all terrible news. The doctor said that when they removed his skull, his brain was very "angry" and swollen. There had been quite a bit of growth/change in the mass since his last MRI. The radiologist at first said it could be an infection rather than a tumor, but during the surgery, they found no evidence of infection and it looked more like a tumor. We still don't know 100% which it is, but we hope to get pathology results back on Wednesday or Thursday. The doctor said that the mass (infection/tumor) was NOT encapsulated like they had thought at first, but it looks like, according to the interoperative MRI, that they got all of it. Since it did not have defined borders, they can't be sure if there are some "fingers" that were left in there or not. So, now we just wait for pathology to see if Mark will need to do radiation or chemo or anything else. I had another good breakdown and cry after Dr. Barnett told us all of this. I just had prepared for him to come out and tell us that it was a tiny benign mass that was totally contained and that he very simply got it all out and that there is nothing more to be concerned about. Just hearing something different than that made me feel upset. My dad called shortly after the doctor talked to us and he could tell that I was upset, so he told his manager he needed to leave and he came right over to sit with me. He stayed in ICU with me and Mark until 12:30. I was so very tired because I had only gotten about 2 hours of sleep the night before. It was very helpful to have my dad there to help keep me calm and to help look after Mark. I had planned on staying in my hotel room, but Mark was really afraid of staying in ICU alone, so I stayed the night in his room with him, so I got a little bit of sleep on and off. I went ahead and checked out of the hotel and moved my stuff into Mark’s room, so I will just stay with him for the rest of the time that he is here. As far as recovering from the surgery, Mark is doing GREAT! He does not want to know any details about the surgery or what the doctor said. So, I am just trying to focus on helping him to do better. He had an okay night last night in ICU, but he did have quite a bit of pain. He threw up a few times. We think that the anesthesia might have had something to do with that. They gave him morphine in his IV, but it didn’t help his pain so they had to give him oral pain meds and those seemed to help more. He has a central line to give him fluids and other medications. He was able to sleep off and on last night and then they took him at 3 this morning for a CT scan. They were checking for swelling and bleeding in his head. Apparently that was all clear because he was moved earlier today from ICU to a regular room. I can't believe it! I had to leave ICU at 6 this morning and I wasn't allowed back in until 8. When I went back in, he was sitting up in the bed eating (liquid diet). He looked really good and he said he felt good. They took out several of his lines and got him moved to the regular room. He got to eat solid food for lunch and he just devoured it. The physical therapist came to work with him and she said he looks pretty good. He just has some weakness on his right side, so she gave him exercises to do to help get his strength back. His mind seems pretty clear and his speech is just fine. I am amazed that he is in so little pain now. That's a blessing for sure. We had so many people call and come by. It was so nice!
My mom and John came by this morning and stayed for a while. Mark’s parents came up for a little bit and brought the boys because they were sickish today. Colin threw up 12 times, so he couldn’t go to school. Mark’s parents kept him at our house and gave him some medicine to make him stop throwing up and then he started feeling a lot better. Carter just didn’t want to go to CLC since Colin was staying home, so Mark’s mom asked if they could keep him home also. I told her that would be fine. I noticed when Carter was up here this evening that he felt hot so I asked Mark’s mom to take his temperature when they got home. She did, and it was 100.6. She gave him some medicine, so I’m hoping he doesn’t get really sick now. Our friends Joe and Terria came by this morning. It was really good to see them. We got a visit from another deacon at our church and a special visit from Mike Buster and Pastor Graham. I know that meant so much to Mark. I got a lot of phone calls this afternoon from people checking in on us. We have felt so much love since we’ve been here at the hospital! Well, I’m gonna end this crazy long post for now and hopefully get some sleep.

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

No Seizures Today!

Today was a better day for Mark. No seizures! That's a BLESSING! He is really sore from his seizure yesterday, but he had a good time with his dad today. I called his neurosurgeon to let him know about the problems Mark has been having with the right side of his body and they started him on steroids. The PA said that if he has some swelling, it could be causing more problems with that side of his body, so the new meds will shrink things down and hopefully make it a little better.

