Monday, July 28, 2008

He Ain't Heavy (his stuff just is!)

I turned 41 on Friday. (Yay!)

I was happy when I turned 40 last year -- something not many 38-year-olds diagnosed with GBM get to do. So turning 41 was even better!

On top of that, I got everything I wanted this year. The birthday itself, of course. And good MRI's all year (so far--praise God)!

I also got my favorite shoes. Not new ones -- just my old favorites that had been hiding from me. They were gorgeous Italian shoes that were a rare find during a garage sale last year, but a common loss in our house. (I swear my epitaph will read, "She couldn't find her shoes.") It drove me nuts, constantly hunting for those shoes for months. For a while I was cruelly teased by the discovery of one shoe. It had separated from its mate, which seemed hopelessly lost. I even tried replacing them, but I could not find their equal in stores.

Then last week I dreamed that I found the other shoe. I woke up and looked under my bed (something I had done many times before) and FOUND IT!

My husband cleaned the house and treated me to three new outfits to go with my shoes. There is a special occasion coming up (I'll talk about it later) and now I have my Barbie clothes for that.

My kids gave me gifts and made me cards. My son's card was "To my speasl, speasl Mom." (His dad later taught him the right way to spell "special.") And my daughter carefully wrote "MOM" on hers -- the first word she's written on her own.

And my brother Jim drove in to town. He and his family are now officially Texas residents, living about twelve minutes from my house, and close to where Jim is setting up his dermatology practice. We spent my birthday emptying the moving truck, which was actually pretty neat. I considered it opening the big, huge present I'd been hoping for all year. (More family living close to me.) We followed that ceremony with lots of revelry, as the remaining non-Dallas-area members of my family also came up to celebrate Jim's arrival, my birthday, my nephew's birthday, my grandmother's birthday (lucky her -- she's turning 89) and some anniversaries.

On Saturday evening I saw the Osmonds wrap up their 50th anniversary tour, and as they sang "He Ain't Heavy, He's My Brother" I thought about how light the moment was for all of us, no matter how heavy the boxes and furniture were. As I thanked my mom and my grandma for being part of the reason for my birthday, I thanked Jim for his life-saving advice nearly three years ago, which is part of the reason I've been lucky enough to have forty-one birthdays.

Thursday, July 17, 2008

The Rest

The word "rest" is on (what's left of) my mind.

Maybe it's because I get to rest from monitoring for three months.
Maybe it's because my son loves to practice the piano, and is still learning about rest values.
Maybe it's because my brother Mike and I were recently discussing our family heritage of sleep deprivation.

And maybe because I was thinking of my 2ofus4now support group and a question that someone asked about why certain factors in her situation couldn't guarantee a particular outcome.

Actually, that question can apply to everyone at some point (or points) in their lives. Sometimes circumstances are predictable (like if you put your hand on the surface of a hot stove, you will feel intense heat). Sometimes, however, we are placed in situations that are very unpredictable and difficult to navigate.

I was also thinking of a recent conversation I had with a friend, who faces overwhelming challenges and heart-wrenching decisions. Sometimes decisions are easy (like, "should I put my hand on the surface of that hot stove?") and some are not -- especially when options seem to be equally good and bad.

As I pondered these conversations, I thought about faith and prayer and righteous desires...and rest. Whenever we have a problem to solve, or a question to answer, or an uncertain future to face, these elements come into play.

We consider our righteous desires. Through study and prayer and pondering with sincere hearts we can understand what things are worthy of our petition.

We put our petition before the Lord in faith that he will hear us. We breathe life into our faith through our works, pursuing with our best efforts the paths and resources that are open to us.

The rest -- well, it's the rest.

(Kind of like how today is a gift -- the "present".)

The rest is out of our hands, and so we don't have to carry it around. It is a chance to rest "the rest" in the sure knowledge that we are loved and cared for, and that we are subject to the will of the Lord, who knows us and loves us. We won't go astray if we are sincerely tring to do our best, and put our complete trust in the Shepherd. We may rest safely in that trust, knowing that even if it is through thorny ways, we will be led to a joyful end.

"Take my yoke upon you and learn of me, for I am meek and lowly of heart, and ye shall find rest unto your souls." (Matthew 11:29)

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

Quarter Rest

Today's MRI was good! Things have remained stable long enough that my "live and look" plan has been extended to three-month intervals!

As long as I remain symptom-free, I am finished with MRI scans for the rest of this quarter. I don't go back until October 14! My son begged me to show him the "pictures" when I got home. He wrote me a note to tell me how happy he was that my pictures looked good. To punctuate it, he taped part of his favorite pencil to the note as my prize.

Recent clinical evidence of a functional brain is useful when I have half-brained moments (like when I went to karate class this evening without my belt). I also realized today that I completely forgot about July 12 being my "...and THIRTY-ONE!" monthly milestone!

(...brief moment of elation to mark that milestone...)

Speaking of half-brained moments, I heard a cute joke today about someone who named their pet zebra "Spot".

And another one about a guy who said he had CDO. "It's like OCD (obsessive-compulsive disorder)", he explained, "but with the letters in alphabetical they should be!"

And I also listened to someone talk about the logic behind selling suitcases at the airport. "Do they really think someone is running around with his arm full of shirts, looking to buy a suitcase?"

Those gave me a chuckle as I went into the tube. It's nice to be able to smile when you're getting your picture taken!

Monday, July 14, 2008

Here I go again!

(My apologies to Whitesnake)

Here I go again on my own,

Goin' through the MRI I've always known.

Thanks to prayers I know I'll never walk alone.

And with what's on my mind,

I ain't wasting no more time!

I'm just another brain in need of rescue,

Riding solo without chemotherapy,

And I'm gonna hold on

For the rest of my days,

'Cause I know what it means

To hope the doctor says the scan looks clean!

Here I go again!

JULY 15, 2008 -- MRI # 19

Tuesday, July 01, 2008

Second = Best

My son's baseball team finished their season tonight with an exciting championship game...

...and took home the second place trophy.

(That's my Jake, front row, third from your right, holding his trophy high in one hand with his Gatorade in his other hand!)

This team has played together since they were four years old, and they work really well together. This season they moved into a tougher league, and they had some challenges to overcome. And despite those challenges, they managed to pull off a great season, and we have enjoyed each moment.

Despite their disappointment over not winning the championship title, they still emerged from the bullpen exuberant over a job well done. They really played their best this season, and that made it so exciting to watch. In my completely objective and unbiased opinion, they were true champions.

Best of all, I spent the season grateful time and again for the opportunity to be in the bleachers, rooting for #8 and getting a wink and a thumbs-up sign from him. Tonight was one of those moments I would never want to miss -- and I didn't!