Thursday, September 17, 2009

The Lord provides more help for us

I came home after leaving TWS to med evac. They had talked that he might get the Leer jet to Seattle, but the King Air was the one that was available. As I mentioned previously, they had to fly below a certain altitude because it could have been bad for him if they had depressurized. He said they were flying through the valleys, with mountains on both sides. I bet it was a beautiful flight.

He seemed to handle the flight pretty well, but the nurse saw that his oxygen rate would fall if he started to doze off. So they kept him talking. They told him that he was the "healthiest sick person" they had ever had to travel with!

They gave him some trail mix that a nurse had and he drank a coke that I had brought for him. In fact, when I was frantically packing his stuff I remember hollering out "DADDY NEEDS A COKE!" hoing one of the kids would hear and bring one from downstairs(chuckle).

They were able to meet up with the Leer jet in Ketchikan, which was good because the King Air takes a LONG time to fly. What should have been a 4 hour trip would have been 7 or 8. I would have beat him to Seattle, even though my plane took off a couple of hours later (he had already landed by the time I got there later that night).

I went back home again, trying to get my thoughts together. I had typed numerous notes on my iphone, which I was so thankful to have! Ashton had bought it for me because he said that it looked easiest to use....sometimes being technologically inept works in my favor :).

Maj Rowland was working out all my paperwork, and arranged my flight for 7 pm that night. When I got back to the house, Jennifer was making rice in the kitchen and had my kitchen cleaned. The laundry was almost all done, and the kids were so proud of the work they had done. I was so proud of them too!

I had called my neighbor Jeanne and she offered to take care of the cat for me. Though many people offered to take the kids, Jennifer had already decided to take the kids AND the guinea pigs to her house. I shoved stuff in a suitcase as quickly as I could. Jeanne stopped by, as did Stephanie Rowland. I tried to eat a piece of pizza, but I did not have much of an appetite.

Suddenly it was PAST time to get to the airport. Jennifer managed to get kids, luggage for them and myself, and two guinea pigs in her explorer. I have no idea how...the Lord must have altered the laws of physics just for me lolol. On the way to the airport, I tried to organize my purse and take out my pocket knives—I am in Alaska, we have TONS of pocket knives. I still missed two of my favorites which ended up being confiscated by the TSA :(.

TWS’s father had once given us some emergency cash and I was so thankful to have it! I split it up into cash for me, and then gave the rest to Jen for her to use and take home.

On the way to the airport was when I talked to my mom about how I felt. I know I mentioned it in a previous post, but I just want to reiterate: Ever since I was a child, the Lord had been teaching me, guiding me, having me endure things that tested and stretched my heart and mind. Every bad thing that happened since I was a child was now working FOR me. The hateful, cruel bullying I endured as a child gave me the defense mechanism of being able to isolate, to wall off emotion. The thoughts of an overactive imagination of a child about the end of the world, of death, of war were a constant training for a REAL battle. I was facing a crisis in my life, but I had faced crises in my head for years. It was not new ground to me.

I think that boggles my mind the most. When a crisis hit, it was not new, it was not novel. It was....familiar. I had been in that moment before, though mostly in my imagination, dreams, nightmares. I had also faced crises in real life: tornadoes spinning over my house, earthquakes, volcanoes, hurricanes, typhoons, accidents, etc.

So when I found myself facing another crisis, the Lord had already strengthened me for it. He had already prepared me for this battle, by arming me and training me from childhood.

In fact, when I came home, long after the surgery was done, I found myself restless. Honestly, I felt better being challenged than I did at rest. Being at rest makes me restless, if that makes sense. I DEFINITELY do not want any more harm to befall us! NOT AT ALL! But I wonder if maybe I might have been good as a paramedic or search and rescue or someone else who spent their lives in the middle of crises.

I know I am belaboring this point. I had basically said all this in another post. It just is so important to me. It is a key that puts order in my life. This is helping me learn that the next time tragedy befalls, that I need to try to look at it through the eyes of faith to ask "How is the Lord going to use this for my good? How can I glorify Him in this?".

A Poignant Picture

In the ER, we were in a quiet room. Jeff somehow got on base and was able to sit with TWS as I was at home getting his things together. That meant a great deal to me. Jeff is an ordained pastor, and, while he is new and not our pastor, it was so interesting to me to think of Jeff as being there in a pastoral mode, providing comfort to TWS. I don’t know, it just meant a lot. I was disappointed when he left, though I am sure he just wanted to give us some time alone.

