Monday, March 10, 2014

Cauterization & Kryptonite

Good morning world. Life has been busy, spent the last weekend in Wenatchee with family, holding a garage sale and as we're back home it's hitting me that it's already time for another immunotherapy shot. How did three months go by so quickly?

While we were gone Lemolo had his first bloom. It smells delicious, reminiscent of gardenias. Not the stinky synthetic cheap kind, but the most heavenly natural scent. Delightful.

Before we left for Wenatchee I checked my little salad garden and behold, I have sprouts!! I had been watching, and waiting, even sticking my fingers into the soil on occasion to make sure the seeds weren't planted too deep or to make sure they were keeping nice and damp. The latter, not too hard to do here in Seattle, of course.

With my excitement from the growing plants, we headed out for our weekend. We'd loaded extra stuff for the garage sale into Dan's car, the old 1982 Land Cruiser and went on our way. It was sunny, and gorgeous. We laughed as we made it up Steven's pass, enjoying waterfall after waterfall along the highway as cars zoomed by. Our old goat is a slow girl. We hit the crest with a glance over at the spotty skiers meandering down the hill. As the nose of our old goat faced east, Dan leaned over and tickled my belly, and told me, "See, I told you she could do it!" But as things go, it was only a few miles before old goaty pooped out. We were driving down the two lane highway when the engine stopped running. I can not stress enough how grateful we were to find, within only 200 yards, a pullout. The mountains have been dumping snow off and on so there was snow plowed along all sides of the roads with not many places for reprieve. As we were on the windy road we were lucky to not have been stranded on a blind corner.

We pulled over and tossed on some extra layers of clothes; the temperature was dropping quickly as the sun set.

Nope, that's not Seattle sunshine, it's the moon.

We attempted to fiddle in the engine, testing wires, and tubes, and parts for about 45 minutes to an hour. Then, we gave up and called my parents for help. My poor parents, their job is never done. By the time they got there it was pitch black and I was pretty damn cold, with my father's truck registering 31 degrees. We left the old goat by the side of the road and headed home, happy to be thawing.

The most amazing part of the whole experience was that Dan and I never got upset. We were cracking jokes, and as Dan tried to troubleshoot I jumped up and down to stay warm. It was just another adventure. When we were nestled warmly in my dad's truck we all visited, and laughed. I love it when even in tough times, people can keep their heads on straight and have a little fun. The next day the old goat was retrieved, and she is resting in my parent's warehouse. My uncle Michael came over and the men bumped heads to figure out the problem. The conclusion: fuel filter. Between the goat adventure, and the garage sale, visiting my sweet grandma a few times, and a family dinner with our uncle Dave and his new wife Berrit, it was a fantastic, and eventful weekend.

I have a day to rest, then I have an appointment with a reconstructive surgeon tomorrow morning. It's a preliminary appointment for my old mole issue that never seems to end. I have already had to go in for surgery to remove moles all over my chest, and I've also already had to have them go in deeper. Way deeper. Twelve stitches deeper. And this time I have two more deep areas they want to remove. One is on my areola (gross, I know, but we all have them). What are they going to do, remove my nipple, scoop out what they want to scoop out, then sow my nipple back on? Excellent. As for the other area, it's on my other breast. I love my breasts. They're mine, they're feminine, and they're disappearing fast. Three chunks in two years? Jeez. Ugh. Last time they removed a chunk from my chest I started having an aura that was headed into a seizure so we had to stop the surgery for a period of time. It was a mess, and nauseatingly traumatic. No one wants to feel cauterization, or tugging during a procedure. Gross.

As for my mind and my arm, and the cognitive issues and right side weakness, I don't know what's going on. It could be just my kryptonite (lack of sleep), or seizure activity, or the fact that my brain waxes and wanes due to all the instruments, fingers, scalpels, saws, drills, etc. that have nestled around in there. I keep hoping I'll get back to normal, that my brain will heal completely, but the truth is that there are varying degrees of damage after brain surgeries, and I've never met anyone who has come back after a brain surgery and said they are exactly the same. It might be just a hairline change, but it's a change nonetheless. For me, not being able to understand things at times (which by the way is a strong bonding point with my grandma at the nursing home - a silver lining) makes me a little sad. I don't dwell on it, but I wish it wasn't so. I'm only 33 years old. I keep hoping that I will one day wake up and notice that I'm me again. A non-confused me, with an arm and hand that will do whatever I want whenever I want - and to be seizure free. In the meantime, I plug along trying to ignore the oddities, trying to push enough to challenge my body, and my mind, so that they grow, and heal, yet recognize when to pull back and allow for rest. The challenges come daily, there is never a dull moment in the O'Carroll household (that's what we call ourselves). Please wish me luck at the consultation tomorrow; the whole thing scares me.


  1. Wishing you all the luck in the world!!!!
    Love, Maleka

  2. Sending you lots of love!!! The O'Carroll household is a great place to be!Love you L.

  3. I couldn't decide how exactly to say Good Luck so it would have the biggest impact, so here it is in lots of languages: Sterkte!, Paç fat!, Allah iwaffe2, Zorte on!, Bona sort! Molta sort!, Sretno, Bonne chance !, Viel Glück! Alles Gute!, Pomaikaʻi! Maikaʻi Pomaikaʻi!, Gangi þér vel!, Go n-éirí an t-ádh leat! Ádh mór ort!
    Go n-éirí an bóthar leat!, Guul ayaan kuu rajaynayaa
    Spanish ¡Buena suerte!, Powodzenia!

  4. Hi Jessica,

    I still come on here once in a while to read your posts. Not sure if you remember me but I did comment to you maybe a year or so ago and let you know that I also have an astrocytoma grade 2. I've been so discouraged today for many reasons, one small one being that I had to go back in to the dermatology clinic today and let them do some deeper digging for some of the moles I had previously removed. There was a pretty painful one almost as you described above and I just found myself suddenly so frustrated about everything!! I have had such a good attitude but today it sort of "got me"- I have been dealing with many of the feelings you are describing above, and working to manage side effects from seizure meds, etc. Just wanted you to know that reading your message today gave me a little encouragement. There are so many others going through tough times in life- I don't want to just sit and focus on me. Prayers and hugs to you. - Nikki

    1. Nikki, Hi! I do remember you. I can't believe you're dealing with those invasive moles too. Lame! It was so sweet of you to comment because it made me feel like I have a kindred soul out there who is uniquely dealing with what I'm dealing with. There is such a comfort of having people understand our trials. It helps me anyway. I used to love all my moles because I have literally hundreds, but now I'm starting to sing a different tune. :) I'm proud of you for having a bad day, then already I could read your great attitude. It's infectious. Thank you for brightening my mood too!


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