Since Brain Tumor (SBT), many people have told me what an inspiration I am. My boyfriend keeps reminding me. I keep rolling my eyes. Because while I'm certainly honored to be able to inspire others, I know I'm not positive all the time. It's been one peak followed by many valleys, then the occasional peak, followed by more valleys. Don't get me wrong, I've witnessed the power of positive energy - and I've been blessed by it's benefits. But I've also spent too much time ridden with guilt. Guilt over feeling as though I'm a burden. Financially and emotionally, on my friends and my family. On Boyfriend. He's seen me cry, cry, and cry some more over the last month, and on my worst days, I worry that the crying alone will bring him to the conclusion that I'm not worth the trouble, no matter how inspiring, amazing, and beautiful I may be on my best days.
Guilt is really the most useless of all feelings. I'm an advocate for feeling what you need to feel, whether it be sadness, anger, or whatever. Let it out. Don't hold it in, or it will eat you alive. First-hand experience has made me wiser than I once was about keeping things to myself. This is easier said than done, because guilt is it's own planet. I've spent entirely too much energy feeling guilty over that which is out of my control. Focusing on my mistakes. Dismissing my accomplishments and the gifts I have to offer. It doesn't do us any good, that guilt. If you have truly done something to warrant feelings of guilt, do something about it, make the wrong a right, and MOVE ON. Most of our feelings of guilt are just assumptions that a we've made someone feel bad, and you know what? That someone can talk to me about it and we can work it out, or he can hold it against me, and it's out of my hands. It's HIS problem, and I can't be responsible for how SOMEONE ELSE feels.
None of us can.
But I can take responsibility for my own happiness. Just like I did almost two years ago, when I decided I needed to come to California. By myself. So I did. And it taught me that if I do the best thing for myself, it will be the best thing for everyone else, too.
As Boyfriend continues to remind me; I have my words, my positive energy and my love. If I can give that, and someone gets something out of it, if someone is inspired to do something nice for someone else, well, that's a pretty big gift for everyone, myself included.
We all have gifts to give. What are yours? Remind yourself. (In the comments, of course!)
I'm one of those, "It's merely a flesh wound!" kind of people. Can't stop. Never give up. Even when I'm hobbling around with a limb missing. Offers of assistance are often countered with, "Nope, I got it!" I suffer from bouts of extreme guilt, worried that I may not deserve what help I do receive. And God forbid I ask for help, even when I've fallen and can't get up.
But I'm changing. Slowly, but surely. I had a breakthrough on the asking-for-help business while in Colorado. My new friend Frances let me help her in her garden for a couple of days in exchange for some herbal advice, essential oils and a plant brushing healing ceremony that we did together while I was at her Frogworks Studio.
"Are we square, Frances?" "Sure we are - you spent two days helping me in the garden." "Don't give too much away, you did a lot for me..." Suddenly, it was like I was talking to myself.
Several people took me aside during my Colorado visit and said, "If you ever need anything, just ask." Apparently lot of people love me and would do anything for me. Huh.
Birthdays are about commemorating a life as it crosses an anniversary into another year. A reflection of past accomplishments and a celebration of things to come. Today is my dear friend Jenny's birthday.
Jenny and I began our relationship as friends of a friend. After she moved to Colorado to begin her equine rehabilitation center out of Dark Star just over two years ago, our friendship grew into one of lifelong proportions. She was there for me throughout the pain of my divorce. She held me up when I couldn't hold it together anymore. She and my friend Deb moved me, my horses, and all of my belongings out to California in January of 2008. And when many of my friends abandoned me, confused and hurt over my divorce and subsequent relationship with Boyfriend, she continued to cheer me on. She trusted my instincts and understood that no one could know what was better for me than myself.
Since I've been in California, Jenny has built her business into a thriving equine rehabilitation operation, utilizing western medicine, metaphysics, and holistic therapies. She has established amazing relationships with veterinarians, healers, and shamans from all over the country. She is coming into her own as a healer, incorporating medicine, mind, body and spirit. And I'm amazed at her ability to accomplish anything she puts her mind to, but not surprised.
I've been aware of her ability to heal others for a while now.
Happy birthday, Jenny. You have to know that you're a bright, shining light in so many lives, especially mine.
