It’s Sunday morning in the hospital and I wake feeling like I slept for an eternity, they did give me a sleeping aid last night before bed … Ambien. Anyway I woke up at like 3am totally energized and got out of bed and shook Bren … who was sleeping on the couch turned into a bed. My words were, “I slept so long, I feel like I could run our half marathon!” Today was the day that we would have been running the Big Sur Half Marathon. She was like that’s nice, I’m glad but how about you go back to sleep for a little bit? Now here comes the control-freak part, did I go back to sleep like I needed? No, I reached for my iPad and started writing on my blog. It felt noble sharing all these feelings and this grand adventure God was taking me through, and honestly I just couldn’t sleep. It was like the drugs were keep ping me so alert … So instead of the minutes ticking away this blog was keeping me company.
When morning came, I’m not as energized, after all I was up half the night writing. I’m feeling good though, I have the sense to start my day with the Lord. It’s Sunday and the last time I started my day this way was the morning of the surgery, how does that seem like so long ago. I read a Psalm every day, then read a chapter out of the 1000 Gifts Devo … This was a recommendation from my good friend and mentor De Morey, in fact the copy I have is hers, she loaned it to me. For some reason I think I have already mentioned this in a past post. What a life-changing book … Go get a copy, totally different than the book the Devo way better! Then I started reading a chapter of Isaiah, I told myself I was going to start after surgery and well this is the first chance I get. All I can say is that Scripture has just come to life, I love the book of Isaiah. I kinda read and pick the chapter apart, trying to make sense of it all and then write it down in my own words in the journaling lines on the sides of the page. You see I got this Bible for Raegan about 5 years ago … to write notes, prayers and encouragement. I’m planning on giving her the Bible when she starts high school, the exact time I started really following Jesus.
My last part of my quiet time is something I started with my Hub girls … that is my small group of high school girls that I lead for discussion during the last hour of youth group. Well about two months ago one of my girls, Alexa had an idea. Each week during Hubs we make a goal for the next week and then share it with the group. Now it can be anything … Reading Scripture, inviting someone to youth group, reaching out to someone who needs a friend … ect. Well one week I was really convicted that I live this Christian life and all but not actively hiding God’s word in my heart … Memorizing Scripture was my new weekly goal. So every week, those few weeks leading up to my MRI I was memorizing. Something I hadn’t done seriously for a long time and well .. I haven’t stopped. So I have this notebook and anytime I run across a verse that I just love and want to memorize it goes in the notebook. Every day I go through the notebook, from start to finish, quizzing myself on the ones I know and then reading over and working on the rest. My hope is that eventually all the verses in there will be committed to memory, but at the same time adding more all the time. Right now there are 24 verses in the notebook and I have 7 conquered … I have a ways to go. So that is my quiet time routine, my time with the Lord every day. Now keep in my mind, I am human and sometimes I fail. I may miss a day or even a whole week because of poor time management or brain surgery! I tell my Hub girls all the time … Don’t read your Bible because you feel like you have to, that just creates guilt and shame. Read because you want to … And if you only have 2 minutes than that is a great start. It is all about your willing heart wanting to hear from our great God. When you don’t do it out of guilt, you will notice that slowly your desire will grow and the minutes will increase. The key word here is grace … God gives it to us, why don’t we give it to ourselves and each other?
Next I eat, bathe and get myself together because Joette, aka Nani and Kate, Josh’s sister are coming to visit on Kate’s way back home from spending the weekend with my kiddos. It’s so good to see them, we visit for about an hour before Kate has to hit the road to make it home to her sweet family. I’m so thankful that she took the time to be with Tobey and Raegan, what a treat for them! Nani stays and it’s perfect because Josh and Brenda can actually both have some time to themselves. So she gets to experience the crazy, somewhat manic Wendi. I seem to be doing so well because I’m so expressive but this is the Decadron giving me these feelings of elation, everything seems so wonderful in my mind.
After we get home, Nani jokes that every meal is the best meal of my life. I must say, it seems that way … And I’m so hungry, a side-effect of the Decadron, that I’m loving all the fabulous meals everyone is bringing us. I’m eating like every hour, which is crazy and not the best considering that the Norco has the tendency to completely paralyze the bowels. So I’m seriously battling constipation … now my husband is wincing right now because there is no need to involve any kind of potty talk in any conversation, let alone on a blog, or so he believes … But I beg to differ in this case because this is the real deal, no covering up or skipping what really happened … The real story. It’s so bad that I’m in real pain, not head pain but stomach pain! I won’t go into the details but after some consultation from a friend I get back on track.
