She is a redhead, filled with enthusiasm and a love of life. She was my neighbor in Virginia. Little did she ever dream that she would have that lovely red hair pulled back 5 inches from her forehead to her ears, to allow doctors to make an incision and remove a large brain tumor. This is her true story, written in her own words, to give encouragement to anyone facing a similar situation. It is not an easy story to tell, but one that should be passed on to those who may lack courage or have difficult decisions to make in this regard.
Looks Can Be Deceiving by Patricia Paige
“When we meet someone for the first time, we immediately become aware of their appearance. We notice their height, their hair or their eyes. One such example is found in First Samuel Chapter 16. When Saul had lost God’s favor to rule over Israel, He sent Samuel on a specific mission. He traveled to the home of Jesse, and from his sons, God told him he would find “the chosen one.”
As Samuel looked at Jesse’s older sons, he considered their height and strong features, but God rejected all of them. He told Samuel that God does not judge someone by their outward appearance. He looks upon the heart. Samuel sent for Jesse’s youngest son, David: “And, the Lord said, Arise, anoint him; for this is he.”
When you look at me, you might notice my red hair, my blue eyes or my smile. Sometimes, looks can be deceiving. What God knows, but you cannot see, is that in August 2014, I had surgery to remove a brain tumor.
I’ve had headaches most of my adult life, including migraines. I didn’t believe the headaches I’d been having for the past several months were any different. These headaches would always completely disappear. My journey began quite uneventfully on a beautiful day in June. When I’d awakened that morning, I’d felt really energetic. Except for this morning, my hearing was muffled. Have you ever been swimming underwater in a pool? You hear the voices and laughter, but the sounds seem diminished. I continued my busy day. After accomplishing a few errands, I’d purchased groceries, and prepared an early supper. However, throughout the entire day, my hearing remained muted.
After my husband and I had eaten, I’d filled a plate and popped on the travel lid. My purse and keys were on the counter. Suddenly, I felt nauseated and started having stomach cramps. Later, I would look back on this event and realize this was God’s divine intervention in my life. If these symptoms had not occurred exactly when they did, I’d have been driving down a four-lane highway.
Thankfully, I’d gone into the small half-bath near the kitchen. Nausea only worsened as did the stomach cramps. When my massive seizure began, I was close enough to the wall to lean my head against it. Honestly, I don’t believe I could have remained upright at this point. My next symptom was extremely bright, revolving lights. Have you ever been to a carnival where colored lights are pulsating and blinking in a circle?
I never lost consciousness, but believed my head was literally going to explode. Searing pain raged throughout my entire skill. On and on the cycle continued with nausea, severe cramping, blinking lights, and headache. Several times I thought I was going to die. It would have been a release from the excruciating pain. I am so thankful to my husband for placing cold, wet washcloths on my forehead and back of my neck.
Why, you ask, didn’t my husband call for an ambulance? My symptoms were waxing and waning, so we both assumed it would be over any minute. Besides, some of our friends had recently suffered a nasty stomach bug, which had included a severe headache. A similar illness perhaps? As suddenly as the symptoms had appeared, they disappeared. I felt completely normal again. I could walk and talk without any problems. My speech and balance were fine.
However, this experience troubled me. Were these symptoms of something more serious? I phoned the office of a neurologist I trusted and had known for several years. In the meantime, I went to my family physician. My vital signs were within the normal range. When I described this frightening incident, he expressed concern. I told him of my upcoming appointment with neurology. He was relieved I would be seeking additional medical treatment.
My headaches were becoming worse; occurring more frequently. The neurologist thought I was having “cluster headaches.” She also ordered an MRI (brain scan) to rule out anything else.
Returning home few days later, I had a phone message from the neurologist. She asked that I return to her office early Monday morning. This was Friday afternoon so I knew it wouldn’t be good news.
“You have a brain tumor” are words you never want to hear from your doctor. My suspicion had become all too real. I just sat there and didn’t respond. I was in shock. She asked if I’d heard what had been said. She asked again. I shook my head signifying I understood. I sat motionless; silent.
