Head stuff. Hard stuff.

It’s been an unexpectedly hard couple of days between my head and then Lincoln’s head. I’ll start with mine and continue in chronological order from Friday. 

I’ve done the stereotactic radiosurgery (SRS) before (last July) so wasn’t anxious and thought I knew what to expect. I would wear a super tight mask that holds my head to the table and would lay there for an hour and a half or so while they lasered (lazered?) each identified lesion from multiple calculated angles. Compared to the one spot last summer, I expected it to take about four times as long as the last procedure but envisioned  myself having a good nap. Not so much… 

They went to put the mask on and I immediately felt like something was terribly wrong – and that was before they began clicking it down and tightening it into place. It’s so tight that you can’t even speak so I flagged them that something was wrong and realized, at least initially, the tech had casually laid it on my face incorrectly so we were off to a rough start. The chin part was over my mouth so I couldn’t breathe. He wasn’t laying it there for permanence but just getting started and yet I think maybe that  got me ‘off’ mentally? So, then, when they went to actually lay it on my head and it was touching me everywhere to the point of feeling like there was no way I could breathe (or talk or swallow…) I had to call them off again – with frantic hand signals since it’s too tight to talk.  And, again, this was all before they started clicking it into place at four different locations which made it tighter every time. I’ve never seen this side of myself but I was flagging them down and asking them to remove it and telling them I was absolutely sure that something was terribly wrong with the mask design. I also think that while I lay there with my eyes closed they were whispering over me and that maybe they didn’t disagree that the mask was exceptionally tight? I asked them about alternatives to fix the mask and learned, unfortunately, that would require starting all over – back to another MRI in case anything had changed, making another mask, rescheduling the procedure, and all the while I know I can’t have chemotherapy while we are doing this so there are many reasons I wasn’t too excited about this idea. 

At this point, I’m sitting up on the table, they’ve called in their supervisor and they are asking if I have ever taken Xanax. I’ve never had it before but I am open to anything to make this better! Honestly, the thought of anything making it bearable is beyond my comprehension at this point but I am willing to try. I sent Scott a frantic text and told him I was having my first panic attack and he quickly went to the pharmacy onsite to get the Xanax and came back and sat with me. At this point, I am crying hysterically – sitting alone (by choice) in the little waiting room while I wait for Scott to return with some medicine. It was a very odd experience. I’ve never experienced claustrophobia or a panic attack or suffocation and all of a sudden I had experienced all 3 laying on a metal table surrounded by strangers. Scott brought me the medicine waited with me for another 30 minutes but I didn’t feel anything even close to loopy or out of my head. However, the waiting/anticipation wasn’t fun so I was ready to try again and thankfully, with much prayer for many in the waiting room, and a side of Xanax, Scott staying with me until I was ‘buckled down’ and constant ‘Jesus help me’ prayers, I survived an hour of the mask. When they took it off it had left painful indentions on my chin and the back of my head😁 But, it was over! And I am thankful. Mission accomplished. Prayers answered. Grace abounds. And now I have a new empathy for folks with claustrophobia and panic attacks. Oh. My.

I was wiped out the rest of the day so very content in my ‘happy place’ on this wonderful big white sectional leather couch in the Fronterhouse’s backhouse (as we near completion on our house and plan to leave our happy ‘home away from home’ this couch will be remembered very fondly as a good friend to me for many hard days and hard sleeps!) for the rest of the night. I awoke very briefly to enjoy Louie’s pizza, Caesar salad and mashed potatoes (if that sounds like an odd combination that’s only because you’ve never had their masked potatos) with Scott and Gigi before crashing again while they binge-watched recent episodes of the final season of American Idol.  I πŸ’— La’Porsha!  There’s something really sweet and comforting about having your people all piled with you on the happy couch even while you’re sleeping.

