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Posted 2019-09-18T20:26:00Z

No Growth!

Hi All,

I know it has been awhile since I've updated. We have had such a busy but happy summer visiting family in Colorado and Indiana, a conference in Texas and a work trip/holiday/visiting friends in Germany! It is nice to be home now for awhile. I have been feeling really well overall. A few migraines occasionally, but Dr Abrams doesn't think the tumor is causing those. I am working 2-3 12 hour shifts in ED a week, and that's been going well. 

I wanted to share some good news! I had my MRI last week and I met with Dr Abrams this morning and she told me there has been no growth in the past three months! She said "You still have some bone in there (20%) and I don't like looking at it, but it's not hurting anything and it has not grown, so I don't think you need another surgery right now. You brain looks beautiful." I told here Stephen is hoping to finish up his PhD next September and then we will most likely be moving so she wants to have one more MRI before we go to see where we're at and then she will refer me to another neurosurgeon wherever we move too, hopefully one she knows she said. We are very happy with this news and are thanking God.
Thank you for praying for us and praising God with us! [...]

Posted 2019-06-07T20:52:01Z

Four months post surgery

Hello all,

A little update. I started working again on the 10th of May. I hit the floor running because almost every shift I had was very busy and I was working some day and mid shifts I had never worked before, so that was new. I was loving the 8 hour shifts too for the first three weeks. Everyone was super helpful, kind and welcoming to me. I started my first 12 hour shift on Tuesday and am about to head in for my second 12 hour shift. I was pretty tired, especially because I worked a night shift on Tuesday and again it was pretty busy. The Lord really helped me and I worked with really great people :) I'm very thankful I'm able to work casually/Per Diem and am working mostly two shifts a week. 

In between me doing 8 hour and 12 hour shifts, Stephen and I went away for 10 days. First to Albuquerque (ABQ) NM to visit with Philip (Stephen's brother) and his wife Alyson. We had a lovely time with them before heading to Colorado for a church camp Stephen grew up going to at the beautiful Horn Creek. It was lovely to be with most of Stephens family (although we really missed Evelyn and Scott) and my sister Charity and her family and so many friends, new and old. I went on a 7 mile hike in ABQ then another 5 mile hike in Colorado. That may not sound like a lot, but at 5000 feet then 92000 feet elevation, that is HARD work! I met many people who had been praying for me and that was such a encouragement, as were Jared Olivetti's talks. He spoke from the General Epistles on "A Church for the Last Days: Living Together in the Light of Jesus' Return." I especially loved the reminder to live like Jesus is coming back, because HE IS! And was challenged to think about giving honor to the poor. 

We came back just in time to go to our churches particularization service and party afterwards. God has been so faithful to our church, Christ Central, and we're so excited to be apart of it. 
We're looking forward to many adventures this summer; a church camping trip, traveling around the states a little to visit with family in July and August, and hopefully to Germany for a work trip with Stephen in September. We're also getting ready to farewell some of our best friends here, Zach and Ally. Zach and Stephen came to grad school at the same time and roomed together. Ally came a year later and they were some of my first friends when I came to visit Stephen in December 2016. After I moved here in July 2017 we prayed with them almost every week for over a year. They got married a year after us. Ally was the third person I told about my brain tumor and they were both a massive support, practically and emotionally to us before and after my surgery. We're very sad to see them leave but have loved the time we've had with them. We're also saying goodbye to another dear family in our church this Sunday. But I'm trying to remember that the hello's are worth the goodbyes. 

I had another MRI on Wednesday. Because of the neck pain I was having before surgery, Dr Abrams decided to do a neck MRI along with my normal brain one. It wasn't very fun laying still for so long, but, you gotta do what you gotta do. I will see her next week to find out the results. All being well with this MRI and my September MRI I will be able to go longer than three months between MRI's, which I'm excited about. Stephen and I also go my hospital bill when we got back from Colorado and Praise the Lord the insurance paid a lot more than we were expecting! [...]

Posted 2019-05-08T16:36:01Z

Three months post surgery!

[Written yesterday, May 7th]