She showed us an x-ray of the tumor. It was a moderately large Meningioma. This type of tumor grows within the first three layers (the meninges) that are located between the skull and the brain. Although they are usually benign, I would require surgery to remove it. When she asked where I wanted to go to, I asked, “Where would you send someone in your own family?” That’s how I was referred to the Chief of Neurology at a hospital accredited as a Level I Trauma Center.
The next few days were a blur. My headaches were more intense, and I was increasingly sensitive to bright lights. I’d wear my sunglasses even indoors. My family continued to be supportive, encouraging and funny. Hey, look, our daughter would say, “Mom’s wearing sunglasses in the house. She must think she’s a Movie Star!”
The following information is taken from a Facebook post: “Last night, I read the pathology report on Mom’s tumor. It gave the exact measurements. I used a ruler, pen and paper and made a sketch. Then, using the materials at hand, I fashioned a replica of it using many, many rubber bands. If you’ve met my Mom, then you know that she’s a short, small-boned, cute, redheaded woman. What I’m trying to explain is that this tumor is HUGE! No wonder Mom is keeping a bad headache.”
Two MRI’s and two neurologists have now confirmed that this tumor is indeed a benign meningioma . Next week, I have an appointment with the doctor who will perform the surgery. With his guidance, we’ll formulate a plan.
The surgeon was very professional, yet more than willing to take the time to answer all our questions. In my prayer time, I’d made a request of God. I’d asked Him to put me in the hands of Christians during my surgery. No one, not even my family, knew about my request. On our way out of the office, one of the associates touched my shoulder. She said, “You’re going to be fine. I’ll be in the room during your surgery, and I’ll be praying for you.”
Relief! Precious, wonderful relief. We were in the hallway before I broke into tears. My husband hugged me and said, “It’s going to be okay.” I explained the petition I’d made earlier. This is God’s way of showing me, “He’s got this!”
We were told to check the surgery schedule as we exited the hospital. The doctor who’d be performing my procedure did not have an opening until the middle or latter part of September. This was the first week in August. Waiting several weeks seemed like a very long time. I remembered that Almighty God held me in the palm of His Hand, and I was at peace.
I was on a “prayer chain” at my home church as well as several others throughout our community. These Christians were asking for my healing, and for the grace to see my family through this journey.
My health continued to deteriorate. My painful headaches were even stronger, and my energy level was beginning to drain. By now, I was unable to accomplish even the simplest of household chores. I began noticing that my balance was affected. Most days, I walked like I’d been drinking. I’d hold on to walls and furniture to prevent myself from falling.
One day I received a phone call from the hospital. It had only been two weeks since my appointment. The woman on the phone worked with the neurosurgery scheduling department. She asked if I wanted to have my procedure performed on August 22. Talk about a no brain-er (excuse the pun!) Absolutely!
As my husband and I sat in the surgical waiting room, we were joined by our daughter, granddaughter and grandson. This was the quietest my family has ever been. Usually we’re talking, teasing and laughing.
A nurse came to take me back, and told my husband and daughter they could join me after I was prepped. The hugs with my grandchildren were bitter-sweet because of the seriousness and uncertainty of brain surgery. Of course, I didn’t want to leave my family, but I knew where I’d be spending eternity. And, this was incredibility comforting. My family sat beside my bed. None of us knew what to expect. We were in a holding pattern similar to an airplane waiting for take-off.
My surgeon joined us and inquired if we had questions. The anesthesiologist arrived and introduced himself. Did we have questions? He then asked if they could pray for us. I don’t remember the words he said, but I knew they were heartfelt. It was surreal. Never before have I been so grateful to be a Christian surrounded by other believers.
According to my daughter, my surgery went well. Because I’d bled more than expected, I’d received two units of whole blood. I’d be in recovery, then ICU for several hours, transfer to a room, and finally discharge. That was the plan. In life, things do not always go as we’d anticipated.