I went to the doctor today and he is going to do another procedure on my back on Friday. He will do a Selective Nerve Root Block, so I will hopefully get a little more relief after that. He is aware of the situation with Mark and is so nice to rush things along and really try to make me feel better so that I can take care of him. He said if I still have pain after this procedure, he wants me to do the surgery after Mark recovers. He wrote me a prescription for my strong pain meds, so I will be able to function for the next month on that.

We were blessed with 2 meals today. We enjoyed one tonight and put the other in the refrigerator for tomorrow night. It has been sooooooo nice to not have to worry about preparing supper at all for the last couple of weeks. I cannot express my gratitude to all of the people that have helped us with meals.

I want to ask for prayers for a friend of mine also. I found out today that they lost their baby. She went in for her 12 week appointment and they couldn't find a heartbeat and then she had surgery (D&C). She is back home recovering, but I can't imagine how terrible it must feel to go through that. It just breaks my heart. I wish I could do something to help her right now too. She is in NC and I'm here in TX, so I really can't do anything but pray and ask for my friends to pray for her too. Her name is Sara, so I would appreciate it if you would add her to your prayer list and please continue to pray for our family as well. We appreciate all of the prayers that we are receiving. They are working!

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Another Seizure Today

Mark had another seizure today. :( He has been having some trouble with the right side of his body. He noticed the other day that he had a hard time holding his razor and he has had a hard time writing. We had an irrigation company out to fix a leak in our sprinkler line and they also did some other work for us in our yard. Mark was outside talking to the owner today and they were discussing the bill and Mark started to worry about if his hand would work or not to sign the check. Then he got that aura that he gets before a seizure, so he told the guy that he would send me out to talk to him. Mark came inside and as soon as he opened the door, I knew something was wrong. He started scratching his face and I knew that he was starting another seizure. He walked to the chair in the living room and then the seizure took over. I could see his right leg seizing while his right arm was moving uncontrollably. After about a minute, his leg stopped seizing, but his arm continued to spasm. That lasted about a minute, so the seizure was about 2 minutes total. When it was over, he was totally wiped out. His muscles hurt so bad on his right side, so he has been limping and rubbing his arm. It is so hard for me to watch him like that. I just feel so bad for him and I would do anything to take it away from him. I gave Mark an Ativan and got him settled in his chair. He rested for a while and then our neighbors came over. That was one blessing for today. They brought supper and stayed to eat with us. Mark did not feel like eating, so he just continued to rest while I ate with our friends - their kids and our kids had a “picnic” in the media room upstairs while they watched a movie. It was really nice for me to be able to visit with them. They are such nice people and we really enjoy being with them. Their kids are great and it’s nice to have them play with our boys. When we were done eating, we joined Mark in the living room. By then, he was a little more aware and awake, so he was able to join in in our conversation. After our friends left, I put the boys in bed and we tried to watch some TV, but Mark was just feeling too sleepy to concentrate. He seemed to be getting restless again, and I really wanted him to sleep well tonight in hopes that he will feel much better tomorrow. So, I gave him another Ativan and put him in bed. I pray that he sleeps well all night.

I have an appointment in the morning with my Neurosurgeon’s pain management doctor. I am still feeling much better after my epidural last week. Although I still have a lot of pain in my leg, the pain I was having right below my lower back has gotten so much better. That’s a blessing. My appointment in the morning is about medication so I can continue to function as well as possible while I wait for Mark to have his surgery and recover before I can have my surgery.

I went back to CLC today. It was nice to be covered in love by so many amazing ladies, but it was a bit overwhelming also. Once I got to my classroom, I realized that I forgot to bring Carter’s lunch and my lunch. I had everything all ready to go, I just forgot to grab them before we left this morning. As soon as I realized my mistake, I just couldn’t hold back the tears. That’s when my Angel Kimberly stepped in once again. She asked Carter what he wanted for lunch and went to find out his schedule so she would know what time his class ate. She went down to Main Street (the cafeteria in our church) and bought him lunch and took it to him and she brought lunch for me too and delivered it to my classroom. What a blessing! Before I had even left the parking lot at the end of the day, she called to check on me and see if we needed her to order us a pizza or something for supper. She is just so amazing!

