Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Wednesday Update

Well, not too much more to report this week. We still await results from the chromosomal analysis. That should be any time now. On Monday night, Brian's neurosurgeon, as well as both oncologists met at "Tumor Board." This is a weekly meeting of the great minds to discuss individual cases and treatment plans. Even though we don't follow up with the surgeon until March 13th, we do meet with the medical oncologist next week and I am encouraged that he will have familiarized himself with Brian before we even get there. I am anxious for more information and a treatment plan.

One small relief is that Brian's staples are out! We went to the clinic yesterday in the morning for the removal. We were both nervous that it would hurt. I gave him two pain pills without him asking for them even, just incase. But, the nurse assured us that it wouldn't hurt. Besides the few staples down by his ear, it was relatively painless! I was so grateful since there were so many.

In non-cancer news, I am trying to keep up with school. Luckily, I am only taking two classes this semester. One online and one on campus. My online class is psychology which has always come pretty easy to me. It's Adulthood and Aging specifically and it is very interesting. My other class is Anatomy and Physiology, and I have learned that you can't go a full two weeks without opening the book in there! We have our unit 2 test today and I really should be studying for that this morning.

I took the test. It was a disaster I am sure, but I plan on getting back on track for unit 3. 

Its hard for me to keep my fears at bay during this time. There are some big scary thoughts running through my mind, but my goal is to live each day to the fullest and take advantage of the time I have with Brian when he is feeling good. On that note, a couple small things to be grateful for.

1. My sis got me some chewy spree. My favorite candy. I found the HUGE bag this morning. I had almost forgotten about it so I brought it to work with me today.

2. I noticed this morning that it is starting to get light earlier little by little. I am really thankful for longer days on their way.

That is all for now, but there is a huge present for Brian coming today that I will fill everyone in on with pictures soon!

One last look with 41 staples...

...and after staples!!!

Saturday, February 25, 2012

Not the best news...

...but not the worst either.

Thursday our pathology came back on Brian's tumor. I just couldn't post that day because I was very upset as this was not the news we had hoped for. Brian's tumor is called an oligoastrocytoma. It originates from two cells in the brain, oligodendroglial cells and astrocytes. Stages I and II are considered low grade and III and IV are high grade. We were hopeful that we were looking at a low grade tumor since the initial pathology came back low grade, but as I mentioned, Dr. Tsung said there were some suspicious areas. Unfortunately Brian's tumor is stage III which constitues high grade.

I feel like we keep getting to these forks in the road with good news in one direction and bad news in the other. At first after the seizure and CT they said it could just be an infection, or it could be a tumor, and it was a tumor. Then it could be a totally benign tumor or it could be malignant, and its malignant. Then it could be low grade or high grade and its high grade. Its frustrating to keep getting the bad news, but after a few days of processing, and seeing Brian improve so quickly after surgery, I have my hope back.

Some good news is that this is a primary brian tumor which means that it originated in the brain and did not metastasize from somewhere else. We are still trying to decide if we want to do a full work up with Brian's Primary Care Physician just to be sure, but our doctor's are certain that because of the cell type we don't have to worry about cancer anywhere else.

Our next step will be to meet with both a medical oncologist and a radiation oncologist in a couple weeks. As usual, I feel overwhelmed by this sudden life change, but I am so grateful for the support of our family and friends. I haven't made a meal this week and we have had so much yummy food! Brian's parents left for Virginia early this morning, but I know they will be back and forth a lot in the coming months. It was nice to have some company and Brian's mom was so helpful keeping the dishes and laundry caught up so I could just come home and be with Brian.

We are also grateful for the cards and phone calls. Its fun to get stuff other than bills in the mail!

I am going to wrap up for now. Joe, one of my dearest friends asked if he could take us to dinner tonight so we are going to get out of the house for awhile and have some fun.

Thank you for your continued prayers.


Friday, February 24, 2012

Some pictures...

Brian before surgery. All marked up for the MRI.

After Surgery. Still managing a smile.

Jack doing what he does best.

Jack on Saturday when Brian came home. He stayed like this a long time.

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

A Love Story: Part 2

So, this morning I left off with early 2006.

Brian and I both dated other people. He dated a few, I dated a lot, haha. He was always in the back of my mind though because he was just the one I loved. I never knew what love was until I loved him. And try as I might, I couldn't really envision myself with anyone else. Over the next three years we kept in touch via email periodically. One time in 2008, we even got together and talked about what it would be like to be together again. For various reasons, we decided at that point that we wouldn't try to make it work, but I started having that ache for what we had before. There were many times when we didn't like each other, but deep down we always loved each other. Once you experience that kind of love it stays with you always.