I remembered that my cell phone takes pictures. I wanted to take a picture of us together, as this might be our last one. I did not say that to TWS, but I think he knew. We knew a lot more than we were saying at that time, mostly about fear and what we were feeling. I am still amazed at the calmness of the whole thing, as if they had told TWS that he was perfectly healthy, just needed a check up or something.

The med evac team came. They were wonderfully sweet and loaded him up onto a gurney. I had been afraid that they wanted me to come on a helicopter with them, or in a cramped plane. I would have in a heartbeat, but it made me nervous. However, there was no room for me, so I would have to fly commercial. I hated being away from him, but he looked so healthy and normal, that it was not a major stress for me to take a different plane.

He was wheeled out of the ER and I went home.

What I was afraid might be our last picture together.

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

The Lord Provides Good Babies

I then called my folks and told them. My dad, in a bit of uncharacteristically rough vernacular said that “This scares me poopless.”. I chuckled a little and said “That’s funny, because it makes me want to tee.”. For some reason, that interplay of words still strikes me as funny.

They were visiting my brother in Virginia, but they offered to fly out, to do whatever they needed to. However, at the time there was nothing for them to do. I was not even sure what *I* was doing at that point.

Now, during this time, I was driving down a road that was posted for 55 mph. But for some reason that I cannot fathom, the two cars ahead of me were only going 45. Now one was a truck filled with roof trusses, but I assumed that we would go faster when they turned off. NO! EVERY car was going 45 mph THE WHOLE WAY HOME. And when I say the whole way home, I mean one slow car even turned down our street! I have never experienced that before in my life—no traffic to speak of, no weather, midday, and no reason to go 45 mph. I honestly wondered if perhaps I was just losing mental ground from the shock and was just imagining that cars were going that slowly. Was I going crazy?

What do I tell the kids? I had always maintained that honesty was the best policy, and I would not say “Oh daddy is fine…we are just spontaneously flying out to Seattle for a checkup.”. No, that would not do. I never lied about Santa, the tooth fairy, or the Easter bunny, I was not going to lie to them about something so important.

I walk into the house and, still mindful that his med evac plane could arrive at any moment, talked to the kids. I told them that daddy has a brain tumor, that we have to fly to Seattle to get it removed. I told them that I had to pack for daddy and that I needed them to help with the work. I told them to pack as if they were going to Seattle for a week, to clean the guinea pig cages, to clean the cat litter, and to start the laundry. I put on my best, encouraging, coaching/drill sargeant voice--upbeat and caring, but no-nonsense and brisk.

They were amazing, thank the Lord! It was as if the Lord kept all of us calm and relaxed. No tears, no hysterics. They were shocked, of course, but then jumped into action in the middle of the crisis. They were just as brisk and businesslike and upbeat as I had tried to be for them. They were incredible troopers.

Leaving them downstairs to get organized, I got the bag out for TWS's stuff and started packing. I soon realized that I put NINE pairs of gym shorts in there for him. Nine. Like he was going to go to the gym nine times after brain surgery. Plus I was going to rapidly run out of room! I removed some of the shorts, and raced around looking for the other clothing and books and electronics that he had requested.

Jen had not arrived by the time I was ready to leave. I hated leaving the kids alone at this time, but I had to get the stuff to TWS. They were doing well, though. I drove back to base.

The Lord Had Brought Training

I had told TWS that I would call his folks, but was afraid. How do you tell a mother that her only son has a brain tumor? Even now, weeks later, I feel my pulse quicken and the pit in my stomach just thinking about it. However, I could not get a hold of them. I tried their home number, and could not reach them. I think I tried his dad's cell as well, each ring of the phone making my stomach more nauseated with sorrow and anxiety for them. I was frustrated by the fact that I could not reach them, and mournful, and honestly, a little relieved.

I hung up, and I thought of how I was going to react, what I was going to do. The one good thing about being someone who both majored in psychology AND fancies themselves scientifically minded is that you automatically take quiet moments to rehash, rehearse, and analyze crises and your reactions to them.

Sometimes this just means that you spent your whole day staring at your belly button with nothing to show for it. But this time it was powerfully helpful. I asked myself: "How am I going to handle this? What are my feelings? What are my choices?".