When I first became aware of my surroundings in ICU, I was unable to speak. For a woman who has been extremely verbal all of her life, this proved to be difficult. As the hours passed. I became increasingly angry. My anger was not directed at God. My distress was due to my circumstances. I remember clenching my fist into a ball and pounding it on the bed. This could not have been beneficial especially since this was the arm where the IV was attached. I began shaking inside and sobbing. Tears were running uncontrollably down my cheeks. None of the nurses could tell us why this was happening.
Later that night, our daughter phoned a friend who teaches speech therapy at the college level. She explained that my condition was called expressive aphasia. This occurs when there is a disconnect between the brain and the mouth. The words I was trying to express were simply stuck in my brain. Apparently, when the brain is touched, interesting things happen.This would improve with time.
My tumor had grown from the left side of my skull toward the right. In fact, it had wrapped around the large cranial nerve in the middle of my skull. Think of it like an octopus whose tentacle is holding on tight. While my surgeon was unable to completely remove this part of the tumor, he’d gotten into close proximity. My brain needed to rest and reboot.
Because I couldn’t speak, the nurses brought pad and pen and asked that I write down what I wanted to say. I held these items in my hands, but I couldn’t write words. All I could do was to make attached ovals in a solid row. Row after row after row. Finally, I stopped trying.
I spent two days in ICU before transferring to what they referred to as a “step down” room. I’d stay there for the remainder of the week. At this point, I’d transfer to an inpatient rehabilitation center near the hospital. This was an intensive 7 day a week program focused on physical, occupational, and speech therapy. In the beginning, each of these were challenging. I had deficits in all three areas.
Occupational therapy proved to be extremely difficult. When offered a child’s large-piece puzzle with wooden handles to grasp, I managed to put together only three pieces. Twice daily the therapist would encourage me to work with my hands to improve eye/hand coordination. Problem-solving skills slowly started to improve and were more consistent.
Physical therapy concentrated on regaining my equilibrium, muscle strength and stamina. At this point, I was using a walker with attached wheels. Therapy incorporated the use of large balance balls, safe places to walk for short distances, exercises and stairs with railings to prevent falls. We had all learned and mastered these skills in early childhood.
Obviously, speech would be problematic. It would take time not only to learn how to communicate, but how to lessen the disconnect in my brain. Because I’d always gestured with my hands when I talked, occupational therapy was the missing link in regaining my speech. These therapies would continue when I returned home.
During this entire time, my vision had been extremely blurred. It was like trying to visualize objects or people through a thick fog. I was also experiencing drowsiness and fatigue. I’d accepted these as side-effects of my surgery. Thankfully, they were not!
The high dosage of seizure medicine they were giving me to keep my brain calm was reacting negatively with a muscle relaxer. I’d used it to relieve muscle spasms due to Fibromyalgia. I had not taken this particular medication in over a year, and then only once or twice daily. However, my medical chart showed I was taking it three times daily. I explain this in detail as a precautionary tale for others. Review your medical records carefully with your primary care physician to correct any discrepancies before you are hospitalized. In any case, it is of utmost importance that your medical records are correct.
Arriving home, there were other obstacles. Patience has never been one of my strongest virtues especially when I’m in a hurry or stressed. It was difficult to remain calm, breathe slowly and deeply, then retrieve the actual word I wanted to express. Sometimes, I’d become angry and raise my voice. My poor husband was the target of all my see/saw emotions. Thankfully, he is a Godly man who really loves me. I’d say an entirely different word than the one I’d intended. Sometimes I’d just point to an object and call it a thing-e. Occasionally, this still happens.
When I first began my journey back to health, I did not realize it would take this long to recover or be so life-changing. These were the times that I found solace in the writings of Corrie Ten Boone: “When the train goes through a tunnel, and it gets dark, you don’t throw away your ticket and jump off. You sit still and trust the engineer.”
I’ve always had empathy for people with cerebral palsy or those who have had traumatic brain injuries or strokes. Until my experience with expressive aphasia, I did not fully understand how challenging it is for them to try to speak. Now I do. Those words and thoughts remain locked deep inside their brains. Every day, they ride on a roller coaster of emotions. These brave people endure disappointment, frustration, anxiety and depression.
