The Cloud is Lifting – Praise for What’s NOT in My Head

My last 6 month follow-up with Dr. Jean at Georgetown confirmed that I still do NOT have a tumor or any remnants of foreign tissue in my brain. Praise the Lord!

But the news gets even better…

I also got an all clear to begin yearly check-ups instead of scans every 6 months. This is an amazing blessing – not just for peace of mind, but also for insurance, gas mileage, and scheduling with 4 children.

We are feeling very blessed this month with the knowledge of what is NOT in my head.

The journey is not over, but the cloud is starting to lift even if just by 6 months.

As you know I’ve been out of the world of blogging for several months. My mind has been clouded, but not with tumors. Thoughts, anxieties, and chaos can cloud even the healthiest of heads. A cloudy head has kept me from writing, but today I take time to release the chaos and count my blessings. For my head is not only empty of tumors, but much of the cloud of chaos has been lifted.

- In August my mother began chemo treatments for Leukemia. After a physically draining battle, she has finished 6 rounds of chemo and is in remission. I was unable to be with her in body as often as I would have liked, but my mind has been with her throughout. She is a strong , stubborn, southern woman, who fought her battle with faith and grace. I am proud to be her daughter and thankful for God’s healing hand. The cloud is lifting.

- This fall I had plans to continue blogging and even work on a book. However, God had other plans. With the help of Julie, Lynn, and Tammy, we began an American Heritage Girl troop in Bristow, Virginia. As the troop coordinator, I spent many hours with these women planning, laughing, and building a troop for over 45 girls in the community. Little did I know I would not see the year through, but instead have the privilege of handing my leadership off to a very dear, driven, God-fearing, and passionate woman, who I am now blessed to call friend. The cloud is lifting.

- Then in November rather expectantly, we heard God’s call to sell our house and place an offer on a piece of land near Charlottesville. Within 24 hours the house was sold, and within a week we were on our way to being land owners. Packing, Christmas, and more packing filled our days  and our minds as we moved in with Rob’s parents in January. We’ve now closed on the land, finalized building plans, and settled into a new routine in a world of transition. Life is good. The cloud is lifting.

I am not going to make any promises about regular blogging but I can say I am starting to see more clearly.

Thank you all for your continued prayers, encouragement, and love!

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Happy Anniversary, Toomy!

One year ago today, on October 15, 2012 my life was changed forever.

This is the day Toomy (our affectionate name for my not so affectionate tumor) announced his presence via a MRI.

Toomy brought with him fear, anger, sadness, and MRI’s that will reoccur every 6 months for the foreseeable future. But Toomy  also opened the door for me to experience blessings beyond measure. Last fall may have started with an announcement of a tumor, but I also found community, transformation, perspective, a chance to be still, and an overwhelming understanding of God’s power and provision.

Today I remember all that Toomy brought to our family, and I praise God for healing and Toomy’s departure on Nov. 9, 2012. Toomy is no longer “inside Rose’s head”, but the memories, lessons, and transformation will be in my heart forever.  For these I am eternally grateful.

Happy Anniversary, Toomy, and thank you for all the gifts.

God is Faithful. He was powerfully present last October. He is powerfully present today! And He WILL BE powerfully present tomorrow!

I am changed forever, and I can rest knowing God will ALWAYS be the same!

 

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One Day

As many of you know in July, I got a new haircut.

Here’s an excerpt from my July post.

I have been losing hair since the beginning of the year. This probably has something to do with the doctors pulling my scalp back during surgery last November. Well, after a few tears and many stray hairs around the house, I chopped it off! My neighbor and good friend, Allison, from Salon Xhilaration used her expertise and gave me a brand new look. So now instead of frizzy, thinning, long hair, I have a chic, new, short cut! Here’s a picture I took on the way to a friend’s wedding.

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For those of you who don’t know, I’ve never had short hair like this before. What I’ve learned is brain surgery can give you the courage to do just about anything.

So as we are approaching the one year anniversary of my brain tumor diagnosis on October 15, I’ve gathered the courage to try something else that I’ve never done before. See I’ve always been a blonde. Maybe with a little help sometimes, but I was born a blonde. All my girls are blonde, and all I’ve ever seen in the mirror is blonde. (Okay, hold off on the blonde jokes. Although my husband would agree some are probably true.) Never before have I ever dared to be anything other than blonde.  My husband and I have always talked about what fun it would be for me to dye my hair one day. Keywords being “one day”.  But never did I believe that day would come. Well, with my tumor anniversary around the corner, “one day” has come.

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As I reflect on my new do, I can’t help but think about the keywords “one day.” For me, “one day” is today for my hair. But what about all the other times I say “one day ?’  “Oh, I’d love to change one day.” Or “I’ll take that risk one day.” “I’ll follow my dream one day.” Or “I’ll do what God is calling me to do one day.” I’m actually saying, “I’ll think about it, but I’m not willing to do it today.”And if I’m not willing to do it today, when will I be willing? When will “one day” come? What makes the difference between “one day” and today?

