Monday, November 30, 2009

GETTING THROUGH THE HOLIDAYS!!!!

This blog is very personal to me and is written, deep within my soul.

First off...I personally feel that the holiday we should be celebrating the most, Thanksgiving, gets lost between Halloween and Christmas. It seems to me, that day just seems to get swept under the rug, so to speak. I have many things to be thankful for. I am a one year + brain tumor survivor...have a wonderful Mom, who I love very much.

Now, it seems that the Christmas music starts playing in the stores earlier each year and the decorations are up not much after Halloween or even before. It's simply just too early!
Some of the plain facts that I want to bring out here is...that the holidays in general, can be a very distressing time for some. For many, it is a constant reminder of loved ones who are no longer with us. Another fact, there is a lot more loneliness experienced at this time, especially with those that are house bound. : (

I write this for myself, as much as anybody. I have lived alone for over 28 years, but don't kid yourself, I get very lonely during the holidays.

I have actually had people tell me, they just wished they could sleep through Christmas and wake up on New Years Day! I understand how they feel.

It's a very hectic time for many. It's an extremely busy time for me at my place of employment. Everyone, trying to get everything done before the year's end.

I have tried to eliminate some of this stress, by making things as easy as possible. I am continuing in the tradition of my sister...who died, in giving to charities. So you see, I wasn't out there with all those bargain hunters on Black Friday!

Another thing that I no longer do is send out Christmas cards. I have 2 very valid reasons. 1.) The postage is just too high and 2.) Nothing irritates me more than just receiving a card with a signed name...many times that being an engraved one at that. You can email just as easily and even use decorative stationery besides.

If sending cards is your thing, my hats off to you.

If you like to decorate your home and put lights outside, I think that is great. It just doesn't make sense for me, because I spend Christmas with my Mom. It's all just a way of making it easier for me, as I live a much different lifestyle now.

We all have our own ways of celebrating..and that is wonderful. I really think that it's all for the children..seeing their faces...when they open up their packages. I really enjoyed this, when I was a child.

I fear that many get caught up in the hustle and bustle of everything that has to be done...that the true meaning is lost.

Another thing you can do if you are hosting a party, don't be shy about asking your guests for help in bringing certain items, etc. You should be able to enjoy the party as well.

You can also decide to just bake a few goodies. Why must we have all this stress put upon us? We think everything has to be perfect..by decorating, sending out cards...shopping, going to parties. If this is your thing...God Bless You! It's just not possible for me anymore. I just get way too fatigued, you see, I also have a full time job. I know many of you do too...but I also have a new challenge in my life. I am still recovering from brain surgery.

It's all part of the NEW NORMAL ME...and I have nothing to be ashamed of here.
I'm not a complete GRINCH though. I like to watch holiday movies and listen to Christmas music, just not so early in the year. I used to go caroling and sang in many Christmas cantatas...but that's just not possible anymore. You see...I can't tolerate loud noises, as everything seems magnified since my brain surgery.

So this whole holiday thing is much more distressing to me, than before.

I want to sum this up by saying...enjoy your holidays, or at least try to. Do what works for you. Don't feel guilty because you can't do everything. It's just not necessary to put all that pressure upon yourself.

Before you know it, this will all be over with and a new year will be dawning upon us.

We can only hope for a better one than the last. Yes, we still have hope and that's the one thing I can cling to.



Monday, November 16, 2009

STILL SINGLE...AFTER ALL THESE YEARS

I write this particular blog with many emotions and feelings.

In less than two months time...I will be turning 50 years old. I thought at least by this time in my life...I would at least be in some sort of relationship.

Yes...I have dated some. It has been many years...and they usually never amounted to anything deep. One was actually a blind date...set up by my insurance agent. We only went out that one time. It was pleasant enough...and he was polite, etc.

There was this one guy...who wanted to see me every night. Now, that was just a little bit too eager for me. He also drank and smoked right in my face mind you. This was actually a guy from church.

I am right here telling all of you...that there are no guarantees...what kind of person you will meet...even in a church setting.

I guess for me... a spontaneous happening would be the best kind. I have been single for so long.

Believe me, I know all the right things to say. Like when someone asks you...where is your husband? I usually just tell them, that he hasn't shown up yet. I get rid of a lot of pesky phone calls this way. I recently met with my financial planner...and I told him the same thing. He actually got quite a chuckle out of it.

Now...I also am here to tell you, that I am comfortable with who I am. I have been told that my best feature is my nose..and that I look pretty good for my age. In fact..people usually never believe me...when I tell them how old I am. I simply don't look my age.

I'm also here to tell you...that I get very lonely at times. It would be nice to be able to go out for dinner and a movie...a long drive or a walk.

Holidays are especially tough for me..because every where you look..there are couples every where enjoying the festivities...which is just another reminder, that one more year has passed and I am still alone.

I'm not feeling sorry for myself here. I am just expressing some feelings, that I have felt for a very long time.

I also probably am somewhat particular in the type of person...I would desire to have as...first and foremost as a friend, and then if the fates would allow...a possible lifetime partner. I also would like to have the joy of knowing what real dating is really like. I have never been to a fancy restaurant or had a romantic evening of any kind.

I am also going to write something here that is very very personal to me. I have never been with a man intimately that is. Yes, I am a VIRGIN. I have nothing to be ashamed of here, as some would probably think otherwise. I said, this was very difficult to write.

I had an experience with a guy once..and we only had one date. He was just way too pushy and eager. He didn't even know me. He just kept saying..that we would let nature take it's course. I made it pretty plain to him..that I had no intentions of doing this until I was married. He said...he had never met a gal like me. I just didn't feel comfortable with him...and I told him so. He was just too aggressive, for my liking.

Now, you are probably thinking to yourself, how do I have the right to act this way? I realize, this is not the norm.

I feel that I have waited this long...that I have and deserve the very best when it comes to a relationship...that being a man who will see me for who I am and respect me.

I have a lot to offer. I am not talking about sex here. I am a kind, generous person, who only wants to know the joy of knowing and experiencing some kind of friendship, relationship with the opposite sex.

I told you...that this was very personal for me. I just don't wish to be alone for the rest of my life.

I've been told..that when you least expect it...love can come to you.