I also asked myself "How would my parents handle this?". I knew the answer: they would be strong, be faithful. I had seen their faith in God in time of crisis. When my mother was diagnosed with stage 4 breast to bone cancer, they were strong. My mom endured without complaint, with dignity, courage, and faith that the Lord was in control. For my father, the battle was harsher. Honestly, it is one thing to be the sick person, it is another to be the well person watching your mate, your life, your love laying in bed and in pain. It is helpless and awful to be the one who has to watch as your world crumbles around you. My mom is my dad's world, his entire world.

I remember coming in to the study just a couple of weeks after her diagnosis. We had just moved in to our house in Alaska, but they flew me back immediately, as they did not think she would last two weeks. My dad had been crying. His eyes were wide with torment and begging as he turned to me and said "What am I supposed to do? Tell God that I do not trust Him now? I have to trust God now. If I don't, then all of my teaching is a lie. All that time teaching cadets about God was wasted. Faith in good times is NOT faith.". Even in his anguish, he understood that the Lord is the Lord of all. (Praise the Lord that He had mercy on us and she is happy and healthy to this day!).

No, they would not fall apart. Mom probably would be the most stoic--steady and calm. Dad would be a force of nature, trying to make things HAPPEN, to try to MAKE the universe obey his will. They would handle this crisis with grace and power and determination. I had to live up to that. I could not be less than what they would have been, it would have been too shaming.

It was this moment that the Lord was bringing me to a culmination of my life. A couple of hours later I would realize this consciously, but right then, instinctively, the Lord had me choose well. I could separate the emotion from the duty. Or rather, I could choose the emotions of faithfulness and determination over the emotions of terror and sorrow.

I had a choice, but really I didn't. I had been trained by Him through my parents. Once you know there is a choice, that one is better, you are morally bound to take that choice. I am not a great person, but the Lord showed me right from wrong, and gave me parents who insisted I choose right from when I was a kid. I was raised in a household with incredible expectations and examples of behavior.

The thing is, though, that I am not a strong woman. Stubborn? Oh yeah :). But not strong, not noble, not self sacrificing. I am weak, selfish, petulant. But *HE* made me able to endure, gave me strength. There is nothing good in me, nothing at all, that the Lord did not put there. I deserve no credit at all, and I speak this from the position of someone being in that moment and had seen clearly what He has done in her life. It was not me at all. It was Him. I have spent many years of my life agonizing, literally, over what glass in the cabinet to drink water from. I do not have faith enough for daily life sometimes!! But He gave me faith and strength for this crisis. He trained me for this.

Later when talking to my mom, I would try to explain this. I told her "I was created for THIS moment. My whole life was planning for this. This is the culmination of my existence. This is what I was made for.".

All of this "training" started when I was young. There are many things in my childhood that had left deep and painful wounds that had never really quite healed (until now, that is). I was brutally teased as a child...even to the point where two teenaged boys burned the back of my leg with a lighter as a joke. I was spat upon, had things stolen from my hands. I was mocked and betrayed. I had no defense because I had no idea that you could build walls, put on a game face. I was, by nature, transparent through and through. A bully saying "I hate you" went just as deeply as my parents saying "I love you". I had no filter, no discernment. And when you hear "You're ugly, we don't like you, go away" every day...well even if you did not know the person who said it, their words were just as hurtful as if they had been your best friend. There were times when I would come home crying every day.

I had no defense to keep the barbs from piercing my heart, but I subconsciously did develop a way of distancing myself after the fact. The emotional wounds were still there, but I knew how to splint the wound enough to keep functioning. I learned how to take a punch and keep walking.

(I do have to say here that the Lord was merciful, even during this time. He always made sure that I had at least one TRUE friend who loved me. I was never utterly alone.)

The Lord also showed me how another part of my childhood was a training for this moment. Many people live their lives in a relatively comfortable and stable setting. They are born, live, die all in the same area. Their parents have regular jobs. They have a home, and they live there, and it is pretty safe.
The world is what happens on the playground, in the home, in the town, and war was something very far away.

For me, war was on my front step every single day. I mean, you already can see that I am an overthinker, and was extremely sensitive :). Imagine that coupled with the fact that the rhythm of your family's life was set to the drumbeat of war. Instead of life centering around homecoming queens, it was centered around heroes coming home. My dad's "business trips" meant that we might not seen him for months. I was used to armed guards patrolling behind our house and the whine of alert klaxons. Our bookshelves were filled with Sun Tzu and Clauswitz. Wars, past, present and future, surrounded me every day since birth.

