Saturday, September 3, 2011


I've often wondered what a baby bird thinks that day when it's walking safely around in the nest and suddenly the nest is not there anymore. When that baby bird walks off the edge of it's safe nest does it think, "Finally! The day I've been waiting for my whole life! I get to fly!" Or is it thinking, "Wait. This is not what I expected. I'm falling."

I had an experience of the latter kind the fall after I turned 19. I had successfully finished my first year of college, recently returned from a trip to Europe, and was basically being paid to go to school. Life could not have been better.

One short sentence destroyed that perfect little bubble I lived in forever.

"You have a tumor in your brain."

When my doctor, who had been testing me for various maladies, announced this in the little examination room in his office I heard that little bird's voice echoing in my head, "Wait! This is not what I expected!"

The doctor went on to explain that the tumor he was referring to had grown inside my pituitary gland, messing up my hormones and my female functions for as many as 6 years of my life. The good news is that it is benign, not cancerous. He then pronounced that I was to have an MRI in one hour and that I would have to get my blood drawn every week.

I was terrified. MRI! It sounded so official and stiff and scary.

Plus I had this extreme fear of needles. I soon recovered from that fear. Don't get me wrong, I don't like it when a sharp metal object is stabbed into my arm to either extract or inject something in my body. No fun. I've just learned that the experience is much less painful if I simply relax, breathe and say, "OK, let's get this over with."

The MRI was worse than I had anticipated. I was laid on a sliding panel and pushed into a space where I couldn't move my arms away from my body without touching the sides, and I couldn't lift my head even two inches without bumping into the ceiling. Then the machine banged and pulsed and boomed until the nurse pulled me out to inject an IV of contrast into me, then the banging, pulsing and booming recommenced. Finally the dreaded ordeal was over. Yes! I did make it through alive!

The rest of that day is a blur to me. But the next few years have been a constant struggle. I take a medicine twice a week to shrink said tumor which has severe and troubling side effects. But every day I continue to push on. I am a 23 year old public school orchestra teacher who finished her degree in three and a half years and strives to make every day a happy one. Trust me that is not always feasible, but life could always be worse and there is always something to make you happy. Even if it's a lady bug landing on your shirt, or a double rainbow on a cloudy day, or a butterfly flying past on the breeze of a summer day. I have learned that the only way I can make it through the hard days is to look for these small miracles. This philosophy has helped me through the struggles of three and a half years.

With the tears comes laughter even when you're falling.

Saturday, January 8, 2011


Many times I have looked at what we do to ourselves today in the name of health and beauty and ask myself, "Why? Why would we put ourselves through this pain?" I'm sure our ancestors would say the same thing if they looked at us today. I was thinking of this especially as I was doing push-ups lately. I've been exercising on a more frequent basis, running, lifting weights, cycling, but the most recent addition is 50 push-ups a day. I have been so sore, that I have had a hard time putting on my coat. Is it worth it? I ask myself this question many times. I go in knowing the consequences, and yet I do it anyway. Some may call it selfish, some may call it crazy, but all of us in this day do this in one way or another.

But there are some things that must be treated in a painful way, or we cannot function. Yes, we could refuse treatment, but that would lead to worse consequences.

When I was five, I contracted sinusitis. All I remember is my throat being extremely sore. Luckily my uncle is an ENT. (Ear, Nose and Throat Doctor) He was able to diagnose my problem and prescribe surgery. I was terrified. I'd never had surgery before. I watched a show to help me not be scared about it. It had a friendly green dragon in it who walked you through what was going to happen.

The day finally came, my mother gave me some new strawberry pajamas to help me feel more ok about the situation. I carried my trusty teddy bear with me and I got to ride in a red wagon through the hospital! How cool is that! Anyway, the man who gave me the anesthesia was extremely kind. I remember he sang to me. Anesthesiologists are some of my favorite people in the world. They give me magic medicine that makes it so I'm asleep while the surgery is going on and when I wake up it's all over. What a beautiful thing.