In May of 2009, I had just broken up with someone I had been seeing for about eight months. I had received an email from Brian a month or so before telling me that he was living in Virginia again.  I was bummed about my break up, but I knew it was the right thing to do, and then I had a dream about Brian. Those who know me well won't be surprised by this because I have intense and vivid dreams all the time. Its one of my favorite reasons to sleep.  This particular night, I was dreaming that I was riding in a car with my ex and we were arguing. I remember looking out the window and when I looked back, Brian was driving the car. I felt an overwhelming rush of relief at seeing him, and it was one of those dreams where you wake up longing for more.

At work that day, I wrote an email to Brian. I wanted to let him know that I was thinking about him and that I hoped he was doing well and getting settled into school or whatever he was doing in Virginia. I didn't anticipate anything really coming of it, I just had him on my mind and wanted him to know.

The next day I was at the front desk at work and I looked up and Brian was walking through the door. My heart literally skipped a beat when I saw him. I couldn't believe he was standing there. He asked me if I had some time to get together after work and I said yes. When I got off we just sat and talked. If you know him, you know that he is the opposite of me. He is logical, I am emotional, he has plans, and I have freak outs. Brian doesn't believe in soul mates in the traditional sense. And he told me as much, but he said he couldn't believe the sequence of events the day before.

I emailed him during the day. He had just barely moved back to Illinois. He was just feeling like he  should be back in Illinois but he didn't know why. The night I emailed him, he was at Wal-Mart picking up some stuff and he was in the parking lot thinking about me. He said he was going to get in his car and drive up to my mom and dad's house and tell me I needed to break up with my boyfriend because there is no way he could love me as much as Brian did. He decided such an impulsive declaration wouldn't be the best idea so he went home and when he sat down to check his email and  he saw my letter. The timing of everything seems very romantic to me.  Finally after three and a half years we were on the same page.

I didn't really deal well for a long time after Brian and I broke up initially. Nothing bad happened between us, but when I realized what a mistake it was that we weren't together, I was really heartbroken. Without knowing what was going on with me emotionally, all my friends and family saw was me falling apart afterward.  So needless to say, everyone was shocked when I announced after a few weeks that we were back together. Very slowly but surely people started to realize that I was happy again and that it was because of Brian.

Falling back into a routine with Brian was easy. I didn't need to fall back in love with him becuase I had really never stopped loving him. We had all of the old little things in common still, and any other issues that we used to have had been reconciled in the interim. We became serious very quickly. We visited Virginia again in summer 2009 and I was welcomed lovingly back into his family. 

In November of 2009 we visited Chicago to see the Chicago Symphony Orchestra. Its one of our favorite things to do for a day trip. We had dinner at a upscale chinese restaurant called Ben Pao and my fortune cookie that night read, "a sweet surprise awaits you" and it did. In the gallery at they symphony center Brian asked me to marry him. I said yes and we spent the next eight months planning our very simple and intimate wedding. We got married on July 17th, 2010 and it was easily the happiest day of my life.

Not many pictures exist from Brian&Lindsey 1.0, but we have a lot from the spring when we got back together.

Looking back I can see all the unique and special ways that our Father in Heaven had a part in guiding Brian and I back to each other. I am so glad that we made the decision to be together again. It reminds me of a quote I read in a talk by President Thomas S. Monson, "Choose your love, and love your choice."

I am so happy loving my choice.


A Love Story...Eat your heart out Nicholas Sparks.

It looks like my blog may be making its way around and I want people to know who they are praying for. Brian is waking up in the middle of the night each night for pain meds and then we talk while he falls back to sleep. Last night he said he never imagined he could be so happy in the midst of such misery. We were talking about when we got back together, so I thought maybe I would share a little bit of our love story.

Brian and I met in January 2004.  We were taking a political science class at ICC with a Mr. Jim Thomas. He was a real riot of a teacher. I just remember he was really opinionated, but ask Brian what his opinions were because I can't remember. I was just nineteen and Brian was twenty-one and had just returned from serving a two year mission in Brazil for our church the previous October. His family had moved from Virginia Beach to Peoria while he was on his mission because his dad got a job at the airport and his mom has family here. Looking back on everything with the faith I have now, I feel like the decisions that led Brian to come here after his mission were some of the first little divine nudges that brought us to where we are today.