Millions of other kids grew up on military bases. Probably most children never thought a thing about it. I did. Some people shrug off, but I tend to want to stare into the abyss that is staring at me. The same transparency and vulnerability I had at school, I had in this. This upbringing was normal to me, but it left me no protective bubble of life. There was no "home", just another place to live for a year or three. There was no same set of people I knew for years. There was no peace, only a temporary cease-fire. There was very little stability. Other people have roots in the land, I had feathers in the air. I was not tied down, but I was also buffeted by every wind current.

However, I was not upset like I was at school. It made me proud, made me feel like part of something great--freedom and justice for those who could not protect themselves. I felt that "small town 4th of July" pride. There are few jobs that call for more sacrifice than the military, for both the military member and the family. It made me strong. But it also made me understand that life was fragile and precarious. Again, there was no ideal of "birth, graduate, marry your hs sweetheart, have babies, retire, then die in bed when you are 90". Life was so much more complex than that. It was politics and casualties and mercy and rescue and honor.

Maybe this is why I had been so fascinated with crisis. When I was...oh probably younger than 8, I started collecting first aid and catastrophe pamphlets from the Red Cross tables at fairs. You know, those ones with stick figure drawings telling you how to duck and cover during an earthquake or how to treat a broken arm? I kept them in a big bag and that was my pleasure reading. (yes, I was a weird headed little kid! lol)

There was a constant current in my childhood of the threat of the Russians attacking, of war. Many Sundays we would be in chapel, and suddenly the aircrews' radios would go off. We would stop and watch as they would file out slowly and somberly and quietly from their reserved pew in the back of the chapel. Sometimes my dad would be with them too, if he was on alert. We would not know if it was real or an exercise, we just knew that something had happened. They drifted out of the room like ghosts, leaving us there to wonder, fear, and pray in earnest. Can any child see the men leave, to know what that meant, and not be affected? I never knew if they were leaving due to exercise or to fight, and as a child, your thoughts naturally go to fear. How many times did I watch my dad go off to war, find that it was an exercise, only to have him go off to war again another time?

Or I think of when we would visit my dad at the alert facility where the aircrews stayed so they could scramble quickly to the airplanes if there was a threat. On Sunday, after church, the families could come. We would bring food from the base bowling alley: truly the most awful hamburgers ever made (ugh I hated those things!), and the most wonderful fries. We would gather at a plain, cinderblock building by the runway. The adults would stay inside and chat, while the kids would play in the small yard enclosed with high fences topped with razor wire. Such a familial gathering in a setting that was a constant reminder of of war, fear, and the transience of life. I can remember the smell and taste of the hamburgers, how I would scrape the soggy bun from the patty with my thumbnail, and how I could usually not bear to eat it, but would just eat the fries. I remember the flat of the ground, the blue of the sky, and the wind. I remember thinking it was beautiful but also....weighty? Poignant? Expectant? Sobering.

In both cases, the men going straight from church to war, and being a child visiting her father in a concertina wire rimmed yard, there was such an unreasonable juxtaposition of life and loss, family and war, faith and fear. No separation between. No clear battle lines, and behind which, safety. Not loss and then life, not fear and then faith, but fear upon faith, loss upon life, family upon war. A Cold War that raged in the experiences, the sensations, the mind and heart of me as a young girl.

It is the same juxtaposition of our experiences the day of diagnosis. A tumor upon a sinus infection. My husband, the picture of health, save a few headaches, being med evac’d from Alaska a thousand miles away. Him strong enough to build a deck, but too fragile in health to come pack his own socks for the trip.

In fact, the doctors all marveled at his robustness. They would pop their heads in the ER. They came to see the man who should be seizing or in a coma, but was strong and healthy. Mostly these tumors are caught in the ER when the patient is brought in tragically ill, not through a half moon infringement upon the CT scan of a strong man’s sinuses. (the tumor was the size of a ping pong ball, but only the side of it was visible in the CT scan--another miracle of the Lord! If it had been somewhere else, they might not have caught it!). He was, as the med evac troops put it, "the healthiest sick person they had ever transported". He was healthy enough to walk off the transport by himself, but too sick for them to fly above a certain altitude, so they had to wind their way through the valleys and canyons of Alaska wilderness.