I remember waking up in a large crib which incensed me deeply. I was five, too old to have to be in a crib. But my uncle brought me a popsicle and let me ride to the car in a wheelchair which made everything much better.

For the next week my mother and I stayed at my uncle's house. I had to take the medicine every 6 hours. The real trick was that I had to eat whenever I took it, including the middle of the night dose. For almost a year after I stopped taking the medicine, I still woke up hungry at 3:00 am. My poor mother. I woke her up every time so I could eat something. I will always be grateful for all that she's done for me throughout my life. Especially when it comes to medical procedures.

And once again I am grateful for modern medicine

Wednesday, September 8, 2010


Over the years the form of transportation has changed many times. From horses to carriages to cars to planes. But one form of transportation has always remained constant. . . walking.

I was one and a half and I was in Salt Lake for my Grandfather's funeral. My Grandma had this great red tricycle that unfortunately now has some rust in various places, proclaiming its age much like patches of grey hair. The two back wheels were considerably smaller than the large front wheel, and between them lay a step where someone could push or ride. The pedals for this tricycle rotated around the center of the front wheel. My short legs were not long enough to reach the pedals, so my older brother James who was 14 at the time, was pushing me.

I can remember sitting on that tricycle saying, "Go faster! Go faster!" I remember looking up at the power line at the end of my Grandmother's twisting driveway and seeing a bird perched up there. Then my memory turns to a blank.

As my legs had been hanging aimlessly, and as we went faster my left leg wandered closer and closer to the wheel until it collided, pulling my foot in between the spokes and breaking my little one-year old leg.

I got a cast put on which I still have. It is so tiny.

We have home videos of me clunking around with that cast. In one video I am sitting on a counter in our kitchen with no chair close by eating dinner mints. My mom comes around the corner with the camera and says "How did you get up there?" I still have my cast on in this video.

I decided from a very early age that I would not let anything get me down or stop me from doing what I want to do.

I would need this mentality later on in life.

Saturday, September 4, 2010

The Beginning

The other day I was once again contemplating the idea that if our ancestors were to be plopped from their horse-drawn wagon, churning butter by hand and only traveling great distances when it was absolutely necessary life into ours they would be questioning quite extensively the general use of our time. This thought occurred to me during the five minutes it takes for my car to be filled up with gas. An ancestor of mine might ask why I wasted that five minutes standing by my car, staring at the rising numbers and purposefully avoiding any contact with the other people standing by their cars wasting the five minutes of their precious time.

Why do I waste that time? Because my life literally could not function the way it currently does without those ten gallons of gas in that precious tank that runs my car. I couldn't get to work, I couldn't buy groceries (without a ride from someone else) I couldn't visit any of my sisters or my parents.

In my ancestor's day this would not be a problem because family lived close by, you work from your house or in the town within walking distance, and to buy groceries, you use your trusty wagon and horse that never needs to be fueled while you stand and wait. That was the life.

However, if I had been born to that world, neither my Mother nor I would have survived my being born.

I was born in the posterior position which means that my face was up instead of down. I've teased my parents in past years that I just simply wanted to see the sun when I was born. How was I to know I would be born in a hospital where no sun would be seen? Or the problems it would create.

Because I was positioned in that way my mother was in labor for twelve hours before the doctor decided that it would be best for both of us if my mom had a Cesarean section. This is an ancient method of saving the baby by cutting it out of the mother's abdomen. This was used only when the mother had died as a last resort to save the baby. Today it is still used as a last resort, but there are wonderful advancements such as antibiotics, anesthetic and blood transfusions that allow the mother to live as well as the baby.

Both of us were very tired after that incident, but all I had to show for it was a massive bruise that covered half of my forehead.

In this world filled with terrorists and natural disasters there are still good things coming from the minds of those who would make it a better place. Although my mother and I could have conceivably survived this bump in the road without the complete medical advancements of now, I would not have lived to this day, (or at least I would not have the life I do today) without the technology of medicine to help me get through the next years of my life.

More stories to come in later posts.