As a believer, I did not expect my life to be any easier because of my profession of faith. I did trust in God’s promise to never leave me. He is faithful as we continue to walk together down this crooked path called life.
I accept that everything that comes into my life is allowed by a good God. Why does He choose to heal some people and not others? I can’t answer that question. He alone can see into the future. God already knew I’d have a brain tumor, surgery and difficult recovery. I believe He has a plan and a purpose for each of us. I’m using the miracle God granted me as a testimony. It is my desire to provide inspiration and encouragement for those facing a similar or other serious surgery.”
Note from Boyer Writes in 2017: God made a way for Patricia Paige to survive her brain surgery through prayer, family support and the medical team that skillfully brought her through to live a productive life. She is most grateful that the doctors understood her feminine concerns and left her red bangs to be brought forward so that people would not even notice that she had gone through such major surgery.
Whatever your challenges may be, give yourself to our Lord and ask Him to make a way for you to come through your difficult circumstances.
Boyer Writes footnote in 2019: Patricia Paige was a pen name for a lovely person whose real name is Wanda Robinson. She wrote about this part of her life a number of years ago. God made a way, through doctors and support of family and friends, for Wanda to have five more years of life. In 2019, she went to be with her Savior and Lord, Jesus Christ and her wonderfully supportive husband, Wade. It is in her honor that I re-post her writing.
One of the best writings that I have seen describing “Depression” is by Sarah Loucks. She doesn’t write about what to do about depression, but there will be some suggestions after you read this down to earth, graphic description. Keep an open mind.
The couple you are going to meet has decided to meet life head-on. They have faith that could have been shattered, but they didn’t allow it to happen. Serving his country, the unthinkable happened. He would be blind for the rest of his life. Hear his story and the words of his beautiful wife. Be inspired and realize that at times the joy we receive in life has to be worked for. This is how they are finding their joy.
(Detroit Free Press)
We must pull back and rest our souls.
How is this done one may ask? Because no one can do it for us, we have to find a way to limit what we see and hear, especially through the internet, from those who would deliberately harm our peace of heart and spread their evil thoughts.
Example: The hateful messages sent over the internet concerning Senator John McCain’s diagnosed brain cancer…and those attributing it to God’s wrath for McCain’s political views. How insane!
God does not bring illness or evil to the people of the world that He sent His Only Son to die for. We have natural causes for illness…whether it is the environment, disease, genetics, or things about which we know nothing. We must put our entire lives in God’s hands and do our best to correct, through medicine and prayer, what we can of human sufferings.
Years ago so many died of the black plague and other diseases. Thankfully God has given us the intelligence to research for cures still unknown. We at Boyer Writes wish Senator McCain the blessings and peace of God.
( Shown above is McCain when he was released after 5 years as a prisoner of war and Senator McCain today. )
Those physical afflictions, not caused by natural causes, would be wars or individual decisions that bring pain, not only to the body, but to the spirit and soul. These are caused by human beings, which usually starts with the words that come from the mouth or hatred in the heart.
For all the good technology give us and the ability it gives every human being to spread quickly words of evil or encouragement, we may once again be reminded of what one of the greatest geniuses of our time had to say. Human kindness and interaction is one of our most important qualities.
The Holy Scriptures remind us of this in 1st Peter 3:9. “ Do not repay evil with evil or insult with insult. On the contrary, repay evil with blessing, because to this you were called so that you may inherit a blessing.”
Miserere Mei Deus (Allegri) – King’s College Choir, Cambridge
If one looks up the word, TRUST, used as a noun, it has to do with confidence, belief, faith, certainty, assurance, conviction, credence, or reliance. I’d like to start with the word, “assurance”. Can we really be assured that we can trust someone or something to be all those words? Confidence is a very strong word. It gives the feeling that we do not need to doubt because there is total confidence.If the truth be known, there is probably a little doubt in any of these words that we equate with trust.
