Yesterday was the closest I came to having one of my original seizures - all except the smell aura. It was sickening and terrifying. I forgot how bad those used to feel.
It may be a reaction to my chemotherapy. It may be the tumor continuing to grow despite chemotherapy. I won't know for sure until my next MRI, which will be twelve days before Christmas.
Family members flipped out. If only I hadn't been so cute and cuddly this wouldn't have to be a painful experience for others. If I'd been a little b****ier they could all be working on their "Ding Dong" chorus instead of worrying about me. (But I'll try to stay cute and cuddly just the same.)
My doctor prescribed some Benadryl and an increase in my seizure medication. It helped us have a nice family outing with my brother (Dr. Jim) who is in town for a medical conference and fellowship interview at a time that happens to be the anniversary of his saving my life. The ER doctor who treated me last year assured me that I was not having seizures and that I did not have a brain tumor, and that this would all probably go away and we could laugh about it six months later. My brother insisted that I was having "textbook" seizures that should be explored further, and he gave me the confidence to overcome my intimidation and seek further care, which led to the diagnosis and intervention of the most aggressive kind of brain tumor. Otherwise, I would not have lived six months, because the ER doctor would have killed me with his negligence. So I was happy to be able to at least treat Jim to some fajitas while he is in town. Afterward, he and my husband assisted my dad in giving me a priesthood blessing, and I had a very good night's sleep.
This experience is a reminder of all that is at stake right now: more legs of my "farewell tour", another Messiah performance, Christmas with my family, my book release, my 18+ year honeymoon, time with my children, my independence, my livelihood, my life. My very sense of security. This seizure threat makes me feel like Carol Ann in Poltergeist: "They're ba-a-a-ck!"
As I pondered and wrestled with this latest challenge, I was reminded of Viktor Frankl, the holocaust survivor whose experience is recorded in his book, Man's Search for Meaning. He was deprived of everything: material possessions, family, and security. He lived under constant threat of death as he witnessed the brutality against fellow concentration camp detainees. Yet he concluded that "Everything can be taken from a man but ...the last of the human freedoms - to choose one's attitude in any given set of circumstances, to choose one's own way."
There have been times when I wondered if my ability to keep going is at least partially based on my choice. I know that there is much beyond my control, and I know that ultimately we all die, whether we choose to or not. But I know that I do control and own the decision to "despair and die", or to hang on and hope for the best -- like the apple that has to be shaken off the branch. It is my choice whether to shake my fist at God or to take his yoke upon me so that my burden may be lightened. It is my choice whether to hide under the covers or face the monster head-on (and for those of you who are Lost fans like me, I hope I don't do it Eko-style). It is my choice whether to live poorly or live well, and whether to die poorly or die well.
Today is a new day -- a new gift. I hope that seizing the day today has nothing to do with my brain short-circuiting.