Today is a very normal feeling day, but it’s also a day to celebrate! It is three months after my brain surgery. Praise the Lord and thank you all for praying and walking with us in this journey.
Not a lot to update on, but a few things to praise the Lord for:
1) I have my energy back. The first two months were hard with napping often and not having the energy to do what I wanted to do. But this last month I have really felt almost normal. I still will nap maybe once or twice a week and I think I require a bit more sleep at night, but otherwise I feel good. A friend from work asked me today if I had residual effects from the surgery and I said requiring more sleep at night and forgetting random words. I used to forget random words before surgery, but it seems like it happens more these days. Stephen is really good at describing what I can’t explain or helping me remember a word. When S is not around and I’m in a group setting telling a story I do feel a bit more lost.
2) I have not had hardly any migraines or neck pain since those 5 days at the end of Feb/early March. I have had a few headaches here and there, including last night, when I had a migraine all night, which wasn’t fun. But last night’s migraine was maybe the second or third I’ve had since Feb, which is AMAZING for me! So praise the Lord. I saw Dr Abrams today for my “three month/return to work checkup” and she said she wants to know every time I have a migraine. So it worked well that I saw her today.
3) My head is healing well. As of this past Sunday, the scabs are finally all gone and my hair is finally starting to grow back, even in the bald patches! Dr Abrams says she still can’t explain my hair loss except for the fact that my body must have been more stressed than I realised. She reminded me today that, before surgery, I did ask her if I was going to die during surgery, so I may have been more stressed than I knew.
4) I get to go back to work this Friday May 10th. I am excited and a little bit nervous as it’s hard to go back after not working for 3+ months. I would appreciate prayers that I would not be too exhausted as well. My work has been very supportive and I know they will continue to be!
So my next MRI will be in June (three months from the one I had in early March) and then I’ll have another one in September and if everything is looking good Dr Abrams said we can go longer without having an MRI. I asked her about riding my bike, which she had originally said not for 6 months post surgery. She said that if it really brings me joy to ride my bike then yes, if I’m very careful, wear a helmet, use good judgment, and try not to land in the ED J So that made me happy. I love biking places in the summer! Just pray that no crazy drivers in Corvallis hit me!
In other news Stephens’s research is going very well and I really have enjoyed spending more time at home these past three months. Stephen and I took an alcohol ink class in April (every Wednesday for 3 weeks) which was very fun. We loved having Philip (Stephen's brother) here in April! He cooked us delicious food and was a great help! And I finished a bunch of online learning for work which felt really good. I didn't start on my CEN... Maybe this summer, we'll see. And we got out table from Oklahoma so we're very excited about that! On a sadder note, our piggies (Alistair and Harry) have been fighting so we had to separate them. We didn't want to buy a new cage, so S turned our fireplace we're not allowed to use ("not up to code") into a cage :)[...]

Posted 2019-03-13T18:54:00Z

4th MRI in 1 month

4th MRI in 1 month.

Last Wednesday, I decided (after prompting from friends and family) to call Dr Abrams’s office and tell her that I’ve been having increasing migraines and neck pain. It feels very similar to the neck pain I’ve been having for the past 1.5 years. I would often wake up with very painful neck and head, or I would get that pain when I was hiking. Usually, it’s made worse by lying down, and often it’ll be masking a migraine. I’ve tried many different things for it (I think I’ve tried 5 different pillows, chiropractor, sports medicine massage), and everything works for a few weeks, but then the pain just comes back.[...]

Posted 2019-03-06T18:36:17Z

Wednesday, March 6th - Some of Allen's thoughts before we leave.

I (Allen) have been wanting to write a post on here, so here on the morning of the day we travel back to Indiana, I am finally doing it. It has been a blessing to be here in Corvallis, and be able to spend a lot of time with Tamara the past week and a half. It was a bonus to overlap with Maria for a bit at the beginning, and with Stephen for a bit at the end.[...]

Posted 2019-03-01T06:17:43Z

A Tough Week

25th Feb Monday: I woke up 12 midnight. 1.5 hours after I went to sleep. “Ah, that was a good sleep. It must be morning”. Nope. That’s happened a lot this week. My sister Maria came in (she was sleeping in our bed with me because Allen, Eleni and Henry are staying in our guest room) soon after I woke up. She was wired from a phone conversation with a friend in Australia. I was awake, she was awake, so we talked. For three hours. It was really lovely and it’s been such a unique time God has given us to spend time together. We talked about many, many things! At 3am we went to sleep. I woke up every 45 minutes or hour though until I got up around 8am :/ That day I was a wreck. Two emotional outbursts at my family, two short 30 minute naps (not enough!), friends for lunch, a dear friend from work ordered us yummy pizza for dinner (thanks Maddy!). I tried to pray at family devotions but then I started laughing uncontrollably until I was crying. Basically, I lost the plot and just went to bed. It makes me laugh when I think about it now.[...]

Posted 2019-02-25T18:33:00Z

Sunday, February 24th - A sister's perspective

"My mum had three brain tumors" those words have rolled off my tongue so many times without me really thinking about what I'm saying. Not that I didn't think about it, it was a real thing that I experienced as a young child, my mum being in hospital, and away from all of us, us kids being shipped off to random friends and relatives while Dad looked after her, getting meals brought to our house, so many lasagna's and I hated lasagna. But it's not something I really felt. I told my siblings when we were talking about Tamara that when I think about mum I can only think about it and process it with childlike emotions, even now as an adult, any time I think about it, it feels childish in a way. But now, I understand, and I can identify with my mums siblings and what it's like to have a sister go through this. [...]