DATE: 22 Sep 2007, 2:42 pm
On the ride home – I saw a church sign –
What does it take for God to get your attention?
I joked just a brain tumor
But seriously – God's had my attention for a while
What I wonder is what did I do to get His attention?
Was it is church?
Was it bedtime prayers?
Was it just trying to be a genuinely nice person?
They refer to God as a good Father
I think my daddy is a good father
He'd wish me success – but I knew the truth
My daddy never cared if I succeeded or failed
He only hoped I had given it my best shot
I think of God as the same
He doesn't expect success and he's not strict about it
He simply asks for an effort
Are you trying to get His attention?
When I was in High School I remember being at my boyfriend's
house. I started crying telling him something wasn't right with me.
He asks me about it and I tell him something is wrong with my
mind. That my mind doesn't work like other peoples' minds.
He replied that nobody's mind works alike. I screamed that
my mind couldn't work like other peoples' minds. I have
been in and out of counseling and on different antidepressants
since middle school.
Tuesday, I call Haskell Indian health clinic to see if they do
eye exams. When I tried to drive the lines wouldn't look
parallel they ran perpendicular and I couldn't tell where the
car in front of me was – it looked to me like it was driving in
the ditch. So I call Haskell, but I get the mental health section
so I ask to be transferred to the health section. I am told they
do not do eye exams.
So I'm a little concerned. I know I need an exam before going
to Ireland and I don't have insurance for outside Oklahoma. I
have no idea how I'm going to find time with finals and the trip
coming up to get to Oklahoma, let alone how I'm going to get
Then I checked my mail. I have an appointment at Haskell for
some checkup. I still don't know what this appointment was
for, but it was at a time I worked. So I call the number I had
been transferred to earlier to cancel. The lady couldn't find me
in the computer and when she asks if I'm pregnant, I realize I
had just some public health clinic in Lawrence.
I ask Walt to give me a ride to Haskell, but he said he was
busy getting work done for Frank. I jokingly tell him that if
I die people could blame him. I'm always telling him silly,
stupid things like that.
I couldn't get a ride to Haskell. I'm not sure exactly why I
gave up looking for the number in the phonebook (which I
could barely read anyways). I figured they did walk-in dental,
health, and mental, so if they did eye exams they would
probably do walk-ins as well. Well driving was a little tricky
for me. I had to close my left eye to be able to see straight
lines and tell where the car in front of me was. So I drove
to Haskell with my left eye closed and my nose having spasms.
Guys kept waving at me. I was winking at life.
When I get there I find out Haskell only does eye exams on
Thursdays and they are booked for three months. The lady
tells me my best bet is to come in Thursday at eight am as a
walking and someone might cancel although it's really rare.
So Thursday, May 10th 2007, Jessica Bunker drives me to Haskell. I sit in the
usual waiting room, which turned out to be the wrong waiting
room, and the receptionist for the optometrist came and led
me to the correct waiting room. When the optometrist calls
me in he says, "You are one lucky girl. First walk-in to make
it past the door in three months."
That eye exam took forever. We went through every little
lens on the machine trying to get me to be able to read. At
one point his nose is against my cheek and his breath is fluttering
my hair as he peers into my eyes. I am thankful he was thorough
and didn't just make up something and send me on my way.
He finally takes a deep breath and steps back. He didn't
look me in the eye as he told me I had swelling of the optic
nerves which is either caused by high blood pressure or
swelling of the brain. He then leaves to find a nurse to take
my blood pressure. She comes in and my blood pressure
So we got a referral to an optometrist spest. When I
went to the lady who wrote the referral for me I had to
pull a card out of my wallet and this four leaf clover that
my dad had laminated for me in middle school fell out. I
mention it because I had forgotten it was in there and the
lady told me about how her mom could always find them.
So I gave the clover to her. As I do so, I think why am I
giving away my luck now? Then I thought of Grant saying
there's no such thing as luck – just God.
So Jessica drives me to the optometrist spest where
they want to take pictures of my eyes. However, they had
to keep putting these drops in my eyes to get them to dilate
because my eyes couldn't stay dilated on their own. This
would explain why I had difficulty seeing when going from
light to dark places.
The optometrist spest referred me on to the emergency
room of Lawrence Memorial Hospital where I was to get
an MRI. We had an hour before the MRI appointment
and so I call Walt to see about maybe smoking hookah.