That night, Nani and Brenda are with me for the evening and Josh is off for a little alone time. He took off for a run from Cottage Hospital down towards the beach … It’s just around 2.5 miles, the perfect distance to blow off some steam and clear his head. After his run, he hits State Street for food and some time to chill. If you haven’t sensed this yet I am totally exhausting. I’m all amped up and talking loud and won’t stop trying to control everything. They are worried about me, I’m not resting and typing my brains off on this blog in the middle of the night.
Our hopes for a walk outside come true, we get a wheelchair and head outside. We laugh at the fact that they let us just go straight outside the front doors … We want to find the courtyard but don’t know how to get there from inside. So we take to the sidewalk, the bump at each line in the cement jolting me. This is my first time out of hospital and it is just past dusk, a little chilly but the air is so fresh. I’m breathing it in like I haven’t breathed in such a long time. We get to the gate of the courtyard and of course it is locked, so we know there must be another way. Inside again, we find it and head outside … We take pictures and as we are going to head back inside a doctor tells us that we may not want to go back the way we came … There was an “angry skunk” by the back door. We are not thinking this would be a good thing to be sprayed by a skunk, so we brave it back out on the sidewalk, over the deep lines of the cement, into the front entrance of Cottage Hospital … By the way we told the front desk about the skunk!
Ok folks … I got ahead of myself and I guess forgot when the whole movie thing happened (brain tumor)! The movie happened on Monday … Wow crazy how time can get away from you! How it is even possible that I could think that all that could have happened in one day. Well logic and reasoning have not been at my disposal as of late my friends.
This may be a good time to fill you in on something important that I’ve come to realize since I’ve been home … Something about how I tick. I am a control freak, yes Wendi Lou Lee, concerned about the smallest, silliest things! I like the dishwasher loaded exactly a certain way and laundry folded my way too. Josh may have had some influence on this habit, my all-hang dry man, whose grandfather owned a traditional Chinese Laundry Mat in New York in the 1940’s. I am exact with Tobey and Raegan too … A clean room means everything in its place. Why not is my thinking … For an 11 and 9 year old it doesn’t quite make sense. I also am the worse backseat driver when my hubby is driving, I take charge of all the directions and like to tell him which way is the fastest … Because I always seem to be in a hurry!
My husband on the other hand operates on a different clock, he is so relaxed. This used to bother me … And now I’m learning to embrace it. I want to forever do and be SLOW … For when you slow down and let go, there is so much more to see and people to invest in and a gratefulness in your heart to share how God is working. He is always working if we would just “slow down”.
I guess I got off on a tangent on the last post … If you aren’t used to that yet, then I’m so sorry but it is kinda part of this whole story. I’m telling what happened but at the same time looking into the deeper meaning of things and sharing my heart with you.
Oh .. and I totally forgot about my Mom and Curt coming by for a visit before they headed home. It was quick, they were heading to Monterey the next day to see my uncle and the gang running in the race. There was one thing I remember her saying before they left … this takes us to another story from long ago. When Brenda and I were in Kindergarten our teacher asked us to draw the first thing that came to our minds when we thought of the word “high.” What we each drew is a little window into each of our personalities. Brenda drew a sky scraper … Strong and ridged and dependable. I drew a kite … Flighty and easily influenced but at the same time really fun! My mom has reminded us of this story throughout our lives and encouraged me to embrace the unique person God created me to be. She brought up this story again and told me with a smile on her face, ” I think my kite is back!” You see, she felt like I hadn’t quite been myself for the last few years … News flash … This tumor had been growing in my brain for they think probably at least 5 years. She felt I was overwhelmed and stressed and just not the joyful daughter she knew was inside me. So we hugged and told them to enjoy their time with Uncle Jake and wish him a Happy Birthday and they were off. So on to the story of Saturday night!
