Tag Archives: Yale – New Haven Hospital

Playing for the Cure: Brainstormin’

Playing for the Cure_Brainstormin'-2There’s one week to go until Playing for the Cure: Brainstormin’, a benefit concert for The Yale Brain Tumor Center next Friday, August 15th at The Ballroom at the Outer Space in Hamden, Connecticut.  All proceeds raised will be donated to the Nora Brignolo Fund, c/o Dr. Joseph Piepmeier at the Yale Brain Tumor Center to raise awareness and research for the cure to brain tumors and brain cancer.

The concert is featuring the talents of Broca’s Area and Daphne Lee Martin.  Seeing that I never blogged about it until now, I’ve included a link to one of the articles here.

My family and I completely overwhelmed by the show of support and generosity from the community already.  A huge thank you to media outlets such as the Hartford Courant, CTNOW, The New Haven Register, The North Haven Courier and The North Haven Post; our corporate sponsors The Hartford Courant, Stop and Shop, Edge Technologies, Doug Anderson, ShelfSpace Marketing, LLC, Carla’s Pasta and Severance Foods; and to all who have donated the awesome prizes for our raffle.  Your generosity and support of our effort is extremely appreciated.

For me, the work and time that are expended on putting an event like this together are a no-brainer (no pun intended) and I know my family would agree.  It is simple acts such as receiving a handwritten letter along with a check in the mail from a fellow brain tumor survivor, to receiving an email from a brain cancer warrior right here in Connecticut who had been looking so forward to our event letting me know that due to her medications and rigors of treatment that are currently wearing her down, it’s likely that she’ll be unable to attend but is sending a check regardless that make me realize my purpose in life and give me a sense of pride.

Please help me in this final week  to spread the word and help me in saying “thank you” to the doctors and caregivers who saved my life.  I look forward to seeing you all at The Ballroom at The Outer Space next Friday night!

Changes In Latitudes

At the time that my shunt was inserted, the doctors cautioned me that I should prepare myself for the day that it would need to be replaced.  Little did I know that that day would come just four years later.  While nothing in life is certain, nor should anything be taken for granted, the actual expectation was that the shunt would only need to be replaced every 10 years or so.

I’ll admit, I do not profess to understand all of the complexities and technicalities of the brain, though I wish I did.  Ever since my diagnosis, I have become fascinated with the brain, how it works and controls every part of the body.  I soak in everything I can possibly learn about it.  My doctors informed me of the signs and warnings that I should be on the lookout for that would signal a need to replace my shunt: redness or swelling along the path of the shunt, headaches, confusion, memory problems or any other symptom I experienced prior to having the shunt inserted would indicate there could be an infection or malfunction.

Knowing everything I had learned about my shunt made the results from my six-month follow up MRI in September of 2012 surprising.  I was feeling great and functioning normally – none of the signs my doctors warned me about were ever present.  Low and behold though, diagnostic imaging showed a buildup of cerebro-spinal fluid in the ventricles and a malfunction with the shunt.  But why wasn’t I manifesting the symptoms I had previously, such as trouble with my speech, confusion and aphasia?  Had I been so entangled with the bar exam that I lost sight of how I was feeling and lost my ability to assess myself?  Despite my optimism that all was well, my surgeon decided that it was already time for a shunt revision.

Emotionally, this was a major blow to my recovery process.  I had come such a long way in the span of 4 years and now I had to face the prospect of starting all over.  I feared that the shunt might not be as effective as the first one or that complications which I did not experience the first time around might arise.  I had finally found my groove and was comfortable with my new robotic mind – and now this.  Why couldn’t something, just anything, go right for me for a change?  But hey, nothing good comes out of complaining.  Glad I can find a sense of humor in these things now530e9c97ed7a3e96831b5a77bd3ca664.

