Monday, February 27, 2017

Even if Just for Today, We Persevered

Each moment bleeds into the next, with so many responsibilities, so many tasks to complete. It's exhausting. But, today, we did it! This morning, it took walking around the UCLA campus to different departments, a lot of explaining, and some phone calls, but we completed our mission. Thank you to everyone who offered their assistance, and appointments, I didn't see all those until later, but it ended up working out! You guys are AWESOME.

Sometimes in life, no matter how creative, and persistent, you get, you run out of time and options, and I'm just thrilled that we were able to fulfill this need, this desire. 

I completed the pre-op MRI this evening at a UCLA alternative location (Santa Monica). Same style, 3 tesla machine, which was important to me, because I want my radiology reports to match. MRI machines can have different strengths (ex: 3 tesla vs 1.5 tesla), also they can have different amounts of slices (ex: 1mm, 2mm, 3mm vs 4mm). My goal is to keep everything as standard as possible between scans so that they're easier to compare. Anyway, they were able to facilitate the same pre-op scan that was scheduled for Thursday. The functional MRI is still slated for Thursday afternoon, which will determine if I'll need to do an awake craniotomy or if I just get to take a sexy little horror movie nap.

My relief is palpable, if not temporary, for the stress of tomorrow's cognitive and competency testing which will be several hours of mental acrobatics and interviewing. These test are a baseline for when I get out of surgery, to compare any possible deficits. That way they'll know what kind of assistance I may need (physical, language, and/or occupational therapy). 

Wearing Resilience socks, thinking about all the other patients out there in my same

I'm bone tired, but elated that I was able to follow my intuition, and find some answers in all of this madness. I'm not expecting a miracle of healing (although I never rule anything out), but I am a tangible person who needs explanations and information to feel comfortable about big decisions. 

I understand that I am living with brain tumors up in this noggin'. I'm not pretending anything otherwise, but I feel incredibly capable, and healthy, and before I can comfortably sacrifice my body to the table, I have to feel assured. Even though this is my fourth brain surgery, it has not gotten any easier. In fact, I'm noticing that everything is becoming more difficult. I'm losing my pain threshold, I can sense my body, my spirit, remembering the trauma of all these surgeries, especially the one where I almost died. That pain, that subconscious awareness surged through me today as they inched the MRI needle closer to my vein. It was in the powerful magnet of the MRI that forced every cell in my brain to shift in different degrees, to manipulate my fat cells, and water cells, the tissue forming into just the right image to see what is going on in my head. It took everything in my being to hold back a seizure. To hold back tears of how brutal my body has been and continues to be treated. 

If she [my body] was a person on her own, my poor little Body, I would want to take her by the hand, and pull her close. I would rock her, in empathy, and hum her a beautiful melody. It wouldn't change the damage, but I would do everything in my power to console her. 

She's done so much for me, and I keep abusing her. 

It's not what I want, but my choices are limited.

Can't Fly Blind

Been scrambling to get a MRI since Friday, because I know that I can't walk into this surgery blind. I haven't seen what's going on in my brain for almost two months, and things can change. I'm not saying that the tumors are gone, or that they've shrunk, or even that they haven't exploded in growth, but my intuition keeps nagging at me that I must know what's going on up there before I am at peace before the bone saw.

I don't think my request is that unreasonable, however, it's just not how things are done in medicine. Right now, if nothing changes, I'm scheduled for my MRI, and fMRI, this Thursday, the afternoon before my early morning checkin for tumor removal. The problem is that radiology reports take 24-48 hours to complete, and I've been told by my surgeon, and the team at UCLA, that we won't have that report in time for surgery. Apparently the actual radiology report (which measures changes from previous scans, and compares growth, etc. isn't necessary for surgery).

But what if there are changes? I don't even know what's going on up there. 

I don't know why I need this so badly, but I don't want to lose my surgery date, we have uprooted our whole lives, taken time off of work, set up help at our home for our cat, traveled, adjusted, planned, and now I'm told that even with a week's notice, I can't get an MRI to see what's going on in my brain.

