Happy MLKJ Day, everyone! The kids are out of school and all is quiet in the house. I figured I would take a few minutes to post an update on me.
You may or may not remember that a little over a year ago, I was diagnosed with two brain aneurysms that were both on the same artery as my left eye. The largest one was close to the eye and the smallest was kind of branched off but connected to that artery, if that makes sense. The largest was also irregularly shaped. Due to the shape, not so much the size, and my strong family history of aneurysms (2 paternal aunts, a paternal uncle that died from a brain aneurysm rupture and my very own brother), it was decided that we needed to be proactive and do something about these time bombs in my head.
My AWESOME doctor (seriously, I love him…he’s the best ever) wanted to do the Pipeline Embolization Device, or PED for short, rather than the regular coils and clamps that are usually done to patients in my situation. It is still relatively new in America, only having been approved by the FDA in the past three years or so (they’ve been using this device in Europe for a lot longer). Rather than filling up the aneurysm with coils, but leaving the aneurysm intact, the PED is, according to Emory:
“a metal device, ranging in size from just 10 to 35 mm. Using an endovascular approach, the PED is placed across the “neck” — or opening — the aneurysm with the help of a catheter placed inside the blood vessel. This procedure disrupts blood flow to the aneurysm, causing the blood to clot and, over a period of months, the aneurysm to be reabsorbed by the body.”
It reminds me of a slinky. Seriously.
Anyway, I had the PED placed at the end of May, 2014. Last week, I had my 6 month check up (two months late) where I underwent a cerebral angiogram….and received the best news I’ve had in a very very long time: The smallest aneurysm is completely GONE!!! The largest aneurysm is nearly gone!!! They could barely see it on the screens! Isn’t this amazing?!? My doctor said that it should be completely gone within a year; that the reason it is taking longer is because it is on the same artery as my eye (whereas the other was kind of branched off). He took me off of Plavix and he said it should heal faster now, since Plavix prevents blood from clotting. I still have to take low dose aspirin and get another angiogram in a year, but that is a small price to pay!
God is good, y’all!!
If you have a family history of brain aneurysms, please tell your Neurologist and have them check you for aneurysms with an MRA, or if you have been diagnosed with having one, please don’t put off getting it repaired. According to Emory:
“A cerebral aneurysm is a weak spot in the wall of a blood vessel within the brain, characterized by an abnormal ballooning or widening of the vessel. In the United States, a brain aneurysm ruptures every 18 minutes, and nearly half of these cases are fatal. Of the patients who survive, approximately half will never regain full physical function.”
Scary, huh? I’ve included an infographic showing the symptoms of a brain aneurysm. Help spread awareness!
Today is the first day back to school after Christmas Break! Weird thing is…I wish they could have stayed out longer. I’m so afraid that one of my kids will get the flu. Or my husband, since he also returned to work this week after being out on medical leave for over two months. Knoxville is the number one spot in the country for flu activity, according to Walgreens. Thank God for essential oils!! I’ve put thieves and peppermint on all of us and I’m diffusing like crazy.
Here is a cute new clothes back to school for winter picture of my daughter:
After the death of my step-son last year, we heard from literally hundreds of people commiserating with us. Some were very tactful, and still are. Some are without tact and some just do not know what to say. After nearly nine months time and listening to what our friends in our support group had to say about their experiences, my husband and I have come up with 16 things you should never say to a bereaved parent.
1. “He’s in a better place.”
While this is true, we do not want to hear this, because we want him here with us, enjoying life, getting married, having a family and growing old. We wanted so much for him to experience a long and full life. Not have his life cut short at 22 years old before he had even finished college.
2. “At least you got to have him for ____ years.”
In our case, 22 years. Yes, we are thankful and blessed that we had him for as long as we did. But it should have been a lot longer. He should have outlived us.
3. “At least he’s not suffering anymore.”
Again, yes this is true and we are thankful he is in no more pain and is not suffering….but why did he have to suffer in the first place? Why did he have to die?
4. “Was he spiritually right with God?”
Really? Why are you asking us this? Are you insinuating that he may not be in Heaven? Why would you do that?
5. “He wouldn’t want you to be sad.”
