Tuesday, August 24, 2010

MORE....are you really sure Doctor...more?????

August 24, 2010

Tomorrow I start another round of Physical Therapy, this time to work strictly on my neck and upper back. I should be excited. I mean at least we're moving forward...right???? Forgive me for my sarcasm but I cannot seem to get my mind wrapped around it and I only have T minus 24hrs to get it that way. This is my dilemma....

My neck and back HURT, almost all the time. I would actually guess it's more like 99% of the time. It's a very difficult job to keep 'morale' up everyday and 'keep on truckin'. I don't have the ability to lay in bed all day and 'nurse' my wounds. It's not my style even if I did. I am a mom, first and foremost. It's what I do and I am still refusing to let all this define me or my children's childhood. I have such strong convictions about being a mom. I've been a working mom, I've been a stay at home mom. I've been an avid active mom and I've been a sick mom. One thing that hasn't changed through all of that is that they deserve the very best of me.

I know and realize with such strong certainty that there are so many in this world that have it far worse than I (and that thought is never far from my mind) but, with that said...IT FREAKIN' HURTS! The pain is intense and I'm telling you, it wears a person down. Sometimes I just want to scream...IT HURTS and BAD. You'll be glad to discover that I frequently refrain from screaming ;) I'm so sick of the pain and even sicker of no plan. Have I mentioned I NEED A PLAN?! :) Some might say, "Francis, isn't physical therapy a plan?" and I would say to that, "excellent question! But no, in this case, it doesn't feel like one". It feels like a 'we can't figure all this out yet so let's throw some physical therapy in there to see how that works...plan'. And I'm just not thrilled.

Physical Therapy is tons of work and let me just be the first to say, I'm not afraid of some hard work! I actually welcome it. If someone were to tell me "Francis if you tow this school bus over the Hathaway Bridge (a local bridge) using nothing but yourself and this rope, you will be cured of this pain" I would do it. In a heartbeat actually. Game on. I would train and train and train some more and figure out how to get that damn school bus across that damn bridge. It may hurt like the dickins' but if the end solution was guaranteed or even a strong likelihood that would be that I was better it would be more than worth it. So the work is not the problem. The problem is what the work brings....MORE PAIN! It hurts so bad. Physical Therapy makes it hurt so much worse with no promise or likelihood of a positive end result. So for the next 4-6 weeks it will not be hard to keep morale up, it will be like pulling teeth to keep morale up. I just cannot seem to get excited about that. If I were to be completely honest I would venture to say I'm dreading it.

Picture of the hathaway bridge so that you can completely have an acurrate visual image of the lengths I am willing to go to :)

Problem is...that's just not me. Dreading doesn't sit right with me, it's not comfortable. I need to be positive. I need to be 'up'. Not for my 3 readers out there (though I love you dearly) but for me. For my little darlings. I desire to show them how to fight the good fight. How to stay in the positive when everything in nature is dragging you down. I do allow them to see that sometimes that it's just tough (I don't want them to have any allusions of super woman, not that there's any chance of that right now). I allow them to see my vulnerability. Strictly because I don't want them to think I just breezed my way through this (no doubt of that lately :). I want them to understand you have to work to be where you want to be, even if what you want is just simply to stay positive. It seems like a silly goal and in all my life I would have never in a million years guessed that this is where I would be right now...trying to not loose hope. To not give in to what is starring me right in the face everyday. But hey, there's not much in this situation of mine that I would have guessed.

Maybe that's the way it's suppose to be. Actually I'm sure that's the way it should be. You shouldn't know what's ahead. Although, right now I would love to know if health is in my future and would be willing to pay most anything to some fortune teller to tell me that :) but again, I think it's best to not know. If I were to know right now that this struggle would go on and on and on and on and on, I can't even imagine what my outlook would be. I truly believe that my brain surgeon allowing me to have ideas of grandeur of returning to my running and spin schedule just a mere 6 weeks after surgery was the best thing he could of allowed me to believe. I laid on that operating table, not thinking about a year long plus recovery/journey, but thinking of feeling the wind on my face once again. Thinking of the unbelievable feeling of completely a tough run. It didn't take long, after surgery, to realize that that goal was a bit of a stretch, to say the least. About 30 maybe 45 seconds after I awoke from several hours of BRAIN SURGERY, I think I got the picture ;) After the fact, when I asked him about that promise he said simply, "Well, it was what you needed to believe". And he was right I did. I needed to believe that fact almost as much as I needed my brain tumor removed. It was essential to keep me going. It was essential to get me calmly on that operating table with no assistance of tranquilizers or restraints. It was crazy. It was a crazy idea. It was a looney tune idea. Yes, everyone, including him, thought I was NUTS but I needed to delude myself. Right now I could use some more delusion. ;)

