Thursday, December 29, 2011

John's Thoughts, 12/29/11

It has been 24 days since we learned Sarah had a brain tumor, 16 since it was removed and six since we left the hospital to return home. Sarah is doing well. Our mental and emotional processing continues.

On the morning of Tuesday, December 13, the day of Sarah's brain surgery, I was numb. I wasn't mad at anyone or anything - I was just trying to get by. I was trying to be brave. For Sarah. For myself. For our boys. For whoever needed it.

That was one of the hardest days of my life. Actually, the hardest. Other than the day we learned of the brain tumor, the day it was being dealt with is it.

Now I sit in our living room and talk with Sarah. We watch (partial) movies. We laugh. I tell her bits and pieces about the things she missed, and we both are continually amazed at how people love us.

"It is in the shelter of each other that the people live."

This is an old Irish proverb brought to my attention by the ridiculously-talented, extremely smart and abundantly compassionate band, Jars of Clay.

The response to our little situation continues to blow me away. A very difficult circumstance has been turned into a beautiful thing because of you. If you're reading this, you have some level of care for what is going on in our world, therefore, I'm including you.

I am glad I do not have to imagine going through this alone, and I am simultaneously heartbroken for those that do.

Please do all you can to love those closest to you more.

For whatever reason, our family has added the removal of a brain tumor to our resume. Though I do not appreciate its happening, I accept it, and will live with the following lyrics in mind, from Jars of Clay's song, "Run In The Night."

For I am such a man

Seized by the power of a great affection

No matter where I am

Peace spreads below me in every direction

When evil sets the war upon me

I won't stumble, I won't fall

Though they do their worst

Your love has found me first

For by you, I can run in the night

Monday, December 26, 2011

Hope for Sarah

During this unusual time in our lives, some friends have set up a donation page to help us get through. Thanks to all of you for your continued support. You can visit the page here.

Sunday, December 25, 2011

Merry Christmas!

Merry Christmas. You all are wonderful people. We are enjoying our Festivus Miracle and attempting to relax...

Thursday, December 22, 2011

John's Thoughts, 12/22/11

Never in a million years did I think this would be us. Not at 29/30 years old. We've been through some interesting things, but surely it wouldn't get to brain tumor-type intensity. But everything has changed in the past two weeks. Everything. That's not to say life won't be "normal" again after a while, and/or that Sarah won't be fully functioning in the near future, but there is no way you walk away from a tumor in the middle of your brain, a successful removal surgery, an emergency surgery two days later and a shunt surgery the following week - and life not be entirely different.

It is said you gain wisdom just after you needed it. I certainly haven't gained all of the wisdom that is to come of this life-change, but my perspective on life has again been turned upside down, shaken, stirred, and tossed around a bit. To think that my beautiful wife, Sarah, would have had a tumor growing in the middle of her brain for years? Are you kidding me? And that we would find it the very same night following a conversation about how we just wanted 2012 to be a boring year, with no big changes to our world. And that it would come after we have welcomed two precious boys into creation? What. In. The. World?

We have spent 11 nights in the hospital since December 5. I have watched countless nurses and doctors come in and check on Sarah, on the hour, every hour, of every day. I have arranged, and rearranged, our hospital room furniture so we could live in the space provided us. I have bought a lot of coffee from the not-Starbucks coffee stand that has the Starbucks logo all over it that won't accept my Starbucks gift cards. I have been up and down what feels like most of the elevators Vandy has to offer, traversed its parking garages a few times over, and sat with many lovely people that have come by to visit or bring food and gifts.

Amid my exhaustion due to our situation, there is one thing I have learned a whole lot about these past two weeks: love.

Love from family.

Love from friends.

Love from nurses and doctors.

Love from co-workers.

Love from fellow church-goers.

Love from the man that married us.

Love from classmates.

Love from seemingly everyone we have ever known.

As for me, my love for Sarah.

Let me be very clear - this situation vehemently sucks. I hate this. There is not one thing I like about what has happened, and is happening, to us. I would not wish this on my worst enemy. This is not a fun time. This completely blows.

But no one promised any of us a life of total comfort and satisfaction. Who am I to think I am above the darkest and meanest this world has to offer? I am not. Sarah is not. None of us are.

It will be ok. In the midst of this confusion, it will be ok. It still sucks. But it will be ok.

Back to my love for Sarah. I'm just beginning to understand how Grandma loved Grandpa through seven years of alzheimer's, all the way to the very end. I'm just beginning to see how Mom loves Dad, and Dad loves Mom - and all of the other wonderful examples of stubborn, love-filled perseverance I have in my life.

When you go to bed having accepted you may lose your wife the following day, but then she makes it, something changes.