Another blessing for me today was the chance to talk to our Director of CLC, Michelle. She has been exactly in my position before because her husband had a brain tumor removed. It was so nice to be able to tell her exactly how I have been feeling and to find out that it’s normal. She is a huge encouragement to me and I thank God for putting me in an area where I am able to talk to her when I need to. BLESSING!

It’s almost 1:00 in the morning, so I’m going to stop blogging now, and get myself to bed. :)

Sunday, March 21, 2010

Out of the mouth of babes

So, today was an okay day. I had more pain today than yesterday, but I managed anyway. Mark did not have any seizures today, but his nerves were really thin. He was just very on edge. We are not sure if it is his medication or the tumor, but he just has not been able to handle much noise or movement. So, I had to get the boys out of the house for a little while to give him some moments of total silence. Poor guy. I know this is so hard on him. He is such a good daddy and I know it is difficult for him to feel aggravated when the boys are just being boys. It's not something he can control, and I'm sure that is a terrible feeling. He is really good about remaining calm and just letting me know that he needs some quiet time though.

Today, I was blessed by my boys. They brought me smiles and outright laughter with the things they said today. I wish I could tell you the first thing that made me laugh, but it's not something appropriate for posting since it had to do with Colin asking a very innocent, but hilarious question about the male anatomy. :) Then, a little later Colin found a cotton ball and a couple of Q-Tips. He told Mark, "Look at how I can hold the cotton ball by just using these ear picks". Ear picks! That one made me laugh out loud. Another funny thing was that while we were at Wal-Mart, I told Carter I wanted him to stay near me or somebody would take him. He asked me in all seriousness if Colin could come with him wherever somebody takes him. I've really gotta work on safety issues with that boy and put a little fear in him. :)

So, while it wasn't the best day ever, it wasn't the worst, and we were blessed with smiles and laughter from our sweet boys.

Friday, March 19, 2010

Dinner, Friends, & Insurance

Mark had a follow up appointment today with the Neurologist. He was so nervous even though there was no need to be. He gets so worried about going to the doctor for anything. His blood pressure was 169/105 because of his nerves. His pulse was 135. He knows there is nothing to be worried about, but he just can't control it, poor guy! Anyway, we just got refills for his anti-seizure medications and for his "calm the nerves" medicine. :) We let her know what the nuerosurgeon said and about the plan for his surgery. He will go back to see her in 3 & 1/2 weeks. He should be starting to recover from surgery by then.

Tonight we were so blessed with an AMAZING meal brought by a super sweet lady. Thank you Jennifer! Her family blessed us with the meal, a sweet note, and a gift card to Wal-Mart! Oh my goodness! I was in tears because I was so touched by their kindness. Carter could not understand why I was crying. I was trying to explain to him what happy tears are. I don't think he got it. He just gave me a big hug and kiss and said, "I love you, Mommy!" It was precious!

We went to pick up Mark's medication from the pharmacy, and we discovered that the 2 medications he is on total $1,000 per month! So, another blessing for today is that our insurance covers 100%. We do not even have a co-pay! There is no way we could be more blessed in that area!

I have been feeling a little better today with my Sciatica. I think that the epidural injection helped with part of the pain. Now when I take my pain meds, I seem to get a little more relief, so that's yet another blessing.

Mark had a pretty good day today. He was a little tired at times and felt a little strange for a little while, but overall he felt okay and NO SEIZURES today! - Blessing! :)

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

How it Began...

This may be a somewhat long post. I am going to attemt to tell the story of how our blessings began.

I have had a lot of medical issues in the past, so it's not unusual for strange things to happen to me. Mark, however, is always healthy and just never has any medical complications. He does not even have a primary doctor because he never needs to go. As a matter of fact, he is terrified of doctors. Just thinking about having to go see a doctor makes his blood pressure sky rocket because he gets so nervous.