I wish I was still that naive. I wish I had not realized the harsh reality so very many times. I wish I could still conjure up naive ideas of grandeur. Today, I only wish I could naively believe this physical therapy could and would cure it all. It's hard though, unbelievably hard. I don't even really know how to describe how hard. I know very well that in T minus about 36hrs I will be writhing in pain from the work that we did. I am as sure of that as I am that I have a right arm ;) Not because I'm thinking negatively but because I've been here and done this before.

I guess in some ways I haven't completely lost my positivity because the honest truth is that I do have hope. Hope that this will work. OK, no, not that this will work but that it will help. If I did not have that hope why in the world would I even go and torture myself. It's either that I have hope or have completely lost my mind ;) Which frankly...could be the case.

I am still very much in that BRING IT ON place with myself and this situation. I guess, again, if I'm honest it's a Ehhh...bring it on, I think, maybe?! :) How do get pumped up to hurt. If any of you know, please, clue me in on that ;)

I will persevere. I am going to get my mind wrapped around it in the next 24hrs (and counting). I will do this. And not hesitantly. I will throw myself into this like it's going to breathe life into this body of mine. In the next 24hrs I will somehow convince myself that this could and will work. It's the only way I know to go about things. If I can't do that, then why do it at all?!

I have 24 more hours to that...right?! ;)

This Brain Tumor Chick is heading back to the trenches and has to find the courage to jump in with both feet...YIKES! Stay tuned, the unfortunate adventures of this brain tumor chick continue.

Wednesday, August 4, 2010

Change, Change and "Did you hear?"...more change :)

Wednesday, 04 August 2010

I don't do well with change. I never have. It's not a secret and if it's is, it's one of the worst kept I've ever heard. Looking back that's one of the first characteristics about myself that I realized. From the time I was a very little girl. I avoid it at all costs. I ignore it, until it hits me smack in the face. Going on the assumption that maybe if I ignore the change, maybe it will somehow go away or I possibly won't notice it. A very intelligent assumption I know :)

I have stayed in all different kinds of situations (ranging from mundane to the most serious) for far too long just to avoid change. Silly. When I really stop and think about it. Life is just too short.
Change is inevitable. Being frightened or avoiding it complicates life completely. Life evolves. There is no stopping that. I'm not the girl I was at age 5. I'm not the girl I was at age 25. At 45 I doubt I'll be the girl I was at 30. We, human beings, evolve. We change because of situations, wisdom, idiocies or even for things completely out of our control...like tumors. Why couldn't I be scared of something like...Water Buffalo? They are not native to anywhere I have ever lived and I think I would have a much better chance of avoiding those :)

I have gotten much better over the years with change. We aren't BFF's, change and I, but we are definitely not enemies either. I just avoid him at all costs. The little bit of progress I have made has been hard fought. Facing junk you don't like is no fun and let's face it, those kinds of tasks usually get sent to the back burner. (I know you all didn't know any of this. Huge breakthrough I'm sure :)

I think that has been one of the hardest issues with my brain tumor and subsequent spine tumors. They have changed things. They have changed EVERYTHING! There's that awful word again, I feel like there should be scary movie music in the background. I can honestly say there is NOTHING in my life left untouched from all the changes.

I have been in a constant fight to regain my life. To right all the wrongs that have been out of my control. I'm spiraling. I'm spiraling farther and farther away from me, from the person I know as me and closer and closer to this person they call a 'Patient'! Oh the horror! (You should all gasp here) It has tortured me, this change. I have fought this transformation tooth and nail. I have fought the change. It's a losing battle and I hate losing.