I'm here to tell you...that I haven't given up on that DREAM just yet.











Thursday, October 29, 2009

DEEP INSIDE THIS ARMOR : )


This writing was actually inspired by someone...who is my friend and kindred spirit. They asked me about a particular song...that they had heard about. It turns out...that I not only knew of the song..but, I sang this song many times.. over the years...in church. It's called "The Warrior Is A Child."

This got me to thinking about my support group "Meningioma Mommas." We are always talking about being MM Warriors and the battle that each of us...face every day. Even though some of us are survivors, there are still many out there that are on a watch and wait. It can be very scary not to know...what your final outcome will be.

Every time I go some place and have an opportunity to share my story, I usually try to have my armor with me...that being my MM T-Shirt or Sweatshirt depending on the season at hand. I also wear my Meningioma awareness bracelets...to show my support.

We all have one thing in common. We are determined to win this battle! : )

Sometimes in the thick of battle, soldiers even need to find some solitude and rest for a little while. That means we need to drop our sword and shield...and sometimes, that means we may even cry because we are weary.

Me, having had a right frontal lobe M removed, makes me tearful and weary at times. It's all just part of the process. Know, that this is okay. I didn't always feel this way. I thought something was really wrong with me. Why was I crying so much and for really no good reason? : (

I know longer fight my tears...because that is a battle I just will not win.

I called this particular blog...Deep Inside This Armor...again, part of the song..because I feel it really speaks to what is going on with me and so many in my support group. I don't wish to leave anyone out here though.

This can really apply to any trial or battle you may be facing. Whether it is a chronic illness or something you are facing that seems just too big for you to handle.

I am so grateful that I have places to go...to drop my sword and shield...that is what I refer to as venting or expressing my frustrations, fears or concerns at that particular moment. Admit it, we all have them at one time or another.

We can't be strong all of the time. That is the time when you let the others in your battlefield or support group...hold you up and encourage you...so you can go back out there and kick some serious butt. : )

It's essential for all of us to realize, when we need to rest..yes, that means we drop our sword and shield...and it may even mean we have a good cry...which can really be liberating for our well being.

I hope some of this has really touched a chord with you. I am really honored to be a Meningioma Momma, Brain Tumor Survivor..and hopefully, somehow..I have touched some of your lives...as many of you have touched mine in deep and personal ways.

So keep fighting..and remember, that we all have each other to make this battle of life...easier to face. : )


Thursday, October 22, 2009

GOODBYE DAD! : (

My Dad passed away on August 3, 2007.....after losing a battle with Alzheimer's Disease. For those of you that have had parents or family members with this devastating and awful disease....you will understand some of the things....I will bring out here.

The biggest thing with my Dad was his personality change. All he wanted to do was sleep....it was like he had just given up. There were times....when his mind was clear...but that was few and far between toward the end of his life.

I want to share with you....the things I remember about him before he was diagnosed and "THE LONG GOODBYE" began.

My Dad was a Chief of Police and the city utility worker....for over 30 years. We lived in a small town. Now...I do mean small...219 to be EXACT! : )

He was a hard worker and a good provider. People on the whole...did respect him...but there were a few jokers along the way.

We lived on the outskirts of the city limits. I grew up under very modest circumstances. We did not have running water in our house...until I was in Junior High. At Halloween....they would like to move our outhouse up in front of our house. They thought it was so funny. By the next morning...they would have to come and move it back.

We finally moved into a new house. Boy....we were living now! lol My point is here....is that I appreciate everything that I have today. I was taught...that if you wanted something...you had to work for it. We never were hungry...always had clothes on our backs. Got lots of hand me downs...because I had 4 other sisters. They were always new....to me...because they were different.

The best thing I got from my Dad...was his work ethic.

My Dad used to call me "Little Squealer"....because I could chirp like a cricket. He would have me blow our town whistle....before we went automatic...and pump our well for the town water. You didn't want to drink out of the tap...because it was so salty...and if you had heart disease...etc.

He worked us hard...you see he never had any boys. He was some what of a bulldog...and that he would never give up on something. I know.....that's why I am so stubborn at times.
He also liked his dish of ice cream....most every night....before he would go to bed. He even once told us...that the doctor said he should have it. lol

He liked to sing....as we all do. He taught me to say the animals names in German. He also thought it was so important that I learn the alphabet...how the police uses them...when they call something in. For example A-Adam..B-Boy...etc. I still know them to this day...although I am sure some have changed over the years.

I remember those special times with my Dad...because the last 4 years of his life were so very different and really sad at times. : (

I know...he was proud of me too. One time...Mom & Dad...were waiting for me...as I was finishing up my shift as receptionist at the clinic where I work. We were really busy and a lot was going on. I overheard him say...she really seems to know what she is doing. That was a proud moment for me. I know...that he would never tell me that in person...but that was good enough for me. I knew how he felt.

He had a great love for horses. He had a pony named "Scout"....when he was a boy. He talked about them all the time. I really enjoyed listening to his old time stories. Though...each time...they had a little different version to them. lol. We would watch The Triple Crown Races...most every year on TV. Mom and I...still watch to this day.

When he would get really bad...with his illness and want to go out at night...and feed the cattle...you see....he had now gone back to his old days and it became so real to him. The best thing to do is just to play along. I would tell him that I fed the horses and this would really seem to calm him down. Never argue with a person with Alzheimer's. They don't understand the difference anyway...and why not just try to keep the peace?

He had his days and nights mixed up. He would get undressed during the day and go to bed...and when it was night....he would get dressed thinking it was time to get up. You just had to laugh at some of this. It was the only way...you wouldn't lose your perspective yourself.

Mom was great with him...as I will get into her life more in another blog. She seemed to be the only one...who could calm him down or talk him out of something. He never believed me...when I said she had gone...he would have to open the garage door...to see for himself.

He liked to watch the old videos. He really liked "Laurel and Hardy" and "The Our Gang" or "The Little Rascals"....as they are also called.

He loved to laugh. He loved to play cards...as he could sit for hours.

I know he loved Mom very much. They were together for almost 64 years. She took care of him just shy of a few weeks...when we had to put him in a nursing home....some 80 miles away. That was truly a sad day for both of us.