You’re probably right, but maybe not. In life, he never wanted us to worry about him, but I have a hard time believing that he wouldn’t want us to mourn his passing. Because when you love someone, you mourn when they are no longer with you. And we loved him to pieces.
6. “How long do you think you will grieve?” or “You need to get over it and move on.”
Really??? He is our child, we will grieve forever. We will always love him. We will ALWAYS miss him. Always.
7. “It gets easier with time.”
No it doesn’t. It will never be easy. We will learn to live without him. We will get used to him not being here, and there will come a time when we don’t cry at the drop of a hat. But it will never be easy. We will just adapt…and learn to live without him.
8. “Why didn’t you know he was sick?”
Really should never be asked. In our case, he was a fully functioning adult who chose not to tell us something was wrong. He chose to not get seen for a long time. His choice. Sometimes you just don’t know, could never have known.
9. “How does it feel to lose a child?”
Did you really just ask this? I want to smack the spit out of those who ask this question. How do you think it feels? Imagine the worst pain in the world and multiply it by 1000.
10. “I know exactly how you feel.”
We get this one a lot. But unless you have lost a child, you have no idea how we feel. Losing a parent, grandparent or sibling is not the same as losing your child. It is entirely different.
11. “Were you close to your child?”
What kind of question is this? Just…no.
12. “At least you have other children.” or “At least you can have other children.”
Yes we do, and we are blessed and thankful for them…but it does not ease the pain of our child’s death. Sometimes it makes us miss him more, to see all of our remaining children together…there is just that one special person missing, and it’s felt by all of us. Not to mention, some people may not be able to have other children.
13. “Have you thought about getting rid of his stuff? Donating his clothes?”
I know parents who never get rid of their child’s belongings. Some have left their bedrooms untouched. And there is nothing wrong with that. It’s part of the grieving process. We have Tyler’s things boxed up and put away. We will never get rid it. And that’s okay. It’s not unhealthy.
14. “Everything happens for a reason.” or “It’s God’s plan.”
No it doesn’t. Sometimes things happen for no reason at all. Sometimes bad things happen to good people. I also don’t think God plans the death of our children.
15. “God needed another angel.” or “He’s watching over you.”
This is one of the ones I hate the most. Speaking for us and as Christians, we know scripture. There is no way he could be an angel and since there are no tears in heaven, he could not be watching over us. Imagine how those who are not Christians and do not believe in God feel if you say this to them.
16. “God will never give you more than you can handle.”
My favorite…this is the biggest bunch of bull I’ve ever heard. Of course we will be given more than we can handle. All the time.
I know most do not mean anything by saying these things to us. Some say them because they don’t know what else to say. Before losing Tyler, I was guilty of saying some of these things myself, and I feel so bad about it now. Instead of saying any of these things, say instead:
1. “I’m sorry.”
That’s it. One “I’m sorry” can be enough.
2. “I’m thinking of you” or “I’m praying for you.”
We appreciate that so much. We need all the prayers and good thoughts you can send our way.
3. “I’m here for you.” or “If there’s anything I can do, let me know.”
This is okay, but MEAN it.
4. “I love you.”
It helps to know we are loved.
5. “It’s not fair.”
And please, ask us about our child. Mention him, ask us for stories about him. Not mentioning him at all and acting like he didn’t exist hurts more than any of the phrases above could ever do. We love talking about him and sharing memories of him with others. If you have pictures or videos of our child, share them with us. We crave those things.
I’ve got this dull ache in my heart that I can’t quite shake. The absence of that one person who was such an integral part of our family unit was felt by all of us, in different ways. What I feel is much different that what my husband feels and different from what our kids feel, but we all feel Tyler’s absence and long to have him with us. However, this is not a bad Christmas. It’s a different kind of Christmas. I’m thankful to be able to spend time with those we love, those that are most important to us…and to remember the true reason for the season…a celebration of our Savior’s birth…now that is a gift in itself. We have many reasons to smile…many reasons to laugh…and blessings abound. I hope everyone will forget the presents for a bit and just love on each other. We are not promised tomorrow.
I hope all of you have a wonderful Christmas!!