Wednesday, December 25, 2013

Merry might need a magnifier!

Merry Christmas from our family to yours!

My apologies if our card missed your mailbox this year, and/or if you needed the help of a magnifying glass to identify who it was from!

That is *possibly* what happens when you 1) buy a Groupon for your Christmas cards, 2) proceed to create them on your iPhone, 3) with iPhone pictures, 4) all while waiting in carpool line one November afternoon. 

They looked much bigger and clearer and proportionate and even kind of cute from my iPhone that day! Eh. A deal is a deal and so that is how the Gibson 2013 card went down. 

If you squint closely and tilt it at a 57 degree angle you can see us when we were in Colorado for a wedding in late September. 

I do have a love affair with Christmas cards though. I love getting them and sending them...even hand addressing them. And the kids and hubby know they can only help if they promise to put the stamps and return address labels on squarely. Issues, I know!

We even have an archive of sorts...of past received ones. Just in case you are ever needing a photo card from days gone by, we should have it!! At least going back to about 2004 or so. Is that creepy?

If you are still reading, we do indeed wish you a Merry Christmas and Happy New Year!

I have never hosted Christmas in my life, but due to doctor ordered travel restrictions, everyone is coming our way. Should be a crazy kind of fun. 

All the food is being brought in and we told the girls last night that Santa didn't come to messy houses, so ours suddenly became much cleaner! We totally lied. Made up a story about how last year he tripped over a pair of shoes that had been left out by a kid and missed the rest of his deliveries while he was being treated in the ER. Oh their eyes! And then their labor! It was the most productive 30 minute cleaning I have ever witnessed.

We are so mean!

Seriously though...I pray that amid all of the craziness, that your heart can ponder the indescribable gift that we celebrate today. This year has given me some rare, perspective changing, soul moving, heart wrenching close encounters with our Lord...and I am left wanting more. I wish I knew how to hang on to the intimacy, but I don't. I clung to it as long as I could after surgery this spring...pretty sure that I was annoying everyone around me with "just one more" account of His faithfulness, but inevitably life comes for you. The busyness, the less obvious need of dependence, and the ability to once again meet the needs of others...can distance your connection to God.  And that's just Monday to Friday daily "life"...not crazy chaotic Christmas calendars! 

Well, I am rambling and unfortunately have got nothing! So I will sign off.

Just know that I am thankful that I have felt His presence (even in suffering) and am praying that you may also...(hopefully without the suffering part!) ;)

My precious BSF leader prayed these words over me (via text!) during my ER visit Saturday.

Psalm 116:1-7 
love the Lord, because he has heard
    my voice and my pleas for mercy.
Because he inclined his ear to me,
    therefore I will call on him as long as I live.
The snares of death encompassed me;
    the pangs of Sheol laid hold on me;
    I suffered distress and anguish.
Then I called on the name of the Lord:
    “O Lord, I pray, deliver my soul!”

Gracious is the Lord, and righteous;
    our God is merciful.
The Lord preserves the simple;
    when I was brought low, he saved me.
Return, O my soul, to your rest;
    for the Lord has dealt bountifully with you.

What a beautiful passage!

Psalm 116

Merry Christmas!

Monday, December 23, 2013

A Trip to the ER and Steroids Wreaking Havoc

Well, after experiencing a super hyped steroid induced state late on Friday (sorry if you received texts from me regarding dancing and taco bell!), I really wondered how I would pass the time on Saturday. Trying to recover with set limits (no bending, lifting, etc) and resting while completely high is difficult! 

However, the Lord, in his perfect timing (and humor!) made the day pass quickly. I woke up Saturday in a panicked state...experiencing a sudden severe headache, visual disturbances and sensitivity to light. Awesome. 

I did say "woke up"...which meant I had at least slept...3 hours is good, right!?! But what troubled me was that I woke up to this sweet face excited about what the tooth fairy had brought...but couldn't see her well.

All she wants for Christmas is...

Can you tell Daddy was in charge of the Tooth Fairy gift? A lollipop?!?

Poor thing...she has lost FOUR teeth in half as many months...I just wanted a picture!

Fumbling for my phone (camera) I realized I wasn't seeing straight. Spotty vision, etc. 

I checked my discharge paperwork and learned that I couldn't ignore these symptoms. They were on the "call 911 list". Well, crap! I messaged the neuro resident on call, thinking surely I would have laid eyes on him during one of Dr. Mickey's parades this past week. Nope. Name didn't ring a bell. All I could muster up was a, "Now who are you again?!? How do you spell that?!? And you *really* are one of Dr. Mickey's?" Impressive, I know. I am sure he loved me right then! 

Yes! I know, I know, I know...residents ARE doctors. Ahem. But, just my preference, after having two craniotomies this year, I would rather talk to the doc who is 6 years, rather than 6 months, down the path of his 7 year neurosurgery residency. Actually, I would rather just talk to DR. MICKEY himself! ;)

Realizing that I was being crass, I quickly prayed while on the phone with him that he would be decisive (little patience for an indecisive doctor!) and correct in his thinking. He asked if I had someone to drive me to the ER because I needed to come in. Well, that was a direct answer to prayer!

Now, what to do with the kids. No way in the world I was going to drag them to the ER during FLU season. By the Lord's provision, and a few texts later, they were set! What do people do without the body of Christ around them? I am completely dependent.

We get to the ER and they immediately want to start an IV. No. No. No. Both of my hands and arms were so poked and bruised and sore. My veins were revolting and not going to surface! I simply said, "Nope!" No IV for me! And "refusal of IV was noted in my chart".  Awful patient.

But they wanted to give me morphine and zofran and other drugs. blah, blah, blah. I didn't want drugs. I was just praying for a CT scan that didn't show swelling or bleeding. And "nameless neuro resident" promised over the phone that it could be done without contrast dye. Step away with the needles!!!

Alas, my veins still were not safe. Blood work to rule out infection, etc needed to be drawn. Okay, okay. The nurse surveyed my arms and asked me my preference. Really? Um, well, I have no clue...please pick the one that will only take one try, okay? Use my leg or neck if you have to. Just once and done, got it!?!

As she starts that poking process, a very kind ER doc walks in. He is asking me questions about my headache and vision changes...location, onset, severity...WHILE the nurse is DIGGING in my arm for blood. It was not good. I finally had to tell the doc that I could either answer his questions OR do the blood draw, but I simply could not handle both simultaneously.

