Friday, November 29, 2013

A Tale of Introspection

Hello there, it's Trevor, The Tell Tale Dog here, to share another story of Brenda's
life.  This time, we are going to go a little deeper into what she actually experienced,
prior to her brain tumor diagnosis of August 26, 2008. 

Looking back and having had a chance to re-evaluate situations and things that happened,
Brenda now realizes, there were actually reasons, for why things were so out of control.

Her personality was a big issue one year prior, along with many nosebleeds, which
she would wake up to and many were hard to stop.  She thought it was just her
sinuses, which continue to give her grief, but this was different.  It was only after
she had her craniotomy and this was brought up in one of her brain tumor support
groups on Facebook, that the light bulb truly went on. 

It was actually brought out that having many nosebleeds, could actually be a sign of
having a brain tumor.  We say could, as it was in Brenda's case.  We are just stating
facts that have happened to Brenda here.  We are not giving out any medical advice,
so feel free to check this out for yourself. 

Brenda knows that her brain tumor peeps, as she refers to them, will understand what
we are sharing.

On to the personality change.  Another thing that Brenda didn't even realize was
going on.  She would get angry quickly.  One time was over the phone with a
nurse helping her with Enbrel, as she had had a problem with one of the injections,
and was supposed to get another replacement.  It all turned out to be a big
misunderstanding and Brenda should not have had to make the call in the first
place.  She was not receiving the replacement and got on the phone one evening,
and just let that nurse have it.  This was not typical for Brenda, and she was in
tears by the end of the phone call.  It finally got straightened out and if that was
to ever happen again, it was handled differently.  It has never happened since.

Another thing was that her blood pressure was sky high prior to her brain tumor
diagnosis.  Her GYN doctor was very concerned about this.  Brenda at the time
was facing more migraines and a job change, because of her Rheumatoid Arthritis
(RA) advancing.  She had also lost her sister one year prior to this, so a lot of
stress going on.  This was actually years, before her brain tumor would be
discovered.  It had been a long journey with the RA and now this.

She was getting her blood pressure checked and this was now about a year before
her brain tumor diagnosis, and it was again very high.  She burst into tears and
went on to say that anything could set her off.  She was prescribed something
to help balance this all.  Her PCP was not happy about this and it really turned
out to be a horrible experience and within 6 months, had to stop taking them
all together.  She was also experiencing another life changing event, as her
Dad's Alzheimer's was getting worse and he did pass away that year.  She had
also gained lots of weight and that was not good for her RA, but she kept on
exercising, as much as she could. 

Her head pain was also starting to come back, from her prior head injury, of
bumping her head in the fridge.  We have touched on this before and it is
actually part of her BT journey that was recently shared on Catch The Brain Wave,
which when the link is up for you to listen, we will share.  Rick Franzo, who is
the host and her fellow BT warrior and friend, read her compelling story over the
airwaves. 

Anyway, we got a little sidetracked there.  To go on, Brenda did go to the neurologist
and he also told her to stay on those pills or things would get worse.  They got worse
while being on them.  She was also told that they could do a CT, but they would
probably find nothing.  Well, we all know how that turned out now, don't we?

Another thing that happened and this was also several years before, only really not
sure if it was before or after the head injury, as it was another thing, that Brenda
had not really thought a lot about.  She had got up one night and when she was
headed back to bed, and this she remembers so clearly, she must have bumped
into something and started to fall down.  It was in slow motion and she remembers
being flat on the floor, by her bed.  She has no idea how long she was there, if she
had passed out or what?  It scared her and nothing like this has ever happened since.

It just makes you wonder, was this another sign?  As you know by the Spring of
2008, she was really having a hard time dealing with all of the head pain and yet,
she was going to work every day and dealing with RA as well. 

When Brenda finally got her diagnosis and at the time, did not even realize it
was a brain tumor, as it was only referred to as a lesion.  When she got the
word, you have a meningioma, she still didn't realize it.  Even for months after.
I really think, she was in shock.  Her boss thought so, as she went into his office
and told him, she was going to have surgery the following Monday, which was
on a Thursday.  He said, she sounded just like she was going to the dentist.  She
was that calm.

Well, we know that Brenda has learned much from this journey.  She does also
know that she had the most primary of brain tumors, called a meningioma.  She
has learned much since, as there are over 120 different kinds of brain tumors
out there. 

Some things also changed after her brain tumor diagnosis.  A big one, is this
blog right here.  I probably would not be telling this tale, if it wouldn't be for the
fact, that she had this brain tumor.  She became creative.  She counts that as
one of her greatest gifts, that this experience has given her. 

She is much more emotional at times, but this time around she knows that is
okay, and that she also is much more aware of others, and what they are going
through too.  She is more sensitive to what is happening and sometimes, it
is hard to deal with.  Others that don't face this have told her, she has a ugly
personality or nothing is good enough for her.  She also has been told by
those who used to cry on her shoulder, that she is a braggart and if people
don't live like she does, then everyone else is wrong.  These statements are
really hurtful.  We are just going to tell you right here, that they came from
people that are obviously unhappy with themselves. 

Brenda has struggled with the fact of self promoting.  She is always helping others,
as that has been a trait of hers lifelong.  She is finding that in advocacy, you have
to fight for what is right and part of that is promoting your cause. 

We have a great example to share with you here.  I am pretty sure the coach of
a winning team is going to boast about how well his team did.  He is not just
going to leave that field and say nothing.  He will talk to the reporters and also
tell his players how well they did.  He is obviously proud of them, and he would
also be a big part of that, now wouldn't he?  He should also have a chance to be
proud of himself, right?  You're doggone right he should. 

