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Farewell 2023 

Oh 2023…….On one hand you have been the hardest, most brutal year of my life. At times I wasn’t sure I was going to make it to the end of you. You broke me down to my absolute core and even then, still dragged me without mercy. I was handed not only a brain tumor but had other life gutting events that shook me to my very core. To sum it up I was forced to face some of my biggest fears in life all in one year and have scars to show both physically and mentally.

 

On the other hand, this year I was saved by a miracle. I was taught the lesson that when you go through great suffering you are able to tap into a greater joy. I learned how strong I am and never use the phrase “I can’t” because I confidently know I can. I learned there are really wonderful humans that will carry you when you can’t carry yourself. I learned in hardship you have two choices: to quit or move forward and I am not a quitter. I learned that I am a “yoga person” and that I LOVE swimming and in life you need to just close your eyes and jump in, literally. 

 

I asked last New Year for health and for most of the year I felt like I got the opposite but in hindsight I did get health. The fact my two year health decline and misdiagnosis was finally solved and I got my brain back did put me in a healthier state then when the year started.

 

This has brought me to the greatest lesson I learned. You have the power to control the positive and negative in life. Outlook is EVERYTHING. You have a choice to see a blessing or a nightmare in everything. Sometimes it takes a while for the blessing to appear but those are the best ones. So I will cheers for 2024 with my glass half full and honor 2023 for the invaluable lessons it has taught me. 

Birthday Redo 

This birthday definitely hit differently than the rest. I am sooooo thankful to be ALIVE - physically, mentally and spiritually! Life has not been easy by any means but it is sweeter and fuller. Trevor, my sister, brother-in-law, and I went to Napa for my redo birthday. Backstory: 2021 Trevor was in the hospital , 2022 we went to Napa but I was in bad shape from the giant alien in my brain. I couldn’t even eat my dinner at one of the nicest steakhouses in Napa and all I wanted to do was sleep. This year we initially canceled because of family illness but by a MIRACLE we got to go. The weirdest thing ever was it truly was a redo because we were seated at the same table at Mumm and the steakhouse by total chance. We had great food and laughed all day. My sister and Trevor literally cry- laughed. I just kept thinking what a gift it was to be there. I am happy that I just made it through the hardest year of my life and I can say I feel blessed and still have a smile on my face. 

Why Not Me? 

It ends there, in this picture and starts here, in the Now. I no longer feel fear when looking at my MRI. Now I feel strength.

 

I used to think I had a learning disability because I would practice over and over and still forget my song lyrics and chords. I told myself I could not perform because I wasn’t cut out for it, I couldn’t even remember my own songs. Over the past few years my passion slowly slipped away. This alien thing was the reason. Pushing on my frontal lobe, taking away so many of my skills and dreams. I was hijacked and had no control of my own brain. Even scarier, I didn’t know it was happening.

 

I started playing piano again one week after brain surgery. A whole song poured out of me in 20 minutes like it was waiting there the whole time. It’s a song about what I went through and it’s the most honest song I have ever written. To this day, music and songs flow out without effort, even in my dreams. I can remember my songs and sing/play like never before. It is one of the blessings in this. To be an artist and go through an extremely traumatic event is a blessing. Not only did it give me strength of a warrior but it allows me to help others through my music and my experience. It gave me more fuel to my fire than I know what to do with. I am going to take this all the way. I feel like after going through the past two years and surviving it, my possibilities are endless and there are no limitations to what I can do. For a long time I would ask, “Why me?” and now it’s changed to “Why not me?”

A Love Story 

11 years ago we said I do. Our vows to choose each other for better, for worse, in sickness and in health really take on a deeper meaning now.  For the past couple years I became extremely difficult to live with. My brain was so messed up at one point, I thought my husband was my enemy. Most people don’t know the severity of it. It's been difficult for me to process now that I have control of my brain again. Most wouldn’t be able to do what he did. He stood by me before anyone knew it was a medical issue. He loved me when I was the worst version of myself. My sister calls him a saint which he totally is. 
Hours after my surgery, the doctor asked him if he noticed any changes in my behavior and through tears he said, ”Yes, she’s better now then she’s been in years. I have my wife back.” It was quite shocking for everyone including myself to back instantly.  I’ll never forget that moment because it may be the greatest love story I have ever heard of.

Recovery. 

Recovery. Recovery can be both beautiful and ugly. Beautiful in the way that the first week I could barely take 10 steps down my street and Wednesday I walked 4 miles. It can be ugly in that I didn’t sleep for 6 straight days after surgery and wound up back at the hospital. I can’t even explain the torture that it was. Beauty in that after I shared my story, people reached out to me that went through the same thing and I didn’t feel alone. People that I know but never knew they went through brain surgery. Recovery can be ugly in the moments where every sound feels like it makes my ears bleed or the sun is so bright I have to wear sunglasses in my house. When I want so badly to be social but it's too much stimulation for my brain. It's beautiful that the community in which we live lifted me and my family up and supported me when I was at my lowest. Every text, meal, card, comment and like means the world to me and keeps me going when it's hard to see the light. It's ugly when you get follow up tests that say you are not in the clear yet and your mind starts racing and going to worst case scenarios. 
There's beauty in that I got to see my girl swim last weekend at the biggest rec meet in the country and she took 5th in breaststroke. I pushed myself past my own limit but mothers do that for their children.  
The definition of recovery is a return to a normal state of health, mind, or strength. It actually made me laugh because normal doesn’t exist after going through really traumatic events. When you lose control of your own brain and then get to come back nothing will ever be normal again and I’m okay with that.

New Brain, Who Dis? 

I am ready to share my story. Today (July 19, 2023) marks 3 weeks into my recovery from a craniotomy (brain surgery). I had a massive 3.87cm colloid brain cyst wreaking havoc in the center of my brain. This all came to be after going to my annual eye exam and not being able to read the first 3 letters. My Optometrist said “I’m going to trust my gut on this and write you a referral to a retina specialist”. Little did she know she saved my life at that moment. After failing a vision field test I was ordered an MRI on May 30th and that is when they found the brain cyst. Prior to this (about a year ago), my close friends and family noticed extreme behavior changes. I would ask the same question 3 times in a row and was unaware I was doing it which caused me to become angry with everyone. I dropped out of everything and had no interest in social interaction. Significant memory loss and trouble learning. I also slept most of the day and have no memory of any of the Dr. appointments or much of the months before. I lost the ability to cry and oddly enough, I never had headaches, the most common symptom. Right before surgery, I was plummeting into psychosis.  Prior to my diagnosis, I imagine how hard it was for my family to watch me deteriorate in front of them and not know why or how to help me. It is scary to think what would have happened if I didn’t have the eye exam. I am still trying to process everything and my recovery is going well (it started out really really rough). Writing music is one of the things I can do and I have written songs about my experience. This has changed me forever in a good way and I cannot wait to get back out there and live life to the absolute fullest. PLEASE get your screenings because you never know if it could save your life❤️