We followed the van that was taking him. He was very restless and kept wanting to move around. He really kept the driver busy.

When we got there....I really don't think he realized....where he was. He knew it was some place different. At lunch....they had ice cream and he was happy as a clam. lol.

That afternoon...Mom had to meet with different people...to make arrangements, etc. I found half a salted nut roll candy bar in Mom's purse. I gave that to him and that seemed to calm him down. He was so restless. He wanted to keep going to the toilet. He had a catheter....but you see....he just didn't understand this. Anyway....he insisted and he was determined to get there. He pulled so hard that the buzzer went off and I couldn't get it to stop. The maintenance lady...was kind enough to come in and offer to help. She gets on her walkie talkie and says she needs help in his room. I looked over at Dad....and said, "Your first day here and you are causing a ruckus already." I just had to laugh.

That was Thursday...he was gone by the following week on Friday morning. Mom & I were planning to visit him....that Saturday. We didn't even get to say goodbye. I do think in retrospect....we had done that a long time ago.

My Dad was a good one for giving advice...but this one backfired big time. He would always tell us when we drove on a country road...to not drive so fast...because we would hit a rock and knock the gas tank out. Well...this same thing happened to him...only it was on the highway. We were driving back to Bismarck...and we saw this big rock on the road...he could not swerve away from it and guess what? He knocked a big hole in our gas tank! lol Luckily...the car did not burst into flames....we were close to a relative and he helped us and drove us back.

He had his sayings..."Don't Think For A Minute I Won't" and my favorite...."Mark My Words."

He got along with most people...along his journey. My grandpa told him..."Don't ever get into public service." That's just what he did. I'm glad he did and that he was my Dad. Goodbye and Rest in Peace.

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

HOW IT ALL BEGAN : )

I had no idea...when I bumped my head inside that fridge....over 3 years now....that my life....would change forever. Not at first anyway....I thought I was just careless....when I put my head in too far and bumped it on the switch....which really hurt.....and so I thought that I just bruised it good. I didn't get knocked out...so I thought why go to a doctor?

Not good advice...to ignore any head injury EVER! Well...it hurt for a while and got better...so I thought everything would be fine. Months later though...it really started to hurt....so I went to my doctor....which at this time....is no longer my doctor....but that is another story in itself. He said I probably just bruised it bad...and it would just take some time to heal. Well...it got better and then it got worse. I had a skull x-ray...and it showed nothing. He put me on something for pain and a sedative...so I could sleep. I had to stop taking the pain meds...because I started having muscle aches. WONDERFUL! It got better over time again...so I thought it was just badly bruised and would take time to heal.

By August of 2007..just after my father passed away from Alzheimer's....I went to see a neurologist. He said it was a pulled muscle and to do exercises...and this would help it get better. He also said we could do a CT....but we would more than likely not find anything...so believing in my doctor...I did nothing....other than go home and do the exercises. Little...did I know at this point...that there was something actually WRONG!

I went home...like a good little patient...started doing the exercises and it did seem to get better...so I thought....maybe they were right...about the pulled muscle.

The next spring 2008....it was getting much worse...I was starting to feel like something was really active in there....but you know how the brain works. When you feel it on one side....the culprit is actually on the opposite side. I really did not know...anything conclusive at this point.

By summer....I just could not take it anymore. I asked my doctor's nurse...if I could have a CT? She called me back...and this one still makes me ANGRY...when I think about it. She said not once but twice in our telephone conversation....if we find nothing on the CT...we are done. She asked me if I understood? Well...I just knew they would have to find something.

So in August of 2008...we did a CT....and low and behold they found a lesion in the right side of my head. I was not crazy afterall. YEAH! They scheduled an MRI for that same week. I thought...now I will finally have my answer. WRONG! I went to the hospital for the MRI...asked me if I was claustrophobic? I really didn't know...but BELIEVE ME!...I knew just after 6 minutes. I told them I had to get out of there. They said they could reschedule under anesthesia but another day. I was devastated. I just couldn't believe...I couldn't handle the MRI. I had been through so much already!

So I had the MRI the following week...without any problems...other than being really sick afterwards.

I got home that night and there was a message on my answering machine...from my doctor. So I called...but he was having dinner and his wife asked if he could call back? I said that would be fine. He called back and told me...that I had what is called a Meningioma...no larger than a walnut. He said it could be watched. Now...I wanted that thing out of my head yesterday!

He said to call his office the next day...and they would set up an appointment with a neurologist and if he felt a neurosurgeon was necessary...they would go from there. I was not excited about seeing that same neurologist again. You see..to him everything is a joke. This was no joke to me. I didn't even realize...at the time that this was an actual BRAIN TUMOR! I was in shock!

I had to wait another week...the longest week of my entire life. My Mom and I walked in the room and the nurse asked a few questions. The neurologist entered the room....and I gotta tell you folks...it did not look good. He said it probably had been there for over 20 years and the other pain was not the cause. Maybe so...but that alerted me...to ask for the CT in the first place. My point is here...YOU know when something is WRONG with your body. Don't EVER be afraid to ask for any tests!

The examination went on...he showed me the mass...it now looked like the shape of an egg. I really had no idea how large it was at this point. Anyway...he finally asked if I wanted to see a neurosurgeon? Just like that...things started to turn in our favor. I said yes...he said today...and I said yes. He walked me over just down the hall to one.

When his nursing assistant walked in the room...I instantly liked her. She was so understanding. She said he would be right in. When he walked in...OH MY!...was he a hunk! My Mom wondered if he could possibly be old enough to be a doctor? He showed me the tumor in depth...contrast and non contrast. He asked if I wanted it out...as he said we will know nothing concrete...until we look under a microscope. I of course...said YES! That was Thursday...Sept. 4th....2008. The craniotomy...would take place on Monday....Sept. 8th.

My things were moving quickly. This was meant to happen...the procedure that is. Anyway...another CT was performed...and the surgery scheduled.