I tell him that I'm waiting for an MRI and I might die. He
tells me he's sleeping and doesn't have time for this
nonsense and that I'm not going to die. Then he
hung up one me. I guess we're even.
So Jessica and I go to eat. At Taco Bell, I told her that
I didn't think there really was such a thing as swelling
of the optic nerves; that I was still waiting for the cameras
to come out and I would win a million dollars for playing along.
So I go in for my first MRI. I felt like I was in my casket.
Afterwards, Jessica and I find out we're not meeting the
neurologist tomorrow morning as planned, but we are
seeing him right then. So we go to his office. He runs
these tests on me. He has me squeeze his hands, push
against his hands, pull on his hands, then the same
things with my feet and legs. Little did I know I would
be doing a lot of these little tests.
Then he takes me a Jessica into a room and
shows us my brain, except there's a huge white
smear across it. He explains that the white is
swelling and that the black blobs are either a tumor
or blood clots. He explains that since it's not on
the dominant side of my brain, that's why there
hasn't been any affects on my mobility or communication.
That is why there were no signs of it being there.
He starts asking if I want to call my family and then
have him talk to them or if I'd like for him to just
call them for me. I tell him I don't want to call my
family, because I don't want them to have to know.
I was actually going to try to go through this whole
ordeal by myself. The doctor looks concerned,
but there's not a lot he can say. He asks if we
have any other questions. All I can think to ask
is if I can have a smoke. He allows us to leave
and I sit outside a hospital with an IV still hanging
out of my arm and smoke my last Black and Mild.
While I'm smoking, Jessica reminds me that I did
promise to call my mom back with the MRI results.
So I did. Then I called my sister back. My sister
said I told her the news then I said that I thought
mom and dad might come see me. My sister assured
me they were and so was she. Then, I called Nate
Wilcox to tell him so that Camp Team could find
a replacement for me. I remember when he simply
said, "Oh crap"; it was actually the most comforting
thing I had heard so far that day.
We journey back to the doctor's office where he has
changed his mind. Instead of having me stay over
night at the E.R. and transferred to KUMed in Kansas
City in the morning, he is sending me by ambulance
that day. He starts telling me how great the Neurologist
at KU Med was. I felt comforted that a hospital neurologist
was bragging about how good another hospitals' neurologist was.
So I go check into the E.R. Where I lost my shoes. The
ambulance guys came and carried me away. The
ambulance ride wasn't that fun. I gave the paramedic
a history lesson on Chief Pontiac. He was pretty funny.
We talked about how a helicopter would've been cooler.
At KU Med, they had just remodeled so the paramedics
couldn't find my room. So they ask a doctor. The doctor
then also got lost trying to find my room. I finally got into
My parents showed up first. Then my sister, Meredith,
and my brother in law, Craig, I was pretty tired at this
point considering it all started with an eye exam at 8
am where I though I was just going to get glasses and
now at 8 pm I was in ICU. Everyone who came in I
immediately had them read John 15 1-17. I had attended
camp team the Wed. morning before. Which I almost
missed, but Nate Wilcox called me and got me there
on time. Grant and my bible study were over this scripture.
After they read it I would assure them that I wasn't
going in for surgery, God was just pruning me. The
scripture also related to how all along the way, I felt
people were trying to help me because they wanted
to, not because it was their job. They were all so nice
and caring to me. Camp Team helped in a lot of ways,
because I had just had all Wednesday preparing to
be a church camp counselor I had been through
bible studies and prayers, and just around good
faithful people. It had me in the spirit and attitude
I needed before being thrown into this whirlwind.
It was like have a church service before hand to
We sang Amazing Grace and Jesus Loves Me and
talked about how before finals, I had called dad
and told him I was giving him a heads up that I was
going to try to get into the hospital to get out of finals
. Silly me, I did it all backwards.
Then, Jessica came in carrying a bag of my shoes,
phone (I left it as well), and a bag of stuff from my
dorm such as clothes, and my Garfield my dad gave
me when I was born.
Then, David Glavin came in. He went to sit on the
end of my bed to pray and it catapulted me about
a foot in the air. First thing out of Jessica's mouth:
Too bad it isn't taking her blood pressure right now.