Let me remind you … Josh is back at the Cottage, a little studio that the hospital provides for family of patients, he is catching some Zzz’s and getting food and relaxing. Meanwhile Bren and I are just hanging and thinking about how our race would have been the next day, how we were missing seeing Uncle Jake and Aunt Pam, and how we were so excited to see our cousin Jamie and her new husband Brian … We hadn’t met him yet, they got married earlier this year and we couldn’t make it out for the wedding. Well our intention was to take a walk to the outdoor courtyard of the hospital, it was a beautiful place with landscape and chairs and a water fountain. The night just got away from us and we had to put it off until tomorrow and try to get some much needed sleep.
Okay on to our afternoon (this is where I have a brain fart and write about what happened on Monday afternoon not Saturday so if the timing seems confusing you are on to something) … The only other thing we had on our agenda was get out into the fresh air of beautiful Santa Barbara. Josh was ready for a shift to himself. He decided on a movie …The new James Bond movie was out and I knew he would enjoy it. He decided on the 1pm showing, I was so glad he was doing this, he needed to get out of that hospital, chill out and have some time to himself.
He loves movies. We always laugh because Josh can be a hard person to buy a gift for… His famous words around his birthday or Christmas are “I always love books, music and movies.” These three things are for sure the things he enjoys the most. There is always an on-going list of books he wants to read, new musicians to check out and movies to add to his crazy movie library. In fact I’ve at times thought it all to be a little over-the-top…like how many books, cd’s and movies do you really need! But these are his loves and we are all people who get enjoyment from different things, these are his things! I call him the music man, always finding awesome new artists, from all different genres that have words of such beauty and power and love. So he buys all the cd’s in our house and mostly decides what music is playing at the moment because I just don’t have as strong of opinions in the music world. If it was up to me the only thing I would have on my iPod would be For All Seasons, All Sons & Daughters and every album of Tyrone Wells… Check them all out my all-time favorites! I just never get tired of hearing them over and over again.
For All Seasons is this awesome worship band that was the Hume Lake band the last few years up at Pondy … where I spend a week each summer counseling high school students. I’ve never experienced such deep, heartfelt worship to our great God. The last few years I’ve come to almost depend on these albums to bring me comfort and encouragement in my walk with Jesus. All Sons & Daughters is another worship band that Josh found … He knew I would like them and they are another go-to for music.
Lastly we have Tyrone Wells, what can I say? This very talented musician is a friend as well. We went to college with Tyrone at Pacific Christian College in 1996-1997, I believe he graduated that year before Josh did. He sang in chapel … Our school called it Convo and periodically in church at Eastside Christian Church where we attended sometimes. He went solo in 2000 and has over 10 albums, along with a few single releases that I see I haven’t checked out lately. It’s been a busy year folks… I’ll get to it during these next 5-7 weeks of recovery.
Since Tyrone went solo we’ve been following him whenever we get the chance. He has played a few times at Cal Poly and Downtown Brew in SLO. I even took a friend… the lovely, raw and beautiful Bekah Pogue to Santa Barbara after Tanner, her first-born arrived for a girls nite. We shopped, ate great food and took in a concert at Soho in Santa Barbara featuring none other than my favorite songwriter Tyrone Wells.
The last time we saw Tyrone was a few years ago in Pismo Beach … right on the cliffs, an outdoor event. It was our first time bringing the kids to a concert … we sat on the grass, ate nachos and sang along with Tyrone. The last two songs of the concert, Raegan and I even went up to join the dance circle and I held her in my arms swaying to the music. The last two songs were ‘And The Birds Sing’ and ‘Happy As The Sun’ maybe two of my most favorite, as if I could even pick a favorite? We just danced and sang and I twirled her in my arms … this isn’t a common thing for me to carry my kids because of my usually aching back. God must have wanted me to have this memory with Raegan, He gave me super strength that day to hold her. After the concert I stayed back and said hello to Tyrone, like we usually do … Just a quick hug and how are you and great concert man… See you next time!
Anyway I have almost every album and when a new one is released it’s always on my birthday or Christmas list and have loved seeing him in concert any chance I get. Some of his music is kinda on the lovey, dating and romantic spectrum, very easy on the ears… light, fun and positive messages, but he writes about all kinds of issues too, this guy is truly an amazing artist who has this unique way of putting notes on the page. There isn’t a song I don’t like … Well there’s one that isn’t my favorite but that’s because it is called Jealous Man and it’s just super sad … But still an amazing display of pure genius songwriting!