I slept great that night and was actually like a little kid before Christmas morning because I of a long awaited reveal of an incredible gift from my running buddies.  When we were we diagnosed as stage for December 2014, all of my running buddies that I’ve loved and known and run countless miles with (including 3 marathons for me and many more than that for most of them) since the mid 90s came over for breakfast one day and told us they wanted to send us on a trip of our choosing.  The gift was so generous and it was so difficult for Scott and I to even consider receiving the generous gift (much less choosing where we would go!) so Scott had the great idea of letting them choose. We knew the trip was 4.8-4.25 but didn’t know where and were finding out where we were going on Saturday morning. Can you see why this would be like Christmas morning o’ greatness?! And it was! We are going to Turks and Caicos and I. Can’t. Wait. My dear friend, Alyson, had organized all the details in adorable binder so Scott and I looked through that while Linc gorged on Apple fritters (I may have helped as well…) and started playing paper airplanes with two of my running buddies. The details are foggy between paper airplanes and the floor but all I know is there was a crash and a bang and blood. He fell backwards out of a chair onto his back but then whiplashed his neck pretty good so his head bounced off the floor. There was a PrimaCare just across the street so it was an easy decision to walk over and have a professional look at his head and assess the situation . Maybe that decision wouldn’t have been so easy if I had known it involved multiple lidocaine shots in his head and eight staples and him screaming repeatedly and violently “no more staples!” while the doctor asked that Scott, his Aunt CC, and I restrain him. Brutal. Too bad I didn’t remember I had 2-3 leftover Xanax in my purse! Ouch. Thankfully, a little play date with his buddy Andrew was already on the books and he was more than willing to ditch his parents and PrimaCare to be with his little people. Whether you’re 4 or 44 and whether it’s brain zapping or a bloody bang to back of the head, we all need our people (and our lovey in Lincoln’s case). Thanks for being our people.  

And skip this section if you don’t like blood but here are pictures of ‘the wound’ as Lincoln calls it.   

   
And of course the upside for the ‘rents is extra cuddles…   

   

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12 thoughts on “Head stuff. Hard stuff.

  1. Big tears for you and Linc! Oh, that all sounds SO awful and I hate it for you! Except the Turks & Caicos part, loving that part! And loving the house part too. xo

    >

  2. You should write a book….. Oh, but you are! The amazing story of your life so graciously shared that inspires, encourages, and blesses so many…. Here’s hoping that your trip is the kind of stuff dreams are made of and that you enjoy beyond measure!

  3. I am so sorry to hear of your panic attack. Absolutely no fun at all. And I am so sorry about Lincoln’s accident, too. Poor guy. 😦 As always, thank you for being such an encouragement. Your transparency has been such a blessing. Life is so awful sometimes but you continue to inspire us all through your ability to look for God in it all. Grateful for you.

  4. OMG my heart was truly racing reading about the mask and I had instant crockodile tears reading about Lincoln’s words! Oh Friend!! May God continue to hold you and yours close! XOXO

  5. Yeeeouch!!! Had to scroll quickly through those ones! I can handle so much, but when it comes to littles my stomach leaps! So thankful to our Father that you made it through the treatment, and so excited for you going to Turks!! ❀

  6. Jen: you don’t know me…I don’t know you. But we both know Jesus, and he has you and the whole world in his hands. Ouch for you and Ouch for little Linc. Oh. My. Gosh. I have moments of claustrophobia and for you to endure that mask thingy was hard for me to even read. You are a brave woman. You are a brave mother. You are a brave warrior for Christ and for the Cure. God has blessed you on this journey, and I’m betting he never fails. Have a blessed Holy Week and a Happy Easter. He is Risen! p.s. – I often cry real tears for you, and feel ashamed of my own petty ‘crises.’ You are my champion.

  7. Oh Jen, what a weekend! Thank goodness for Xanex! Poor Lincoln! I can’t imagine having to hold him down!!! Yikes! I hope he’s better and got some extra pampering! Prayers for all of you!

  8. I’m so sorry to read about your experience, but I smiled when I read about your meal—“masked potatoes”? Something tells me you aren’t. quite. over. it. ;–)

  9. I love seeing your friends love on you so well. I’m so glad you continued speaking up for yourself when you knew something wasn’t right. Praying that you will encounter others who will listen to your reality-you are your best advocate!- and that they respond with wisdom.

  10. You amaze me Jen! I knew when I heard you speak at the Watermark Women’s Conference in January 2012 that you were a remarkable woman, truly a Proverbs 31 woman! Thank you for sharing your journey, I can never read without tears in my eyes. I pray for you, Scott, and sweet little Lincoln. Praise God for ALL your people! I pray that I never forget who my people are. Thank you!

  11. Saying prayers for Lincoln’s head and your too. Boy, if it’s not one thing, it’s another. I was so happy for you and Scott when I read the part about your trip. What a wonderful thing. And bless your friends for doing it.

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