Jerry took over answering questions while the nurse persisted.

I ended up screaming. Not as loud as during the tape-removal-likened-to-childbirth-incident, but definitely a scream. I am pretty sure I embarrassed Jerry. I can't leave those moments only to our children!

Why the scream? Because the stick was NO GOOD. No, no, no!!! Poor nurse. I did feel for her.

So I changed my tune and decided I DID want medicine. I was panicky and asked for some Xanax. I suffer from flight anxiety and MRI tube anxiety, so I am not a stranger to taking a little of this drug when needed. .25 mg always does the trick. Well, the now VERY kind ER doc ordered me a FULL 1 MG tablet! Maybe he had heard the scream? Regardless, I didn't turn it down.

Within half an hour, my CT scan was complete and I had 5 less vials of blood pumping through my body (courtesy of a different nurse). And I was very, very sleepy. And calm, and really just feeling pretty much amazing. Stroke? Seizure? No biggie! I was sure it would all be okay. Really, I was fine.

But, I still hadn't seen "nameless neuro". Hmm.

But then who should appear, but sweet Dr. Klinger!!! You may have prayed for him as he assisted Dr. Mickey with my surgery last week. Harvard grad, 5th year resident, had actually seen the inside of my brain and spoken to me. Such a sweet gift!  I guess he wasn't technically on call, but had run into the other neuro doc while rounding at Zale (which doesn't have an ER) and decided to come see me himself. Love. Love. Love.

He had already reviewed my scan, labs AND spoken with Dr. Mickey. Offered me a the last available bed at Zale for observation, but also said we could just go long as I TOOK MY MEDICINES AS SCHEDULED. Ooops. I guess I did value sleep over meds and had gotten way behind on the doses. They really are serious about taking these little steroids.

Hmm. What to do? A hospital admit would mean an IV, right? Nod. Well, lesson learned...see ya!!!

Filled with absolute praise and thanksgiving that I wasn't facing any sort of threatening complication, we were home bound. Praise HIM!

But man, I still had to take those stinkin' meds. I've asked, and apparently there isn't a term for when your throat forgets how to swallow. I am probably only on a third of the pills I came home on in February, but still...gag me! Why don't they coat the pills!?! Bitter yuck fest. I started to think IV meds actually did sound good. ;)

Meds taken and Xanax still wearing off, I woke up to this precious one.

"Mama, do you notice anything different about me?"  Me, in a stupor, "Um, that your teeth still haven't grown in yet?!?" "No, mama!", Jade says while blinking her eyes and puckering up.

Silly me! Lip gloss and eye shadow, folks. She had put on lip gloss and eye shadow. I forget that in the midst of brain tumors and surgeries, staples and stitches, sleepless nights and unexpected ER trips, that these little ones are going on about their lives and experiencing all of the fun of school vacations and Christmas wonders. THANK YOU LORD!

Tree climbing Lily
Thank you also for the meals that are being delivered daily to our porch. Mama is hungry on these meds! Jade was excited about eating some leftover spaghetti yesterday, but couldn't locate it in the fridge. I couldn't remember if I had polished it off during my 12, 2 or 5 AM binge, but was yummy and very much finished! Sorry, honey!

Jerry and the girls were bringing me lunch yesterday after church and when they arrived, a little later than I had anticipated, they found me in an actual state of tears.  The looks on their faces were beyond perplexed...was I really worried that I might go hungry? Apparently so. This is such a good "anti-drug campaign" for them! Definitely not myself.

Steroids are not for the faint of heart! I realize I am already tapering and barely taking much at all.  I know they are good drugs, and NO, I don't want my brain to swell.  I am thankful for them and feel badly for anyone who has to take them at high doses for lengthy times. YET, THEY TOTALLY ANNOY ME.

And man, am I annoying on them!?! You can pray for Jerry. I was on his laptop yesterday while he sat next to me. Every few minutes a man's name would pop up on his Skype notification saying that, "So and So is online!" "So and So is online!" "So and So is online!" And every time it did, I would tell Jerry about it. Every single time. "Hey, Jerry, So and So is online!"

I even texted him while he was at church to let him know again, that "So and So is online!"

Sadly, it was so funny to me.

And in his patience and love all he could say was, "Wow, you really are on steroids!"

Sunday, December 22, 2013

A Chatty Steroid Induced Recap of My Meningioma Surgery Week (with Pics!)

Hello all! I am so thankful Jerry kept y'all up to date through my surgery and hospital stay.

THANK YOU FOR YOUR PRAYERS...WE WERE (and continue to be) CARRIED by them.

What a week. I will try to keep this in order and throw in a few pics. *Warning*: I am hyped up on 'roids...for real!

Here I am in pre-op. They had already glued nodes of a "GPS mapping system" all over my head and shaved a few spots in the process. That sort of shaving sound is not fun to a woman's ears and I would have really rather already been out for that!

The pre-op CT/Brain GPS mapping scan was uneventful and afterward I got to meet my anesthesiology resident. Residents can be the BEST or the WORST part of a teaching hospital experience.  Thankfully I have had more "Best"' than "Worst" experiences with these young brilliant ones who surely haven't slept in years.  Unfortunately, this guy was going to be chalked up in the "W" column. And that is "W" for Worst, not Winner. Ugh. Rude, short, chip on shoulder, know it all. All I could think was please, oh please, where is my sweet Dr. know, the one who held my hand as I woke up in February. I was concerned about my cold and lung congestion and just wanted to be heard. He informed me that he was already a pediatric anesthesiologist and had just come back for training as a glutton for punishment so he could do adults.  Great. I can't believe I said this, but I told him as long has he gave me the ADULT dose we should get along fine. But then we didn't. I saw Dr. Klein briefly but asked for him again just to discuss the cold I had. The moody resident revisited, loudly, and informed me that Dr. Klein would NOT be coming back in, that he (the resident) had cleared me and it was not to be questioned.  Well. Well. Well. I realize my last surgery was on Valentine's Day, but absolutely no love was in the air this go round. Sheesh.

I said my goodbyes to my family and they wheeled me to the Operating Room. No happy juice! What in the world? I didn't want to see the OR! It looks just like the movies. The lights, the sounds, the scans of your brain plastering the walls, countless machines all with their own noises and nurses counting instruments as the metal clatters. Um, hello? Did y'all forget to put me out?!? Ugh, I am still awake here people!