I hope I’m not boring you with all these details, it’s so strange but this whole experience of having a brain tumor has just given me an appreciation of all the details of this life and it feels like everything matters now … Like everything is worth mentioning! Just so you know, there is a very clear plan in my brain how this blog will unfold and it will not go on forever. But for now, there are still so many things I want to communicate to you if you have the desire to keep reading… And if you don’t I’m totally good with that too. I won’t ever know if you don’t want to hear my ramblings so don’t feel guilty if you stop. I don’t know if you realize but I’m not writing for you … I started this blog for myself, so that I could process and remember where God has brought me through this grand adventure! I must say that the words just flow, it’s like nothing I’ve ever experienced. Almost like I don’t have to even think what to write, inspiration maybe!
So let’s keep on with the story! Where was I … Oh yea movie, James Bond. So Josh goes to the movie and that leaves Brenda and I to hang together in my room. We just hang together, we’ve never had a problem being together. There is always tons to talk about and we are so comfortable around each other. We have this incredible bond that’s hard to explain, I guess it has something to do with sharing DNA. Time flies when we are together, we like to talk about kids and spiritual things but also recipes, decorating, birthday parties and our latest project … Her graduate classes and the future and new business ideas. The sky is the limit really on what we talk about, it’s so refreshing to have someone like that in my life. We haven’t always been like this, in fact our relationship has transformed over the last 6 months into this beautiful relationship of trust and honesty and dependency on each other.
You see she has been enduring her own trial, her own journey and it has brought us both to this open, broken spot with each other. We have never been so utterly honest before and at the same time, we understand each other better and will do anything to support each other through these scary times. I don’t know if you knew but last Sunday, Brenda and I were suppose to run a half marathon in Monterey Bay. My uncle Jake, who lives just outside of Greenbay, Wisconsin was turning 60. For his birthday, he and his wife planned a trip to Cali for the race. He’s one of those crazies that trains in the snow for races, sending us pictures all bundled up with white in the background. Anyway when we found out they were coming, Josh and I decided that we would spend the weekend in Monterey to see them. We don’t make it to Wisconsin very often! We weren’t going to run … just visit them. Well that all changed on August 13th, me and Bren’s birthday.
We always try to spend the day together and I got a text from Bren saying lets go for a run or hike. I responded, “Let’s do a hike, I don’t think I can run with you.” So it was set, we met on our birthday morning at Reservoir Canyon to hike and celebrate our 38 years together. As we reached the top she asked me about that text and what was that all about, that I couldn’t run with her? You see being a twin hasn’t always been the easiest thing … especially when your twin is so talented, driven and successful. I’ve perhaps always felt a little inferior to Brenda, now don’t get me wrong I know that I have my own set of talents and gifts that God has given specifically to me. Growing up was just so hard … she was so super smart and athletic and married her high school sweetheart, not to mention MVP of every team and Soleutitorian of our graduating class at Atascadero High School … 1995 baby! Anyway you could say I grew up with a complex of comparison that has stayed with me my whole life. Sad huh? Well I really played it off in high school and just threw myself into relationships, thinking I was just trying to find “The One.” I dated a whole slew of guys, sorry if you are one of the guys I dated and you are reading this right now … You may be understanding why I was so needy and desperately wanted to feel like enough.
So back to the hike… Brenda looked at me and said “I think we are done with this comparison trap, what do you think?” If you know Bren you also know that she is a very accomplished triathlete. She has completed several races of all the different lengths, winning age groups and setting PR’s. Can you see how running together on our birthday may not have been the best for my self-esteem? So we decided to run the half-marathon together with no competing, no should’s … in fact we made a pact, whoever was having the harder day set the pace. There was no training plan, just run together for the pure enjoyment of being together. So we started training at the end of August and I’ve never enjoyed running so much, there was no pressure to compete, just the joy of conquering Johnson Ranch!
The 17th of October was our last long run before finding out about my tumor. Bren and I met at Johnson for our 10 miler. Ran the 5 on the trail then out to the Bob Jones Parking lot and back to Johnson for a grand total of 10 miles. The run was great, hard at times to keep going, but I was strong and Bren was telling me how proud she was of me, that she could tell I was really working hard … that I had improved my endurance and speed. It was one of the proudest moments of my life finishing that run with my twin sister and not feeling like I was a step behind … And even if Brenda reached the car first it just didn’t matter anymore … I was free from the chains of comparison. I knew that those chains could not hold me any longer and it was the most unbelievable feeling. Not to mention I knew we were going to rock the race and I was so ready to cross the finish line with Brenda right by my side … maybe for the first time ever.
