Overflowing Gratitude

Thursday, November 27, 2008

When I saw earlier this year that Thanksgiving fell on November 27th, I couldn't help but smile a little.

On November 27th last year, I woke up to my alarm at 4am, scrubbed my body with hospital grade anti-bacterial soap, loaded up a suitcase and rode in a car to the hospital in the pitch blackness of early morning.  From there I had an IV placed, I chatted with my parents who both looked like they might both burst into tears at any second and finally I was rolled into pre-op.  I found myself cuddling a stuffed animal in a way I hadn't since I was a young child.  I found myself terrified.

Sometime before 6 the anesthesiologist asked me count back from 10 and then I woke up, 6 hours later, in a different room, with 13 staples in the back of my head.  An outside reminder of what had been done inside.  But soon thereafter I saw my parents and my husband and I knew that I was okay.  I was breathing on my own, I was alive and everything was alright.

There could not be anything more fitting than to have Thanksgiving fall on the one year anniversary of my brain surgery.  Many of you have asked recently if I regret having the surgery since the headaches re-emerged.  The answer is no, I do not, for even an instant, regret it.

I had 8 blissful months without headaches.  After 2 years of having them at least several times a week, 8 months without any was literally like a dream.  I forged friendships with people on the internet and in real life, people who lent a helping hand and cared for what happened to me.  I have learned a great deal about myself in this ordeal.  

As I type this, I have a thundering headache that could defy laws of physics and of narcotics, and yet, I am thankful.  I had the resources, insurance, family and friends to allow me to have 8 months of pain-free living and I am hopeful that soon I can resume that life.

Because of this surgery, I was able to finish planning a wedding without pain.  Because of this surgery, I was able to be a part of my wedding and enjoy the entire day, without pain.  Because of this surgery, I went on a honeymoon where I didn't have to cancel a single planned event for a headache.  Because of this surgery, I got enough of me back to rediscover the person I am and to want fight to keep her here, even as the pain creeps back in.  

I am thankful for so much that has happened in this past year.  For the pain, for the painlessness.  For the love and the friendship.  For the good news and bad news.  For the frustration and support.  I am thankful for what I have learned, even if the hard way and for the lessons I will continue to receive from this experience.

Everything that has happened this year has brought goodness into my life and I cannot find strong enough words to say how remarkably thankful I am for that.  

So I'm going to try to do it with actions instead.

For every person who comments (anonymously is fine) on this post before Friday at 11:59pm with at least one thing they're thankful for, I will make a donation to St. Jude's Research Hospital.  I can't give back directly to the doctors, surgeons, and nurses and who gave me back my life, but I can help those who are fighting harder battles, who are struggling more than I'll ever understand. 

I know you are spending time with your families, but please take the time to leave a few words and know that those few words, that expression of gratitude, will be transformed into a tangible form of thanks.  A donation to a place that needs it more than you or I.  

Thank you, to all of you, for being here, and for sharing in my story, in my new life.


Anonymous said...

two things:
1) i'm grateful for the explosion that has been computers and the internet for the last 10 years. partly because it's given me a job i really enjoy and that wasn't possible before ... and partly because it has made it easier for me to interact with others - to learn and connect and grow.
2) it's now been 9 years since i was hospitalized for some unknown illness which turned out to be cancer. no health insurance, job that paid next to nothing ... so now, a bankruptcy later ... and then a return of the cancer (tho thankfully now i was insured) and a bone marrow transplant later ... i'm probably cured. (i'm just hesitant to be too confident about that.)
so i'm thankful that i was able to get through all of that and still maintain my goofy outlook on everything. :)

excellent post, as always. :)

the queen said...

I am thankful I had a Mom who prepared me so well for life and (eventually) death. Plus, she was so quiet I quite often feel that she's still here.

kim-d said...

I'm thankful for ALL of it; thankful for the here and for the gone, thankful for the happy and for the sad, thankful for the good and for the bad. Every last bit of it.

Happy Thanksgiving!

Anonymous said...

I am thankful that my husband and I both have jobs now, and that we made it through this move to New Orleans relatively intact.

I'm thankful that I finally live here, ~even though I complain about traffic nearly every day.~

I'm thankful that things are looking up. That everything is okay the way it is. That things can always get better.

daisy said...

I'm thankful for my first grandchild that my daughter struggled so valiently to produce. I'm thankful to my husband for constantly (well, pretty often!) renewing the joy that marriage can be. I'm thankful for a doctor who discovered my endometrial cancer early enough for it to be cured.
My granddaughter's name is also Katy and as I'm thankful for her, I'm grateful to you for reminding us that nothing is ever so bad that we shouldn't give thanks for the sometimes admittedly slender rays of light.
(The donation idea is wonderful -- I'm buying/wrapping a child's gift for each of my own gratitudes -- thank you for the idea)

Unknown said...

i'm very thankful for a lot of things, mostly, friends and family, near and far. the end to my headaches, although not nearly as bad as yours seem - my resolution was sinus surgery - fairly good health. i'm very thankful for the miracle of modern medicine, which has given my daddy many more enjoyable years (and my mother keeping him on a strict diet)....and for puppies that make me laugh. happy thanksgiving!
(posted this, or something like it, before, but something seemed to mess up and i don't think it went thru...if it did, sorry :)

Anonymous said...