On October 1, 2012, I headed back to Yale.  As I was wheeled into the OR and instructed to lie down on the cold metal slab for the surgery, I was again faced with the question of “what if?”  But in my head, I knew everything would be okay and I’d be as good as new in no time.  Before Ashley and my parents had the chance to enjoy the spread of food that the hospital serves them while I’m having my head drilled open, the surgery was done and I was back in my room sleeping off the anesthesia.  Sorry to them all that they were unable to finish their chocolate chip muffins…

This hospital stay was different from my previous stay, however.  Rather than being a complete invalid, I was conscious and alert of my surroundings and life around me.  Then again though, how could I not be?  I was woken up every hour by the nurse and resident neurosurgeon to take my temperature, make sure that I was sleeping, asking me questions such as “do you know what day it is” or “can you tell me where you are?”  My favorite one of that night though was “Chris, have you been walking around?”  I thought to myself, “seriously, at 4:30 in the morning?”  My response: “no doctor, I’m just trying to sleep.”  I had returned to my quick and sarcastic self in no time.

I wrote a text message to my parents at 4:30 that morning to share with them the latest updates.  I felt like my life had become a daytime soap opera.  img_ynhh_tab1Rather than General Hospital, I’d call it “Yale-New Haven – Against All Odds”.

How did my life come to this, I wondered.  But it did and I have learned to accept it because after all, life is full of adversity and I had learned to readjust the sails to go with the direction of the wind.

I Get Knocked Down, But I Get Up Again

April 11, 2012 – it was my mom’s birthday!  But that date also holds another meaning for me.

I just finished eating dinner and was in the kitchen, when suddenly, out of nowhere, visual auras commenced.  I last experienced these in 2009 when I had my first seizure.  Here we go again.  Bring on the flashing lights and spinning room.  I panicked – I looked for someone, anyone, to catch my fall.  Within a matter of seconds, I was down on the floor – unconscious on the cold tile.  When I came to, I got myself over to the couch, put my head in my hands and said to myself “no, not again”.  I got on the phone with the closest people at the time – my parents, and they urged me to call Yale immediately.  The sound of concern in their voice resonates with me to this day.

Frightened and still disoriented, I called the hospital and left a message.   Within a matter of minutes, I heard my surgeon’s calming voice: “Chris – talk to me.  What happened?  How are you feeling? Is anyone there with you?  Did you take your medicine today?”  My responses were soft and slow, but at least I was able to answer.  At his direction, I took an additional Dilantin pill and assured him that I would be in contact as soon as someone arrived.

My brother, who fortunately lived nearby at the time, called and said he was on his way over to stay with me until my parents arrived.  While I pride myself on being an independent person, I have to admit that I was relieved to hear him say that he was minutes away.  As I was walking away from the door after unlocking it, out of nowhere once again, the auras returned, I twitched, spun around and was down.

I was woken up to the voices of my parents and brother, all of them nervously hovering over me.  My parents pressed me for answers to the questions, but knew that I was incapable of answering.  We all sat together for a few minutes on the couch and no one really said much.  I think we were all in shock and scared – or at least that is how I felt.  When the small talk reconvened, I told them that I talked with my surgeon and took another pill at his direction.  Rightfully so, they were concerned about the second seizure at the moment.  The three of us sat on the couch for a few more minutes, nobody saying anything and fearing the worst.  We rushed down to the emergency room at Yale-New Haven Hospital where more blood tests and an MRI were ordered and I was pumped up with medicines.  I was finally released around 3:00 in the morning.

Home to sleep for a few hours then back to Yale we went for an appointment with my surgeon.  Because I was alone for both seizures, there were not many answers to the questions as to why this happened twice in succession.   The results of my MRI were clear – there was nothing present on the scans that was cause for concern.  However, the results of blood levels provided further insight.

After my first seizure in 2009, I was prescribed Phenytoin (or more commonly known as Dilantin) and instructed to take 300/mg twice per day.  Phenytoin is used to control and prevent seizures and works by decreasing abnormal electrical activity in the brain.  The one caveat – the drug is dependent upon your body’s ability to absorb the drug in the bloodstream.