Mr. "glutton for punishment resident" informed me that I would need to get myself over to the table first before being put out...because that is what Dr. Klein prefers (doubt it!). Well, that isn't how it was last time...I told him...and just then, two of the OR nurses, in cowardly voices, gently suggested to him that since I would be "prone" (laying on my stomach) for the surgery, that maybe they could go ahead and put me out prior to positioning me on the table!?! Praise the Lord for those angels. He muttered something about how he thought I would be "lateral" blah, blah, blah.  I was in panicky tears, but then...Dr. Klein hit the scene. Soft hands, soft voice, sweet smile, happy juice, and mask with gas in hand...the last thing I remembered was him saying, "Are you getting sleepy yet, sweetie?" Praise the Lord for his kindness!!

About 4 hours later I was already recovering in ICU and I just remember being annoyed because my hair was wet. I don't fall asleep with wet hair...EVER. My mom didn't even recognize me because they had washed it in iodine or something red. It was crunchy, wet and orange looking. I can't remember when I saw Dr. Mickey, but he really is my hero, and I was sure to thank him for the bonus hair coloring!

Now I had a new nurse to contend with who was convinced that I needed to eat a hamburger or some pizza...and pronto. I am not kidding. Over and over again I could hear him telling my family that I didn't have any diet restrictions and I needed to eat. Just the mention of food was disgusting to me and I was happy when my sweet sister appeased his requests and let him order me a popsicle. At shift change he ranted to the new nurse that I just didn't have any appetite and had been refusing to eat. She calmly said, "Her surgery was just TODAY, right?!?". Oh the things you remember. Finally a break from the food pushing dude.

I know how well I must have been doing just based on the things I am able to recount!

"resting" in ICU

I had a CT scan around 2 AM to check for bleeding and swelling.  Uneventful!! Dr. Mickey said the 3 cm tumor was completely gone, and the artery was not compromised...even after much "scraping" and cauterizing of it. Ouch!

Tuesday in ICU was a bit rough. The interruptions NEVER ended. The entourage of PT, OT, Techs, Nurses, Docs, Residents, Respiratory Therapists (ugh!..spirometer is a 4 letter word to me), Nurse Practitioners, Patient Care Coordinators, Lab people, etc, and they all say, "rest up!" as they leave. Sure, I will get right to that! Quick, LOCK the door! Put some biohazard tape out or something to scare them away!
Fun with Physical Therapy

I also had the WEIRDEST sound of rain drops falling in my head. My mom thought I was hallucinating, but I was more concerned with reporting the symptom (see, I am a good patient) and was glad to hear from the Dr. that it was completely normal! Apparently after that type of surgery you can hear your CSF (cerebrospinal fluid) circulating around in your head for a while. Drip, drip...plop. Drip, drip, plop. Crazy, huh?

The day was also yucky because one of my IVs infiltrated or extravasated? {mom, the RN?} ( in Feb.) and my arterial catheter was not working which led to more sticks. Fun swelling and bruising for sure. And then tape removal. I know it had to have been "Resident Glutton" that went so tape happy. It was nuts! I mean they shaved all over my head, couldn't they have shaved a little arm hair off prior to taping the length of it!?! I did scream. Yes I did. Childbirth was easier. Both times.

I survived the embarrassing yellow "fall risk" gown and did some walking. I was ready to be out of the ICU...matching yellow socks and all!

Brave visitors who still wouldn't take a peek at my incision!

Census was high, but providentially we got a room on the floor late that day (Tuesday). We were greeted by one of my sweet nurses from February...Gretel! The sweetest thing...imagine a beautiful Filipino woman named Gretel. Her parents named her brother Hansel. I am not kidding. You don't forget these things. And she gave me a prized blue gown to wear. Best gift ever!

All the patients want the BLUE gown!

That night was not restful with all the interruptions, but mainly due to my own mishap.  My mom was nestled on the guest couch in the room and I think actually asleep. It was midnight and I woke up wondering if they had forgotten my pain meds. Vitals were even past due. I decided to take a sip of my fresh, full, iced to the brim cup of water. You know...the huge coveted insulated hospital cups that don't sweat! Well, I grabbed it by the lid and spilled an entire pint of ice water all over me and my bed. I cussed, my mom jumped up and that led to an hour of clothing and bedding changes and mopping. Memorable!

Despite all that, I felt decent the next day (Wednesday), had help to get showered and even got the incision shampooed. Yikes! 34 staples = not fun to sleep on or wash. I had moved to mostly oral meds and only had one IV placed just in case.

See, I look pretty normal from the front!

Wednesday evening, Dr. Mickey said I could possibly go home the next morning (a day early!). But as my mom passed the baton to Jerry that night (no one likes to sleep at the hospital), the vomiting began. Let's just say that everything I had eaten for days came back up undigested.  It was really fun. And my sweet nurse Gretel had been replaced. After the first episode, the new "not so friendly nurse" said something to the effect of, "well, why did you go and do that?!?". I begged for a bucket, but 2 more episodes occurred before the bucket came. I was not well. So, IV meds recommenced and my hopes of going home seemed far away.

I just needed a bucket!

Free tip: I highly recommend vomiting at the hospital only during maintenance hours. Otherwise it doesn't get cleaned up quickly. And it kind of stinks...which kind of leads to more, know!

The next day (Thursday) was spent with my previous discharge nurse from February, Shelley! Another sweet one. I was feeling so-so, Jerry was antsy and we wondered if I could still go home. Shelley told us that if we weren't discharged before dinner and shift change it probably wouldn't be likely. We waited, and waited and waited and waited some more. Dr. Mickey's resident came by around 6PM and gave us a glimmer of hope! But shift change was about to happen. Dinner had been served. Hmmm...we wondered. Would this resident be remembered as a "W" or a "B"? False hope is not cool. Dr. Mickey came by and gave the green light! He made me promise that I *really* would rest for the next 4 weeks. I told him I would try, you know, with two kids at home, a dog, Christmas, relatives coming in town, etc...I think he might have rolled his eyes! ;)

Thumbs up and a happy dance (Jerry did the dancing)!

Then it was apparent that "not so friendly nurse" was not used to discharging people at this late hour or maybe ever during her shift. She informed us that we would just have to bear with her...oh the sighs. I was just less patient for you tonight, honey! Right? Where is the joy? So, that proved interesting and sure enough none of our RXs made it to the pharmacy even after bearing with her. Thankfully that handy hubby of mine was able to track down a 24 hour pharmacy and got me hooked up with the meds before midnight!