Whether it be hair or a more significant life change, “one day” is safe. There’s no risk in “one day.”

But for “one day” to become today, I’ve got to be willing to take action. But with action comes effort and risk.  And where risk is involved, I have to have trust. Trust in who I am and who I was created to be, but more importantly trust in my Creator.

I know that blonde, red, or purple, I am a child of God’s. My confidence comes from Him. So why keep waiting for “one day? Why not let “one day” be today?

Now, I’m not saying go and do something crazy. I mean my hair can always go back to blonde and probably will before the end of the year. But my brain tumor scare last fall has taught me 2 things (actually more, but 2 for now):

You never know if you’ll have tomorrow, so why wait for “one day?”

And, my Creator can be trusted. He didn’t leave me in my darkest hours, so why not fully trust and live for Him today – not “one day.”

What is your “one day” dream or calling? I’d love to know. Maybe we can help encourage each other to live for today, instead of waiting for “one day.”

 

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Hearts Above

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For those of you who don’t know, I have another blog I am building at http://www.heartsabove.com

Since the tumor is gone, I’ve realized there is more in my head to be shared. So I am moving to a new spot for sharing thoughts about day to day struggles and how we can look outside our circumstances to things above. Please join me in a conversation at http://www.heartsabove.com/blog/.

I will continue to write medical updates, and personal updates on Inside Rose’s Head. On Wednesday, Rob and I will be making a stop in Georgetown to our favorite neurosurgeon and campus cafeteria. Come back later this week to find out about my 9 month check-up.

Thank you so much for your prayers and encouragement!

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Time to Check In

August 7, 2012  - I had an MRI at Heathcote Medical Center which found the herniated disks in my neck and set the path for last fall.

October 15, 2012 – The tumor was discovered and the path took a gut-wrenching turn.

November 9, 2012 – Amazing doctors and staff at Georgetown University removed the tumor and redirected my path to one of healing.

Since then the journey has been uphill, but filled with victories and hope.

This week we celebrated the 9 month anniversary, of a journey we never wanted to take, but wouldn’t trade due to all the blessings we’ve received.

But, the journey isn’t over.

Every 6 months I get to check in with my friends at Heathcote Medical Center, the 45 minute nap in the MRI machine, the fear and joys from the past, my surgeon at Georgetown, and my dependence on the only One who carries me through.

So here’s what we know today…

August 9, 2013 – The MRI based on our uneducated eyes appears to be normal. At least we don’t see any oranges that don’t belong in my head.

August 28, 2013 – I will meet with Dr. Jean to discuss the official report and hopefully hear the all clear.

Today, we our eternally grateful for our family, our doctors, our friends, the growth, the peace, the provision, and the communion with our Creator, Savior, and Friend!

 

 

 

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Where has the time gone?

I know that I have been away from regular blogging for a few months.  Thank you for continuing to check in on me and for your continued prayers. Here  is a quick update on where I have been and where I’m headed…

I continue to homeschool my daughters throughout the summer. We are on a 3 weeks on and one week off schedule. In June, I started the month by writing and leading a women’s retreat in Fredericksburg entitled Burdens to Blessings, and then speaking at a women’s Bible study on the same topic.  Rob and I attended HEAV’s homeschool conference in Richmond, where we visited with dear friends and refueled for the homeschooling year. During our week off of school, we  filled the time with Vacation Bible School and my oldest daughter’s 8th birthday party! Where has the time gone?

July is filled with amazing opportunities, large challenges, and God’s continued provision. I am very actively working with my church and a team of amazing women to begin an American Heritage Girls troop in the Fall. With God’s guidance, I will be the troop coordinator for this new troop. If that wasn’t enough, doors have also opened for me to begin pursing and educating myself towards the end goal of writing a book. I keep praying God will provide the strength or close the door. His answer thus far has been to swing the doors open! He continues to provide the opportunities and encouragement necessary to follow this path. At the end of the month, I will be attending the SheSpeaks conference in NC and presenting a book proposal to at least 2 different publishers. Please keep me in your prayers. It is only with God’s words and provision that I’ll be in NC. Regardless of the outcome, God has made it clear that the conference is where I am supposed to be in July. So your prayers are always cherished. Where has the time gone?

In August, life will slow down tremendously for us. However, I will have my next MRI. I have felt healthy, continue to be on the weight loss/fitness path (13 lbs total lost), and feel blessed with each new day. Although August’s appointment does not come without some anxiety, I am hopeful that all will be well. Tomorrow will be 8 months, since having brain surgery. Where has the time gone?