The rest of the day was a great one … I got my first bath! I really needed one, it was hard to even bear my own stench… I’ll blame the drugs which had increased odor significantly since beginning to take the steroids after meeting with a Nuerosurgeon in SLO … that first day we found out about the tumor. Josh got the honors of the first bath … It was kinda funny because I’ve never taken a bath in a hospital before, sitting down with the sprayer nozzle and all. I pretty much drenched him with the wild arm of the shower head … If you know my hubby well you know that he is very particular about things, very type A about cleanliness and order. His best buddy Michael Schanzenbach can attest to it all. In college he was known as “Schaz” and he is Josh’s closest friend.
They have been friends since 2nd grade and played all kinds of sports together and in high school Schaz invited Josh to play in a basketball tournament at their church. This is where Josh first accepted Jesus into his life and Schaz was a big part of that decision, changing his life forever. They were roommates in college and I think that Schaz has a hidden view into how Josh ticks, they just know each other so well. So Michael is very aware how Josh’s Type A thing goes… It’s not about others, more how he operates within himself … how he does everything to a T.
So this wet mess spraying water all over was just a little too much for him to handle. I wasn’t trying to get him wet, I promise … but I will say I did get a chuckle seeing him get all riled up, I’m the one who had brain surgery after all… It’s just water! Now I will say in his defense, I don’t like to get sprayed either or splashed at the pool or cold water splashed on me at the beach. So let’s give this amazing man a break for the whole bath thing!
Our night was awesome more great food from the cafeteria… One of the nurses said the company that does all the food for the hospital is unparalleled. I researched it a little and it’s really a great story … Jordano’s, the food company use to have a local market/grocery store on State Street in 1915. If you have visited Santa Barbara before you know, the food is crazy good! Anyway this company has been around forever, a family business passed down from father to son again and again. Yes I know what you are thinking do these details really matter… Bear with me it’s a cool story and I get to decide what I write … It’s my blog right? If you don’t care, you’ll just have to endure it! In 1925 a 6.8 earthquake hit Santa Barbara and caused lots of damage throughout the city. Frank Jordano, the original owner setup his market on the sidewalk outside his crumbling building for weeks after the quake, still dedicated to the people of Santa Barbara with local fresh food. Jordano’s made it through The Great Depression and World War II and continued to grow and prosper.
In 1999, the wonderful year I got married to the love of my life, Jeff Jordano became the third generation president of Jordano’s. They have since celebrated 100 years in the industry, I’m sure you see those Jordano’s trucks on the freeway all the time! So all that to say … the food is amazing like ordering from a restaurant every meal and all kinds of choices! Omelettes, breakfast tacos, parfaits topped with fresh blueberries and slivered almonds … and fresh fruit and smoothies for breakfast, these were my favorites! For lunch I had chicken enchiladas, spinach salad with grilled salmon, tomato soup and of course my veggies! Dinners were a little different, maybe because by the time it all rolled around I had eaten so much food that my stomach was just too full. I am also finding that these drugs are … To say it quite honestly … backing me up so dinners weren’t as enjoyable, just too much food to process. As my hubby would say… Too much potty talk, sorry this is brutal honesty friends!
When I arrived back at the room, Brenda was there after a sleeping break… she was probably thinking we were about due for a relaxing hangout time…well not exactly. I just lost it, the pain in my head from the MRI just wouldn’t stop and I had a full-blown panic attack, at least that is what it seemed like… I’ve never felt that way before! Uncontrollable crying and shaking mostly and I must say that it felt like the lies of the Devil were echoing in my ears … every fear, every doubt was like this crazy dark thunder-cloud over me. Chelsea was quick to see what was happening and gave me something to calm me down, I don’t know exactly what it was…she didn’t even tell me, I just took it. Probably an anti-anxiety med? Bren just sat and rocked me until the shakes were gone and I was at peace.