It was an emotional departure around 9PM. I cried just at the thought of all we had been through this year and how the Lord has been kind and faithful. He has kept us. Could I really be done with brain tumors? Will the door of 2013 really close? Will I be used and grown and purposeful to my Lord who has carried me? Will I ever be able to really articulate His faithfulness? Ever be able to thank the body of Christ who has rallied around us in unimaginable ways? I still wonder.

But the tears have stopped and the steroid induced hyperactivity has begun. Thank you for letting me share my story and for journeying along with us!

I will close with my first FaceBook post after surgery:
"Hola! It's me! I cannot believe the Lord's faithfulness. The Lord didn't have to be this kind. I have struggled with his goodness in the oddest of ways. A sweet pastor helped me after surgery to realize just how much He truly delights in His children. I think I am getting it now. I better at least, because I really don't want any more large scale lessons!! Zephaniah 3:17 - "The Lord your God is in your midst, a mighty one who will save, he will rejoice over you with gladness; he will quiet you by his love; he will exult over you with loud singing." --Thank you for your prayers, texts, cards, e-mails, visits, etc! I don't think this room will bind us much longer. Hoping for a discharge late today or early Friday. Not excited about the car ride home, but can't wait to see my girlies and the Duchess! "

And we promptly woke them up and got kisses and licks accordingly.

And now I have a new care team...shown above by the board that Lily replicated from my hospital room. Everyone on this board gets a "B" though...they truly are the Best! And for the care team who left sweet in-laws...we are forever indebted!

*Please know I have the utmost respect for all medical professionals, residents included! Many of our own family members and friends serve in hospitals daily and I am thankful for their tireless work!*

Thursday, December 19, 2013

One more day?

There is a really good view of downtown from where I sit.  I'm bored enough that I actually sent an e-mail to A&E about the whole Duck Dynasty dust up.  I'll let you imagine what my opinion is.

We were hoping to be going through the discharge process right now but we are not.  Nausea set in for Kerry last night and seems to be sticking around a bit, so we are in for another day.  She is still ahead of expectations though!  Perhaps she looks today like she should have looked yesterday.  She felt and looked pretty much normal yesterday.  We aren't exactly sure about the reasons behind the slight step backward but it's probably related to feeling a little too good yesterday.  This is good for us I think, because we were probably a bit over confident and not taking things as slowly as we should.  After last nights bout, we are fine to stay another day to make sure all is well.  If we leave tomorrow, she will still be leaving a day earlier than expected.

Prayer needs:
-nausea and underlying cause be gone
-continued pain management
-continued momentum in healing
-continued strength to work hard toward recovery
-reemergence of a good appetite

Thank you for praying.  I like knowing that God is hearing Kerry's name a lot.


Tuesday, December 17, 2013

The dreaded tape and yellow robe

It's possible that Kerry is more afraid of tape coming off her arm than she was the actual surgery.   But there is good news behind this fear - some of the wires and tubes are already off.  She is cleared to go to the main floor but there are no beds so she will probably spend another night in ICU.  This is fine for Kerry because of the nurse/patient ratio.  It's not so great for those of us who like to be near her at night.

She looks amazing, even though she did get the dreaded yellow "fall risk robe" today.  She calls it the scarlet letter of ICU.  I think most of you would be shocked if you saw how good she looks.

This morning her first words were "I slept SO good" (from 2:30am - 5:00am). We are thankful for good sleep.

Her pain has steadily dropped from 7 to 5 to 4 to 3 so that seems to be under control.  We are thankful.

Her appetite seems to be gaining momentum as well.  In fact, I would say gaining momentum is the best way to describe her overall status.  Her CT looked great.

Please continue to pray for many of the same things:
-continued pain management
-continued appetite
-a room to open up
-continued momentum in healing
-continued strength to work hard toward recovery

This is probably my last blog unless specific prayer requests change.  I will let her add the color when she is ready.   I can't wait to hear how she describes hearing the spinal fluid dripping in her head (normal).


p.s. She just got a room.

Monday, December 16, 2013

Rocky who?

“Prayer is a moment of incarnation - God with us. God involved in the details of my life.” 

“We have an allergic reaction to dependency, but this is the state of the heart most necessary for a praying life. A needy heart is a praying heart. Dependency is the heartbeat of prayer."
              Paul Miller, A Praying Life

Tangible answers to prayer today:
-tumor removal, even from the major artery
-no complications in/from surgery
-she woke up without incident
-minimal hair loss
-pain seems managed at the moment
-our beloved "Kerry" is coming through already - with a hint of heavy narcotics
-the presence of Christ in His people
-medical professionals in general

More prayer needed:
-CT scan at 1am
-comfort and sleep with a huge n-shaped incision on the back of her head (and more staples than I have been able to count so far)
-continued healing and restoration
-continued management of pain
-no bleeding, especially along the wall of the oft-mentioned artery
-a better appetite tomorrow
-non-cancerous tumor - official results in a week (appeared benign as expected)

Everyone up here got a laugh today when I typed soldered instead of cauterized. Y'all knew what I meant, right?

For the second time this year, someone went (aka sawed) through my wife's skull, operated on her brain, and she has lived to tell about it.  She may not feel all that great and there is still a lot to pray about but I'm pretty impressed with this girl sleeping in the bed next to me.  Rocky ain't got nothin' on this girl!


From the ICU waiting room

We have reached the stage where we change to the ICU waiting room.  Praise God the tumor is removed and that she has done well so far.  They are closing her up.  Next comes the part she fears most - the wake up.  Please pray for an uneventful wake up from anesthesia and coming off the ventilator.  The thought of her struggling through that makes me anxious.  It should happen within the next hour.

Other prayer requests that came out of our meeting with the surgeon just now:
-Pray for no bleeding.  He had to cauterize a major artery the tumor was attached to
-Pray for test results on the tumor (to officially be the "good" kind)
-Pray for her transition into ICU - especially over the next 24 hours
-Pray for her next couple of sleepless nights
-Pray for minimal pain - this work was done in a more sensitive location of the skull

Thank you again for taking Kerry to the throne of God.  I hope we get to see her in the next couple of hours.