Monday...Sept. 8th a day...when my second chance began. My surgery was to be about 2 hrs. It only ended up being 1hr 1/2. Reason being...that the tumor was very solid and very easy to get at. It measured at 2.5 x 2.3 x 2.6 cm. and was located in the right frontal lobe and ended up being a little bit smaller than a golf ball. He had told my Mom a marble...but quickly corrected himself.
WOW!...so that is how it all began. If I would never have bumped my head in that fridge...I probably would still have this tumor...and it would have headed right toward my motor skills. That's at least what the neurosurgeon said. Scary thought isn't it?

Always listen to your body and its signals.

Until next time.

Brenda ; )

YOU'VE COME A LONG WAY BABY..BUT YOU HAVEN'T ARRIVED...YET! : )

The idea for this title actually comes from an old cigarette commercial. Remember...when those were allowed to air on TV? The ad was for Virginia Slims...You've come a long way baby, to get where your going today, etc. Anyway, those were banned in the early 70's...when I was still in grade school.

Even though...I have never smoked...I was always captivated by that slogan.
I guess this could apply to anyone...but here...it's going to be about my journey...and how far I have come. I'm not sure when the arrival part takes place though.

Anyway...before I go on... with what I am writing about...as my Mom would say, "Just take out the meat and leave the bones." I think that is really great advice for anything in life...really! : )
I do know one thing for sure..that I still have a long way to go...even though I have come this far.
I have had many ups and downs in my personal life. Who hasn't?

I now have a new title..of being a brain tumor survivor..one whole year + has passed. Sometimes...when I say the words out loud...it just seems so unreal to me. It's like I have entered a different dimension.

I also felt this same way..when my sister and Dad passed away. You know they are gone..but it's like..you are some place else. It's like peeking into a window from the outside looking in. It's strange..but if you ever have experienced this...or sometime down the road will...you would truly understand.

So you continue to plug along...sometimes my engine gets tired and runs out of steam..and needs to be rejuvenated. That feels so good when that happens. : )
It's also good to be able to look back..and see how far you have actually come. Writing is an excellent way to track that progress. That's why I have kept a journal since my 6th month anniversary of my brain surgery.

I have also completed my 21st year at my place of employment...the longest I have worked anywhere. I have moved around to a lot of different departments..but each move has been a stepping stone and an opportunity to learn more and to gain more knowledge. I really believe that *Knowledge is Power.*

Statistically...people like me are not working after 10 years. You see..I also struggle with RA (Rheumatoid Arthritis)..and have now..for over 18 years. I do very well due to a wonderful drug...that I have been on now..for over 8 years..as has been mentioned in a previous blog. : )
I have to fight every day! I get fatigued very easily..especially since having this brain surgery. You just keep telling yourself that you can do this. I do a lot of self talking...to myself of course. lol

I used to go for long walks..but not so much anymore. I just get too tired..but I do exercise..and I really feel great after a satisfied work out. : )
I have been told by many people...in my support group Meningioma Mommas and elsewhere...that I am an inspiration. Well...I wouldn't have gotten that far...if I wasn't willing to fight.

So..I haven't traveled so much..I did pretty much all of that..when I was a teenager and into my 20's.

I'm not famous or noteworthy by the world's standards. I believe..you can be your own hero and you don't even need a special vest. lol
I love helping others..and that's why I share these thoughts with you.

I have also been told that I am a good writer..I really didn't think I ever had it in me. I really think though..when you go through a traumatic event..it causes you to reflect and you just need to get it down on paper. Suddenly..it turns into a story. A year ago..I would not have been doing something like this.

They say...that having brain surgery...can actually cause you to become more creative. I don't know if that's true..but I think you really begin to look at life a lot more differently. I know I do..for sure.

So maybe I haven't arrived just yet...but I do know one thing...I have come a long way baby!

Monday, October 19, 2009

CRAFTS & A MOTHER'S LOVE : )

This is going to be about my Mom....and just how special she is to me.
She has not only been a great Mom....but she is extremely talented!

While I was growing up.....she sewed many of our clothes....made many... very delicious meals.....as she is a great cook. One of my old time favorites....and still is to this day....is her chicken and dumplings. Cheese buttons....another favorite....and at Christmas.....her famous sparrows....which are deep fried donuts with raisins in them. NO we don't eat little birds. lol.
In addition to sewing many clothes, she also did a lot of crafts. She has made close to 30 pieced quilts on her sewing machine. The special thing about these quilts...is that they were usually made with different materials left over from clothes....she had made us or that my sister had.

She also has made doilies consisting of....dresser scarfs, different shapes and sizes for tables, etc. These were crocheted....as well as pot holders. She once made tea cups....which were pin cushions....all different colors for my co- workers. They were all so surprised....because I had went around asking them what their favorite colors were? They had no idea....what we had in mind. They really liked them. I was so proud of her....for doing that.

She surprised me.....by crocheting a beautiful afghan....with squares no 2 combinations are the same....surrounded by yellow....which happens to be my favorite color.
She also did some embroidering....and finished the pillows....I had latched hooked....as I did not inherit the sewing talent. lol.

She also drew up the plans for our new house. She is really good with figures...it's like she has a calculator in her head. lol. She can pretty much tell what her items in the store will cost her....that are in her shopping cart...by roughly figuring them out in her head. She is that GOOD!
She only went through the 8th grade....because back in that day...it just was not feasible...because they had to stay at different places during the week....etc.

Mom is the type of person...who was and is still willing to learn new things. She is just so intelligent....I am just amazed at all the things....she has done in her life time....despite.....not finishing high school.

She took excellent care of my sister....the one who died from colon cancer. She stayed at Mom & Dad's....a great deal after her first surgery. I'm so glad she had a place to go to.
She loved my Dad very much....and took very good care of him....during his 4 years + of Alzheimer's. She had him at home just shy of a couple of weeks...before he died. I really admire her for doing that. I have told her that many times.

My Mom has a quiet strength.....she has done so much for others. She never complains. She says....it wouldn't do any good. She also has a great faith in God....and she lives by example. She is honest to a fault...which I really appreciate. She taught me to have respect for people....and to be kind and generous.

She is probably my best friend.....as she has always been there for me. She always told me to "Just do my best".....that's all she has ever expected.

She was there when I went through my brain surgery last September. She took really good care of me too. She didn't want me staying alone for at least a week.