The rest of the day ended up being pretty chill, I got to order my lunch … Such yummy food! Everyone was trying to get me to sleep as much as possible… that was a lost cause because my mind was going 200mph. I wanted to talk about everything… like every detail of everything, I wanted to be in the know! My precious husband and twinner were getting frustrated because I wasn’t allowing myself to rest, so preoccupied with all the minute, unnecessary things happening. I was asking all these questions and supposing about it all, like my mind could grasp the reasoning and I was feeling kinda smart. I think when your health is on the line, you get very interested … very quickly interested in all the medical jargon. I wanted to know it all and then for us all to process it too. Exhausting for them to get me to just shut my trap! I know now that this was the Decadron, the steroid relieving the swelling on my brain due to surgery, making me so manic and not allowing me to sleep.
So you can imagine how my “Dream Team” aka Josh and Brenda were feeling… I kept saying that I was being a good patient but the real thing I needed to do was rest and sleep and I wasn’t. Not on purpose … it almost didn’t feel possible. Drugs are a crazy thing … and even now at home I’m realizing that a huge part of my recovery is going to be weaning myself from these blasted things. I think when your brain is opened up and a tumor is taken out, the drugs are used to relieve the trauma of surgery. They are of course useful and necessary, but terrible at the same time. After all surgeries, the management of pain is a very delicate thing, I’m positive that we will overcome this journey as well!
I got put in a wheelchair to go to the recovery floor, so excited! It was totally surreal, I couldn’t believe we were leaving that mind-blowing ICU floor. When we got to my room #1261, we were greeted by my RN Chelsea. A sweet girl but serious about her position, she had a big job to do. She told me we needed to be done with the morphine as soon as possible. Not a good drug to keep going into my body … many like it because it is so quick acting for pain. Straight into the IV and you have pretty much instant relief. So her first recommendation was to be done with morphine and switch over to Norco. A pain med but much more mild, basically a Codine and Tylenol mix. I was totally game and just had to wait four hours between doses, instead of the hourly morphine dose… The best part was that when we stop the morphine it also stops so much of the nausea.
By this time Josh and Bren were like zombies, they needed to get out of there … they needed to sleep, eat and just attend to themselves for a bit. As I got comfy in my new room, I gave them the go ahead to just split. I was totally fine, my room was awesome…it was so pretty and QUIET. I chilled for a bit and then Chelsea told me I’d be going in for the Post-Op MRI. I was starving so I got a vanilla pudding to snack on while Curtis my transport took me over to the Radiology wing for the MRI. I’m thinking this recovery thing is going to be great! Curtis is a short man, blonde and super nice making small talk as we got over there. I was placed on the machine and got all set-up… same as the last two MRI’s I’d already had, I wasn’t even stressed.
The tech says “okay, we have forty minutes of this and then I’ll pull you out, add the contrast dye into your IV … (Suppose to make the pictures more clear)…and then 10 more minutes, you will be all done and free to relax! Are you ready?” I was like totally! Well I have to say those 40 minutes were possibly the most awful 40 minutes of my life. I had experienced the loud jolting noises twice before but never after having your head cut open, skull cut and then your dark brain flooded with Grey’s Anatomy look-alike operating lights. By the time I was being pushed back to my room, I was moaning … My head was just throbbing! I now know that in the hospital the nurses are always asking you to rate your pain level … at this moment I was definitely a 10!
Kelly and I parted ways and this is where my beloved hubby Josh and my twinner Brenda, became my two nurses. They were going to get me through the night in ICU. I think I can say that it was a good thing both of them were ready for this because they were a great team. There was certainly too much for just one of them to handle. They both have such individual strengths and God used them each so perfectly for the way I needed them during this crazy night.
Now I’m going to spare you a lot of the details because you just don’t need to know how terrible some of it was … and a lot of it was just so intimate that I wouldn’t dare take it and share. It is something that only we will have experienced together and kinda one of those “You just had to be there moments!” But it was hard and we learned a lot and cried a lot and talked almost the whole time… I just wouldn’t stop talking! I will tell you that being in ICU is very stressful, lots of commotion and noises and raucous! After all… their job is to make you stable and that can be a big job after brain surgery! My room had this big window across it so light was streaming in, very bright and painful to look at, the phone that rang at the desk was loud, I called it the Super Mario Brothers phone, I was not a fan! Beeps from all the things connected to me were constantly going off that had to be checked … Everything was just so loud! I was being given Morphine every hour for pain but that came with all this nausea, Brenda and I had to figure out how to overcome it. This is where Bren was just a rock star, this was her shift! She could stomach this part of ICU, be the strong woman I needed her to be. So we had this cycle of morphine, nausea, breathing deep, cooling down, and then relaxing to get through each episode of each morphine bag. It was a hard night but we made it and we had this incredible gift together, me depending on her strength and her never letting me feel as though I was alone.