From the waiting room

Not much to say except please keep praying.  We are confident that God hears our prayers and mysteriously acts.  We've experienced it!  Please pray. She is in the thick of it.

Dr. Mickey is excellent but less communicative about the process.  That's probably wise in many ways.   All I know right now is:
-We got here about 5:40
-She went to the OR for prep at 7:30 (i.e. put to sleep)
-Cutting started about 8:26
-We won't hear anything until the surgery is over

See her last post for how you can pray.  Kerry has been praying for you too.  She is so thankful for each of you who are praying.  It means so much!


Friday, December 13, 2013

Surgery on Monday...Specific Requests

A year ago I didn't know what a meningioma was, much less how to spell it or pronounce it! What a year it has been.

When diagnosed with the acoustic neuroma last December, we knew the "bonus" finding of the meningioma would have to be dealt with eventually. Well, "eventually" is here!

This Monday I will undergo surgery to get this next (and hopefully final!) tumor removed.

Jerry hopes to update this blog throughout the process. You can subscribe by clicking the link below, but I don't know if it will email you right check back if you are interested!

I am at complete peace, only by the grace of God, and so thankful to hopefully close this chapter of brain surgeries. The Lord brought me through in miraculous ways in February, and I know he is mighty and able to do that again now. I rest not in the competency of a skillful surgeon's hands, but in the almighty powerful God who made those hands and gives him breath and thought and every ability. I pray that Dr. Mickey will be blown away by your prayers. Some of you might remember that last time he stated that, "maybe the prayers helped!"

Last go round, a sweet friend recommended creating a prayer sign up. It was such an encouragement to me and my family that so many would we decided to to it again.

Would you commit to praying for me on Monday for just 15 minutes? Sign up to pray!

Sign Up Now!

The link can be found here. Or by clicking the above button.

 Answer me when I call, O God of my righteousness!
    You have given me relief when I was in distress.
    Be gracious to me and hear my prayer! Psalm 4:1

I have detailed requests on that page and will paste them below as well.

Confess your sins to each other and pray for each other so that you may be healed. The prayer of a righteous person is powerful and effective. James 5:16

Thank you for committing to pray for Kerry during her surgery!

Kerry will be checking in at 5:30AM Monday, 12/16 for Neurosurgery at Zale Lipshy.  She will be taken back at 7AM. This surgery is to remove a 3cm meningioma from her parietal lobe. This tumor was a "bonus" find during the MRI that diagnosed her acoustic neuroma tumor last December. It is large and needs to come out so that it doesn't cause a seizure. Dr. Bruce Mickey will be performing the surgery with Dr. Daniel Klinger (5th year resident) assisting.

Pray as the Spirit leads you. Take comfort in this verse if words don't come to mind!

 Likewise the Spirit helps us in our weakness. For we do not know what to pray for as we ought, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us with groanings too deep for words. And he who searches hearts knows what is the mind of the Spirit, because the Spirit intercedes for the saints according to the will of God. Romans 8:26-27

Here are some specific requests to lift up to our Lord:

During Preparation: (lots of prep between 5:30-7:00!)
  • Pray that Kerry would remain calm...especially during one final cat scan to pinpoint the location where the incision should be made. 1 Peter 5:7
  • Pray that Kerry (and family) would be a good witness to the medical staff surrounding them.
  • Lift up Jerry's parents (Jerry & Lynda) who will be at home caring for Lily and Jade...the morning school routine can be hectic!
Further prep from 7-8AM, as Kerry is taken back:
  • Pray for the Anesthesiologist
  • Please pray for the medical team as they get her positioned, head brace on, hair shaved (hopefully minimal!), etc.
Surgery time 8AM-12PM:
  • Pray for wisdom and skill for the surgeons (Dr. Mickey & Dr. Klinger) That they would know how much tumor to remove without compromising the large blood vessel that it is adjacent to. (Superior Saggital Sinus)
  • Pray that the tumor would not be entangled and vascular, but easy to remove. Pray that the doctors would be amazed in ways only explainable by the Lord's working.
  • Pray that they would be able to get it all, that it would not regrow, and that radiation would not be necessary later.
  • Pray that the tumor would be "typical" and benign...only 10% of meningiomas are atypical/malignant.
  • Pray that Kerry's Factor V Leiden blood disorder would not have any effect as she is off of anti-coagulation meds for surgery (clots, stroke, etc)
  • Pray that the brain tissue would not become so irritated that a seizure takes place.
  • Pray for the Lord's protection from infection and any other complication.
  • Pray against reactions to any of the medicines used.
  • Pray for the family in the waiting room as they wait to hear from the surgeons. Pray that they would sense the Lord's nearness to them.
During Immediate Recovery and ICU stay:
  • Pray that Kerry would be able to come off the vent easily (She has been fighting a cold)
  • Pray for good care from the ICU nurses.
  • Pray against swelling, irritation, and post-op bleeding.
During time recovering on regular hospital floor (Tues-Friday):
  • Pray that Kerry and family would be glorifying to God in their interactions with all medical staff.
  • Pray that Kerry would receive sound medical care.
  • Pray for Kerry's emotional well being as bandages come off and the "haircut" is revealed.
  • Continue to pray against blood clots, swelling, irritation and post-op bleeding.
  • Pray that there would not be any infection or other complications.
During recovery at home (4 weeks):
  • Pray for Kerry's caretakers!
  • Pray that the girls will be gentle with Mama as she recovers.
  • Pray that the joy of Christmas, will not be overtaken by this surgery.
  • Pray against cabin fever as Kerry cannot drive for several weeks.
Thank you so much for your prayers! We have been carried by the Lord through them.

Much love,

Wednesday, November 20, 2013

Prayers Answered: Surgery Scheduled

My MRI and neurosurgery appointment went well on Friday. Thank you for your prayers.

Basically the tumor is still there, growing, and needs to come out.  I don't think our direction could have been any more clear.

There are lots of other things to be thankful for, too:
  • The acoustic neuroma that was removed in February doesn't appear to be regrowing.
  • No other tumors were found!
  • This coming surgery, scheduled for Monday, 12/16, seems to be more common and straightforward than what I faced previously.
  • A craniotomy is still needed, but no fat graft will be required.  (That was painful last time.)
  • No risks of spinal fluid leak with an operation in this part of the brain (parietal lobe).
  • A shorter surgery...anticipated to be 3-4 hours. (1/2 the length of previous one)
  • Shorter recovery time and ability to drive sooner. (3-4 weeks)
  • My blood disorder (Factor IV) didn't play a role last time, so we can assume it won't this time either.
  • Even the news that it will require a "minimal" haircut makes me happy!