And then there is me. So swayed at one point by OCD and panic disorder that I had been housebound for months in my life years earlier, yet so full of strength through the Lord, that I could fly down to Seattle with barely a thought. Later on my father would tell TWS "She handled this better than she handles her day to day life!", and he was utterly correct. The crisis was extreme, and so was the preparation that the Lord put me through for it. I had not known why the Lord had me endure so much strife until that VERY MOMENT when crisis struck. I had already lived through a million crises in my imagination, in my dreams, in my life. When the time came, His molding of me had been so complete that my reaction was automatic. The Lord ensured that I could be capable, able, strong FAR beyond my ability to be so.

I could see then how He had created, fashioned, molded my life for this moment. It was like a scene from a movie where the amnesiac has a sudden rush of memories and understanding of who they are. THAT was me. I did not have amnesia, of course, but there was that same rush of memories and understanding.

The Lord showed me that He DOES work everything out for the good of those who love Him, who are called according to His purpose. (Romans 8:28). Every hardship that I had endured, that we all endure, prepares us for some time later in our lives. He never lets anything be wanton or useless in our lives. Even things that the enemy is trying to use to hurt us, the Lord, in His kindness, allows even those things to be used for good.

Not only that, but the pain that haunted me for years, even until this year, was erased. Those wounds healed instantly when the Lord showed me how He had turned that pain into strength. I was weak, now I am strong. I was wounded, now I am healed. I was broken, but He made me whole.

Please think about that. Think about your past hurts and understand that the Lord will bring about good in your life from those things. You might not have a spouse with a brain tumor or anything like that, but hopefully you will get a chance to see how the Lord has taken every hurtful thing in your life to create good for you. You will see the culmination of your life. You will pull sweet fruit from a bitter tree!! Suddenly nothing will be meaningless. Nothing will be useless or unfruitful. Suddenly you are not a victim anymore. No, you are no longer a victim. You are victorious in Christ. You will understand and praise the Lord. :)

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

The Lord's Provision of True Friends

I could not get a hold of Ash's folks, so I called our friends, Jeff and Jen. I could not get a hold of Jen, so I ended up calling Jeff at work.

He immediately said he was going to leave work and get on base. I was not sure how he was going to get on base without a sponsor, but he said for me not to worry about it, he would get on somehow. I will be honest, I was hoping he was not going to try to sneak on or anything. :) He also gave me Jennifer’s cell phone number.

Just two days previously, she and I had taken the girls to this year’s botanical gardens tea. The theme was 50’s for the 50th anniversary of statehood for Alaska. I had two dresses that I had bought that she and I wore (same style, different colors), and I had made all three girls coordinating poodle skirts. I had sewn for days making crinolines and skirts and dolling up gloves and making scarves for pony tails. My house was a mess, but the tea had been a blast (though it was very cool and rainy that day!).

She had mentioned that she wished there was something she could do to repay me for that (she will probably rethink saying that in the future! lol). Truly she did not need to, it was my pleasure! However, I did think of something she could do. My house was in dreadful disarray, and I had this horrible vision of my folks or TWS's folks coming to my house. When I called her, I said “Hey Jennifer, remember when you said that you wanted a way to repay me…did you mean it?”. She said she did, so I said “PLEASE come clean my house!”. It was such a mess as I had not done any cleaning, just sewing, for days. Fabric was still strewn everywhere. I had rolls of tulle that my cat had played in. I had laundry backed up because I was sewing. I hated to ask, but I was desperate! She promised she would load up the kids and come help me.

The Lord Brings An Angel

Soon a tech came with a wheelchair and put TWS into it. He said that he was being taken to the emergency room. The neurosurgeon, Dr. Ha, had wanted TWS med evac’d ASAP to Seattle.

It was odd in the ER… people kept asking him how he felt. Had he had any seizures? No, no seizures. We found out later that most people find out they have this after coming to the ER with seizures or in a coma, apparently. TWS was the picture of health, though with occasional bad headaches. We had just put a deck on the playhouse a week or so before this started!

As we sat in the ER, he gave me a list of things for me to run home and get for him. I did not want to leave him, of course, but I also wanted to do a good job. I took copious notes. We did not talk about "what if", we just talked about "need for Seattle", and most of that was just clothes and entertainment like the laptop, the ipod, etc. We did not have much time--I was not sure what time the med evac plane was going to arrive. It was entirely possible that I might not make it back in time and would have to carry his things with me to Seattle.

