Wednesday, November 25, 2009

My Sweet Anissa

The most difficult part about writing has nothing to do with putting words down. It's not stringing sentences together or painting a picture. It's not even finding something worthwhile to say.

The part I find completely crippling is when you have a story to tell and cannot write anything else until it's finished. It is absolutely paralyzing to know that you cannot put another word on paper, or online, until you finish this. But the most agonizing part is when it's not your story to tell.

I've only met her in person three times, yet I love her. The first was at a blogging conference, Blissdom. I hadn't read her blog. I didn't know her story. But I did see a woman who's energy lit up a room and who's enthusiasm was violently contagious. Her smile was so inviting, I found myself drawn to this stranger immediately. I felt the need to introduce myself, if for no other reason than to just hear her speak.

Once I was home, I read through her blog, overwhelmed with admiration for her strength and sadness for her pain. This sweet woman, not much older than me, has been through more than anyone should endure in a lifetime.

She suffered a debilitating stroke and is continuing to fight the lasting effects.

Her baby daughter was diagnosed with Leukemia in June 2006; they just celebrated her first year since finishing the chemotherapy.

The family was separated due to her husband's work for eighteen months; they were just beginning to get settled in as a family.

But once again, this family is going through hell. Sweet Anissa has had two more strokes. She is in the ICU, on a ventilator. The prognosis hasn't been positive. The doctor's aren't giving this family much hope. But they see her fighting, they see her opening her eyes, they see the battle waging fiercely under the surface of this beautiful, courageous woman. A woman who despite all the perils she's dealt with in her short thirty five years, refuses to back down. A woman who has the tenacity of a thousand warriors at her fingertips. A woman who has so deeply touched the lives of people around the world through her writing, her honesty, her pain, her laughter and that gorgeous smile.

Anissa, we are all praying for you and will be here waiting.

"Because if there’s one thing the past years have taught me…recovering from a stroke, having a child diagnosed with cancer, chasing a dream, being a family apart for seventeen months…true strength doesn’t come from the body.

It comes from faith, soul, heart and love." ~Anissa Mayhew

*Anissa's husband, Peter, is updating her blog at and you can follow along there. If you would like to help the family, this post on one of her sites has a list of things they could desperately use to keep some normalcy in the lives of these precious children.

Thank you, friends. Thank you for letting me share my Sweet Anissa with each of you.

If anything like this ever happens to me, you people better find something nice to say...Got it?!

Tuesday, November 17, 2009


The past four months have been burdened with a barrage of medical tests and unimaginable stress. Ultimately, I told myself I was going to be fine, but the internal strife was overwhelming at times. The annoyance of the unknown welled up inside me. The urge to scream became overpowering, but silently, so as to not draw attention. Tears of anger that I was enduring this at a time when I was so desperately picking up the pieces of my old life; each hitting the floor as I stooped for another. A time when I was grasping at fleeting memories of my mother and drowning in the understanding that I would never again have that love. Crippling at times and yet inevitable.

But I believe in a God who doesn't allow anything to happen without reason. A God who, despite all of life's perils, will never fail me; will always accompany me and will forever love me. This has carried me through it all.

His love has given me more than a sense of security. He's blessed me with family and friends who's love I do not deserve. From a husband who's devotion is astounding and undeserved, sisters who are close no matter the distance, and friends who were complete strangers just months ago. These people, these blessings, reserve a secluded part in my heart. They each fill a specific void in my life that was once unknown. A crevasse unexplored until the floor collapsed. My devotion to these people is undying. My love for them unending. I find myself struggling with telling them how much they mean to me and overwhelming them with adoration. Ultimately, I am eternally thankful for their love and friendship and am forever indebted to them.

"I do not wish to treat friendships daintily, but with the roughest courage. When they are real, they are not glass threads or frost-work, but the solidest thing we know."
- Ralph Waldo Emerson

Thursday, November 12, 2009

Angiogram, Take Three

Well that was a good time...

Last week, I went in for an angiogram only to have it canceled because their table broke. (For the record, I had not even made it to the table when it broke, so hush.) They rescheduled me for Tuesday, but called Monday evening to cancel me again. Considering I didn't really want to go through with this in the first place, and there was that whole 'allergic reaction to an unknown drug' I was pretty convinced this wasn't going to end well.