There are of course some risks.  Dr. Mickey pointed out that since I am young, (he can tell me that ALL DAY LONG ;) ) the risks do go down, but they are not ZERO. I will definitely send out specific prayer requests regarding those risks (seizures, swelling, bleeding, regrowth, etc.) as we get closer to the surgery date.

For now I just ask that the overwhelming peace that has come over me will remain! I am sleeping well and at this point just feeling ready to get this thing out and hopefully close this chapter.  When I think back to what a mess I was last year at this time...on steroids, not sleeping, going through the ringer with doctor appointments and decisions abounding, I am so thankful for the seemingly simple sleep and a clear path to follow. As far as other prayers, I also may need some supernatural strength to get Christmas completely done in the next 3 weeks. And I do pray that we will all stay healthy between now and then, as well.

Lily is memorizing a portion of Psalm 139 for chapel and as she was practicing it this morning on the way to school, the Lord ministered to me through it.

Psalm 139 O Lord, you have searched me and known me!
You know when I sit down and when I rise up;
    you discern my thoughts from afar.
You search out my path and my lying down
    and are acquainted with all my ways.
Even before a word is on my tongue,
    behold, O Lord, you know it altogether.
You hem me in, behind and before,
    and lay your hand upon me.
Such knowledge is too wonderful for me;
    it is high; I cannot attain it.

Where shall I go from your Spirit?
    Or where shall I flee from your presence?
If I ascend to heaven, you are there!
    If I make my bed in Sheol, you are there!
If I take the wings of the morning
    and dwell in the uttermost parts of the sea,
10 even there your hand shall lead me,
    and your right hand shall hold me.
11 If I say, “Surely the darkness shall cover me,
    and the light about me be night,”
12 even the darkness is not dark to you;
    the night is bright as the day,
    for darkness is as light with you.

13 For you formed my inward parts;
    you knitted me together in my mother's womb.
14 I praise you, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made.
Wonderful are your works;
    my soul knows it very well.
15 My frame was not hidden from you,
when I was being made in secret,
    intricately woven in the depths of the earth.
16 Your eyes saw my unformed substance;
in your book were written, every one of them,
    the days that were formed for me,
    when as yet there was none of them.

17 How precious to me are your thoughts, O God!
    How vast is the sum of them!
18 If I would count them, they are more than the sand.
    I awake, and I am still with you...

He knows me, my thoughts, my ways, my path...and my body...even down to every cell of this tumor...he knows its precise location, how vascular it is, and exactly how easy or difficult it will be to remove. While I take comfort in being in the hands of a renown surgeon operating in a state of the art hospital, I know I am really resting in the hands of my the presence of an Almighty God.

More to come...
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Thursday, November 14, 2013

MRI and Neurosurgery Consult Tomorrow

Hello! Forgive me for the long silence...there hasn't really been much to update you on!

I see many people landing on my blog after searching for various acoustic neuroma questions...which really makes me want to go back and blog through the entire decision making process we endured last winter. I know it would have been helpful for me to read through a personal account when faced with so many decisions.  We shall see!

So, why am I writing now? Well, I covet your prayers...again. We are heading to UT Southwestern tomorrow morning (Friday 11/15) for another MRI and will meet with my neurosurgeon, Dr. Mickey, right afterward to review the results and make a treatment plan. This is regarding the 3cm meningioma they found along with the acoustic neuroma last year. We continue to be completely amazed at the Lord's kindness to me during the AN surgery on 2/14. Now the time has come to deal with the other tumor. This hopefully benign (10% are atypical or malignant) meningioma is on my parietal lobe and sitting on the superior saggital sinus (the largest blood vessel in the brain).

I tried to write our requests in a concise manner for an e-mail I sent to our pastors earlier this week. I am pasting it below. Thanks for praying...I plan to post updates here, so please subscribe (box in upper left hand corner if not on a mobile device) if you want them delivered to your inbox!  Or you can just click the link below:
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Specific Requests:
  • that the tumor will have shrunk (or disappeared!) therefore postponing or eliminating the need for surgery
  • if treatment is needed, WISDOM about how and when to do it...we are learning towards surgery (vs. gamma knife radiation) and we are thinking this calendar year (because our out-of-pocket is met)...but are these thoughts the Lord's will and best for me?
  • that Dr. Mickey would be decisive and clear with us
  • that the tumor would not cause a seizure before it grows that is the biggest risk and I really want to avoid that ;)
  • for my emotional well being during this process...I am not currently anxious, but as surgery nears (I am tentatively booked for 12/ kind of them to hold a spot for me! ;) ) my anxiety *might* grow.
  • ULTIMATELY, that the Lord would be glorified in the way we walk through this with faith and keeping our eyes on Him
  • I am, by His grace, managing the single-sided deafness well (PTL for TWO ears!)
  • eye dryness issues are under control (being treated with drops made with my own blood serum...crazy!)
  • good insurance and medical care options here in Dallas
  • for a loving church family that has come around us so well...and for pastors prayer! James 5:16 Therefore, confess your sins to one another and pray for one another, that you may be healed. The prayer of a righteous person has great power as it is working.
Thank you for "asking" on our behalf. Matthew 7: 7 “Ask, and it will be given to you; seek, and you will find; knock, and it will be opened to you. 8 For everyone who asks receives, and the one who seeks finds, and to the one who knocks it will be opened. 9 Or which one of you, if his son asks him for bread, will give him a stone? 10 Or if he asks for a fish, will give him a serpent? 11 If you then, who are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father who is in heaven give good things to those who ask him!"
In Christ,
Kerry for the Gibsons
Luke 18:1-8

Sunday, June 9, 2013

The Good News and the "Not So Good" News

Relieved...somewhat. And so very THANKFUL.

That is how I would describe our feelings after meeting with my surgeons last week. Not only did we see our neurosurgeon, Dr. Mickey, on Wednesday, but the next day I also saw my neurotologist, Dr. Kutz.We are so thankful for these men...not only for their expertise in their fields, their straightforwardness, their ability to be reached (and how they quickly respond!), but are thankful mostly for their sincere care and kind bedside manner. They have been an amazing team and it is obvious that they are truly rejoicing with us because of the amazing outcome of my surgery. ALL praise be to God!