I'm thankful for a new job that is engaging and meaningful

I'm thankful for this moment, this lazy morning of pajamas and coffee and pumpkin-chocolate muffins and the sun peeking out behind the clouds.

Life is good.

CatMominPhilly said...

i am thankful for my wonderful husband to be, my amazing job/career, and my funny as hell cats.


Anonymous said...

I'm thankful for Jesus. Because He died...I live.


Anonymous said...

Wow your right. This is kinda nice that your anniversary for this surgery fell on Thanksgiving.

I am grateful for my family right now (including my external) they mean the world to me and have been so supportive during the past few months that haven't been so hot.

April said...

I'm thankful, to Jesus for my family, my parents and sisters. I love that even though we live in diffrent states, we still keep in touch and are close.

Lipstick Jungle said...

I am thankful that I had 10 really good years with my mother after repairing a much ailing relationship.

I am thankful that my mother showed me exactly how much she loved me by researching her form of Breast Cancer, and making sure that we all knew it was genetic. She has armed me with knowledge that will most likely save my life.

I am thankful that when I lost my stepfather last year, a friend told me I should start a blog and journal about him. I did.

And now I am thankful I have met amazing people whose wit, and charm, and kindness has been a light in my every day.

Thank you.

Anonymous said...

I am thankful for my parents who are always there for me and support me no matter what.

Anonymous said...

I'm thankful for family and friends. I clicked over here from Bossy, and was floored by your description of constant headaches for the past 2 years. It's awesome how you are able to focus on the positive and inspire others with your message of hope. I'll keep you in my prayers! Good Luck!

Julie said...

I am extremely thankful that I am healthy and that my darling daughter is healthy. We have had our share of grief as most have but in the end, we are luckier than a lot of others.

Wishing everyone a happy, healthy holiday season!

Anonymous said...

what a beautiful blog entry...so uplifting...I love it! xo
I am grateful for all the wonderful people in this world!

Desiree Eaglin said...

happy 1 year post surgery!

The Floydster said...

I am thankful for friends who have taken me in after my adventure in Chicago turned sour. I am thankful for the true friends that no matter how long its been since we've interacted - years, even - we can take up right where we left off. I am thankful for computers and the Land of Blog, where I have met so many wonderful and engaging people. I am thankful for my dog, Max, who has shown me what unconditional love looks like. I could go on and on, so I guess I'll go to MY blog and write it out there.

Jackietex said...

I'm thankful that I have such a great family who, although they don't always understand me, love me.

Anonymous said...

I am thankful for my family and for having what I need to provide for my children as a single mom. I am truly blessed.

Leigh C. said...

Very, very thankful for having had the opportunity to meet such great people such as yourself through the interwebs.

And I am still quite thankful that my dad is sttill around, since, around this time a few years back was when he told me he'd been diagnosed with small cell lung cancer. It was caught early, and after a good round of chemo, he's been in remission for close to three years now.

Be well. Here's to having your headaches subside for good in the very near future.

Anonymous said...

I'm thankful for life, love, family and friends.
And I'll match your donation. :)

Anonymous said...

I am thankful for many things.The constant is being thankful for a God that loves me no matter what I do because, frankly, I'm not always that lovable. From the relationship with God flows everything else for which I am thankful.

Daisy, Just Daisy said...

What a wonderful post. I'm thankful that you have your optimism back & a "game plan"!

I'm also thankful for my job, my health, and my family and friends (internet & real life) that are the most wonderful support system a girl could ask for. And BISMOW. He is pretty special too.

Dysfunction Junction: said...

Well now...I'm going to say I'm grateful for you & to Daisy Duke for "introducing" us. You two are the only two non-parental people that I've chatted with about my brain. While it is not overflowing, it does seem to make things interesting.

Oh yeah...and family & friends. And the job that lets me pay my mortgage...I would be a very unpretty hobo.

Anonymous said...

I'm grateful for random acts of kindness... like your donation today. :)

Anna in IL

Anonymous said...

Man, some people will do anything to get comments! I'm thankful that I had my entire family here yesterday, including my son, thanks to Skype.

Anonymous said...

I just seen this and hope it gets submitted in time.

I am thankful that my children are healthy

Anonymous said...

DAMNIT ALL TO HELL!!! I was gonna comment last night just to tell you how awesome this post was. Then I forgot. Now you can't add another dollar to the donation pool. Damn I hate myself.

But more importantly, this post is beautiful. Thank you so much for letting us in. I am happy to be alongside you on this journey. (And am happy to see the subsequent boocedure went alright)

lace1070 said...

So ~ yeah ~ I missed your deadline but I am commenting anyway. Happy Brain TAil annivesary! I am headed down to Long Island tomorrow for my surgery on 12/3 ~ wish me luck ~