My memory doesn't work chronologically like Brian's does, but I can remember moments independent of their order, and I can honestly remember the first time I saw Brian because I thought he was so good looking. I remember Mr. Thomas would pass around a sign in roster each day and I would try to figure out who Brian was by watching him sign the roster. I always remember, there was this girl called Tammy who sat in between us and we would both be talking to her trying to steal glances at each other. Slowly we started spending breaks together in the library and by the end of the semester we were pretty good friends. We exchanged numbers on the last day of school and I ended up calling him first to see if he would go with me to my friend Ann's high school graduation which he did. That was our first date. From there, we really started falling for each other and soon we were exclusively dating.

We got along really well and enjoyed many of the same things.  Brian was such a sweetheart, always doing sweet things for me like baking me pies and driving them all the way to Lacon where I worked just to leave them on my car with a love note for me to find. In the summer of 2005, he took me to Virginia Beach and I saw the ocean for the first time with him.

In the fall of 2005, things changed. We just started not feeling quite right about being together. Several things were going on for me emotionally, and I think he felt the same way. I really just felt like it wasn't fun anymore. Things were very serious as far as our conversations went and we both started to get frustrated. We decided to take a break, which seemed like a good idea at the time. I just felt like we needed some time apart to grow independently of one another. A month later we got together for dinner. Brian was wondering if we had done the right thing after all. At that point, I felt like we had. I told him I didn't think we should be together and I was doing okay. About a month after that, I changed my mind and felt like we had made a terrible mistake, but by this time, Brian felt like we had done the right thing by breaking up and he was ready to move on.

I was pretty devastated and kind of went on an emotional tailspin. My great-gram, who absolutely loved Brian was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer around Christmastime and so at that point I was just focused on her. Brian came to visit her a few times. He had made her some CD's of old music that she loved to listen to and once he brought his guitar and played a little for her. I will never forget, one day I was sitting on the couch with her and holding her hand and she told me that she really wished things would have worked out for me and Brian.  She passed away in February 2006 and Brian was with me that day at her funeral.

I have to go to class, but this is a good stopping point. That was Brian and Lindsey chapter 1. Chapter 2 is ever so much better.

A few survivors from the first time we were together.
 This must have been June of 2004.

These were obviously taken New Year's Eve 2004. We look so young!


Tuesday, February 21, 2012

One week later...

It's hard to believe an entire week has passed since our ordeal began. Today I am grateful for the absolute outpouring of love and support from our friends and family. Last night my sweet friend Sandra made a delicious lasagna and nice fresh salad which was really good since I haven't been getting too many vegetables in.  Tonight our friends the Derais' brought over some shrimp alfredo that was TO DIE FOR. Scott is a chef so I was really looking forward to that all day ;) Brian and I love food. Sandra and Emilyn both brought chocolate because my sweetest friends know that during times of stress, or sadness, or joy, or days that end in -y, I am always craving chocolate.

Brian has been in a lot of pain today. He says its a new kind of pain and I think its just because he is feeling more alert and maybe starting to heal. The swelling doesn't look as bad today either. I might still just call the doctor tomorrow to make sure its normal. He is having lots of shooting pain and I hate to watch him hurt like that. A part of me feels so relieved that the surgery is over, but I have this sense of dread looming over me as we await these pathology results.

Brian is cleaning up now and then we are going to settle in for the night I think.  I am going to read a UFO magazine that my sister got for me. That will help us to decompress and laugh a little. Brian's sense of humor has been kind of funny lately. He is just being a total goofball. I think it must be the heavy pain meds, but he is cracking me up.

Pray for positive test results soon. My patience is wearing thin.


Monday, February 20, 2012

An Angel on a Tissue Box

Today I went to school and came to work at Brian's request. I need to take advantage of the time his mom and dad are here so I can try to keep some money coming in.  Also, we won't have results until later this week so work is a welcome distraction. 

I am a little tired today. Brian woke up and wanted to take a shower at 2am, which we were going to do, but his head was really hurting so I gave him some more pain meds and told him we could do it in a couple hours. I got up and showered at 4am so that I could help him before I went to school. He did well and wasn't feeling too off balance, but I was so afraid he would fall. His incision looks much better after a hot shower and I know he felt better. He had his morning meds and apple pie for breakfast thanks to Marcia Smallwood :)

I just called and talked to Brian's mom. She said he is resting well and only wanted one pain pill this morning when it was time. I just can't help but worry about him. I hate being at work and away. Yesterday he said he just wanted me to lay with him all day so I did and I wish I still was.