I gave him a kiss and headed out to pack him up.

Walking to my car, I called Major Rowland. I did not know exactly how to bring everything up, how to say “He has a brain tumor and is being med evac’d”. I remember that I was fairly calm, but my hands were shaking as I looked for something to write with. I was irritated that I could not find a pencil to write down her numbers--I carry a large backpack filled with everything from my wallet to an inflatable beach ball, but I could not find a freaking PEN?? That was ridiculous!

I did find a pencil but it was broken, so I squatted down and scraped it on the concrete to try to sharpen it there in front of the hospital. I made a note to always keep pens in my purse.

Talking to her was so weird, so….I don’t know. It was not bad, but I mean, this is major news and we do not get practice in our lives of how to deliver these things, you know? However, she immediately jumped into nurture mode for me and for TWS. She also jumped into logistics mode and intel mode (smile).

I must praise the Lord for such an honorable woman. She was instrumental in making sure I had a car, a plane ticket, a hotel, everything. She did all the things that I would have NO idea how to start doing, and had no time to do. She ended up being the gatekeeper, not giving out my number unless she thought the people had a VERY good reason to call and would not disturb me. She was a blessing and a mercy and an angel. I praise the Lord over and over for her. I hope she understands what she has done for us, how the Lord used her mightily. It might not seem mighty to her, but to a woman whose life just got up-ended, she was an angel.

I could not leave the parking lot until I got off the phone with her--rules of the base about not driving with a cell. That also meant that I could not call anyone else until after I got off base. That gave me a little time to think and pray, which I was thankful for. I will be honest, I have no idea what I prayed. It was not one of those prayers that feel like true communion with the Lord, I do not think. I think it was probably more scattered and distracted. I do not know, I can't remember. I would hope that it was a mighty prayer said in full assurance of faith, but I am pretty sure it was half prayer, half random thoughts in my head.

The Lord brings things into focus

On Monday morning, TWS went for the CT scan at the Army base. He came back home, changed into his blues, and went to work at the Air Force base he normally works at. Not long after he left, the phone rang with someone from radiology looking for TWS. I gave him some numbers to try. A little while later, TWS called and told me that he had to go back to the Army base for another CT scan. He asked them when they wanted him to schedule an appt, and they said “We need you to get here as soon as you can.”. At that point we realized there was something amiss. TWS talked to the PA who told him, after joking a bit “There is an abnormality between the ears”.

He was going to come back home and change into his fatigues, as this would be more comfortable in the scanner than the blues. I got dressed just in case he wanted me to go with him this time. I asked him if he wanted me to, and he said it was up to me. I told him it was up to him, and he said “Yeah, why don’t you come along this time.”. I am so glad he said that!

He was told that there was an abnormality in the cat scan and they would have to do a CT scan with a contrast dye. I waited in the large waiting room, waving at a little toddler and playing on my cell phone. Eventually TWS came out to get me after the CT scan and we were brought to a smaller waiting room off of the hallway. TWS and I sat there, mostly quiet. I played a flying game on my cell phone. I think TWS played free cell. Dr. Abbott came up to us and said "Well, there's a tumor". He said he had a phone call into a neurosurgeon and would come back to talk with us. TWS and I sat there trying to process the information. I was trying to summon faith, I think. Or maybe I was just having an adjustment reaction. Neither of us panicked or cried or anything of that sort. We were mostly pretty quiet. It was very surreal.

The Lord Brings A New PA

Now, there are many hidden blessings in this process, but this is a big huge one: our regular PA, the one who told TWS that he had allergies, was unavailable, so TWS got an appointment with a different PA. This fellow was older, serious, and most of all, LISTENED.

TWS told him the “regimen” I had put him on. The PA seemed interested and asked if I had medical training. TWS told him “No, but she is a hobbyist.” (gee thanks hon! Hee hee!).

The PA explained that he usually had a few “tiers” of medicine he used to try to treat these sorts of things. The first was a mild antibiotic (for sinus infection) and antihistamine. The next was a stronger antibiotic, etc. However, after listening to TWS talk about his symptoms, he decided to try one round of strong antibiotics, coupled with zyrtec, and see if that helped.

Ten days later, he was no better. Thank the Lord, the PA “just knew” that something did not seem right and decided to send him for a CT scan of his sinuses instead of trying more medicines. Talking to the PA later, he said that it was the vision changes that were out of place with an allergy attack. This was one of the most obvious, God-driven steps that the Lord had arranged which led us to a diagnosis.