I would never have imagined that I would need to come back to Colorado to regroup. Despite the fact that I have some very dear friends in Colorado, I haven't missed being here. A smattering of dread, barely recognizable, even began to seep to the surface as I prepared for my trip. I wondered if my trip might stir up some memories I wasn't anxious to revisit.
But as soon as the plane touched down in Denver, I knew I was to receive a very powerful message during my stay, because it was raining and the skies had become increasingly ominous throughout our descent. I called Jenny, my friend, driver, and hostess, as soon as I landed and she said, "Thank goodness your flight was on schedule - it's raining and hailing buckets in Franktown." For those of you who aren't familiar, the weather in Colorado is unpredictable, but usually the Denver suburbs are dried to a crisp by June - I was expecting similiar fire conditions that I left in California!
We drove straight to Dark Star Farm, owned by my dear friend Deb, where I trained horses, gave riding lessons and developed some lifelong friendships for 6 years. I needed a quick hello with my 29-year-old lesson horse, Reggie. He was the anchor of my riding school for over 8 years, and while I miss him terribly, it would have been selfish to move him 1200 miles to California, taking him from the farm at which he's comfortable and has received specialized "senior" care for so many years. Deb and Jenny agreed to look after him after I left Colorado. Jenny also runs Acadia Equine Rehab out of Dark Star and she and Deb have determined that Reggie is one of the farm's anchor horses, too. My eyes are watering and my heart is about to burst as I type, just thinking about how lucky I am to have been blessed with a horse who has touched so many people. Reggie and I had a good snuggle in the rain for a few minutes, and we told him we'd be back the next day.
My first three days here really drove home the "flow like water" theme - it rained buckets. I met Jenny's cat, suitably named Rayne, for the first time since she got him, and he's made himself my fill-in boyfriend while I'm here. I listened to Lauryn Hill's "Water" over and over. I was saturated to the core. The scenery is surprisingly green and blue - much different than the brown grass and foggy skies typical of Santa Barbara's "June Gloom" I left nearly a week ago.
Jenny has been amazing - driving me all over, allowing me to see many old friends and introducing me to some remarkable new contacts. In fact it was Jenny who put me in touch with the shaman I've been working with on my flow like water lesson. I spoke with him again last week, and his new advice was geared toward the study of plants: "You can watch plants for hours and not see anything happening, but you come back the next day, and there's new growth. It's proof that there's always something happening, even when you can't see it. So remember that, and don't be discouraged when you have a bad day."
The very next day, I finally got to meet a good friend of Jenny's, Frances Fitzgerald Cleveland, an herbalist, aromatherapist, healer and the owner of Frogworks/Kaeru Studio in Littleton, Colorado. After hearing so much about her healing abilities, I was anxious to pick her brain for some herbs and oils that might help me with my current physical and mental health. I was not disappointed. Frances is one of those people that just knocks you over with her aura the moment you meet her. And she was so willing to help, she offered to do some research for me, just as long as I would help her plant flowers and get some yardwork finished while we talked. Wait, did she just say plant flowers? Working with plants? Huh.
The energy of Frogworks and Kaeru Studio is tremendous - my visit was soothing and uplifting at the same time. I'm going to go back tomorrow for some more herb and oil therapy, and I'm sure my body will welcome another dose of healing energy after resting today.
Plans have been made to spend more time at Dark Star, meet another shaman, and allow my body to rest. I'll keep you posted as I continue my adventures, just where I need to be.
People have been asking me for a health update. I've been meaning to write it but so much has been happening creatively and energetically, I've been procrastinating. I mean, who wants to talk about her brain tumor when there are so many other exciting things to do? Seriously.
But it's time. Mostly because I think I've spoken to enough doctors and reiterated the information to enough family members and close friends that I'm actually capable of writing an intelligent update at this point. A week ago, not so much. Who knew that I would someday speak fluent medical-ese?
To get you caught up.
I suffered a seizure almost a month ago when I was home alone. I had stayed up way too late, been working way too hard, and I've been really stressed for over six months now. The seizure, head trauma and resulting swelling caused two mild seizures (for which I was concious) a few days later, the day Boyfriend took me to the ER. A CT scan in the ER revealed that I have a fairly good-sized brain tumor in the right temporal lobe of my brain. I was informed by the ER doc that what I had experienced, both unconsiously and consciously were in fact seizures. I was immediately admitted to the hospital for a week of tests and observation.