I did want to tell a special story that is just more evidence to me that God is watching out for Brian.  The other night when Uncle Bill gave Brian his blessing, he said that he felt prompted to let us know that Heavenly Father had an angel standing watch at Brian's bed and it would stay that way throughout this whole ordeal.  During my personal prayers that night and Thursday, I asked that somehow the angel would be revealed to us. Not because I doubted the blessing, but because I desired the additional comfort that would bring. I continued in faith not knowing how or when, but that I would indeed have an answer to that prayer. That answer came yesterday. It was late afternoon and Brian and I were lying in bed and I was listening to my voicemail.  Brian started chuckling and when I got off the phone I asked what was so funny. He said, "put your glasses on and look at the tissue box.  Can you see the angel?" I looked and all I could see was the flower design on the box, but he insisted that he could see a fat little cherub face with lots of curly hair and it was laughing.

I hadn't told Brian about my personal prayers, and I still haven't yet, but I know this was a miraculous answer to my most sincere prayer. If Heavenly Father is hearing and answering little prayers like my wish for us to see an angel, I know he is hearing the big ones, so please friends, keep praying for us as we await the pathology results.

Sunday, February 19, 2012

Valentine's Day 2012

I am sitting here in the chair where this whole nightmare started, almost five days ago to the minute. I had gotten home from work around three on Tuesday and Brian was asleep downstairs. He didn't get to bed till noon so I was just planning to let him sleep. We had promised not to get each other anything for Valentine's Day since we went out last Saturday night, but on the counter was a box of chocolates from Rocky Mountain Chocolate Factory and a card. I had a card for him hidden in the bedroom. Last year, we moved on Valentine's Day so in his card he wrote, "Hope this Valentine's Day is better than the previous one," that sentence has turned out to be one of life's greatest ironies for me.

We had tickets to go to the Peoria Symphony Orchestra's Valentine's Day show, but I knew how tired he was so I didn't wake him up for it. He got up around 8:30 and I gave him his card. We talked a little and he was going to take a shower and get ready for work.  I asked him to give me one last long hug because I was going to miss him at work and so he did.  I was writing note cards for a class and he went back to check his email before his shower.

Suddenly, I heard a big crash and I just hollered thinking he had dropped something.  He didn't respond so I got up and ran into the bedroom.  I saw him on the floor having a seizure.  He was convulsing and his mouth was bleeding. His shoulder was at an awkward angle and I thought it was dislocated. His eyes were dilated and his lips were blue and he had a cut on his arm and a bruise on his temple. I tried to get him to respond for a second and then told him I was going to call 911, I couldn't find his phone so I rand as fast as I could back to the living room and dialed mine. The adrenaline that was coursing through my body gave me an immediate and acute clarity of mind. I was speaking with the dispatcher who told me to roll him to his side which I did. I then remembered that Brian's mom had a flashing security porch light. I left Brian and ran to unlock the front door and turn it on. Jack was losing it at this point so I put him in the bedroom and shut the door. Then, I just held my husband and waited for what must only have been ten minutes or so, but felt like an eternity. A sheriff's deputy came first, followed by the ambulance.

A couple times, Brian jolted awake and was very afraid. He was asking what happened and he didn't know who I was. When the paramedics got there, he started to wake up. They asked him his name and how old he was. He said he was 18, and they asked if he was sure and he said yes.  After making him see The Vow with me just Saturday, you can imagine I was afraid he had just lost 11 years of memory.  He couldn't tell them who I was at that point either. They loaded him in the ambulance and I took off after them.

I called Brian's boss and my mom and dad who met me at the hospital.  Once we got into the emergency room, Brian was sitting up alert in the bed.  He remembered who I was and we started putting together the puzzle of what had happened.  He went back for a CT and we just said a prayer of thanks that we were home when this happened and that Brian wasn't in the shower, or driving a car, or at work.  The first of so many things we are grateful for. 

The CT results came back and showed a mass, but we wouldn't know more until an MRI.  They said it could be just an infection that had penetrated the sinuses, or it could be some kind of tumor.  We would have an MRI in the morning and Brian was being admitted.

My mom went home with me to get some things for Brian and I took a really fast shower. We came right back to his room and the waiting began. I can't remember much of that first night, but my mind was reeling from what we had been told. I thought he had an allergic reaction or something, or he was exhausted.