Thanks to breakthroughs in science, blood tests are used to determine whether the drug concentrations are in the therapeutic range.  For a patient my age and weight, the magical range is between 10-20mg.  When I arrived at the ER, my phenytoin level was down to six.  Yikes!  I was given a loading dose – 10 to 15mg by slow IV drip, at a rate not to exceed 50mg per minute.  After the IV had completed and the drug was in my system for some time, the blood test was re-administered.  Shockingly, the level had only gone up to an eight.

My surgeon referred me to a neurologist – someone who specializes in and is better equipped to handle seizure disorders.  During my visit with the neurologist, he explained that Dilantin’s requirement to stay concentrated in the bloodstream does not work for some people for reasons unknown.  Fortunately, there are other medications that can be taken that do not depend on blood concentration.  I take this moment to introduce levetiracetam, also known as Keppra.

I am prescribed to take the maximum daily dosage of 1,500/mg twice per day.  With Keppra, the drug instead works by communicating with nerve signals in the brain.  I just picked up my prescription at CVS and have the paperwork here which reads: “Leveiteracetam has been shown to decrease the number of seizures in adults and children.  It is not known how it works to prevent seizures.”  Awesome right?  But for whatever its worth, and knock on wood, I have been seizure free now since April 11, 2012.  I’m not sure if that was my mom’s birthday wish that year, but I like to think so.

Life continues to throw curveballs at me.  Though I never hit one of them as a kid, probably because I never had good eyesight (I like to think that it was due to the tumor growing, but that’s highly unlikely), I knock everyone out of the park now.  Watch out Ty Cobb, I’m coming for you.

Free Fallin’

Frozen.  Locked.  Helpless.

These three words epitomize the feeling I felt one night in March 2009.  My mind froze and my body suddenly and without reason locked up.  The signal of communication between my brain and body were lost.

In talking about my first semester back in my last post, I told you “about halfway through, I was mentally done.”  This was the moment that I was referring to: my life’s latest curveball and the topic of this next entry.

To set the scene, I was reading my family law cases and the time was just about 6:50 according to my roommate.  A couple of minutes later, I noticed that the words on the page began to blur and when I tried to yell for help, I couldn’t.  I could not move my arms, let alone highlight the passage that I had just read.  Within seconds, I was standing next to my desk, spinning in circles uncontrollably and then all consciousness was lost.  My body was jerking and I was having uncontrollable spasms.  My heart was beating faster than I ever heard it and I was sweating bullets.  I felt my eyes rolling to the back of my head and the drool pooling at the corner of my mouth. Eventually, the twitches ceased and I slept.

When I woke up, I was on the ground with the upper half of my body in the closet.

“How did I get here?” I wondered.  Alone and afraid of the unknown, I rose from the floor and walked into bathroom where I threw ice-cold water on my face.  When I looked up into the mirror, I noticed a massive egg in the middle of my forehead.

I tried to recall the events that took place but was unable to remember anything after my manic spinning. I assumed that I was trying to find a place to sit down but lost my balance, fell and landed in the closet.  There were no words; no feelings that I could use to express what was going on in my mind.  It could only be summed up in one word: terrified.

I walked down the hall to my roommate’s bedroom and was greeted with an abrupt “what happened to you?!”

“I don’t’ know”, I replied.

I called home and my mother answered.  I heard her talking and asking questions, but I could not answer any of them.  “I do not know what happened” I continued to tell her.  She asked questions to gain information such as “what was I doing” or “when did this happen?” Again, I had no idea but my mom said to me: “You need to find out how long you passed out for.  It is 7:05.  What is the last time that you looked at the clock?”

Wait, holdup. It was only 7:05?  That means that I had only been out for a few minutes?  Why did it feel like I was in the deepest sleep for days?