- Think about this for a moment. We get in our car and drive somewhere in the world. Here, in front of us in a bridge…perhaps like this one below if we happen to be driving in China, which is not recommended. While we are on the subject of bridges…made by human beings; constructed by human beings; maintained by human beings…we might also be driving across the Millau-Viaduct Bridge in France. This is not for the faint of heart or those who have a fear of heights, because this is considered the world’s highest bridge.
We get to the airport and once again we are asked to trust: Trust that the security has been checked correctly and thoroughly; trust the pilot has not had a rough night; trust that the mechanics have performed their duties for our safe flight.
I remember getting on a Russian airlines, flying out of Ukraine at a small airport. The attendant at the gate checked my ticket and passport and we boarded. The flight crew decided that the runway would be safe enough to take off with holes in the runway and weeds growing out of big ruts. Having a second thought, he moved the plane over on the grassy area, gunned it and took off… while from inside I watched a very large screw dangle over my head. Immediately I wondered who serviced this plane? Looking at the man next to me, from Amsterdam, I asked, “Do you think we’ll make it?” He answered, “I trust we will.” Oh my, his trust was better than mine. This is only an example of how trusting we are with our lives. If we were not, we would surely miss the adventure that goes with seeing the world and exploring new places. Even staying at home in our bed has its risks. A man in Florida went to bed; a sink hole opened up and swallowed the whole house. (This is true.) As far as I know they never found him because the sink hole was so deep and this is his grave to this day.
Another one of the words about trust, is “reliance”. Almost everything in our lives has a reliance on others to do the right thing. We eat at a restaurant and we rely on the fact that the kitchen is clean and not filled with cockroaches or that the food has been properly refrigerated so that we don’t have an evening of agony from food poisoning. I usually check out a new restaurant’s bathroom…for a dirty bathroom usually means a dirty kitchen. This is not for certain, but possible a good connection. It has not worked a few times and tainted food does mean “I think I’m going to die!” We also rely on those who grow our food to not have a sewer ditch right next to where our vegetables are growing soaking up the water nearest them. Hopefully as you read this, you are not going soon to your next meal. Trust me…wait a while.
Saying the words, “Trust me” is something we often hear someone say. I think they mean that we can have confidence in what they are saying or doing. It is a glib statement that carries little weight…yet we do often “trust”…regardless.
All in all, to trust is a very scary thing. Even in relationships, we marry the person who promises to love us always. Many know that those trusts can be broken. For those who have found the person who also makes their way of life a trust-worthy one, we are most fortunate indeed.
Some of the people we trust the most are those in the medical field. We want to be certain that the nurse or the lab technician is careful to give the exact test asked for by the doctor as well as the correct results. When it comes to diagnosis, this is critical. Our physicians must have up-to-date training and knowledge as the average person must trust their opinions and proper treatment.
The family of the elderly must be certain that their loved ones are going to be cared for properly when they can not care for themselves. More than once I observed, when my Mother was in an assisted living facility, that she had to trust herself to be given the proper medicines. I had to step in, as her advocate, to assure that mistakes were not being made with her. Either the nursing attendants were overwhelmed with work or were simply careless when passing out the little cup with several medications. Once my Mother said, “No, no I don’t get that one.” It is sad to think of those who are in wheelchairs and mentally unable to challenge those whom they should be able to trust.
Even in faith, we are asked to trust. One of my favorite verses from the Holy Scriptures is Proverbs 3:5, 6. “TRUST in the Lord with all your heart. Lean not to your own understanding, but in all your ways acknowledge Him and He shall direct your paths.”
Back to the people we trust everyday: the restaurant owner, the engineer, the pilot, those responsible for our safety around the world and in our homes…those who care about us enough to protect us, I have one thing to say. Do your jobs diligently and even in the smallest details! Your job may not be important in your own eyes, but you may be a life saver to others. There are people out there trusting you. Never forget it.
“Whoever is careless with the truth in small matters cannot be trusted with important matters.” —Albert Einstein