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New Haircut

As many of you know, I have been losing hair since the beginning of the year. This probably has something to do with the doctors pulling my scalp back during surgery last November. Well, after a few tears and many stray hairs around the house, I chopped it off! My neighbor and good friend, Allison, from Salon Xhilaration used her expertise and gave me a brand new look. So now instead of frizzy, thinning, long hair, I have a chic, new, short cut! Here’s a picture I took on the way to a friend’s wedding. Can you believe this week will be 8 months since brain surgery?!

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I Smell Worms…

On Saturday the girls and Rob surprised me with an early morning fishing trip.  As a Mother’s Day gift, our two oldest daughters pitched in to buy me a fishing license. Up to this point fishing had been between them and their dad.  But Saturday morning we were all up by 6:30 and headed to the lake.

I was grateful for the gift and their enthusiasm, because I remembered my own excitement at their age of going fishing with my Dad . It was less the act of fishing and more the time with my Dad that I cherished most. I have vivid memories of standing on piers fishing, and loving every minute – fish or no fish.

With memories in tow and 4 excited little girls, Rob and I headed to the lake.

Note: this weekend was the first time I have been fishing in about 15 years.

We had a blast! Between the 6 of us we caught 4 tiny fish, but the fish didn’t matter. Feet got wet. The girls laughed and grinned with excitement at each tiny fish. We watched turtles, a bass guarding its nest, and all the birds. And I surprised them all by cutting the worms and baiting their hooks for them (I did grow up in the South you know!). It was a blast!

As an added gift, I experienced a new, old smell. I smelled worms.  Now I don’t believe I actually smelled the worms.  I believe my brain generated a memory and caused me to think I was smelling worms.  I know this because, it wasn’t until  yesterday that I stopped smelling worms.  The smell started at the lake, but continued into the shower, meal times, house cleaning, bedtime, and every corner of my days. I even felt like I tasted worms, while eating my favorite chocolate chip cookie dessert this weekend. :-(

The brain is an amazing organ! It is trying to help me associate smells with my interactions in the world by recalling past experiences. I just think this time it was a little too persistent!

It sure would be nice to smell that chocolate chip cookie again. However, today I am grateful for the opportunity to smell worms!

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Life After 6 Months – Transparency Update

Thank you for your continued thoughts and prayers! Surgery was 6 months from today! I am so thankful to be healthy, and I praise God for each of you who have walked this journey along side me! Let’s celebrate!

Now for the update…

Smell
I am still unable to smell the world around me, but I have the ghost smells that I’ve mentioned before – floral, soapy, or chemical smells. The inability to smell doesn’t phase me too much unless I’m trying to determine whether something in the fridge has gone bad :-) The only other time it really bothered me is when we were vacationing in Alabama and I couldn’t smell the salty beach air or the nostalgic smells of my grandmother’s house. You really don’t realize the role smell plays in your life until you don’t have it.

Hair & Skin
Until just a week ago, I have been losing hair in large amounts. I have been taking Biotin and Multivitamins to strengthen my hair. I think the vitamins are finally working. I still have very thin and frizzy hair, but I’m not losing as much each morning. I also noticed an alfalfa sprout of hair about an inch long on my incision line. Although I think I will always have the trench along my incision, my hair is finally growing back.

As for my complexion, the acne has disappeared. Of course I still have an occasional blemish, but the drug induced changes in my complexion seem to be gone. Yea!

Weight & Fitness
I am thoroughly enjoying my exercise routine. My trainer, Jamie, from OneLife Fitness has made exercise fun again and is helping me reach my goals. I exercise about 3 times a week at the gym and 2 times a week at home. We’ve even developed together a Customized Fitness program for homeschool moms and their kids. It’s an amazing program for moms to train with a trainer and their kids to work on PE skills. My girls love their time at the gym, and it makes it easier for me to get another workout into my schedule,too
I don’t love dieting these days (although reluctantly I am still trying), but I have fallen in love with fitness!
The numbers on the scale are moving slower than I would like, but I am seeing a large difference in my muscle tone and the way my clothes are fitting. I’ve even made it back into my “skinny” jeans. Even when the weight numbers aren’t moving, I am seeing progress toward getting my pre-drug body back (and I’m going to have more muscle tone than I had before drugs).
So for the gory details… I have 19 lbs left to lose.

Feelings & Emotions
I still have days where I can’t believe I ever even had a tumor, and when I worry about what the tests in August will show. I even still have days where anger over the entire situation pokes its ugly nose, or when I can’t understand why I’m feeling sad or anxious. However, most days I am feeling great! I am thankful for how far we have come, my increased energy, and every moment that I get to spend with the ones I love! I am embracing new situations, like bungee bouncing 20 feet into the air on a trampoline at a car show, new relationships, and new ministry opportunities in my church and community. I have a lot of life left to live, and the events of last fall reminded me that there is no better time then today to live, love, and glorify God!

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