I feared the worst.  I thought, “did the shunt stop working or worse yet, did the tumor grow back in a more aggressive manner?”

At the same time that I called my parents, my roommate was on the phone with Ashley to let her know that something was wrong.  Within minutes, Ashley arrived and began asking questions.  Unfortunately, I could not answer any of them. Still, I had no clue.

Now, to think having to be seen at the hospital was a hassle, Ashley brought me over to Rhode Island Hospital for an evaluation. I was without any of my records or past MRI’s and there was really no way for me to explain what happened other than “I was reading, felt weird and passed out.”  The doctors were completely unfamiliar with my medical history and the treatments that I had been through and they had to take my word on what I was telling them.  Fortunately, in my wallet, I carry my neurosurgeon and clinical coordinator’s cards for situations like these.  I remembered that I had them in there so I took out the card, handed it to him and directed him to call the number.  The cognitive exams and strength tests were normal and he assumed it was a seizure and pumped me up with anti-seizure medicines and fluids to hydrate me.  I was kept for further observation and finally released around 3:00 a.m.

The next day, I was back down at Yale for an appointment with my neurosurgeon.  Following the regimen of questions and my responses, he prodded a little further and sent me for a precautionary scan.  Finally, and to my great relief, the cause was confirmed – I had suffered a grand-mal seizure.

Unfortunately however, there was no telling what caused the seizure, but it is not uncommon for someone who has undergone such traumatic brain injuries as I had just been through to suffer a seizure.  But again, I could only wonder and ask myself “why me?”

With my prescription for Dilantin in hand, I was back on my way to school and headed back to classes.  But like any traumatic experience in life, I had conditioned myself to fear having another seizure.  Any evening that I sat my desk reading a case or outlining for class, I was reminded of my incident and felt the fear of “what if?” It’s completely irrational but I was uneasy thinking that something else would derail my quest and cause me to land back in the hospital.

After another email to my professors letting them know of the latest episode, they took it easy on me and I did not get called on the remainder of the semester.  But yet, exams were quickly approaching and I had to control my emotions and pull through.

However, if a seizure was all that I had to deal with, life isn’t so bad I told myself.  I told myself “It’s just another chapter to a great book.”

Or perhaps I’ll need to devote a couple of chapters to this topic….

How to Save a Life

In our lives, we all have someone that we can rely on to lift our spirits and make us smile.  In the summer of 2008, I realized how lucky I was to have more than someone – I had an entire army of support and caregivers.  So without more, I dedicate this post to my guardian angels.

Dr. Piepmeier, Director of Neuro-Oncology, Yale New Haven Hospital – I do not even know where to begin to thank you and tell you what you mean to me.  From the moment you stepped into the consultation room and we met for the first time, I knew you were going to get the job done.  Your professionalism and courtesy to my family and I during such a tumultuous summer is never forgotten.  I often think of what it would have been like had another surgeon handled my case; fortunately, I never need to think about that.  My family can attest to the fact that, upon receiving the diagnosis, I was scared of the unknown, but after meeting you and hearing the plan of action prior to the procedure, I was at peace and prepared for battle.   Then and now, you provide me with a reassuring sense of confidence that I could not give myself.

Betsey, Clinical Care Coordinator, Department of Neuro-Oncology – When I received my diagnosis and spoke with you for the first time, you had a calming effect on me. I instantly knew that, as bad as the diagnosis was, the team of doctors who were assigned to my case were going to get me through this and back on my feet and doing all that I planned to do in this life.  I feel so fortunate to be able to rely on you as my go-to person to have questions answered.  But more importantly, you provided me the hope that I needed to assure me that things would get better and to keep the faith.  Your smile and positive outlook has had a profound effect on me and for that, I am forever grateful.