So we prayed and danced to this donkey thing that
sang some Spanish song my Uncle sent me.
The next person to visit was Walt Ohnesorge. He
brought sushi. He had called my Ireland professors
for me. If I had gotten on that plane, no one can imagine
what the results would've been. That was yummy. (the sushi,
not the visions of the plane trip...)
We played cards. In the middle of our game, my mom
asks if we're even playing the same game. Turns out I
was playing gin and he was playing books. We finished
the game off that way.
I had many other visitors including Erika Marksbury,
Andy Carrier, high school friends, and of course more
family. I can't count high enough to tell you how many
people came and saw me.
The nurses took excellent care of me. They were all nice
and brought me cinnamon rolls that were actually brought
in for the doctors.
We met Dr. Pollack's nurse first. He informs us that the
swelling on my optic nerves was not caused by the tumor,
but my acne medicine having a reaction with the tumor. I had
went into Haskel to be tested to see if I was anemic, because
I had been getting tired so easily. They tested for both anemia
and my thyroid, but both were fine. So they scheduled me for
a full physical and a pap smear just to be thorough.
At my pap smear the gynocologist asks if I'd like for her to
prescribe medicine to help with my complexion. I say sure. I'll
try some. This medicine is what caused the swelling that allowed
them to find it.
My parents and I finally met Dr. Pollack. She had bright
blonde curly hair and was referred to as the blonde
bombshell by the nurses and other doctors. She told
me she would probably only be able to get about 45%
because of blood vessels and size and all. I remember t
hinking and I wish I would have said it out loud, but you'll
just have to trust that this was my thought - 'No,' I thought,
'if everyone prays you will get 80%'.
So I hung out in ICU for a few days. On May 14th, which
is my parent's anniversary and my uncle's birthday, I went
in for surgery. I wake up in my room with a bandage on my
head and I couldn't figure out why I had a toga on my head.
This blonde lady, I'm not sure if it was a nurse, patient, visitor,
but this blonde lady walks by and says, "What's up with
the chick with the toga? She looks like a prince." I was
immediately trying to get up, but I was too weak. So I yelled
at her, "Hey blonde chick come in here!" she didn't,
but I continued to yell, "You need a sense of humor. You
can be as pretty as you want to think you are, but without
a good sense of humor you are nothing. You can go to the
waiting room and my sister will give you a sense of humor.
" I'm not sure exactly what that meant, but I'm pretty sure
I was trying to say my sister would beat her up.
My nurse, Molly, comes in and gets me to lie back down.
I ask her when I'm gong to surgery and she says I just got
back from surgery and she's pretty sure I don't want to go
again. So, I have no memory of them coming to get me for
surgery, leaving the room, any of it. Which I figure sleeping
through the whole thing is probably the best way to go. It's
not like they needed my assistance. I believe that God closed
my eyes and carried me to surgery.
After awhile, the blonde bombshell came in and said the good
news is she managed to remove 75% of the tumor, the bad news
is that it is aggressive cancer. She informs my family and me that
I have probably had this since middle school, because my skull
had formed around it and my skull is paper thin on the right side.
She says if I had been in a fender bender or just bumped my
head, I would have had serious brain damage because the
skull was too thin to protect the brain.
My senior year I fell head first off a 24 scaffold, but my upper
back hit first then the back of my head. I have been in a car
wreck my first year of college on I-35. I have fallen off horses
throughout my life. I just never hit the right side of my head.
She also says that if it had been found any later, such as weeks to
months, that it wouldn't have been a possibility to operate.
That they found just before it had gotten too big to be removed.
They tell us that they are prescribing both chemo and radiation.
I walked around the hospital halls the day after surgery.
So for the summer, instead of going to Ireland or doing Camp
Team, I am staying at a place called Hope Lodge. It is meant
for cancer patients as it's close to treatment facilities. I like to
call it my retreat seeing as it comes with kitchen for us to use,
a movie room, games rooms, and lounge areas.
She's got a good chance-
She's young with no other medical problems
If we'd discovered this later – weeks – months –
There would be no operation-
The most to be done would be to relieve pain – but no chance
of a normal or long life
I didn't miss my childhood –
I went to prom – not chemo
I had a typical childhood
I don't have children or a career –
To be concerned about – only myself
I did not get on the plane.
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