The beginning of our journey....

Praise the Lord…my husband had a brain tumor.

That probably sounds awful. It seems bad to type it. But bear with me, this will make sense by the end of this and in the end, I know you will agree with me and praise the Lord with me for my husband’s brain tumor.

Where to begin….

The short story is “He had a sinus infection that was not a sinus infection.”. My husband had been having headaches and stuffiness in his head for over a year now. He is not prone to headaches, but you know how when you get allergies, sometimes the stuffiness can make your head hurt a little bit.

We live in Alaska. We moved there 10 years ago, and, though none of us had ever had seasonal allergies, we all seemed to get them occasionally in Alaska. I personally chalk it up to us being from the south and our bodies used to southern pollen, not the birches and spruce and various other allergens. I could be wrong and it is because we are getting older, but I like my explanation better.

Anyway, last year my husband went to the physician’s assistant that we had been assigned to in the military. He basically told TWS “You have allergies, there is nothing I can do for you.”. TWS was given some medication and sent home.

If you have read my blog, you know that this past year has been exceptionally stressful. We had a death in the family--my wonderful grandmother to whom I had promised that I would be moving from Alaska. I promised her for ten years, and had never made it home. Her death left me mournful and sorrowed. She was one person of very few people whom I truly believed loved me unconditionally.

Please allow me a moment to tell you about this wonderful, beautiful woman who has been gone a little over a year now.

She had been a beauty when she was young, and was still amazingly beautiful as she got old.

She was gentle and notional and would lean back and clap her hands together as she laughed.

Oh her poor hands! I would rub her hands with lotion from time to time, as they were crippled and swollen from arthritis. I did not do that nearly enough. She has the softest skin of anyone I have ever seen. Even newborn babies do not have as delicate, beautiful skin as she had.

I also enjoyed polishing her silver when we came to visit, as I knew that no one else would get around to doing that for her. I thought it made her happy.

She was very much a southern woman. She had lipstick in her car, in her bathroom, in the kitchen, in her purse, in the living room, and by her bed so that she was never without. Like most Louisiana women of a certain age, she loved to watch the braves play, and she drove a Cadillac. She drank coffee all day and into the night, though the coffee was weak as could be.

Also, she got her hair done every week at the beauty parlor, a custom I find TERRIBLY endearing! She enjoyed wearing some blue mascara that I had bought once. She was fluffy and pink cheeked and smelled of fresh flowers.

She was terribly brave, because she was so terribly fearful. She hated to be alone at night. If I had known that, I would have stayed over more often. I never knew and she never told me.

I miss my grandmother.

Anyway, we also had had two major setbacks for TWS professionally, and one sudden decision that left us wondering what he had done to deserve these things. He had given so much to the job and the people in his job, but he was the one who seemed to be "forgotten" for things that were the natural progression for his career. Of course, the Lord works EVERY SINGLE THING out for the good of those who love Him, I know that, but you know how hard it is to see the rainbow when you are stuck in the flood. I need to work on that aspect of my faith.

His headaches were more frequent, but we chalked that up to stress of his professional life, upcoming deployment, difficulties at work, that virus that we all had almost two years ago that lasted almost a year. I should have realized that something was wrong. He was NOT one to get headaches. He almost never got them until last year, but there was always a reasonable explanation for him to be having a headache.

However, starting in about Feb or March of this year, his headaches would suddenly become very, very severe. He would have a build-up of a few hours, and then the headache would be overwhelming—making him pale and sweaty and weak. We tried to give him antihistamines, nasal spray, etc, thinking it was a severe sinus attack. Those things, combined with rest, seemed to get him over the bouts. He would take medication then go rest. Once he would awake from his nap, the headache seemed to be better.

His headaches were happening more on the weekdays than the weekends. I was wondering if they were due to some exposure at work to something, or due to stress, or change in eating habits. I was giving him Benadryl at night, Vitamin D, and Claritin during the day. That seemed to help slightly for a little bit.
Finally, though, the headaches were getting more frequent and more severe. They were affecting his vision, and he was becoming unable to go a whole week without having one.

He finally called for another appointment.

Thought I would tell the story...

Of TWS's brain tumor and our experience, but most of all, how the Lord is merciful and kind, especially in our moments of crisis and weakness....