So I was attempting to remember all these names and as I’m home writing this…yes I do get home, you will just have to keep reading… Some of the nurses names don’t matter really, I felt like they did because they all helped me so much but this is my experience so I am going to share from what I remember not what I took notes on. Some names I will remember and some I may not but I really want this blog to be real… not me acting like I remembered everything to impress you.
So we get to ICU and there are several nurses helping us through the night I remember Maggie and Devin… My brain is thinking “Maggie like the Weatherby’s dog and Devin from Josh’s soccer team!” And then there’s Lorraine, the kinda gruff tough girl… I think of Lorraine Halderman to remember this name… my church youth choir director from when I was a kid. After a few hours with Lorraine we had softened her up, won her over what a great nurse! She was with us most of the night, and then there was Jordan… who reminded me of Jordan Cunningham, a guy I went to high school with, he sat behind me in Math class my junior year. My morning nurses were Rebecca and Caroline, funny because this was easy… Rebecca Snavely one of my BFF’s from college… We played volleyball together and she was in my wedding. Rebecca has this friend named Caroline, who I haven’t ever met but that I hear her talk about, so it just worked.
So halfway through the night Brenda’s shift was over and it was Josh’s turn to get me out of ICU. Brenda showed him the ropes of the cycle… Morphine, nausea, breathing, cooling down and relaxing …How we coped so that I wouldn’t have to vomit, that just seemed like it would take way too much energy. I don’t know how we made it but we did and all the sudden I was being prepped to leave ICU. My precious soulmate, my one-flesh husband was so incredible. We talked and processed the whole remainder of the night, remembering movies and special times to make the time go as fast as possible. Morning could not come quick enough! Really I just needed to be declared stable. I guess I was ready… I hadn’t slept even a moment since waking up from surgery!
I was awakened so abruptly… just all the sudden I was talking and laughing to my post-op nurse Kelly. The first thing she said was you look exactly like a friend of mine, you could be twins! My response was that’s not possible because I have a twin already. She whipped out her phone to show me anyway, the picture of a girl in a white wedding dress who she said looked just like me, except for the little gap between her teeth. So Kelly asked about Brenda, my twin, and I started telling her how we played Baby Grace on Little House on the Prairie and how we did one commercial where we played the ‘Cowgirls’ and the other boy set of twins played the ‘Indians.’ It was our only commercial and then we started Kindergarten. I’m on the gurney and she is pushing me out down the hall past the waiting room, where all the fam is … I see all their faces – Curt first… I say “Hi Curt”, then see Mom, Bren and then Jodi and Jen through the glass of the little window. Come to think of it now, where was Josh … probably in the back of everyone, not crowding the view so others would get a good look … my thoughtful man! I think my words were “This has been the best day of my life!” (Steroids talking) Everyone was smiling and laughing like they just couldn’t believe their eyes!
Now by this time, Kelly had to move on but I really wanted to tell her the rest of the story. I said “Kelly, you should come by my room tomorrow and we can have coffee and I’ll finish the story.” Her response was that coffee isn’t the best thing after surgery and besides she prefers smoothies, I laughed and said “I’m way more of a smoothie girl too… So let’s do smoothies instead? You have got to hear the rest of this story Kelly!” In my mind it felt like we just had to hang out, besides I had already promised her a fan-mail picture, which I described to her … The one of us in Jack’s doghouse!
Kelly looked at me with the sweetest eyes and said ” Tomorrow you aren’t going to remember any of this Wendi!.” My response was “Kelly, you will be forever etched in my brain.” She left and I was really hoping that she would come by, but now knowing what was waiting for me in ICU I get how that would not have been possible…. And besides there’s no way I would remember her anyway…right? She was such a hoot and I won’t ever forget those short few minutes she woke me up!
Again I know … How am I remembering all this? No idea but the only thing I can imagine is that God wanted me to share this story so He has allowed me to remember. This is unthinkable!