I have mentioned more than once (who am I kidding more than a kagillion times) that I, Francis Brock Spann, the Brain Tumor Chick, want my life back. I want me back. I want the pre-brain tumor chick back. I have pleaded with my doctors, each and every time I have seen them, get me back...back to where I was, to the life I know so well. None of them have had the guts to utterly honest with me...that's it's just not possible...and I have to say I don't blame them one bit. I don't do well with people telling me I can't achieve something so it was probably best to just leave that one alone.

I've realized in the last few weeks...it's impossible. It came more to a head when I visited the Mayo this week. I saw a Physiologist. Someone who's going to help me 'live' more fully and eliminate some of the neck pain. It was there that I walked into an exam room to meet this new physician that I was very hopeful that he could 'fix' me. He was sitting there, up to the desk, in a wheel chair. Spinal injury. He had rigged the whole room to adjust to him. It was amazing. He went over my spinal tap results...ALL NEGATIVE! YAY! Then he got to the neck pain. He was so matter of fact. Cut to the chase. My kind of man, got right to the point. He said (in his awesome Jamaican accent) "you've got these tumors down your spine, not much can be done about that right now. You're having severe pain in your neck and numbness in the left arm and leg. I am going to help you fix the pain in your neck and we're going to get you off all these meds through hard work and stregthening. The numbness though, let go of that. It can't be fixed, at least not now. It could be from the tumors or it could be from the brain surgery. But you...you are doing good for all you've been through...let go of that." It was like...OK...alrighty then...I will. I LOVED HIM! My kind of Doc!

The things that I have wish for and worked hard for will NEVER happen. (There's another word I hate...never) I'm come to realize...that's ok. I cannot go back, no more so than I could go back to when I was 5 or when my children were babies. It is just a fact and as much as it's wonderful to think I can and I will, I believe those thoughts, those efforts, are now hindering me. I have taken the time to cry over this fact. I have morned the old life, the old me, and I'm done. I have been so completely consumed with getting back, back to my old life and the old me that I have hardly noticed this 'new' person emerging. A stronger, more confident person. More self aware and more controlled. I have hardly noticed the girl I have become. Taking a closer look, I'm kind of digging her. She kind of rocks!

I was reading recently, probably in some doctor's office and I came upon a quote. I had an epiphany. I've never had one of those before or not one I've been aware of. It's the only way to describe it. A realization that all this change is simply a part of this life. The quote was, "...one must always be prepared for riotous and endless waves of transformation". Unbelievable. There it was. In black and white even, the words that pushed me through all that pointless morning of my old self. The words that pushed me into seeing that maybe all this change isn't a bad thing. Maybe there is a point to it all.

This knowledge, this understanding, as simple as it seems, has allowed me to take a step back and observe all the transformations that have taken place. How I have changed. The things that I continue to hope, change. For instance, I hope in a year from now I have changed again and evolved to be even stronger even wiser, both physically and mentally. It's allowed me to understand the things that won't change...ever. I am and will always be The Brain Tumor Chick (along with umpteen dozen spine tumors). It's always the things that you would love to change that you can't :) I will always be (gasp) a patient. It's a part of me. A part of this new life. I'm learning and I'm growing into these new shoes that are bigger than I am. Why this had to happen to me? I have not the slightest idea but nor do I care anymore. It is what it is and it's just that.

I have to adapt. I have to learn. I have accepted the new me and who I am. I will no longer allow myself to yearn for before. Before, doesn't exist anymore. I cannot attain it. Only in treasured memories. Like the kind you have from childhood. You cannot relive it or retrieve it, it's simply there, and a part of who you are. I have to figure this new me out, this new life. I have to give 'it' a chance to thrive. It's a thrilling idea. I feel like I'm at a starting point, the starting line and the possibilities are endless. Change no longer frightens me, not in a bad way. It's a frightening that's a rush, an opportunity, something you just have to do. I'm not a pro yet, but I say yet because I fully intend to change that.

Life is short and life is so sweet. I intend to embrace every day that I have. No two are alike and there's no telling what the next is going to bring for this Brain Tumor Chick but for the first time she is strong enough to say...BRING IT ON!