We hope this has helped you understand a little bit more, of what it is like to be a
BT survivor.  This is a badge of honor, that Brenda takes seriously.  Her other
badge of honor is having lived with RA for over twenty-two years.

It was my pleasure to bring this tale to you.  Brenda has gone through much,
but it does not define who she is.  Remember, your trial can either destroy you, or
make you stronger.  You have that choice to decide which. 

This is Trevor, signing off.  

Tuesday, November 5, 2013

A Tale of Liberation

Hey, it's Trevor, The Tell Tale Dog here again, to bring you another story of
Brenda's life.  We are going to be doing something different, in that this will
be a blog post of getting things off of our chests. 

Before we go any further, Brenda has distanced or been staying away from
negative people as much as possible.  Sometimes, that is not always possible,
as you have to engage with some, so what we are about to share is not about
our readers.  This is about people, that she has just had to cut out of her life.

This is just something that she once and for all, needs to get off of her chest.
Brenda has dealt with some pretty heavy life experiences, dating back to when
she was first diagnosed with Rheumatoid Arthritis (RA) over twenty-two years
ago now.  We are not going to go all the way back there, but just so you know,
she has been fighting every day since. 

Imagine, something as easy as opening a door, becomes a source of agony, because
just turning the handle or door knob, causes your hand to ache.  Another one is
what might be a simple task to you, but those of you who live with RA or other
chronic illnesses, may be able to relate, flushing a toilet.  These are things we
don't really talk about much, because it is embarrassing to have to admit, that
something that should be so simple to do, becomes pure agony.  She did however,
share this with her GF a couple of weeks ago and she responded just like she
always has, with kindness and empathy. 

Brenda has experienced the other side of the coin as well, the people out there that
are just so self-centered.  Brenda has always tried to be there for her friends.  She
received a phone call once at 4:00 a.m. from a friend who was so upset about how
one of her male friends was treating her.  All Brenda could do was listen and try
to provide comfort.  You would think that when the tables were turned, she would
receive the same response.  Not on your life folks.

Here is the scene, Brenda's Mom is in a nursing home, where she just found out a
few weeks before, that she was dying.  She also was sporting an air cast because
she had a torn tendon in her right foot.  She was kind enough to ask this friend to go
on an all expense paid trip, to a brain tumor meet and greet.  Here is where it gets
ugly folks.  Brenda had a terrible time flying and was not doing very well, by the
time they got to one destination.  They were even thinking of having Brenda go
to the hospital, but she fought hard for this trip and refused.  Just by Brenda
expressing that she did not want to go, she was told the next day in front of a
room full of brain tumor survivors, that she had an ugly personality.  Now Brenda,
just wanted to get up and leave and go back to her room.  Those of you that
know Brenda, know that she is a fighter, and she realized that some would
understand that after having had a brain surgery, that there would be some
personality changes.  She did however, get up and go to another table to
mingle. 

She tried to explain this in a letter to her friend, along with a gift, but it would
never be the same again.  Brenda did continue to hang out with her, but it was
becoming increasingly difficult, because of that comment about her having
an ugly personality.  Brenda has yet to have received a thank you for that
trip.  She recently received yet another invitation to one of her jewelry parties
and Brenda just decided that it was at this time, that she would break all ties
with this person.  She did not RSVP, oh the shame.  She just didn't want to
engage in a conversation with her, because no matter what you say, or how
you say it, would be wrong in her eyes.

We are not asking for pity here.  Brenda does not want it.  She is just wanting to
get this all out. 

She has also been told that nothing is good enough for her, and that she is a negative
person.  Have you ever heard such nonsense in your life?  Brenda tries so hard to
be positive and to build others up.  She does this, without even thinking about it.

She was told by one of her former classmates, that while they were in grade school,
Brenda stood up for this person.  She really does not remember doing it.  The person
was shy and maybe Brenda felt they were being teased, etc. 

She has lost friends since being diagnosed with RA.  A lot of it is really misunderstood,
and you really just get tired of explaining it.  If you cannot keep an engagement, some
see it as an attack on them.  If Brenda does keep the engagement, and not feeling up
to par, she is the one that ends up paying the price. 

This is very hard to write about and as she is telling me this, she has been very tearful.

She has also been told that she is demanding, all because she has made a suggestion.
Since when did a suggestion, become a demand?  This person also cried on Brenda's
shoulder the week she was to have surgery.  She was so afraid that it was going to
do horrible things to her body.  This was so unbelievable, because this same person
told Brenda, how positive a person she was.  She was fretting the whole week, all
the while Brenda was recovering from her 3rd attack with shingles. 

Finally Brenda had just had enough.  She finally told her that she was worrying
herself into a tizzy and that she would be praying for her.  She did end up doing
just fine with her surgery and all that worrying for nothing. 

Brenda didn't even get that bent out of shape before her craniotomy. 

She has just found that it has been better not to have these people in her life.  They
just became what she calls emotional vampires. 

She has moved forward and has made some wonderful friends.  She has also been
told recently, that she does not need friends in her life, only God.  What a horrible
thing to say.  We all need people. 

This was very difficult for Brenda to get out, but I think it was overdue.  She continues
to fight every day, but she will be there for you, cheering you on with all of your
accomplishments.  All she asks is for a little understanding.  Not every day is easy,
but she tries to remain positive and to be that shining light for those, who may need
it.

Until next time, this is Trevor, The Tell Tale Dog, reminding you that every one
has their own special battle that they are fighting, so be kind whenever possible.