I asked for an additional MRI to see if we could facilitate that. I offered to pay if insurance doesn't cover it. We have called facilities all over the Los Angeles area and I can't get an MRI without a doctor's referral. THIS IS MY BODY. THIS IS MY BRAIN. Why is it so difficult for me to get this simple request?? I am the customer. I have insurance. What is going on here, in medicine, that I cannot be an effective advocate for my body?? It is not unreasonable for me to get a 45 minute MRI before a surgery, to be put at ease, so that I can undergo a life or death situation. Let's face it, it's a very dangerous operation. This is not a broken bone, it's my mind they're digging into.

I don't want to push back the surgery date, I don't want to work with anyone other than Dr L. I have 100% faith in her, and I am grateful for her compassion and meticulousness. She's brilliant and I absolutely adore her. I am incredibly grateful for the opportunity to be her patient and to have the ability to get whatever amount of tumor she's able to successfully remove, but I just need to see/know what's going on in my head before I can feel comfortable. I'm even having dreams about it. The desire is permeating everything I do. My intuition is going full force. 

So, dad and I woke up in the 5 am hour and we're headed to UCLA neuro today, to talk to people face-to-face. To be clear (since writing may not convey my tone), I'm not angry, I'm just hopeful that by sharing my deep need, and being available all day, perhaps there will be some people working there that can help facilitate my needs. I know I'm being a pain, and that it's an abnormal request, but I just feel this so deeply. 

My gut has served me in the past, and I won't start ignoring it now. Even if the tumors are shockingly massive, at least I will know, and I can be prepared for what lays ahead.

I call her Mary, our Jasmine vine.
She perfumes us as we leave, and cleanses us every time we arrive.

Thursday, February 23, 2017

Past The Meridian

There's something about the middle of the night, that awakens my soul. It happens every night, almost always around 1:27 am, when I arouse as if morning. Astutely alert. It's become a time of prayer and meditation, and deep reflection. 

I'm down in LA early, focusing on healing my body, my mind, and my soul/energy from the stressors and factors that I believe threw my body out of alignment which has facilitated the accelerated tumor growth. Which, ideally, should help me prepare for the March 3rd brain surgery, which lands on Dan's birthday. 

I arrived, on my own, extremely late Saturday night, and by Sunday, early evening, I found myself huddled in a ball on the bathroom floor riddled with food poising. I had asked my father for a few days by myself before he arrived, to give the illusion of independence - knowing that long periods of solitude in high stress/fatigue ridden periods, lead to seizures, and that my ultimate solitude would be a burden on Dan and my family/friends because they would worry - so I had ended up asking him to join me as a guardian. Anyway, Tuesday afternoon, my dad arrived, and by that point I was long past the ability to hold down water. I was delirious, and weak, so he ended up taking me to the hospital. Between the care I received there, and some amazing care from my friends here in LA, and some badass tinctures, within 24 hours, I was back to feeling human. I'm still on a broth diet, but last night we were able to add sautéed vegetables and tempeh, so that was a pretty awesome success.

I'm here to work on evolving my mindset, and removing negative factors. I've learned recently that in life, and relationships, I have taken on the role of a screen/filter. So when people come to me and unburden themselves with the negative/emotional things that go on in their lives, I process that information, and although, often, people feel better releasing their heavy buildup, I end up getting stuck with the sediment. No one does it purposefully. No one wants to hurt me. I just can't seem to take those things in stride. They weigh down my soul.

When your soul is weighed down, it effects your hormones, especially your stress hormones. Recently, a doctor told me that she believes that my explosive tumor growth (3 tumors, one enhancing), is because of the amount of emotional stress in my life, and that tumors actually secrete growth hormones, strengthening the cancer. She mentioned some sort of tumor growth factor - I can't remember the exact term though, perhaps one of you awesome blog readers know what I'm talking about. I'm not going to research it though, because I don't want it to stress me out. I don't want to focus on the negative. I don't really need specific proof -  I can viscerally feel that it's the truth.