Being that she is such a good cook and all....I hired her to do all my cooking...so all I had to do was put the meals in the microwave. You see....I wasn't to do any bending or lifting....for a little while after my surgery. It was with great pride to see her pick out her purse at JC Penney.....one she could really enjoy and not have to worry about the cost. I love doing things for her....because she is just that special to ME! : )

She did something that kinda surprised me....and yet I thought was very sweet at the same time. When I was on my way to the OR before my brain surgery....she leaned over and kissed me on the cheek. I really knew....at that moment....that she was concerned and really loved me TOO! : )

Since....my Dad has been gone...we do embrace almost every day. I realize....we have each other....and that is really super special to ME! : )
She is teaching me to master Sudoku...as that is good for stimulating the brain. I am only doing the easy ones! lol.

I love my Mom so much....and I am glad that I was able to share with you....just how very proud I am of her! : )

Mom.....thanks for being such a great person....that I can look up to and admire. I love you! : )

Brenda ; )

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

HELPING OR HURTING?

I am going to bring out both sides here...good and bad.

The best thing you can do for a person going through a difficult time, is just to stand by them. This is a time when they don't need to be judged or written off.

Realize, we all go through deep waters at times in our lives.

I believe...in that helping or encouraging someone... even when you, yourself are experiencing a trial is okay. You are actually doing two things...you are helping someone else and it helps you get your mind off of your troubles or problems, at least for a little while. It can truly be a win-win situation. : )

I have personally been the type of person who enjoys giving others encouragement. I like to do something and it goes like this. I like to find one specific thing I like about an individual and expound on that. It can be a personality trait...or what I notice they do for others...to make their life easier.

Now here is something to really think about. NO TWO PEOPLE are going to feel exactly the same about any given issue. Remember...we are all in different stages of our journeys. Here is a perfect example. I have high blood pressure...but that doesn't mean it is going to be exactly the same all the time. It goes up and down...just as our emotions do.

There are ways that you can help a person...who is feeling down, etc. They are really so simple. You can e-mail..your friend..you can send them a card. If you bake, do crafts...well you get the idea. You have no idea what one random act of kindness can do for a person's self esteem. For me personally...an encouraging word or someone making me laugh can do wonders. I know of people who have that special gift of encouraging others and making them laugh. That's a real healthy way of getting your mind off your troubles.

The other spectrum is the guise of help...or what I call hurting...is when you do this with only yourself in mind. You say whatever comes to mind, without any consideration for that individuals feelings or not knowing..truly what, that person is going through.

I think it is a very dangerous thing, to judge someone especially when it may seem that they are at their lowest point. The way to truly help them get out of that "PIT OF DESPAIR"...is just to be there. That is all...JUST BE THERE!

I realize...there are people out there that thrive on having others hold their hand constantly and not willing to be pro-active in finding help for themselves...but there is the other side of the spectrum with people who really want to be pro-active and find that help and encouragement in a safe and healthy way.

Some people just think it is their duty because they may receive a sudden urgency and really haven't thought the situation through...not realizing how much harm or hurt they could be actually be inflicting upon that person.

There has to be a balance here. When someone comes to you...genuinely wanting a helping hand...that's where I think it's okay to offer suggestions. If it has not been voiced or asked for and you see...the person going through a deep trial...try just being there for them. It can be as simple as sitting quietly with them.

You have to learn how to balance this out. We don't have all the answers and we should never presume that we do.

THE YEAR THAT WAS!!!!

I found this a very appropriate time for this particular blog....being that on August 26, 2008....which has now been a year....I was diagnosed with a benign brain tumor...called a Meningioma.

Before I go any further....I will be using a lot of abbreviations here...so I will clue you in on them.
M - Meningioma
BT - Brain Tumor
NS - Neurosurgeon
PCP - Primary Care Physician
MM - Meningioma Mommas
ICU - Intensive Care Unit
RA - Rheumatoid Arthritis
PT & OT - Physical and occupational therapy

I hope this will give you a sense...of what my last year has been like. I had my MRI on the morning of August 26, 2008....under general anesthesia....as has been mentioned in my previous blog....that I am definitely claustrophobic! YIKES!

Anyway.....on September 8, 2008...I had my craniotomy for the removal of my M...which was located in the right frontal lobe...about the size of a golf ball. It measured 2.5 x 2.3 x 2.6 cm.

My NS was the greatest. I already knew he had a great reputation....besides that he was a HUNK! : ) Every time I saw him....he was always smiling. You would be smiling too....if you did these kinds of surgeries. They are very costly. He always made me feel special and not like I was ever bothering him.

Anyway...in the recovery room...they told me everything went very well...and that they got the BT out in one piece. I asked and the tail too? You see...M's generally have a tail attached....having to do with being attached to the meninges.

I forgot to mention that on the MRI it actually looked like a comet with the tail...because with the contrast...it reminded me of a full moon.

Anyway....they take me to the ICU. I was actually there for 2 1/2 days. I was feeling pretty good...considering my head has just been drilled open. BTW....they used a Midas drill. Do you suppose that maybe they could have struck gold in there? lol They insisted on giving me something for pain...I really didn't want anything...because pretty much everything makes me sick to my stomach. Let's just say....that I was given some really potent stuff.

They brought a bowl of oatmeal....which I happen to really like. I remember this so well....my Mom was there too...so I know it happened. I started to eat the oatmeal...but I was so out of it...that my head kept bobbing almost right in the middle of the bowl. I would take a little and it would go dropping again. It must have been a sight!!

I really didn't have much of an appetite...while I was there because of nausea.
My CNA's and nurses took great care of me. I had them in there pretty much round the clock. They were all pretty much male...and really nice to visit with.

That same afternoon....the OT & PT's are there...to make sure you can move your toes and doing some range of motion. They were so impressed...with how mobile I was. You see....I also battle with RA....and I know the importance of moving. I do range of motion....every day...at least twice a day. So they decided....that I did not need PT after I was released.

In fact...my NS was surprised...when I asked him if I could exercise? He said...that he really wanted me going for short walks...as this stimulates the brain. Really any kind of physical activity will do that.

He pretty much had the attitude...of that I knew what I could or could not handle...that included after I was released as well.

Well....when I was moved to my next room....guess what? I walked there with the PT's and we were really going. They were really impressed. They said....they couldn't believe that I just had brain surgery. Of course, they had to give me grief about my bad hair cut.