Wednesday morning came and went. We didn't have and MRI, but we did meet Dr. Tsung, a brain surgeon. A very good one. He said we wouldn't know for sure until surgery, but an MRI would show us more of what we were looking at, but from what he could tell, this was more than likely a brain tumor that he hoped would be totally benign because of Brian's age and health. Bill came to give Brian a blessing which was a relief. We waited for the MRI all day long and I spent most of the day calling family to let them know what was going on, and finally I went home to try to sleep in the evening.  Even though my dad stayed with Brian, I couldn't really sleep and kept waking up so mom and I got up at 2:30am and came back to the hospital.

They had finally come for Brian's MRI at 8:00pm just a couple hours after I left that night and Dr. Tsung came in at 8:30am Thursday with his nurse practitioner to talk about it. He still thought it was a brain tumor. Probably some sort of glioma

They let me go back with Brian to pre-op and I stayed with him for around and hour. Then they took him back and I went to wait.  Hospital time is strange because it feels like forever, but then you can't believe the clock shows that its so late. I think he must have come out around 3:30 or something but I can't remember. Dr. Tsung came and got me and told me that he is pretty sure its a glioma, but we don't know the cell type or grade yet. The initial pathology looks low grade, but the bad news is that this kind of tumor always comes back and when it does its always worse.  We won't know any more until the pathology comes back sometime this week, and even more when the chromosomal analysis is back in a few weeks, but it could be two years, or it could be ten years before we see it again. Brian spent most of the night in recovery because they didn't even have a room for him on the floor.  Luckily, they finally let me see him. And they even let his mom and dad come back.  Also, Bishop Pincock and Bill came and along with Brian's dad they gave me a blessing of comfort.  My dad came for that and I was so completely grateful that he was there.

Needless to say, that was very scary news for us, but nothing is certain yet. The nurse told me that once I saw him after surgery, I would be relieved. I couldn't believe her because I didn't get the news I wanted about the tumor. I wanted it to be totally benign, but she was right. I was so overwhelmed with relief when I saw him.

The nurse said Brian was out of it so we should all get some sleep at home. It was hard to leave but I slept about five hours that night and then got up Friday and went to talk to my professors at school. When I got back to the hospital, Brian was up and alert. Sore and tired, but he looked good to me. As the day went on he got more and more swollen. I was upset because that night they moved us to a room right across from where we were on Wednesday and it wasn't a private room.  There was a sweet old guy who had had a stroke in there, but he was snoring and coughing loudly all night. I stayed with Brian that night and I was so glad to see my friend Maria from school was Brian's tech.  She was an answer to our prayers and took great care of him all night. 

Saturday we got up and I helped Brian and our neighbor order breakfast. The physical therapist came in and ran her battery of tests which Brian passed with flying colors.  Then Dr. Tsung came in and said that two days post op would be the earliest anyone was allowed to go home, but if Brian felt up to it he could. Of course he wanted to and so Dr. Tsung got the paper work started.  At about one it was time to leave so we packed up and came home.

My parents came over early and cleaned the house up really nice for me. And my sister and her boyfriend have been taking care of all of my chocolate and soda needs. She gets all of the cute stuff like balloons and flowers too. The rest of Saturday was just settling in. Brian was resting and I was making charts to keep track of his medicines. 

Today, he is a little more swollen but getting good rest and not too much pain. This is all I have the energy for tonight, but I will keep updating on his status.

I am so grateful for all the help and prayers and calls and visitors. I can't express my gratitude.  I also want to say that I know that our Heavenly Father is aware of us and has a plan. I can't tell you how much of a comfort that has been to us already. I am seeing answered prayers everywhere I look. Sometimes in very unique places.

More to come.



I started this blog about six months after I was married. The title came from the thought I had that all the fairy tales we girls read as we grow up always end with "happily ever after," but that's it. We don't get to see what actually happens after that. Marriage doesn't come with a user guide and I was originally planning to blog about all of the unexpected things I was learning as a new bride.

The first year and a half of marriage has been tumultuous to say the very least. We have moved six times, Brian has been working third shift so we don't see much of each other.  He had kidney stones in the fall. After trying to get pregnant for a year, I miscarried in October last year, and now brain surgery. I honestly thought things couldn't be any more stressful in 2012, but I won't tempt fate again.

Anyway, from now on I think I will use this blog to update everyone on Brian's status. I am forgetting who I have told what to, and Brian has so many friends I haven't even met yet since he grew up all over the place. I hope this will be a good way to reach everyone.