Aunt Linda – Thank you. You have truly played such an important role in getting me back to the point where I am at now in my life. Your patience and grace in working with me never goes forgotten. As a 24 year old, trying to re-establish the connection between what I saw and was thinking and trying to verbalize those thoughts was demoralizing.  As you were showing me those flash cards, you never lost the patience and willingness to continue to work with me even as I struggled.  Your emails made me smile and your cards with words of wisdom resonate.  You are a wonderful person and I feel extremely fortunate to have you a part of my family.

Dr. Quagliarello (Dr. Q), MD – Not only are you a great family friend, a father of one of my great friends I met in elementary school and baseball coach of Famous Foods, but you have been a great source of support, care and guidance.  I often flash back to the day I was admitted to the hospital after receiving the diagnosis…knowing my mom called Joyce, who in turn contacted you and you rushed down to the room where I was waiting to see the doctors just so that you could be there with my parents and I.  You were able to provide comfort to me in a time that I needed it the most, but I know that for my parents, you provided them with a sense of hope that I was in good hands at Yale and with Dr. P.  Thank you for always checking in on me during daily visits to Yale and the house, as well as providing support to my family during a tough time.

Ellen, Speech Pathologist at Gaylord Hospital – When we first met, I was in complete disbelief that my life had taken such a drastic turn that I was in need of speech and cognitive therapy but I am happy to have been referred to you.  The alphabet board; the flash cards; the exercises to restore my strength – what was I to do with those, I wondered?  You laid out a plan for me, never grew tired of watching me struggle and never lost faith in my ability – you knew I was in there somewhere and kept prodding and encouraging me to keep trying and practicing.  Sure enough, I did it and I owe a great deal of my recovery to you.  Thank you.

To all the nurses who kept guarded watch of me in the NICU: though I do not remember you by name, I know each and everyone of you cared greatly about me during that summer and I owe a great deal of gratitude to you.

Last but not least – to my tremendously supportive family.  Where would I be without your love, support, faith and comedic relief.  I was but a shell of the person I am today and I owe it all to you – you never gave up on me and continually encouraged me to strive to get better and persevere.

Brainstorm – Part Two

Will I wake up normal?  Is there a chance that this surgery could lead to unintended consequences?  What if they can’t get the shunt in place and find that there is no plausible way for me to have the device inserted – does that mean this is my life forever?  Wait, what about my song?

Within a matter of minutes of being taken into the OR, Dr. Piepmeier greeted me on the cold slab of metal and said the team of doctors was ready to get started and that he’d see me in a little while.

Now, before I go any further, I have a request.  Think of a moment in your life where your hopes for something completely outweighed the realistic expectations of it happening.  Once you have that moment, you can continue reading.  See if yours measures up to mine…

Great, here we go again. 10…9…8… Sweet dreams…and knocked out I was yet again.

Once I was out of surgery, I was wheeled down the hall back to the ICU to sleep off the anesthesia.  Now, you have to understand that nobody in my family ever conveyed the odds and percentages of the surgery to me so I did not know what to expect coming out of this.  Regardless of the odds, I knew it could certainly help me. In the midst of being woken up by the doctors and nurses, I recall feeling “different” somehow; I was able to recognize that the thoughts in my head were clearer and I was better able to understand the conversations that were taking place around me.  However, it was still too early in the recovery process for me to test myself but I had a fleeting thought that perhaps my progress would now move along much quicker.  But then again, I was still in such a fog that I was not able to fully appreciate what had actually taken place and knew I was being delusional.  I was in and out from the anesthesia so I took the time to sleep, heal and recover.  Still though – there was this nagging feeling that maybe I was back to my old self.

When I had finally fully woken up and come to my senses, I again felt like I was in a dream.  Things around me suddenly made sense and I was able to put 2 and 2 together to understand that I was now a bionic man with a valve system in his brain to help me function in society.