On Tuesday morning a couple of weeks ago, we were just about to leave for school and work. I was taking Colin to Kindergarten and Carter and I were going to CLC (Christian Learning Center), which is the Mother's Day Out program at our church. Carter attends there and I work there on Tuesdays and Thursdays. Mark was leaving for work at the same time. As he was about to put on his shoes, he said that his leg felt weird. When I looked at him, I saw that his right foot was turned in torward his leg and he was scratching his face over and over again. I could tell that he didn't have any control over his hands touching his face. I was very worried and I called 911. The paramedics came and they said everything looked fine. He was able to stop touching his face and settle down once he sat down while I was on the phone with the dispatcher. The paramedics said that his EKG looked fine, and since he was not in any pain, they didn't need to take him to the hospital. They said he should make an appointment with a neurologist. Since I have had a couple of seizures in the past, I already had a neurologist, so I called her and I got an appointment for the next day for Mark. He was very nervous going in, so his blood pressure was very high again, but we knew the cause was just nerves. The doctor orderd an MRI and EEG, which we went to do that Friday. Mark was nervous about doing thoses tests, but was relieved when they were over. We got a call Friday night from the doctor saying that they found a spot on Mark's brain on the MRI. She was certain that the episode he had on Tuesday was a seizure. She needed him to start on some anti-seizure medications right away, so she called some in for him. I had to call her back later and ask for her to call in some medicine to help him calm down because he was just a nervous wreck. Once he took that medicine, he was able to calm down some. The weekend was pretty crazy as we waited for his appointment with the neurologist on Monday. She explained that the spot looked like a tumor and that is what caused his seizure. She wanted him to see a neurosurgeon and talk to him about surgery. We found one that we felt would be really good for Mark. He is a Christian man and a very experienced surgeon. He sent Mark for a CT scan of his body to make sure there were no other tumors that needed to be dealt with. Thankfully, that came back clean, so we only have to worry about the brain tumor. At that point, we scheduled the surgery for March 29th. Mark has had several seizures since the first one, and his medication has been adjusted many times. He had 4 days of no episodes, so we were feeling like he was in the clear. But, yesterday he had another seizure and it was more intense and much longer than the past ones. The doctor wants to keep him on the same dose of meds right now. She said it will be hard to treat the seizures as long as the tumor is still there. She feels that it will be much easier to treat him with medication after the surgery. Then, he will hopefully only have to be on one medication and only be on it for a short while. That is something that we will just have to wait and see though.

During all of this, I have been having a lot of trouble with my sciatic nerve. I had an epidural injection yesterday, and I am hoping to get some relief by the end of the week. Again, we will have to wait and see what happens with that and we will just deal with it whatever the outcome.

As soon as we found out about Mark's tumor, the blessings started pouring down on us. Friends offered to take care of our boys, Colin and Carter, for us when we needed it.- WHAT A BLESSING! A friend from our neighborhood organized meals for us. - WHAT A BLESSING! A friend from CLC organized a Care Calendar with more meals. - WHAT A BLESSING! We received cards, emails, and phonecalls from an amazing number of people telling us they were praying for our family. We were put on many prayer lists. We know there were well over a thousand people lifting us up in prayer! -WHAT A BLESSING! I have not had to worry about missing CLC days, and I have been allowed to still take Carter there even though I am not there. The director of CLC, Michelle, has been in this situation with her husband, so it has been great to have her to lean on during this time. She understands what I am going through and even what I am about to go through. She knows what Mark is feeling and how he will feel during recovery. She held our hands and prayed with us when we were in her office. - WHAT A BLESSING! Mark's work has been wonderful about his time off as well. They have been understanding and encouraging. His managers check on him often and told me to take away his laptop and not let him worry about any work stuff. :) We received baskets from the Charlotte location and the location here. A couple of his co-workers from India came to visit him at our home. They are so nice! Another co-worker of Mark's calls often to check on him. He is such a good friend! -WHAT A BLESSING! It has been wonderful to have family close by to come anytime we need them. Mark's parents rush over anytime I need them to help me after Mark has a seizure. - WHAT A BLESSING! I have not had to cook a meal since we found out about Mark's tumor. We have been covered in love. My wonderful friend took the boys all day today so that Mark and I could have some peaceful time. Another friend is taking care of them tomorrow. And I found out today that there will be a group of people coming for a "garden party" the day before Mark's surgery and they are going to do some planting for us so that when Mark gets back from the hospital, he will be able to enjoy some beautiful color in our yard. Can you believe it? BLESSINGS, BLESSINGS, BLESSINGS! So, although this has been a crazy time for us and it is not what we ever would have wanted, we cannot deny the love and blessings we have been shown through this.