Sincere apologies for having been M.I.A. from the blog for a while. But this time I have a real excuse. I am three weeks and three days post brain surgery. Sure, life throws you lemons and curve balls, but for me, this was a cannon ball.
May 5th started out like any other Saturday. Wake up to hungry dogs climbing all over me, complaining that breakfast is late. Feed dogs. Walk dogs. Return home, feed son, and then take son to science day at Rockefeller Institute. Come home. Nap. Work. My son’s best friend arrives for a sleepover. Feed boys. Rinse and repeat as necessary. Walk dogs. Let spouse put boys to bed. Crawl into bed and fight for a spot on the bed that hasn’t been claimed by a dog, and drift off to sleep.
This is where the story changes. At around 12:30 am, I’m woken up by an E.M.T.
“Can you walk?” I hear him say.
“What?” I said.
“Ma’am, can you walk? The gurney will not fit through the doorway.”
“Honey, you had a seizure.” I hear my spouse say.
“Hold on to me!” says one E.M.T.
As I walk toward the foyer of my apartment, I pass my son’s room. I see my son and his best friend standing back in the room. Eventually, I’m helped onto the gurney.
Before leaving the apartment, I see my son’s best friend’s dad and I hear my son yell, “I love you mom.”
Minutes later I’m wheeled into an ambulance and headed to Mt. Sinai St. Luke’s Hospital. When we arrive at the hospital, my husband is holding my hand and telling everyone, including me, what happened. I don’t have any recollection of the seizure.
“Yes, her eyeballs were in the back of her head. She was unresponsive when I yelled her name, and foaming at the mouth.”
My husband says all these words to the MDs before I’m wheeled off for scans and tests.
By morning, I see a neuro-surgeon and his team.
“You have a brain tumor.”
“I have a brain tumor.” Pause. Process. Rinse and repeat.
The surgeon pulls up a machine with a picture of a brain. Apparently, this is my brain. It’s a 2.3 cm meningioma tumor. It needs to come out. It caused my seizure.
I make the call to my twin sister. I hear a lot of:
“What?!? Are you sure? I’m on my way.”
And once my twin sister knows, the entire universe knows. She’s not good at keeping secrets. Not that this was a secret. I do a quick post on Facebook to let everyone else know (she’s not on Facebook), and more important, to let them know if I’m late on something I have a good excuse. If I have a brain tumor, it might as well be useful for something. Right?
And this is part that was unexpected. An outpouring of sweet, encouraging notes from everyone I’ve ever known. Cousins. Aunts. Uncles. Grade school friends. High school buddies. College and law school classmates. Former bosses and colleagues. Authors. Illustrators. Teachers. Librarians. Editors. My amazing agents. And students. Adorable letters from students to get well soon. Talk about medicine for the soul!
On May 17th, my husband and I went to Mt. Sinai West Hospital for my surgery. My twin met us at the hospital. I wore my Bryn Mawr College hat and sweatshirt like a protective coat of armor. Nobody messes with a Mawrter. Surgery lasted eight and ½ hours I’m told. I woke up in the Neuro-ICU disoriented and swollen. I could hear one of the nurse’s saying:
“We need to clean her up. She’s got a relative waiting to see her.”
I couldn’t help but wonder how much of a mess was I that I needed to be cleaned up. And then my twin sister walked in: I took one look at her face, and I knew.
Recovery has been slow. Very slow. At first I thought I could steam roll through recovery but while attending the NJ SCBWI Annual Conference two weeks post surgery (my favorite conference ever!), I accidentally walked head first into a wall. Lesson learned regarding slowing down and am extremely grateful that the only injury I suffered was a bit of embarrassment and a bruised head. (I normally do a blog post about my favorite conference but this year my hands were too shaky and 99% of the photos I took were blurry.)
Three weeks, three days post surgery I feel like the luckiest person in the world. My tumor is benign. Who’s afraid of a couple of cannon balls? No sweat! Bring it on.
I am eternally grateful for the incredible doctors, nurses, family, and friends, who took care of me. And I would like to shout out a HUGE THANK YOU to EVERYONE for your encouraging words, sweet notes, prayers, and kind thoughts. Thank you from the bottom of my heart.