Coming Face-to-Face With The Enemy

By Friday evening both Gage and Jessica had made it into town but, due to Covid-19 restrictions, visitation was extremely limited. Hospital rules allowed for only two visitors per 24 hrs making it impossible for us to be together so we began our routine of shift changes. Each day I would have one of my children spend the night and Greg would take over in the early morning so he could participate in conversations with the attending physicians.

Jessica's shift was first. Her being there was a great comfort and we talked about the past few days and what the road ahead might entail. She left around midnight with a "to-do list of things that needed to be accomplish prior to her coming back the next morning - most important was to pack my things.

I tried to sleep that night but the days revelations kept me awake. II just couldn't seem to turn my mind off, but who could blame me? My life was changing with every test and every conversation with the doctors and I was struggling to come to terms with the last 24 hours. This very weekend I had been scheduled to be in Arkansas where Jessica and I were going to gift a home to a very deserving veteran [Sgt. Scotty West]. I had been working on this project with Building Homes For Heroes for three years and I couldn't wait to see his family moved in. Now, instead of worrying about how I was going to get 50 flags into rocky caliche, I was worried for my life and I was scared. The images of the MRI kept flashing through my mind. I couldn't understand how this thing could have gone undetected for so long. Looking back, there were some tell-tell symptoms such as night sweats, memory lapses, sensitivity to light, impaired bladder function and recurring headaches but hindsight is always 20/20.

However, my enemy finally had a face, and I was ready to fight it with every ounce of strength I had. The white mass on top of my brain is the tumor and the hook extending down is what protruded into my nasal cavity. Finally, in the early morning hours, I drifted off to sleep and awoke to the sun shining in my window.

That morning, I was able to get out of the itchy hospital gowns and into some of my favorite pajamas and was finally comfortable enough to relax a little. My grandson Dean had asked his mom to give me his favorite Toy Story blanket. This sweet gesture gave me comfort and strength enough to do something I had been dreading - and that was to announce that I would be undergoing brain surgery. I reached out to my friends with the news and the support, encouragement and prayers I received was overwhelming. Even today I look back on that outpouring with a heart of gratitude.

The "highs and lows" during the day as circumstances changed could be pretty extreme. In parallel with the MRI, a full body CAT scan had also been conducted in the early morning hours of Saturday. Later that day, those results came in as "negative" meaning that the scan had not found other anomalies or cancer in my body. My family took this news as over-the-top positive which many of you probably remember from Greg's texts keeping everyone updated. This result, in addition to my surgeon's unofficial assessment that my tumor looked to be benign, put me in a great frame of mind going into the surgery the following Tuesday. As we'll see, the news coming out of the surgery was not what we had hoped.

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