It’s difficult to comprehend that two full years have elapsed since my brain was taken out of my skull and replaced with a new and better one. Actually that didn’t happen at all. What did happen was that two years ago today I underwent a seven hour surgery to remove an arteriovenous malformation (AVM). An AVM is a confused blob of intertwined arteries and veins as the very name suggests.
Mine was huge by AVM standards…nearly the size of a peach. I figure it took up about one-sixth of the total mass of my brain. The surgeon didn’t remove any actual brain mass. It was never there to begin with! (: You figure out what that means.
Dr. Frederic Meyer, from Mayo Clinic in Rochester MN, performed the surgery using a state of the art million dollar microscope strapped onto his head. And thus began the great adventure. See the summary of Mike’s brain problem if you are interested in reading more about this 46 day stay at Mayo, the loss of speech and movement on my right side, the blood infection, the blood clot(s) in my heart and lungs, the emergency open heart surgery after I coded two weeks after the brain surgery, and the long, slow recovery, and the tick-tock…metronome sound in my brain that no one else could hear that hounded me day and night for a time. Yes, it is grand to be alive! By all conventional wisdom I should not still be alive on this earth. I am a blessed man!
It doesn’t seem like two years ago…It’s all still very fresh…painfully fresh. I wrote one year ago that I had hoped by this time I would be able to go an entire day without thinking about the trauma of those days. I still wake up at night and my mind often goes right back there. I arose at 4:30 a.m. this morning with my mind racing….that’s why I came downstairs to write the bulk of this posting.
A whole day? Nope. Mission failed. Not even close. I can’t manage to go even a single hour without being taken back in my mind to those harrowing days. They are tattooed on my soul with indelible ink. The tattoo is fading a bit but I suspect it will always be there.
Some seem surprised that it has been two whole years since the surgery. Me too sometimes, but other times I feel like I’m Bill Murray in the movie Groundhog Day. I don’t remember how it ends. Does anyone out there remember?
I’m all but certain how mine will end. According to Revelation Ch. 21 it will end ultimately in the New Heaven and New Earth with the glory of God being the all-sufficient light as followers of Jesus live forever in the proximate presence of a God whose imminence, rather than being terrifying, will be all-comforting. There will be no more tears or sadness or mourning or death or AVMs or cancer or….you name it…anything that has to do with this fallen world will be forever done away with.
Karla has been amazing through this whole ordeal and is worthy, I think, of a medal of honor! Thank you to my children, the Crossroad Church Family who cared for my family in many ways, Dean and Kathleen, Ray and Connie, Pastor Rehfeldt, Dick and Marilyn, Kathy, Steve and Denae, and the three Randys each of whom were angels (if angels are “ministering spirits sent to serve for the sake of those who are to inherit salvation” as Hebrews 1:14 says), Kara and Eddie, Betsy and Brandon, Katie, Justin and Kayla, Justin and Cheryl, John, Holly and Taylor, Shirley, Steve and Marla, Tim, Bev and Jeff and Dad, Sister Cashel, Rebecca, Sarah, Stefano, and the rest of the truly amazing staff in the rehabilitation unit at Saint Mary Hospital, Connie, Dave, Dale, the Earlham Community, and all the Drs. and surgeons along the way to whom, in a sense…a very real sense, I owe my very life.
Below are some pictures that are vivid reminders of what a close brush with death I experienced just two years ago. If you are having a bad day these pics should provide a cause for pause….and then praise to a God who still works wonders!
Thrilled to be alive,