The Good News

My acoustic neuroma is gone. Like totally G-O-N-E. Not there anymore. Not even a remnant! Thank you Lord! That means, Lord willing, that it can't regrow and that I won't need radiation. The neurological tests of my facial nerve function went great. Dr. Mickey used the word "spectacular".

Regarding the meningioma, the "bonus" tumor they found back in December, is still there. :( But there is good news surrounding it as well. It is all doctor speak to me, but apparently the "no...blah, blah, blah" and "no, blah, blah, blah" from the report below is good news! ;)

The meningioma abuts the falx and the superior sagittal sinus,
however the superior sagittal sinus appears to be patent. No abnormal FLAIR
signal is seen in the subjacent brain parenchyma. The diffusion weighted
images demonstrate no evidence of acute infarct. There is no hydrocephalus,
acute hemorrhage, significant mass effect, midline shift, or extra axial
fluid collection. Midline structures are within normal limits. The paranasal
sinuses are clear.

So, although I really wish I didn't have this remaining tumor to deal with, I really am thankful that there isn't any evidence that it needs to be dealt with urgently.

The "Not So Good" News

The other part of the report stated:

Again demonstrated is a left posterior parietal parasagittal meningioma which
measures 23.4 mm transverse by 23.5 mm AP by 23.4 mm craniocaudal, previously
measuring approximately 22.0 mm transverse by 21.0 mm AP by 21.9 mm
When I read that, my heart sank. All I could see was GROWTH.

Before Dr. Mickey came in, we met with one of his nurse practitioners. I had interacted with him many times over the phone, but this was my first time to meet him. He went over my scans in detail with us, redoing measurements and commenting on the images that sat side by side on the screen---December vs. May. He said he agreed with the radiologist, that it was definitely growing and it would need to be dealt with. Our hearts were heavy because I think we just hoped that it would have "arrested" and we could go on with normal life. We mentioned to him that we have had quite the year with our insurance, so having met the maximum out of pocket financially ($$,$$$-only through the Lord's amazing provision!), maybe the meningioma should be dealt with in 2013. He concurred...and the lump in our throats grew.

I liked the nurse practitioner a lot, but as our meeting dragged on, I began to wonder if we were actually ever going to get to see Dr. Mickey! When alas, he stated, "Dr. Mickey sees a lot of these and will know what to do, let me bring him in." Um, yes. Thank you. ;)

Dr. Mickey came in and after doing a couple of tests and telling me how great I looked, said, "I am not at all convinced that this thing is growing!" What!?! A sigh of relief.

He had me come sit next to him to review the scans. He got out his model of the skull and asked us to imagine that I had a peanut in my brain. Depending on the angle that the MRI sliced it at, it could show very different measurements. The radiologists know that, and steps are taken to minimize error, but the chance is still there. Most likely it is growing, but slowly. Apparently the way the MRI was ordered, it focused more on the acoustic neuroma than the meningioma. So, the "money shot", as Dr. Mickey called it, wasn't taken.

He too said that it has to be treated...possibly with radiation, though he doesn't really recommend that...most likely surgically removed. Because of its location, he will not be able to take all of it. It is too close to a major blood vessel and the risk isn't worth it. Any surgery is risky, but this one is supposedly less serious and less traumatic to my body. Though I didn't think to ask him what my recovery time would be like. Radiation would most likely be necessary later if it starts to regrow. :(

So he was basically on his way out after telling us to repeat the MRI in 6 months, when the NP mentioned our insurance fees being met for the year and the possibility of operating sooner than later. It would be nice to not have to fork out another $$,$$$ if it indeed needs to come out in the near future. Dr. Mickey thought that was good reasoning and decided to have us do the MRI in early November so we could get a better timeline. The NP actually reserved a day for surgery in December because their schedules get so busy with everyone trying to get things done at the end of the year when deductibles are met.

It would be great if we could put it out of mind until November. Instead though we will be doing research and praying and planning and thinking and praying some more.

Please pray with us as we consider these things:
  • Meeting with our radiation oncologist, Dr. Nedzi, again to get more information.
  • The timing of everything: emotionally, physically, financially, etc.
  • Our desire to use our same surgeon, whose career can I say this...not exactly at its beginning stage. ;)
  • The unknowns of what "ObamaCare" will look like after this year.
Our God is so big, so capable, so caring, loving and kind. I am so thankful that we have His ear...that he listens as we cry out to him for wisdom and discernment. May we honor him as we again enter a decision making process.
Ephesians 3:20-21
20 Now to him who is able to do far more abundantly than all that we ask or think, according to the power at work within us, 21 to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, forever and ever. Amen.
Thank you for journeying along with us. Your encouragement, prayers, and just plain interest continue to minister to us in an incredible way! We could not fathom walking through this without Christ and his body.

Wednesday, June 5, 2013

Off to the Neurosurgeon I Go!

Well, it's here! June 5th.  The date that has long marked my calendar.

Today Jerry will join me as I head to Dr. Mickey's office so he can give us the official results of my post surgical MRI.

That MRI was an experience! It was the first one I have had in a hospital setting and it was interesting. During my December MRI, I was able to just keep my normal clothes on (all they needed was my head, right!?!), they put the contrast dye in with a quick in and out butterfly needle, and it only lasted 30 minutes. AND I remembered to take a Xanax (or two!) to combat my claustrophobia and other anxieties surrounding the situation.

The one I had at UTSW 3 weeks ago required me to don the lovely hospital gown, matching non-slip booties (they are serious about the fall risk!), and get a full on IV in my arm. So there I sat, feeling vulnerable as the nurse prepped the IV (I HATE needles, but who doesn't?!?) and I REALLY wished I had remembered to take a Xanax. She could tell I was panicking and asked if it was about the needle or the tube enclosure and I said, "Both!"  I asked if they could give me anything, but sadly that answer was no. I even questioned her about why an IV was necessary.  Something about having a port of entry in case I had a which I promptly replied that I had just had this done in December with no reaction at all! No luck.

I prayed and prayed and was so thankful it was a good stick and I was on my way to the tube. The tech got me loaded and asked for my radio preference.  I said Christian and he proceeding to pipe in the cheesiest 1970s type music I had ever heard.  I actually asked him to turn it off, but he forgot! He asked if I wanted to test the panic button and I actually did. It worked!