I was released the following day on September 10th. I was going to be off work for just a week....but my NS changed that and said....that better be 2 weeks instead. It still was too soon. I went back full time...after 2 weeks and landed in the ER....because I was having trouble walking and it really scared me. I had...some trouble with my legs about a week before...and had to have my NS paged. Thank goodness....I got him. He stayed on the phone with me...until he knew I was okay. Mom was there too...and I'm sure it kinda scared her too. I had just come up from the laundry room....was putting clothes away and WHAM....my legs felt like they were going to go out from under me.

I knew....I wasn't supposed to vacuum, shovel snow, load the dishwasher because all that entailed bending over. I certainly didn't think...just washing clothes would be such a big deal. WRONG! It was a wake up call.

I work in the medical records department...so there was no filing charts for 3 months. I could still do my primary job...which is a scanner.....that's how I got my name Scanlady. HA!

So....the last year has been a series of ups and downs....highs and lows. It seems to be all finally coming together.....just like inside my head...which is also growing together....where the BT was.
I joined a support group called Meningioma Mommas....just one day before my 49th birthday on January 8th. I felt....I had to do something. I just was not dealing with all of this very well.

I thought it was really awesome...to be involved with a support group...with the same type of BT that I had. I have learned so much from these ladies and gents. We also have Poppas too. There are some that have gone through far worse things....than I did.

I was really clueless about the M thing. I didn't realize it was a BT....because it did not invade my brain. Now...to find out that M's are the most primary BT's...but sadly...the least acknowledged.
We actually have a cause on Facebook...called "Mad About Meningiomas" and yes...we are!
I definitely am a different person...from this whole experience. I have always been pro-active when it comes to my health. I asked for the initial CT in the first place....which my former PCP...yes I said former...really didn't believe they would find any thing. Boy...was he wrong!
I've made some big changes in my life....one of which was finding a new PCP...which I really like and he has helped me through so much. He also has a great sense of humor...so we get along great. I was diagnosed with a low functioning thyroid...which I had suspected for years...because it runs in our family. He also for now...has me off my blood pressure meds...because he feels that the BT might have had something to do with that all along. After all "Mini" that's what I named my BT...had been there for at least 20 years.

I started a journal...at the suggestion of one of my MM's. It has really been a blessing to me....personally to be able to get my thoughts and feelings out...and be able to move forward.
I had periods where I was afraid to stay alone at night. Because my BT was located in the frontal lobe....we tend to be emotional people. When I found this out....I could really start to deal with it and it didn't scare me anymore.

Anyway...my crani-versary...which one of my fellow support group members...named it...will be on September 8, 2009. It will be my 1st second chance crani-versary.
In the words of John Waite....the song entitled "I Ain't Missing You"
"I ain't missing you, since you've been gone away" That means you "Mini"!!!!

I have so much to be grateful for and the most wonderful thing that has happened this past year was finding great support....when I needed it the most.

I have made some really super friends....that I hope to have for years and years.

I will close with a quote from Ralph Waldo Emerson.
"What lies behind us & what lies before us are small matters compared to what lies within us"

Thanks for allowing me to share my whirlwind year that was.

Brenda : )

REMEMBERING MY BIG SISTER....<3

My big sister Beverly or Bev....as she liked to be called...died on an early Friday morning on June 6, 2003...from colorectal cancer. I remember it raining that day...and I felt just like the rain. I had lost my favorite sister in the whole wide world. : (

Bev was the core of our family. She was incredibly kind and had a great sense of humor. Her obituary explained it as an engaging giggle. She was a very positive person...and she had many friends...as we found out while she was ill and even afterwards. : )

Bev lived out her illness with grace and humility. Or as she would say humidity. Bev was really silly that way. I learned many things from her. I think the most important thing she taught me....was common sense.

Bev was such a practical person. She was that way...when she gave you a gift. It was actually something you could use.

She was the middle child. She was always teased about being the favorite. She always told me...that I was her favorite youngest sister. I was her youngest sister. lol

Bev was actually about 12 1/2 years older...but we had a great relationship. She always supported me...in my singing. She attended all my high school functions...where I usually sang solos.

I actually sang at her wedding. One of the songs that I sang...was also sung...by my niece at her funeral. It was one of her favorites. She would always say...if I ever get married...I want this at my wedding. It was "My Tribute" or To God Be The Glory.

Bev got married at age 39...and yes, it was her first marriage. She and my brother-in-law were married for 15 wonderful years. She called him the love of her life. This is a pretty amusing story. They actually went together for 12 years. In fact the day of her funeral...my brother-in-law asked me...if I ever thought they would ever get married? I said NO!

When she got engaged...I didn't believe her. I actually made her come to my apartment that night and show me the ring. She was so happy. Good things come to those who wait. This is actually kinda comical..since she was not a very patient person in other respects. She was always in a hurry. Shopping with her...was like running a race...because she walked so fast...I had a hard time keeping up with her.

She always told me that I was patient though. She always encouraged me. : )

We actually had a lot in common. We both went to the same Junior College right here in Bismarck. She and I both have names beginning with the letter B.
We actually had 3 of the same teachers in college. When she went off to college in the summer...after she graduated from high school...I was starting 1st grade that Fall.

She got her first and only job...with the state. She worked her way up in the division and was the deputy state registrar...at the time of her death. She missed her 36th year by one day.
She was appreciated by many of her co-workers as was demonstrated...when they brought a Turkey dinner to my Mom & Dad's.... and we were all invited.

Bev stayed with my Mom & Dad for most of her illness. Thank goodness... they were there.
She loved to read. After she died...we found out...that she had over 500 books. Many were donated to different places.

When she became ill...that year for Christmas...she decided that instead of giving presents to each other...that she would give to charities instead. Mom & I have been doing this ever since her death. I feel it is a way of honoring her and at the same time..we are helping those...who really need it.

Speaking of honoring her...Mom & I go out for dinner every year on June 6th and also on her birthday...which would have been September 26th. She would have been 61 this year.