What the doctors are saying.
7 out of 8 of my western doctors* agree on the the basics of my situation: The combination of the tumor's presence and my stress level caused the first seizure. The sample taken from my biopsy, the size of the tumor, and my PET scan all indicate the tumor is slow-growing, low-grade, not aggressive, not metabolizing sugar, and only 10% of the cells are reproducing. Surgery and radiation aren't worth the risk at this time. Unless the tumor appears to grow or become more aggressive, it can be monitored very well with MRIs every two months. Oral chemo may shrink the tumor, but there's certainly enough time to feel out more options; there's no rush. All eight doctors do agree that I need to talk to specialists for more information and continue taking Keppra to prevent another seizure. I'm an otherwise healthy 32-year-old woman with a brain tumor.
*The eighth doctor believes that it was solely the brain tumor's presence that caused my seizure. But I KNOW how over-tired and stressed out I've been, so if I get a vote, I'm with the other seven.
What I'm doing for now.
I intend to follow up with the referrals to specialists by my doctors, and whatever tests and MRIs would allow me and my doctors to monitor the tumor. I am staying on the anti-seizure meds for now - my mind has become much clearer over the last week, although I still have to be careful not to try to do too much in any given day.
I have heard many good things about the oral chemo regimen, but will need to do my own research prior to signing on for the ingestion of 2 years worth of chemicals. I've been told that some people have all of the adverse reactions and none of the benefits; some are helped remarkably and have no nausea or side effects.
I've long been a student of metaphysics and alternative therapies, so pursuing alternative and mind-body medicine to treat my condition is an obvious route. I've spoken with many of my metaphysical friends and holistic health care providers for their ideas, support, and energy work. I've been doing some energy work with a magnificent shaman to whom I've just been introduced but have heard about for many months. He has given me homework to do - homework that I've intended to do for a long time anyway, but am now hyper-compelled to do, since being notified that I have a brain tumor. There are no accidents.
I will also be managing my health nutritionally, taking supplements and eating food with anti-cancer and tumor-fighting properties. Most of you know that I lead a fairly healthy lifestyle and eat really healthy anyway. I'll be consulting a nutritionist friend and this book to amp up my nutrition even further. Since my diagnosis I've been craving even more raw, fresh fruits and veggies than normal, so I'm thinking my body already has a good sense of what to do.
I've been doing my energy work, meditation and yoga practice daily. Sometimes I'm joined by Kitty and Boyfriend and it's good to have (even more) support! I've been working less, relaxing more, and writing, writing, writing. I've been allowing myself to breathe and do what I love, and it's resulting in an increased level of synchronicity in my life! Amazing new contacts, dear old friends and fabulous opportunities abound!
Next week I'm headed to Denver to stay with friends for the 2+ weeks Boyfriend will be sailing in New Zealand. I'll be relaxing with friends, both human and equine, and meeting with some healers there.
The picture at right shows the tuber's progression over the last 20 days. My hard work is paying off - you can see that that it's shriveled to a mere raisin of its former, tubular self.
Dr. C, Lisa's neurosurgeon, reported back just after her biopsy: she had no hemorrhaging and doing fine. It looked like the very initial pathology suggested the tumor is not malignant, and there are neurosurgeons who may consider at least part of it operable. Her neurologist's bedside checkup was all normal. And she is all smiles. We'll find out more from the formal pathology report on Monday.
Some of the facts: She has a golf ball sized tumor in her right temporal lobe. Her fall Friday was most likely caused by a seizure brought on by inflammation in the right side of her brain. That seems under control with anti-seizure and anti-inflammatory medication.
She can not drive for at least six months. And of course we're going to limit what we do to lessen injuries if she has another seizure. She will most likely need anti-seizure meds for the rest of her life.
Today we woke up to birds singing, the neighbor dog barking, and the almost overpowering aroma of flowers. We've had about 14 hours of sleep, and breakfast on the screen-porch where she said: "Everything is different now. I don't know how to describe it.... The air smells fresher, birds sound better, and I feel so much love and happiness. More love and happiness than I've ever felt."