He said it would be 35 minutes of scans, but it ended up being closer to an hour in the machine because of long pauses between the segments. However, even with the wacky music, loud banging, IV and the not fun hospital gown, I was startled when they slid me out to put the dye in.  That is the power of prayer, folks! Not only was I not experiencing any anxiety or claustrophobia issues, but I had fallen asleep!

Thank you to those of you who had prayed.  Your prayers were very evident.

Unlike in December, I didn't get any calls with results.  I have learned that this is a good thing! When a doctor calls you personally and sooner than expected after a test, the news isn't good. ;)  I did get a notification a few days later, though, letting me know the results had been posted to my electronic chart.  I debated about even looking at them, but curiosity got the best of me. Due to my limited "doctor speak" knowledge, I was left with more questions than answers, but overall---according to a doctor friend and my nurse relatives, it was a good report.

It doesn't take any medical knowledge though to know that the meningioma has grown. The measurements showed it has increased in size by 1.5 mm in 3 directions. It just did what it should have done I guess.  It would have been a miracle for it to not have grown.  That just seems to be a lot of growth in a short amount of time. Knowing that caused a bit of anxiety as I really would prefer to not have anything growing in my brain! And I even felt sorry for myself for a short time too.  Asking questions like--Isn't one brain tumor enough? Isn't one craniotomy plenty (or craniectomy--that is technically what I had)? Just being honest! But the Lord, in His kindness, has once again restored peace. 

Isaiah 26:3-4
3 He will keep in perfect peace
    those whose minds are steadfast,
    because they trust in you.
Trust in the Lord forever,
    for the Lord, the Lord himself, is the Rock eternal.
When experiencing this anxiety and desire to wish the remaining tumor away, my mom wisely told me to relax and not worry, until someone in authority tells me otherwise. Love her!

We see that "authority" today. I can already envision the appointment. Dr. Mickey will come in, make eye contact and ask a few questions...maybe even give me a portion of a neurological exam. Then his back will be turned to me as he looks at different views of my MRI on the screen and makes measurement after measurement after measurement...kind of like the 20 week sonogram when you are pregnant.  Then he will turn around. That is when in a caring, yet monotone and direct, voice he will give us some news.

I just pray that whatever the news is, that we will be able to receive it with peace and maintain our composure. During my initial appointment with him I was a mess and he commented that his nurses take off points for making a patient cry! ;) Hopefully no points taken off today!

Thursday, May 16, 2013

MRI tomorrow and eye update...thanks for your prayers!

May! It makes me crazy. I guess it is only fitting to end the year with mind blowing busyness and therefore start summer off with much overdue laziness. Only 7 more days of school!

Mother's Day was great. We hosted our Moms and my sister here and the 4 us of moms snuck away for an afternoon pedicure together.  Somehow I didn't get a pic of my awesome MIL, ugh.
my OLDER sister ;)

It was these people that the Lord used mightily to carry me through the fun of surgery that I endured 3 months ago.

It was also my amazing hubby's birthday.  Hard to believe we will be celebrating 14 years together this summer.  Remember what I wrote to you on our tenth? And you even wrote me back!  Thanks for being a good sport about sharing your birthday with my mom's day! Of course you are always a good sport...even wore the duck tape necklace that the girls made you for a while!

It was a fun day of celebrating. The monarch we had been raising also decided to come out of its chrysalis Sunday. We released it and it flew away beautifully!

3 months means it is finally time for my follow-up MRI. It is scheduled for tomorrow morning at 10:15. I am not nervous, mainly because I won't know the results until early June. One surgeon rescheduled me and then I had to reschedule the other.  So now, two separate appointments coming up on June 5 and June 8.  I will be more nervous for those appointments. *sigh*

I am asking for prayer for these 3 specific things and would love for you to join me in praying:

1) that the MRI will confirm complete removal of the acoustic neuroma tumor operated on in February.

2) that it will show no enlargement of the secondary tumor, a 3cm meningioma on my parietal lobe.  Dr. Moody has told me that sometimes these meningiomas just arrest....which would be such a blessing in my case. Otherwise I will be facing another surgery to remove it.

3) that if the meningioma is growing, that the doctors (Dr. Kutz and Dr. Mickey) will have wisdom about how soon to remove it. Apparently if it grows much more it will cause a seizure.

I am also still struggling with eye issues.  Long story short, one punctal plug didn't help enough and two punctal plugs left me wiping tears away.  So now I am trying a new treatment plan which pretty much grosses me out, but I am hopeful will work.  It involves me getting my blood drawn regularly and then taking it to a special pharmacy for them to make autologous serum eye drops.  Sounds exciting. Ahem. Having to put in refrigerated eye drops, made out of my own blood serum, 4 x a day seems a little nuts. I just hope it works!  It seems my cooler at the pool will not just be holding beverages this summer. Frosty eye drops anyone?!?

I have been a bit down about my hearing loss lately too. Maybe it has just finally become more of an annoyance to me. A hearing loss isn't apparent to anyone, so it makes for awkward moments as people have been trying to get my attention without my knowledge. I think I would also *really* like for the ringing in the deaf ear to cease. I am disappointed that it hasn't subsided at all yet. Might even be getting worse. 

All in all though, I am feeling great and so thankful to be where I am today. My mom was telling me on Sunday that when people ask her how I am doing, she shows them 2 pictures.  One of me when I was in the ICU on 2/14 and then a current one. So far no one has been unimpressed! Of course I was surprised she had taken a pic of me in the ICU...that is sort of rude don't you think? Well come to find out Jerry had also.

I look at this picture and am thankful in 10 million ways. My immediate memory takes me to the moment when I vomitted into that oxygen mask. Delightful!

Then this one is just a couple of days later. I AM ABLE TO SMILE. Praise the Lord!!!!

Another fun picture I found out that my mom had taken was this one...taken two Sundays before surgery. I am so thankful for the body of Christ! The way we have been cared for humbles me to this day.

A sweet pastor that I worked under last year encouraged me with Psalm 17 today.

I will be taking these verses into the MRI capsule with me in the morning...

Psalm 17
 I call on you, my God, for you will answer me;
    turn your ear to me and hear my prayer.
Show me the wonders of your great love,
    you who save by your right hand
    those who take refuge in you from their foes.
Keep me as the apple of your eye;
    hide me in the shadow of your wings!

 Thank you for your prayers. They mean SO much.
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