She was always so healthy for the most part. She thought she just had the flu. By the time she was diagnosed...she was already stage 3 or 4. She had a fifty-fifty chance of survival..of course we did not know this at the time. I found all of this out the day of her funeral. She would have only been with us for 5 years at best...and she would have suffered terribly. She had done so already.

It was really hard seeing her like that. She continued her positive attitude. I have to tell you this neat little story. A day after her first surgery...we were talking on the phone..and she told me and I really think she wanted to say this...while she was still able. She said that I would always be her little sister and that she loved me. I have that to cling to...and nobody can take that away from me. That is a great comfort. : )

I have some really great memories of Bev. The very best was when she took me out for my 21st birthday. She taught me how to love spinach leaves. We had a great time. : )

She was great with my parents too. Being she worked here in Bismarck and also had a home on the farm near McClusky...she kept her apartment here..after she got married. Anyway...she made every effort to come and play cards with my parents once a week. She always made time for family. She attended most of the weddings..family reunions, etc.

Another thing she did for me...and I didn't think of this until after she had died. I had just moved into a different apartment. She was unable to help with the move...as she had another committment that morning. Later that day..she showed up and washed all my dishes and helped me put my kitchen in order. Now...I did not ask her to do this. That's how she demonstrated her kindness.

On a side note...this blog was inspired by my Mom. We were talking about Bev last weekend...and I asked her...if she would like me to do a blog? She said yes. The title was also her idea. She is really an inspiration! : )

Bev and her husband did not have any children...which I was really grateful for. It would be hard losing one of your parents...when you are a teenager...or anytime.

Bev had a great faith in God...and she lived her life to the fullest. She was a genuine person...and she exhibited kindness to everyone that she met.

When I was younger...I loved when her friends would come and visit...because they would always let me sit on their lap. They never treated me...like I was a pest. I may have been though. lol.

I liked a lot of her friends and I was always included. After college I lived with Bev and another sister for over a year...until I got my first real job.

I remember that we all liked "Snackin Cakes." Do you remember those? They were the best. Anyway...we could hardly wait to get it out of the oven to eat...and we would cut it in 3 pieces. They were really little cakes..so we weren't really being gluttons. lol They sure were tasty! YUM YUM! : )

When she got sick...she really came to understand what I struggle with...in regards to my RA.

I really do miss her. At times...I find myself...even after over 6 years...wanting to tell her something...and then I realize, that she is gone. : (

We had a standing question...that I would ask her...when she came home for weekends...just after she had started her job. We would be getting ready for bed...and I would usually stay with her...and I would ask her...What did you do today? She would always tell me graciously...and go into her work day. I really appreciated that she treated me like a real person. : )

Bev....I miss you....but I am really glad that you were my big sister. : )

<3 Brenda : )

COURAGE & COPING : )

This blog is going to be about my struggles the last couple of weeks. : (

I really thought that I had come through the worst...having been diagnosed with a benign brain tumor, having it removed and beginning of recovery.

Well, let me tell you folks....it hasn't been an easy ride the last few weeks. Besides all the frustration with trying to hold down a full time job..when I am really fatigued at the end of the day...I really get frustrated very easily.

I also am still struggling with my lack of concentration being thrown off....especially if I am interrupted, before I can get my train of thought across. I also have problems grasping certain aspects of life...that used to be easy for me. Just part of the process. I just have to learn to take it slower and not let myself become so overwhelmed. Easier said than done.

It's extremely frustrating and sometimes makes me wonder...why I have to endure so much? Am I really that strong? I know some of you think so and for that...I am truly grateful. : ) I am no superwoman...I have my down times too.

I don't fight my tears anymore...won't win anyway. My anger has been much more intense as of late and then the tears come..because I feel so ashamed. This is all part of having a frontal lobe tumor removed. We are more emotional than most people...just a fact of life.

The fact of the matter is...this is not my fault. It simply is what it is. What I do with those feelings of anger...determine if I am doing something right or wrong.

That's why I write. It helps put things in perspective for me. True...I didn't ask for this brain tumor...but a lot of us didn't ask for the cards we have been dealt in life.

My new mantra is "IT IS WHAT IT IS."

Just for the record....I CAN'T BE STRONG ALL THE TIME! I realize, I don't have to be and this really helps take the pressure off.

My mission continues to be the same...to help others. I just wanted to share with you that I am human...and sometimes I need that feeling that what I am doing has not been wasted.
We all need to be needed. It's what gives us purpose and meaning.


I will keep fighting and taking it one day at a time...make that one minute at a time.
Keys to coping...realize that you will get through a tough situation. Find someone...with whom... you can blow off some steam. For me...that has been my Mom. I spend almost every weekend with her and this helps her too...so she does not have to be alone. : )

We have been talking a lot... and it really helps, to be able to get those feelings of anger and frustration out there, so they can be dealt with properly.

I realize, these emotions could be around for a long time....it's all part of "THE NEW NORMAL ME"....and you wanna know something? That's pretty okay.

I am still the same old Brenda...who cares about other people...who struggle.. maybe more so...because I have come through so much myself.

It's great to be able to express your own private feelings. It's so refreshing and can really give one...peace of mind.

Brenda : )

BATTLES & BLESSINGS!!!!

This is going to be about my living with Rheumatoid Arthritis (RA)...as I will refer to it here.

Before I was actually diagnosed...I had gone to the world famous... Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minnesota...because I was experiencing severe chest wall pain...a condition...called costochondritis...I had been to many doctors...even had my chest wall injected with cortisone...but the pain was getting worse. I had to quit my last job because I was missing so much work....and I probably would have gotten fired anyway. I felt I had to get to the bottom of my problem. So in September of 1988...the year my brain tumor supposedly started growing...I went to Mayo.

They found that I had high cholesterol and degenerative arthritis of my spine...but no help for the costochondritis. Mayo is really a rather depressing place...as there are so many people there...with serious medical issues. The architecture...on the other hand, was magnificent! We actually took the tour twice...as we were there for a whole week.

The first day there...they poke and prod you. I had blood work done, a tetanus shot, because I couldn't remember the last time I had one. I also had a rubella titer. My arm was very badly bruised. I cried that first day...I thought...they were so rough.

So I saw the Rheumatologist...who was a real rough fellow. His language for a professional was much to be desired. I also went to a pain clinic there and again, got injected with cortisone. It helped only until it wore off....then the pain returned.

