Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Coming to terms with reality


A few weeks ago I was trying to fuel my car when my cell phone rang. It was the Friday before Memorial day at around 4:30 p.m. You can imagine how packed it was at the pumps. Visualize vehicles everywhere, SUVs' with boats, minivans and trailers, compact cars loaded to the ceiling with luggage and pillows. And right in the middle of it was my car blocking two fuel pumps while I talked on the phone. 

You should have seen the venom launched at me, not to mention the hand gestures. I don't blame them. I've probably glared at a women or two for acting like a bone fide idiot on her phone. But I couldn't move. I was locked in a stupor by the news spilling out of the receiver. 

Inoperable what? Sitting where? 

Someone honked behind me and with very shaky hands I shifted my car out of park and pulled away from the pumps and into a sorry parking space between a bread truck and a minivan. I tried to make sense of the words, "inoperable brain tumor sitting against my hypothalamus". What does that even mean?

Of course, I knew the anatomy. I'd prepared myself for every medical possibility of what could be leading to my steady mental and physical decline. But a brain tumor was the Big One, the impossible possibility, the most unlikely reason I'd lost so much of my life and abilities over the past two years. 

I mean, come on, a brain tumor? Really? That's the stupid go-to-plot device for killing characters on T.V. It's not something that happens to real people. Not really. 

Sitting there in my car on the side of the road I tried to make the words sink in and feel something. But I couldn't. For the first time in six years this thing that had slowly chipped away at my life, friendships, career, hobbies, writing and family had a name. Holy Crap! It had an image on a screen. I could actually see the parasitic thing that dogged me, drowning me with doubt, feelings of failure and confusion. 

I have a tumor. I am NOT going crazy. 

For about three days I was freakishly calm. In fact, I was such a pillar of strength I even impressed myself.  I comforted my husband, parents, siblings and closest friends with my seasoned wisdom of what a brain tumor had done for me. "It's such a blessing," "I wouldn't trade it for anything in this world." "It has taught me so much about love, and mercy, and humility." And I meant it. 

But when side effects from the meds sucker punched me and I was reduced to a ball of tears on the floor, I didn't feel like a big hero. The tumor wasn't a novelty anymore and I was ready to get off the roller coaster. 

This is where reality is starting set in for me. There isn't a cure. I have a tumor sitting between my pituitary gland and my hypothalamus. It's most likely benign and I've probably had it for years. And though there are many medications I can take for the symptoms, because it's using my hypothalamus as a lounge chair it's inoperable and I've got to learn to make friends with it. 'Cause it ain't going anywhere. 

Some days I'm okay with that and some days I'm not. But I am deeply relieved to at least see the challenge I'm facing. My husband asked me why I wanted to blog about this. He comes from stoic Vikings who suffer silently. That's part of the reason I love him. Wink! 

I'm not a Viking. I've stumbled a lot over the past few years and feel like I've lost some parts of a very full life but I believe there is still an entire life for me to live and I intend to seize it. 

I just don't feel like doing it alone.


12 comments:

Charity Bradford said...

*hugs* So many thoughts are running through my mind right now. Just know I'll keep you in my prayers that you will have all the strength and support you need.

In a way, I can see how knowing about the tumor must be a relief. There is a name and reality to the struggles you've been through. But I wish there was a way to fix it. :|

It's hard to learn to except things that we can't fix. You're so much stronger than I think I would be.

Hang in there, cause you definitely aren't alone. There's lots of people who love you and hope for the best.

Charity Bradford said...

Oy! Accept not except. You'd think my proof reading skills would be better.

Oo, and this captcha is "dragna" what do you think that could be?

Dragon slobber? Or Dragon earwax?

Gates Family said...

Oh what a challenge. You are so amazing!! Glad that you have been able to learn the cause of your trials, yet good luck with it all. ::Hugs::

Jill Ann said...

I love you. But you knew that already. :*

L.T. Elliot said...

Oh, Kristi. I am so sorry. And yet I am so, so grateful that you said something. I'm so grateful that you chose to share this because as someone who loves you--with all my heart, love you--I am grateful to know so I can support you, love you, and pray for you. Whatever you need, whenever you need it. I mean it.

You are graceful, brave, strong, and incredible. In every way, I am astounded by what an amazing person you are.

Jason Stevens said...

Ah, curse the silent stoic Viking!

I love you out loud.

ali said...

((hugs))

I'm glad you're here and willing to let friends be here for you too. I've thought of you so often over the past couple years and look forward to touching base with you again!

Many hugs and positive wishes winging their way from me to you. And ya know? I bet even Vikings cry.

JaredNGarrett said...

If you need anything at all. Anything, tell me.

Noelle said...

I'm so glad I stumbled across your blog! And I'm so stunned at this post. I had no idea!!!

You AMAZE me and you'll be in my prayers from now until probably forever.

John Bradfield said...

Kristi,

I guess this answered most of my questions.

Hang in there. Here's to both of us hoping for a brighter future.

You're in my prayers.
If you've got a minute, take a look at my blog.

http://www.lovingfatherhood.blogspot.com/

I think my latest post might fit both of our situations.

Take care.

John

Hoontah said...

Thanks for the love and support friends! It really does help.

Charity, thanks for the love and the laugh. I still consider you one of my dearest friends I've never met.

Tracy, thanks for the love and support!

Jill, there aren't words. What we really need is nail polish and red lipstick!

Laura, I love you and wish you lived a whole lot closer.

Jason, Vikings are HOT!!!!

Ali, it is so good to hear from you. It has been a long time thank you for the hugs and positive energy. It really helps.

Noah and John, You have been in my prayers as well and will continue to be. Even though we are all going through different challenges I still feel like we are in this together.

Hugs to everybody

elenajube said...

I haven't been checking my blog feeds lately and just found this. I'm so sorry and hope all goes well, that the thing using your glands as an easy chair ends up totally benign and not causing you too many problems. You're one amazing girl, Kristi. Thanks for your friendship. Wish I could give you a real hug, but an electronic one will have to do.