Now this is where we continue the story but from the memory after my surgery, for Josh wouldn’t let me be writing it down as we go to the hospital. Friends I understand that this seems impossible for me to remember with all this detail and I truly can’t even begin to understand how it could even happen. Hold on tight because this story is like no other. Everything I am writing is based not on what Josh or Bren remember or remind me but what I actually felt and remember myself…I’m laying here telling myself that there’s no way you are actually believing this is true, I realize it sounds crazy, absurd and many will doubt if this is true. Especially you Adam Weatherby, I’m sure you are rationalizing that this must be due to the drugs still in my body. Now that may be true, or as a nurse explained to me when you have brain surgery, the trauma of the surgery itself can cause heightened sensory perception. Maybe this is what I am experiencing and if it is, then when my brain is finished healing these acute sensory feelings will be lost.
What a shame that will be, but if it does then that is how the journey was suppose to be. Let me catch you up to speed before we continue driving up to the hospital, so that you can comprehend what is to come. My mind is so open, so free, so uninhibited that I cannot even ponder words, they just are and I have no filter so whatever I truly feel gets said, like I don’t even have the choice in the matter! I have never spoken so exact in all my life and I couldn’t even generalize if I wanted to. I know this sounds completely bizarre, it is!
So we leave the hotel, it’s 7am and we are only about 10 minutes from Cottage Hospital. We drive to the front entrance, it has valet parking… Only a hospital in Santa Barbara would have valet parking right? This very nice looking man comes over to give us our valet ticket, gosh darn it I can’t remember his name, but he is so patient and gentle. He keeps telling Josh “take your time Sir” and “I will take good care of your car, don’t worry!” Curt, my mom’s husband, my third earthly Dad in my life emerges from the lobby… He kisses my cheek and gives me a gentle hug.
As I walk into the lobby I see those two that I’m ready to see… Brenda and my mom Jackie! They are here ready for this day, we are all ready for this day! We are suppose to make our way up to the 2nd floor surgical waiting room, so we head that way. The man says you may take the elevators or the stairs, we opt for the stairs because I never want to ride elevators and I could use the exercise… I hadn’t been able to do any activity since I received instructions from my Nuerosurgeon, the 26th of October.
We arrived and the counter was empty. We started chatting I was telling them all about our glorious night and dinner, but I don’t have to remind you…it’s all in the blog. Well we kept looking back and no check-in person and then finally a nurse opened the door and poked her head out and asked if I was Mrs. Lee? Yes was my response and she seemed a little stressed because the check-in person should have been out there and now she was behind schedule. Her name was Shari, she is my pre-op nurse. Nice lady, we talked about our kids…. Both having a boy and girl. Her daughter plays volleyball in Boston, no kidding!! We were showing each other pictures of the kids on our phones.
I was trying to remember names and for Shari the nurse, I just thought about my friend Shari Jantzen, same spelling! So Shari the nurse, got me all ready and then my inner circle of three were allowed to come in… Josh, Brenda and Mom. We just kinda hung out for a bit then Brenda gave this look to my Mom and said “Ok Mom let’s give them a little time together, surgery should start in 5 minutes.” So the girls took off, Josh and I had some time to talk and try to settle down, the 5 minutes turned into about 30 because everything was running late. Finally the 3-D MRI was ready for me, they use it during surgery so I was whisked away but this quiet fellow Francisco… I’m not sure how I’m remembering his name but he’s so memorable.
I’ve only had the one MRI before and it’s really not my fav thing so I’m not super excited about this … I don’t really have a choice so in I go. It’s just a bunch of loud noises and beeps and jolts and crashes for about 30 minutes but better than last time because I don’t have a headache this time! The MRI is done and I’m basically ready for surgery, I am so ready to begin I can’t tell you and I don’t know how I am not scared but I just keep reciting verses in my head to calm down. Philippians 3:10 is on my lips as I wait on the gurney …
“For my determined purpose is that I may know Him – that I may progressively become more deeply and intimately acquainted with Him; perceiving, recognizing and understanding the wonders of His person more strongly and more clearly.”
I am wheeled into the operating room, and there’s the anesthesiologist, a few nurses and Dr. Park over in the corner. I look over and think “You are a rock star doc, let’s do this thing.” I lay back and look up, there are these two huge operating lights, just like in Grey’s Anatomy. Then BOOM nothing, no counting backwards just out!
As I’m writing I fear that no one will believe this … That everyone will say I have made this up and I cannot express more clearly that as I have written every word this morning I remember each detail so vividly. So I hope you believe me and the power of God to reveal this story to me. I know pretty stinking amazing but after all … we have a stinking amazing God!