So I went back home...I had just started my new job 3 months prior to going to Mayo...as I now had decent insurance...thus I could be referred..etc.

I was a receptionist...at the time for 2 vascular surgeons and 1 general surgeon. The one vascular surgeon...happened to be a personal friend of mine...and he went to great lengths to find a solution to my problem...that being a doctor who could help me.

He finally found a heart surgeon of all things...who could perform a procedure...which involved removing cartilage from my chest wall..or costochondral junction. So in November of that year...the procedure was performed. It seemed to solve that problem...but little did we know that something was lurking in my body.

The battle was dealing with this terrible pain...for over a year. The blessing...was my friend finding a doctor who could change that for me.

I seemed to be doing pretty well...but in February of 1991...I developed a real bad case of bursitis in my left shoulder. My regular PCP at the time...who has since died...was not available, so I saw another internist...who did two things...he did an ANA...to see if I possibly had lupus...and a RA factor...which happened to be real high. There is something really strange about that. You can have the factor without actually having the disease or not have the factor, and have the disease. I know...it sounds really strange.

Anyway...that was Monday. I would not hear anything about the fact that I had lupus or not...until that Thursday. In the meantime...I was in so much pain from the bursitis. Well....Thursday finally came...and I did not have lupus.

I was sent to the Rheumatologist..and this is how he told me I had RA. He said, "This is going to take a little bit longer, than what we had hoped." He never came right out and told me...I had this devastating disease. His nurse handed me 15 or 16 pamphlets, as I walked out of the office.

I was in shock, devastated, angry...you name it. I could hardly walk at this point...as my ankles were so swollen. I was using a cane. I really thought...my life as I knew it was over. I was walking to work at the time..and the more I moved...the better I felt. As soon...as I would stop...and have to get started again...I was so stiff. I dreaded getting up from a chair after sitting for a while..because I knew...it would be pure agony!

I had to fight to keep my job...as the higher ups were working on getting me to work only part time. This is where my inner strength comes in. That was probably the hardest thing that I had to do. Fight for my job!

Statistics will tell you...that the average person living with RA is usually disabled within 10 years of being diagnosed. I am not your average person..by any stretch of the imagination. I have surpassed that by over 8 years...thanks in part to a wonderful medication...that I started in April of 2001. I give myself injections, every Thursday morning...it's gotten much easier over the years...because of the improvements...they have made. I use an auto injector. It takes less that 5 minutes. It stings for a bit...but that's worth the relief I get in the long run.

My first ten years of RA were terrible...because there just wasn't anything out there in the way of meds...like there is now. Like they say...if you are going to get RA...now is the time. lol

Even though RA has been a battle...and continues to be...I had a real blessing happen to me over 3 years ago.

I have always hated one part of my body...and that was the fact that I was a 40DD. I have a slightly built frame...and I was having problems getting bras to fit properly anymore. I also could not exercise because of all the extra weight.

When I saw my plastic surgeon, she said no amount of exercise or weight loss, would help...because it was breast tissue that had developed. It was not my fault. It just happens to some women. She also said because of my RA...it was recommended to have a breast reduction. I really thought this was impossible and would never happen.

I got more out of this that I could have possibly hoped for. I had told her at my first visit...that I desired to be a 36B. She said I would always be large but she could make my breasts, proportional to the rest of my body.

I figured...I would go ahead with the procedure...and try to make the best of it. She ended up taking 1lb 1/2 off the right breast and a 1lb...on the left. She got in there and realized...that I was not a big woman and guess what? I ended up as a 36B...just what I told her I wanted to be on my first visit.

My recovery time was a breeze...she wanted me to go for walks...which I love to do...so it was perfect. I was on work restriction for a month.

I was very pleased with the results. I was able to start exercising after a month...and I now, am not self conscious about that part of my body. I can now wear a variety of clothes...and I look pretty darn good. : )

The RA may have been the battle here...but had it not been for that...I would have never been able to have the breast reduction...which has truly been a blessing for me.

So there you have it folks. Battles & Blessings. I believe they go hand in hand...with anything in life.

I decided long ago...that the RA would not beat me. As one person once told me..."You are stronger than the disease." You know...they were absolutely right about that!

There is great hope here. I have learned that moving and keeping limber...is the best thing for me. I do full range of motion...twice a day. I also try to do some kind of exercise routine at least 6 times a week. I don't always get the time in I want...but my attitude here is, at least I am doing something. : )

I know...that this is a continuous battle and I intend to win! My blessing here...is that I know I have the inner strength to do just that! : )

Brenda ; )

LIFE AFTER A BRAIN TUMOR : )

As some of you know, I was diagnosed with a benign brain tumor...called a Meningioma...last August. It was almost the size of a golf ball...measuring 2.5 x 2.3 x 2.6 cm. It was located in the right frontal lobe. I named it "Mini"...for mini-golf. My dry sense of humor. lol

That being said....I deal with a lot of emotions. In fact....I can be sitting and talking to someone and tears just start to well up within my eyes. I can't explain it. It's like your emotions just take a hold of you....and you just can't stop it.

I have come to realize...that I don't have to. You just let the tears flow and make the best of it.
My boss, supervisor, and some of my co-workers know...of my situation and are very understanding.

Those who are not...I don't really care!

Anyway....I had a situation happen to me this week...where I reacted with my heart...instead of my head.

You see....I always want to see the good in people. When I see someone...who is being teased, or put down...I want to help.

I should have just stayed out of this one. I confronted someone...who I care deeply about and said some rather harsh things. The thing is...that person had done nothing wrong. I had it all mixed up. You see.. I didn't have my facts straight.

Once...I realized that I had made a mistake. Yes, I DO MAKE MISTAKES...because...the plain fact is....that I am Human! I went to that person and did apologize for my error.

I know...that person is not angry with me and that we are still friends.

I tell you this because....I really felt bad for doing this. It also probably hit me more...because of the fact of my brain tumor...etc.

Anyway...there will be more to come. This will be a place where you can come along with me on my Brain Tumor Journey.

I do know one thing for sure....this was all meant to happen. Nothing...I believe happens by chance.

We are all here...to make the world a better place.


Brenda :)