Come to find out, my dream was no dream – it was reality.  I felt just as I had prior to the time when all of this began.  I was alert.  I was watching TV and playing on my phone.  Yes, you read that right – I was using my phone to read the mass of emails and text messages that had piled up from family and friends the past two months.  And then the moment that I had been waiting for had come – my family had arrived.

I heard my parents’ voices as they were talking with the doctors and nurses outside of my room before coming in to see me…I eagerly awaited their arrival.  My dad entered the room first (here comes my moment):

I greeted him with an enthusiastic “good morning, Dad!”  Then my mom came in and I said “good morning, Mom! How are ya?!”

The looks on their faces were priceless…faces that I’ll never forget.  I found that the moment was beyond satisfying.  What an absolute whirlwind.  Not less than 12 hours ago, I couldn’t say my own name, let alone say “hi” to my parents.  They continued to engage me in conversation and I was actually doing it!  Though my response time was slow, I understood all the questions being asked and was able to respond.  The sound of my own voice had never sounded so good.  I had shown my family and myself what I knew in my head – I was still in there and simply needed some manipulation to break free.

And when the entourage of doctors rolled in, they bombarded me with the usual questions.  This time I was able to tell them my level of pain in a comprehensible tone, replied that “yes, I do have a headache” and “three” in response to “how many fingers am I holding up?”  Once they left, in came Dr. Piepmeier and Betsey.  He looked at me in awe, but nonetheless asked me how I was feeling.  I replied “great!” I remember him just looking at me, almost as if he thought he was dreaming but nope – this was no dream.  When my sister and brother came to see me, I greeted them all as well.  Overnight, I had gone from a shell of my old self to almost as good as new.

Walking around the hospital hallways with my mother that day, we walked past a diagram of the brain and I stopped there with her to show her what had been done to me during the surgery.  As I was explaining where the valve was inserted and where it was draining to, a voice behind chimed in and said “very impressive Chris.”  It was Dr. Piepmeier.  That moment is also one I’ll never forget.

Two days later, my paperwork was being prepared and I was released – free to go home.  When I got home, one of the first things I wanted to do was sit down at my piano and play.  I was hesitant at first, but it was something that I had to do.

I sat there, placed my fingers on the keyboard and I started to play.  Without even thinking about it, that beautiful sound was coming out.  Like it was yesterday, I began playing my composition and it was if I never stopped playing.  I played the first few bars of the song and into it I went – remarkably, I had played everything I had written previously, but this time it sounded really good.  Over the next few days, my determination to finish my song was completed and all I needed was a title.  And then it hit me.  With all that had just taken place in my brain and the further brainstorming I was doing to find a title, I titled the piece, very simply “Brainstorm”.

Foreigner’s “Double Vision”…Barbara Streisand’s “Send in the Clowns”…Ice Cube’s “A Man’s Best Friend”…Manfred Mann’s “Blinded by the Light”…Louis Armstrong’s (or my preferred version sung by Stacey Kent and the song my mom and I danced to at my wedding) “What A Wonderful World”….Ben Folds’ “I Am The Luckiest”…Patrick Watson’s ”The Great Escape”…Billy Joel’s “Keeping the Faith” and “Movin’ Out (Anthony’s Song)”…Michael Jackson’s “ABC”…John Michael Montgomery’s “Sold” (Hey Pretty Lady Won’t You Give Me A Sign)…”Take Me Out To The Ballgame”…”Somewhere Over The Rainbow”…Pearl Jam’s “Come Back”…Jack Johnson’s “Sitting, Wishing, Waiting”…Josh Groban’s “You Raise Me Up”…Avicii’s “Hey Brother”

“Brainstorm”

All of my posts’ titles have been these songs or lyrics borrowed from them.  They express the chapters of my life and relay the emotions of my story.  For me, music is everything – it is one of my passions.  And miraculously, I had it back.

Without more, here it is.  Brainstorm © 2011

chris cd cover v3_1

 

Sitting, Wishing, Waiting (Reprise)

After a long day at Yale-New Haven Hospital, the results are in and Ashley and I have decided to share today’s news in a joint post…

Waiting.