So when 7 a.m. rolled around and lightning hadn't struck yet, I began to panic. It was starting to look like I was going to have to go through this after all. (But I made sure to let Dorkfish know where I had hidden the boy's Christmas gifts just in case...oh, and then spent 20 minutes teaching him to use my blackberry so he could alert all of you via twitter and facebook. I would hate for you to miss being the first to mourn.)

The ordeal was pretty painless. I felt most of what they were doing and when the doctor would say things like, "Now the left side of your face will feel flushed", she meant it. It was pretty intense, to be honest. But ultimately, I was too drugged to care about much. I do remember, vividly, telling the tech and nurses that if the doctor called me 'the prom queen' one more time, things were going to get ugly. Subsequently, they giggled nervously and put another happy little cocktail in my IV.

In the end, the verdict is that I have a main vessel that is 'over sized' and runs alongside my ear. This isn't a problem, nor is there a fix for it, so it's all good. I'm not going to die suddenly from a rupture and Dorkfish is stuck with me for much, much longer. (Sorry, sweetheart.)

I did, however, get to bring home a little souvenir. My first migraine! Complete with Glitter Vision! Every where I look, I see white glitter and it's quite festive for the upcoming Christmas season. I have to admit, the headache is a bit distracting from the fun, but between that and the gaping hole in my thigh, I'm off the hook for dishes for a week at least!

Feel free to send flowers and wine...

Thursday, November 5, 2009

Filed under: Only Happens to Amo

Today I had to go in for an angiogram to try and figure out why I hear my heartbeat in my left ear. Now mind you, I don't really care that this occurs unless it wakes me up. Otherwise, meh, at least I know it's still beating. Right?

If you're a neurologist, the obvious answer to that question is no, apparently.

After numerous MRI's, a CT, hearing and vision tests, I drew the short straw and was sent to a neurosurgeon.

After 30 minutes of trying to talk her out of this procedure I mentioned, "Hey, I can turn my head and make it go away. Isn't that a good sign?!"

Again, to a neurosurgeon, the obvious answer to that question is no as well.

So I caved. I sucked up my nerve, shaved above the knee and went in. It wasn't an easy decision but more of a 'let's just rule out the really bad stuff so we can get on living life' choice.

I went through all the fun stuff involving blood-drawing, IV-inserting, horse pill-ingesting, ginormous shot in the thigh-wincing and flipping Jessica off for taking pictures of all this. (Just so she couldn't put it on her facebook...heh.)

Once I no longer cared what world I was in, they wheeled me back to the 'Angio Suite', which was by no means the kind of classy place the name suggested. There were huge metal tracts along the ceiling, cameras inside bubbles hanging everywhere, a huge c-shaped machine to take the x-rays and it was about the temperature that Dorkfish says my feet are when I shove them on his back in the middle of the night.

The tech comes in the room and explains that the table isn't working right and so he needs to reboot it or somethingoranother. I, still on my early morning cocktail of Demerol and Versed, was not too fussed about anything happening. A few minutes later, they returned to inform me that the table was in fact broken and they could not fix it themselves. I was sent back to the pre-op area to wait.

Jessica and I were playing on our blackberries when I realized I was having trouble breathing. "Hey, I feel like someone's choking me," I said without the expected MY HAIR'S ON FIRE tone. (Thanks to the cocktail.)

Jessica freaks, "YOU WHAT?! WHAT'S WRONG?!"

"I said I feel like I'm having trouble breathing and incidentally, there's a hot-air sensation on the left side of my face. This might be the worst date I've been on," I snickered.

She paged the nurse and then waited a full three seconds before storming the nurses station in search of help.

They determined it was an allergic reaction and started pumping me full of Benadryl. If you think I'm carefree while on narcotics, you should see me with Benadryl...snort. But it did work in stopping the train wreck that I was quickly and steadily headed toward.

So the good news is that I didn't die on the table as I had predicted since the damn thing wasn't working in the first place.

The bad news is that I now have a drug that I'm allergic to, but they have no idea which one.

In other news, I woke up hung over, hungry and can't remember why I have blue X's drawn on my feet in sharpie. Thus ensuring the entire day was most certainly the worst date ever.

But I get to do it all over again on Tuesday, so apparently it wasn't too bad for the other parties involved.