Anyway, I recognize that my environment is paramount to my success in achieving true health, and that means protecting myself from negative influences. Even perceived negative influences - whether or not they mean me harm. I am the only person who can make the decision to put my health first. To make the hard choices to separate myself from situations and people and energy that will not serve my healing. It's incredibly hard to pull back and analyze these things, and focus, truly, on what I need to evolve and grow. 

So for now I have pulled back from almost everyone in my life, because I need a true period of time for reflection, and reconnection with my intuition. To truly understand what will serve me, and what kind of social load I can realistically maintain.

Yesterday afternoon, I had an epiphany. I felt like my whole life, including this cancer journey had lead up to this moment, but that I had crossed a meridian, and was now a tiny speck on a new journey, with immeasurable growth to attain. A Universe full of insight and development, full of lessons, if I so chose to embark, to listen, and to absorb. And I do! It feels so right, so true for me. It's one of the most natural things I've ever felt, to finally find what "healing" means to Me. 

I believe I needed those days huddled in a ball, guts cemented in torture, to bring my body, my mind, and my soul, back to a rebirth. A new kind of evolution. That everything in my life brought me to that bathroom floor, in a loving ground level apartment in Marina Del Rey, full of the sounds of birds, and fresh breezes, carrying the scent of jasmine from the front door. Less than two weeks from a brain surgery, at a time when I would typically be overextending myself, I found myself forcibly aware of the necessity to really recognize my role in my own healing. That if I couldn't start to pull away from the demands of this world, which was creating a proliferation of cancer, and put myself first, I was going to aide in killing myself. 

Healing myself is a choice, and I have many wonderful guides and teachers, both western trained, and others, and with the combination, I am finally finding my stride, my raw self. Once you're cut down to your most vulnerable self, you can build a new sturdy foundation, and that, my friends, is exactly what I plan to do.

Thank you for being patient with me while I revel this process. If I don't respond to your text messages, or emails, or communication on any level, it is not personal, it is not about you or anything you have done or not done. This is about me, and about me allowing myself the privilege to work on my own healing. I'm not sure if I will post another blog before surgery. And in the same vein I might write many. I'm going to feel things out and be true to my inner voice and do what feels best. 

During the surgery, my mom has offered to do updates on the blog to share information as they receive it in the waiting room. I'm sure, though, someone will post the surgery time the night before (which is when they will notify us), we'll post that info for those who may be moved to pray or send healing thoughts to my surgical team, and to me, and the family. For me, I ask you to unburden my family during that time. If you could please turn to the blog for information, instead of hitting up my family's cell phones, it would mean a lot to me. I want them to have the least amount of stress as possible. There are so many of you amazingly wonderful people that care so much about us, and we are all very grateful, but if they're on their phones during the whole surgery, then they won't get the chance to be in the moment, to take care of each other, to support and love one another. I hope for them to have some semblance of calm, and know that I am being healed. These are special moments when we get to come together, and focus on what's right in front of us.

I really do appreciate your support, your kindness, and your understanding for what we're all going through. I hope to write more again before surgery, but if not, truly know that your love and positive energy is tangible in my life, especially in these days while we're dealing with so much. I have such a huge amount of gratitude to all of you. Thank you for sharing your prayers, and for entering me into your prayer circles, and for sharing my journey with your friends, because I can feel their love and prayers too.

I recently finished a fascinating book on Hado, specifically, The Secret Life of Water, by Dr Masaru Emoto. He analyzed water crystals forming in different environments (during specific music, or words, or emotions, etc.), and what he found is that the crystals formed beautiful, symmetrical shapes during [many] times but specifically of prayer. My prayer, and my hope, is that all of your beautiful prayers, and love, and my deep gratitude, may bring my body and spirit beautiful symmetry, beautiful wholeness, as well. May I be blessed with your Hado (Baha'i, Catholic, Christian, Muslim, Buddhist, agnostic....etc.) healing. I'm very very grateful for your kindness, and your love.

Sent this to Dan the morning after I arrived. Wearing his shirt so that I could feel close.
The calm before I fell ill.
I'm wearing it every single night. Should probably wash the funk out, but in my mind,
I still smell his scent.

Thank you, as always, for reading.

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