Wednesday, May 27, 2015

The Brain Tumor That Turned Out to Be Shingles

Pain riddled through the right side of my head, and behind and through my right eyeball. Brain tumor? What else could it be? I don’t get headaches. Or I rarely get headaches and usually it’s sinus related when I do. After the pain waking me up for two nights in a row, I decide to drive myself to an ER (hospital emergency room) on a Monday morning.

Why would a sixty-six year old great-grandmother drive herself to ER? Because my mother-in-law had passed away four days before and my husband was in another city with his father, and my daughters were all at their places of work. Besides, there’s a tad bit of independence leftover from my days as a single mom.

Brain tumor was a mantra running through my thoughts as I drove myself to ER. But? What was the blistery things on my right forehead? Maybe I got bit by a scorpion or brown recluse spider? Wouldn’t that cause my head to hurt? But what about my eye pain? Was my head filled with some venomous insect poison?

Dear God, you do remember I am one of the speakers at a Single Moms Conference in a few weeks?  How can I do that when I can’t even think straight around the pain in my head and eye?

“Shingles,” the ER doctor tells me. Well, I suggested it first. “Please tell me this isn’t shingles,” I say. “Yes, I’m afraid it is,” he replies. “Noooooooo,” I respond, followed by, “At least it isn’t a brain tumor.” Doctor, “Or an aneurysm.”

I text my husband and daughters that I am in ER and have shingles. My youngest daughter, Heather, leaves work to join me. Armed with prescriptions, we leave the ER. Thump thump thump goes my van. I pull into a CVS parking lot and my front tire has a huge bubble in it. Seriously? This happened two weeks prior on the other front tire. Pow! Bubble pops and two women entering CVS come running over. “Are you okay? Were you shot at?”

If I was being shot at, why would you come running over? I wanted to ask them that, but I was in pain and extremely frustrated over another bubble-popped tire. Heather showed up to drive me home, then pick up my meds and some lunch for us. Her husband and sons (my son-in-law and grandsons) arrived to get my keys to retrieve my van after they changed the tire.

Heather and family left, granddaughter Hailey staying with me until her mom, my daughter, Denise, shows up to relieve her. By 9:00 PM, the pain in my eye had increased to a steady hot-knife-continually-stabbing-my-eye pain.

Denise drove me back to the ER where my daughter, Stephanie, and husband, Jeff, soon joined us. Unlike earlier that morning, the evening ER was crowded with people. After an hour or two, I was writhing in pain. “What ER lets a sixty-six year old woman in pain wait this long to get seen?” I whine.

Many pain-filled hours later with no relief from the knife stabbing my eye, they knock me out and admit me to the hospital. Tuesday is lost to me. I have vague memories of visitors (I was in isolation. Apparently my shingles was contagious for chicken pox), and numerous doctors and nurses checking in on me – taking my vitals, drawing blood, looking in my eye, adjusting my IV, injecting pain meds in my IV, giving me oral meds. On top of all that, I continued to vomit throughout the day and night.

On the fourth day I am sent home with eye drops, 4 pain meds and antiviral medicine in pill form. I see an eye doctor who prescribes more eye drops, one a steroid to promote healing and the other an antiviral drops. Mr. Eye Doctor came to see me in the hospital. He is not hospital staff. He was rude and rough. I vaguely remember and my family, several were there in my room, tell me how rude he was. I politely tell him how rude he was, and, sigh, he apologizes. At least he didn’t deny he was rude.

For over a week, my right eye oozed yellow gunk that stuck my eye together. But the good news is that the shingles virus that got into my eye did not cause vision loss.

I have not written or read anything for two weeks. My dear husband got me a new laptop for Mother’s Day and I have not felt well enough to play with it. God is good and prayer works. So many people were praying for me. I am blessed by amazing family and friends.

If you have NOT gotten a shingle vaccination, let me encourage you to do so. 

Wednesday, May 6, 2015

Mother's Day 2015

Mothers. Mother’s day. The day we honor mothers everywhere. If you have been blessed with a wonderful mother, then thank God. Not everyone is so fortunate. My dear mother has been gone for a year and a half now. Was she a perfect mother? No, but she was a good mother and loved us.

There is no such thing as a perfect mother. Or a perfect person. We are all flawed and fallible. I was a young mother – very young – three children by the time I was nineteen years old and two more by the time I was twenty-five. I was a grandmother ay thirty two. I have a lot of failures and regrets as a mother and grandmother.

But God is faithful. When I look back at that young, frustrated, high-strung, frightened, overwhelmed young mother I was, I want to hug her for every time she cried herself to sleep in defeat. I want to tell her to do the best she can in the circumstances she is dealing with.

There’s no magic formula for being a good mother. Except prayer. Prayer is a vital key. Don’t overlook it and don’t underestimate it. God, through your prayers, will make up the difference in your lack of parenting skills. It may take years before you're aware of this, but it will happen. 

If you’re children are small, shower them with love and make wonderful memories. If your children are gown and you are now a grandmother and great-grandmother like me, let it go.  My advice is simply this – forgive yourself.

Healing came to me when I allowed God to get it through my heart and spirit that I did the best I could while struggling in an unhappy, dysfunctional marriage. So this Mother’s Day in 2015, celebrate mothers everywhere. Celebrate you!