From when I can remember, I had suffered from migraines for a long time. It wasn't until that I started dating Cory, who is now my husband, that my migraines began to get a little bit stronger and they became a little bit more debilitating. It would usually start with a headache that focused on the right side of my brain and slowly progress to making me sensitive to light, I would become nauseous and before I knew it, I would be curled up in a ball crying my eyes out because nothing would make the headache seize. Now, for those of you who suffer from migraines, you can totally identify with this pain. And you're probably even cringing at how painful it is to deal with. When the headaches went from that to lasting two weeks at a time, Cory decided we should see a doctor. We went to the doctor and she asked if I wanted to try some stronger migraine medicine or have an MRI done. Well, I am deathly scared of MRI's so I chose stronger pain medicine. Cory, however, was not happy with that choice, so he insisted on the MRI. Ugh...Ok. I concurred.
Later that week, I received a phone call. The conversation went as follows:
"Hi, may I speak to Victoria McDowell, please"
"This is Victoria"
"Hi, Victoria, This is so and so from so and so office and we received your MRI results. Looks like they found a "balloon in your brain and you have been referred to a neurologist. Here is their number, please contact them asap to schedule an appointment. We will be sending them all your information."
"Uummmm....ok.... a balloon, what exactly do you mean by that."
"I'm sorry, only the neurologist can confirm the diagnosis. "
In shock, I called my husband with a knot in my throat because deep down this news wasn't anything to be taking lightly. I could hardly get the "diagnosis" out when I called him at work. He, I could tell, didn't know how to take it either. That day and the days after that were somewhat of a blur. You know that feeling of being in a movie and that maybe this was a dream. So, we scheduled and appointment with the neurologist and I had to wait a few days to see him. The waiting during those days were pretty excruciating. I had an idea of what they called "a bubble" after googling the term, which meant, I was walking around with a ticking time bomb. Of course, I didn't want to jump to conclusions so we waited! The day finally came and we met with the neurologist. That appointment was ...a slap in the face I must say. He automatically assumed I knew what I had and starts giving me options on what we are going to do to get rid of this "bubble". All I remember is him saying, "you have two options: Open brain surgery in which the side effect is stroke, infections, or death or you don't have the surgery and hope that "it" doesn't burst but the risk in that is that it will burst and you'll become a vegetable and or you'll die." OK. In a state of shock and confusion I ask, "Can you tell me what I have? "Ohh!" He says, "You have a brain aneurysm. Didn't they tell you?" He says with a duh look on his face. Well, Why didn't I look it up on WEB Md! Silly me! (Sarcasm)
No compassion. I had two choices: Die or Die. Hmmmm..... I go with choice number.... wait, what!!!!!
After, he explained what an aneurysm was and the treatment he did I decided to ask for a second opinion. I just couldn't come to terms with so much information and such bad news. So, he referred me to a specialist in the city who had recently started doing a procedure called, Coiling, where it wasn't necessary to open the skull to fix the aneurysm. This procedure was relatively new so he wasn't sure if I would qualify for that type of surgery but it was a worth a try. For those of you that don't know, a coiling procedure is where the doctor inserts tiny platinum coils that "starve" the aneurysm. Which means, it slowly dries the blood.
So, there we went to the City to Mercy hospital! And may I say, we have the best Pastors in the world. Pastor Marilyn met with us and prayed with us that day. The test, I was going to get was called an arteriorgram. Basically, the doctor goes through the artery up to my brain and takes pictures, while I'm awake. That, is by far the hardest medical test, I've ever been through. I had to be awake, so if I had a stroke or the aneurysm ruptured while they were in there, they would know because I would react. It was hard. They pump a die into the brain so they can see every detail.... every time they pumped it, my brain was put on fire. PAINFUL. I would rather give birth a thousand times then to do that test! (Side note, I am due for another one of these test very soon. Yes, I've been avoiding it.)
After waiting a few days, I got the phone call. I qualified for the Coiling procedure. Now, we discussed the side effects with the procedure. Side effects include: stroke, risk of the doctor rupturing the aneurysm, bleeding, and of course death. I was encouraged to write out a will. Can I say that I have been through a lot of difficult things in life and that writing a will was one of them. I had to sit down,plan my funeral and all that I expected for Celeste. That, my friends, was the hardest of all. I wasn't worried that I was going to die. Yes, I was afraid. But, who isn't! However, to me, I won either way. If I left this body behind, I would meet my maker! The Lord of the Universe who loves me! If I made it, I had my second chance and I would have my family! But it was my husband and my daughter that weren't winning if I left. I felt so helpless there and then. I had no control of what was going to happen to Celeste. I wanted to see her grow, watch her learn to ride a bike, go to prom, graduate high school, graduate college! Ohh, my soul was in such turmoil that I would miss it all!
In, October of 2009, I arrived at 7 am for the Coiling procedure. Pastor Dan, was there to pray with us. (THANK YOU, Pastor! You have no idea what you did for us that day.) Interesting story, as Cory and I waited for me to be taken back, the doctor comes in and discusses with us the side effects. He says, "Ok you know what could possibly happen, you could have a stroke, you run the risk of infections, and of course there is death. Which, we did just have someone die a few days ago during this procedure. But, you'll be fine." Cory and I looked at each other and we had to nervously giggle. Wow. How reassuring. Now, although, he said that I still have to say, he is an awesome doctor. He's just straight forward and a little honest.
A few minutes later, they wheeled me off and got me ready. All I remember, is being nervous and praying, "Ok God, either I wake up and see my family or I see you. Either way, it's a win-win situation. And if I wake up and see You, PLEASE take care of my princess and the love of my life!" And as I am looking up, the nurse looks down, and says, "don't worry, we'll take good care of you." And ... sleep.
Hours later, I opened my eyes and I saw my doctor. He is super, ecstatic and says, "You're awake!!" And he proceeds to tell me all about the surgery and how well I did. I couldn't keep up. I just knew that I felt like someone hit me with a frying pan in the head or something. And, that I had gotten my second chance! I was alive. I was going home to be with my husband and my daughter. SECOND CHANCES!!!!!!!!! How blessed are we that we wake up everyday with second chances! That Lord lets us wake up and start over each day.
Now, I wish that I could say that I have been 100% healed with no precautions. I am on an aspirin a day on the highest dose to keep my blood thinned and to keep from having a stroke. Even though, there is a high risk for a stroke, I know, I will be ok. And I also, understand the saying, "live like it was your last day," a lot more. I am human and there are days I forget how my Savior has set me free and given my second chance! But everyday, I thank him for loving this forgetful human and for His unending grace and forgiveness!
Thank you, Lord!
You are my healer, redeemer, Lord Almighty!
Don't forget, friends, you have your second chance every morning! Rejoice!