It always seems like we are waiting – in line at the grocery store, for a much-needed vacation, for work to be over.

What bothers me most about this premise is the precious time we squander while we impatiently yearn for the cashier to just hurry up.  All that time in between rushing from here to there or waiting for something you are looking forward to may feel mundane, but it’s our time.  Chris and I learned at a very early age that time, mundane or not, should not be wasted.  In any event, it seems to me that often times the built up anticipation while we await “the next big thing” is better than what we were waiting for in the first place.  So why do we wish our lives away?

My favorite religious concept is the Buddhist idea of mindfulness. Essentially, it teaches that as people, we should strive to enter a mental state of present consciousness – to be aware of what is going on around you at that moment and to be at peace with it.   Let go of the past and don’t worry about the future – and when you reach this state of mindfulness, you will be happy.  This notion makes perfect sense, but I am admittedly one of its worst violators.

Today was a huge day for Chris.  As he earlier alluded to, a small regrowth of his tumor led to a gamma knife radiation procedure, which the doctors hoped would prevent any further growth and eliminate the need for surgery.  Today was his 3-month MRI follow-up, which would determine whether or not the gamma knife surgery was a success.

I’ve become accustomed to waiting in the hospital now.  It’s a perfect example of mundane time that I wish away – worrying about the results and just wishing to get out of there as soon as possible.  Today, while Chris underwent his MRI, I sat around and was a complete nervous wreck.  Besides the fact that I was trying to prevent a full blown anxiety attack from the loud noises emanating from the MRI machine, I was consumed with worry about the test’s results.  I knew that regardless of the outcome, we were equipped to handle it as we have in the past – but the thought of this not working and continuing to battle regrowth was just a terrible thought I was having trouble shaking.

But after all of those negative thoughts, a positive one finally emerged.  What if it did work?  This truly could be the end – well, it will never be the end because we will monitor this the rest of our lives, but as far as the initial tumor and procedures, this could be it.  I smiled.  I decided for the rest of my time waiting for the MRI to be over and for the results appointment thereafter, I would consume myself with the positive thought that there was a possibility that his tumor is at bay, not that the procedure didn’t work. In that moment, I understood mindfulness and how it can amazingly affect your experiences.  I didn’t want to let the present go, because my present thoughts meant there was hope.  For the first time ever, I embraced waiting.

And now I hand the reins over to Chris, because I think it’s his place to share the news with you…

As I stepped onto the elevator and headed up to the eighth floor where I would learn the results, mixed emotions ran through my mind.  While I was always confident today would bring nothing but good news, I had my doubts.  Let’s face it, we all have doubts.

But today, I just knew.  After taking my temperature, blood pressure and weight (oh yea, and the nurse also asked to see my ID bracelet just be sure I was who I claimed I was for the umpteenth time today), I was brought into yet another waiting room where Dr. P would walk through the door on the adjacent wall any second.

Not a minute later than the nurse walked out, the door re-opened…

A thumbs-up and a big smile.  “We got it!” he said!  My surgeon was genuinely excited and began telling me how well everything looked on the scans.  He eagerly brought me over to the computer where I saw the MRI comparison from December to today.  To my great relief, I saw but a small remnant of what the regrowth had been late last year.  Looking at the two scans, side-by-side, I could not help but to simply smile.  Although I will have to be monitored for the rest of my life, it was the first time, in five long years, that I feel like this road through hell has met its demise.

As the news was broke, I reflected back on the road I traveled to get to this point and the travesty that was brought into my life – the ups and downs, the laughter and sorrow.   And while I am realistic and recognize that this will be “my” battle for the rest of my life, I could not have asked for anything more than having such a fantastic medical team who truly has my best interests at heart.  But what is more, I have the best and most supportive family and friends a 30-year old can ask for.

champagne