Six years ago today on February 12, 2009 my family of seven had brain surgery…wait it was just I who had the surgery. But all of us continue to feel its effects…even today six years later.
The craniotomy was performed by Dr. Frederick Meyer, Chief of Neurosurgery at Mayo Clinic to remove a peach sized arteriovenous-malformation (AVM) from the left frontal lobe of my brain.
In all likelihood it had been there since birth, but I didn’t know it was there until the morning of October 23, 2008 (Jared’s third birthday) when I had a seizure. For 44 years I had lived without any knowledge of this space invader.
Not a single day, perhaps even waking hour, has passed in the last six years but that my mind has wandered into those traumatic, life-altering, seismic -shifting, and nearly life-ending 46 days at Mayo Clinic in Rochester, MN. Dozens of times every day I am taken back to those challenging days. Yes, still, six years out.
The brain surgery. The temporary loss of right side movement. Temporary loss of ability to speak, with no assurance that either would return. Then along came the massive complications. A temperature spike to 106 degrees and blood infection that nearly did me in. Then blood clots. Then pulmonary emboli. One massive clot in my heart the size of a man’s thumb, and twenty three in my lungs. Coding. Emergency open heart surgery just two weeks after brain surgery…then the long, slow climb back.
My whole family has felt, and continues to feel, the weight, but none more than my wife Karla who stuck by her man and demonstrated to me and the entire world what the covenant of marriage entails. Like most people we took our marriage vows seriously, but who could ever have envisioned the storm that blew through our lives six years ago? “For better or for worse, for richer or for poorer, in sickness and in health.” They are words, but more than just words.
I continue to make progress on the book I am writing about the last six years of our exciting lives. The main focus will be on the five months between discovering this anomaly through the surgery and hospital stay. I am drawing deeply from the blog postings I wrote before the surgery (Nov. 23, 2008-Feb. 11, 2009).
Then during the surgeries and recovery Karla did a tremendous job of keeping the world up to speed on how things were progressing or not. We are approaching 300 posts on the blog that was begun at the beginning of this trial. We wanted to document in real time with real feelings how we were processing all of these things.
Then, on the fifth anniversary of this trial (last year) we blogged in real time over those 46 days, alongside the original posts, to show just how vivid our memories still were over that period of time. Karla added some details and I also share my take on each of those days. Well, okay there were a few days I was truly out of commission. The weird thing about this year is that even the days correspond to one another from six years ago.
So far I have compiled or written about 90,000 words and I hope to finish the first draft by the end of this February.
It was certainly a life shaper! Life is different now. I now have two permanent dents in my skull in which I can balance two hard boiled eggs. How many of you can do that? Yep that’s what I thought.
We are followers of Jesus. This does not mean we have any special exemption from difficulties or problems in this fallen world. On the contrary, one of the least claimed promises of Jesus is found in John 16:34 “In the world you will have tribulation (of all sorts). But take heart; I have overcome the world.”
The glory is in the story…of God and His faithfulness through a fiery trial. Our story could have very easily turned out very differently, with me not even being alive today. But it didn’t. And I’m still alive in spite of the massive odds . Thank you for your faithful prayers during this stormy season.
Thank you God for life. Thank you for every breath. Thank you for the ability to speak, and think, and write. Thank you for the ability to move my limbs at will. Thank you for a great wife and family. Just…thanks.
Filled with thanksgiving,