I hate that we are going through this, but for how it has positively impacted the love I have for someone I already loved, I may someday say it was all worth it. I'm not quite there on the latter, but the former is definitely true. My love for Sarah significantly began increasing at Summit Medical Center around 10:30 pm on Monday, December 5, 2011.

Love is all you need. It is all that really matters anyway.

Saturday, December 17, 2011

Two little boys, a brain tumor and lots of love

Sarah had been having brain/head pains for a few weeks. After the memory foam pillows did nothing, she knew it was time to have it checked out. We made the necessary, last-minute arrangements at 9 pm to proceed to the nearest ER. Within 30 minutes of our arrival to Summit Medical Center, the doctor quickly came to our room with news that something was not right. A few hours later, we were in a Neuro ICU room at Vanderbilt University Medical Center.

Sarah had a tumor in the middle of her brain.

Questions, fears, tears, shock and endless thoughts filled our night. Where had this come from? I mean, our story has always been a little crazy: married nine months after meeting, child number one comes home the day before our one-year anniversary, child number two comes along three and a half years into marriage, I changed jobs six months ago, and we have moved three times in less than four years of marriage. But a brain tumor? Literally in the middle of Sarah's brain?

We spent another night at Vandy. We talked with the surgeon - Dr. Reid Thompson - an amazing man. We tried to get the word out. We learned that we would go home for a few days, then return the following Tuesday for a seven-plus hour open-brain surgery to remove the tumor.

You don't plan for this. You simply hope all goes well, and deal with the outcome.

The night before surgery, Sarah told me she had actually enjoyed the prior few days, because we were able to experience what most people never do, and a reaction that usually doesn't come until death. We had the honor of seeing just how much people love Sarah and our entire family. But especially Sarah.

Tuesday morning, December 13, 2011, 7:30 am in Nashville: some 30 people gather in the hospital lobby to support us through their presence, prayer, hugs, snacks, crossword puzzle books and yoga pants. All of those people...they were there for Sarah, for me, for Harvey, for Charlie. I was amazed.

From the lobby, I talked to Dr. Thompson on the phone around 3:30 that afternoon. He told me the surgery could not have gone better, and that he was quite certain they had removed all of the tumor. I was able to go to the recovery room a bit later to see my bride. That first image of her was a beautiful one. Seeing gorgeous Sarah resting after one of the most traumatic and invasive surgeries possible - there are no words to describe that sort of thankfulness.

It's currently a quiet Saturday afternoon here around the Neuro ICU at Vanderbilt, except for the occasional ding from one of Sarah's vital signs monitors (I'm convinced no one really knows why those things are dinging most of the time). As I sit here on this couch that has served as my bed for the past four nights, I am absolutely exhausted and simultaneously awestruck at the response from so many people over the past week and a half. Likely, you are one of those. Thank you. This would be an altogether different experience without the endless prayers, vibes, energies, thoughts, cards, hugs, tears and love coming our way.

As Sarah and I sit/lay here and try to prepare for what's next in life, please know that this is one of the hardest things we have ever dealt with. This is no fun. This is completely draining. This sucks.

But, it will be ok. Somehow, some way. We believe we are part of something far beyond us that hopefully is impacting many people for good.

As you read this, know that you are special. Know that you are important, and important to us. Know that we could not do this without you. Enjoy life. Enjoy your family and your friends. Do not take things for granted.

All Sarah wants to do right now is see and hold our precious little boys. Please join with me as we energetically await that moment. Please join with me as we wait for the fluid on Sarah's brain to drain off on its own. Please join with me as we adjust to a whole new life - one free of an unwelcome obstruction blocking the second most important part of Sarah's body, her brain.

It really is all about the heart, for without love, forget about it.

We love you, and we thank you for loving us.

Friday, December 2, 2011

Charlie Three Months

Now that our hunka hunka burnin' love is almost four months old, it's time to post his three month photos, don't you think? Here's our sweet Chugs at three months.


It's getting so hard to get the calendar AND the baby in these shots with my 50mm lens. Gotta move up for the next shoot!

And now for my favorite photos----this boy loves hats almost as much as big brother.



But look how sweet when he finally cools off! This is Charlie telling me how "gooooood" he is. I love this kid.


A few stats (and there aren't too many):

*I weighed him at home on his 3 month birthday and he was 17.2 pounds. Mercy!

*He still typically gets up 1 time in the night to eat. He goes to bed between 7:00-7:30pm and gets up for the day around 7:00. He's always been such a great sleeper!

*It looks like we're going to have another sweet blue eyed boy.

*He still has not mastered sucking his thumb. But, he sure does chew his hands all.the.time.

New Little Harvey

New Little Harvey

One Month

One Month

Two Months

Two Months

Three Months

Three Months

Four Months

Four Months

Five Months

Five Months

Six Months

Six Months

Seven Months

Seven Months