Two things about me you may not realize:
- I have a brain. I have proof of this.
- Not only do I have a brain, it’s a little too big for my head.
I have what is called a chiari (key-r-e) malformation. I like the name. I mean, if I’m going to have a malformation, at least the name is fun to say and it’s kind of pretty. It’s not like “grotesque gnarled horned knee malformation” or anything. Basically, it means my cerebellar tonsils are too long and crowd the foramen magnum that the brain stem passes through. This causes me some issues. Insomnia. Chronic fatigue. Klutziness. (Yay! I have an actual reason for this!) Dizziness. Numb fingers. Headaches. Depression. Cellulite. (The cellulite is not scientifically proven, but I swear it’s related.)
Anyway, it’s not really rare, but it is uncommon. There isn’t a “cure” for it, but most people that are symptomatic – like me – may be a candidate for surgery.
So…yay. I’m having brain surgery in February.
I’m 95% cool with this and 5% terrified. Sometimes these percentages flip flop. Maybe even multiple times a day. Or an hour. Or within seconds of each other.
While I don’t want to minimize the seriousness of the surgery, I don’t want to make it a big deal, either. We all have our “thing” or “things” that we deal with – this is just my thing right now.
So…why even bring it up at all? Well, for several reasons.
First, I have had to close one of my businesses and put some other things on hold for a bit. I don’t think it’s fair to start a project for a client and then have to leave in the middle of it, not knowing how long the recovery will be. Since I have to let people know what’s going on, I’d rather address it personally. But don’t worry, people. The kids and I are still writing our books and doing our site, so you’ll have plenty of opportunities to buy our stuff and be annoyed at our “PLEASE BUY THIS BOOK BECAUSE WE HAVE TO PAY FOR BRAIN SURGERY” posts. I apologize in advance.
Secondly, I need prayers. I really do. I don’t need people to look at me, think “poor thing”, tell me they’ll pray for me, and then forget all about it. I don’t want pity. I want prayers. I need guidance to make the right decision about this and to accept whatever God’s will is for my life. I don’t know what His purpose is for this, but I know that he has one and I don’t want to waste an opportunity to be a better person. I need prayers that my family will not kill me during my recovery and that he’ll give them lots of patience, energy, and superhuman cleaning abilities. Pray hard for this.
Thirdly, we all go through something. We ALL do. We ALL need support and prayers. Just being able to say out loud what your problem is and what help you need to get through it makes your burden a little less. The problem becomes more bearable because you have the support of people around you. And if someone needs your help, help them. The best way to solve your “thing” can often be helping someone else with their “thing”.
Let me give you some examples that happened just last week.
I was conflicted and depressed about the doctor’s appointment coming up. I was having a day where self-pity was feeling comfortable and I was content to wallow in it. It happened to be a volunteer day for us, and we loaded up and went to pack bags of food for families that needed help. It’s amazing how handing a bag of food to a homeless family instantly changes your perspective on your own problems. Here I was, depressed because I had to be uncomfortable for a bit and this family was living in their car. They had nothing. I was about to get in my car, drive to my nice, warm house, and fix whatever we wanted for dinner. I would probably change my clothes and take a shower before we sat down for dinner. Boo-hoo. My life is so hard.
Then, the very next day, I was worried about something else. My hair. Yes, I know. It’s so petty. I will have to shave the back of my head and I’ll have a scar going up the back of my head after surgery. I’ll admit that I’m vain enough that it bothered me. It bothered me that it bothered me.
I went to lunch with a friend who had just gone to New York with her mom. During their trip, I saw a photo posted of her mom having her head shaved. I asked her about it and she said, “Oh, yeah…well, mom’s cancer came back and she knew she’d lose her hair again. We decided to have some fun with it and just shave it off.” Insert food into mouth and choke on your own vanity, Jen. She’s losing her hair as a side-effect of having a life-saving treatment and you’ll have to shave part of your head for a surgery that, for the most part, is a voluntary procedure.
I have never experienced:
- a life threatening wreck
- death of a spouse, parent, or child
- diagnosis of a major disease
But I’m sure some/most/all of you have. Maybe you’ve experienced more than one of those. I have had my own issues, but this is my thing right now. What is yours? Can I help? Can I pray for you? Will you share your problem with just one person you trust to help you through it? Will you help someone else through their “thing”?
It’s been my experience that if no one knows what is going on, no one can offer you assistance. That sucks. Get out of your own way long enough to accept help from others. No sense in being embarrassed and prideful – we’ve all fallen flat on our faces before.
You’ll be okay. I’ll be okay. I know it. If I didn’t know it, I wouldn’t bother to pray for it. Prayer is for those that know God can and will do miracles. Why would you pray if you doubted that?
We’ll be okay.
We will be okay.
We will be better than okay.
We will be examples of the power of prayer.
And please pray that my doctor doesn’t sneeze when he has my brain exposed. That would just be gross.
**UPDATE: I did NOT have the surgery in February 2016. I chickened out and cancelled it two days before. Actually, my hubby asked me to get a second opinion. I will still have to have it eventually, so keep praying! I think this delay was God looking out for me, because so much has happened this year (both good and bad) that I wouldn’t have been able to deal with it while recovering from surgery. Isn’t that just like God to watch out for me like that? I’m getting a second opinion soon and will see when surgery needs to be rescheduled.
Please comment and add any volunteer organizations and I’ll add them to the below list:
If you are in an abusive relationship and need help, please call 1-800-799-SAFE.
If you struggle with “cutting”, please call 1-800-dontcut.
If you live in Fayetteville and need food and/or assistance with bills, please go to Community Emergency Outreach.
649 E Huntsville Rd, Fayetteville, AR 72701
If you are a woman in Northwest Arkansas that needs help finding a job and getting clothes appropriate for your new gig, please go to Dress For Success. They are also in need of gently used professional clothing and accessories. I can get you in touch with the director, if interested.
100 N Dixieland Dr
Rogers, Arkansas 72756
7 Hills is an organization that helps homeless in Benton and Washington County. They are always in need of donations and volunteers.
112 West Center Street, Suite 300
Fayetteville, AR 72702