On May 5th, 2010 our life was redefined when we discovered that I have a tumor
growing in the spinal cord of my neck.

The purpose of this blog to keep an updated record of our "Life Redefined" and give you the details you might be wondering about (surgery, recovery and other random daily stuff, etc...)

For our friends and our family members who want to be kept updated this is the easiest way for us to do it. It's also good therapy for me to write it down!

We still want you to call or visit if you feel like it - we find so much strength from you. All of your words and encouraging thoughts and prayers are a great blessing for us!

Sunday, August 15, 2010

My Life Has Been Redefined...Final Blog Post!

When I started this "Life Redefined" Blog I had no idea what was ahead, I only knew that it was something big and something we never would have expected for our Spring and Summer of 2010.  This Blog has been SO therapeutic for me and it has been helpful in so many other ways - thanks to everyone for reading and thanks for your continued prayers and help each day of this journey - thank you for caring enough to do so!

It's fair enough to say that this will be the final post on this blog.  There are two reasons why I am ending it here.

1)  A lot of my recovery now involves the goings on of my family life and it is not now so much of a day to day thing as it is a week to week/month to month thing.  Because of that this "Life Redefined" journey will continue to be told on my family blog - http://www.kearsleykorner.blogspot.com/

2)  I am also anxious to have this blog printed in a book format so that I can have another tangible "journal" to refer to often to remind us often of this experience and the many redefining moments we've had.

MOVING ON...

I looked at the time ticker on the blog that shows how long it's been since I came home!  I have now been home for longer than I was in the hospital - and that seemed like forever!  I have not updated the blog since then and I know many of you have chastised me for that!  I want to end it right.  I want to say the right things to summarize this great journey we've been on (up to this point).  I have had so many thoughts run through my head of what I would like to say and I have wanted time for my feelings to truly sink in. 

I truly believe that all of the experiences we have in life are designed especially for us to help us grow and become better human beings and therefore more like our loving Father in Heaven.  They are our lessons in life and we are the students.  Sometimes I am an "honor student" in my experiences and I come out more polished and shined.  Other times I "flunk" and take several steps back.  Most of the time, however, I think I just barely "pass."

When I first was diagnosed with the spinal chord tumor on May 6th, just over 3 months ago, I had to choose how I was going to react.  I knew I didn't want to "flunk" this test by being negative and complaining the whole way through.  I know enough to know that when we choose a pessimistic attitude in life we get no-where fast and we close any door that would have allowed growth or blessings to come into our lives.  I also knew that I didn't want to do what I always do and "just barely pass," because that's how my life has been for way too long.  Life is difficult and unfulfilled when I am just getting by, when I live my everyday life and feel like I am not improving my character or anything at all.  Time is on our side if we use it wisely to become more educated and to reach our true potential.  Time is our worst enemy when we decide to just stay "comfortable" to "just barely pass" and not stretch our characters.  It may as well be the same as "flunking."

So, it appeared obvious to me that a physical trial this huge, with such devastating potential, was reason for me to decide that I wanted to be an "honor student."  (HA!  I even dreamed that I would come out of the hospital being so "re-defined" that I would not lose my temper with my kids anymore and never think a single bad thought again!  LOL!)  I wanted to try to look at each moment as a learning experience and try to glean what I could from them.  I wanted to take good notes so that I can look back regularly at them to remember.

Soon after surgery there was an entry made in my blog where I detailed out what was going on in my body at that moment.  At that time I coined a motto for helping me get through this experience, it was,

"My reality today is my reality today and I take it day by day."

At that point I was in a wheelchair and we did not know if I would be there forever or just temporarily.  I knew, however, that I was going to work hard, try to be patient, prepare for the worst, expect the best and continually remember the prayers and good thoughts sent out on my behalf. 

Well, many of you know that my reality today is many times better that what it was that day and I am still taking it day by day. 

I would like to take a little bit of time now to detail again how I am doing physically.

MY LOWER BODY AND WALKING

- My Lower Body and Walking ability gets better and better!
- I am still numb from my ribs down to my toes (however, I notice a slight difference in the numbness in my abdomen - like it is starting to fade a bit)
- I am WALKING WITHOUT ANY HELP...no wheelchair, no walker, no crutches!  WOO HOO!
- There are times during everyday when I have pushed myself a little too much and I either start to lose my balance a lot, start limping more severely or get extremely dizzy and faint - my feet start to feel like I am trying to walk on balloons sometimes and my legs start to feel like I am walking on extremely stiff clubs.  My legs still don't feel real or like they belong on my body.
- The numbness can still be described the same way it was in my previous entries. 
- The nerve pain that was so terrible in my feet is being managed quite well by the nerve pain medication that I am on.  I have tried a couple of times to lower my dose of nerve pain meds and I within a couple of days the pain is back to constant and difficult to bare - I am so grateful for modern medicine

MY UPPER BODY

- My upper body strength gets better and better!
- I am now able to carry Levi around!  (Many of you know that was a HUGE concern for me in my therapy and wondering when I would be able to care for my baby and family again!)
- Since leaving the hospital I have discovered that my entire left arm and part of my left side of my upper body can feel no hot or cold.  (I discovered this when preparing a bottle for Levi soon after returning home and while holding my hand under the running water - waiting for it to heat up - I could see steam coming off the water and I wondered why it was not getting hot!  HA!  I was burning myself and didn't know it!)  Note to self: Don't check your children's bath water with your left hand!
- Similarly, I feel a lot of nerve pain in my left arm.  It is where I have the most constant nerve pain - even with the medication.
- My neck and shoulders are still recovering from the incision and surgery and I still experience a lot of limitations there.  Sometimes it is just hard to hold my head where it needs to be to accomplish a small task like doing the dishes, etc... 

So that's about it!  Things are pretty great considering!  Brian and I recently returned to Salt Lake for a follow-up with my surgeon, Dr. Dailey and his PA.  They called me a "super-star" and just reiterated what we already knew...I am doing remarkably well!  We were also happy to return the wheelchair to the vendor!

I often think back to my weeks in the hospital and remember the tiny details of the things I was experiencing and going through.  There were so many uncertainties then and no one could tell me when or if I would walk again, or when or if the numbness would go away.  When I picture myself laying in my bed completely unable to move myself, being hoisted around by sometimes 3 people at a time, I am baffled.  It is a miracle that I am here and doing so well.

This morning I was getting ready for church and I was thinking about the pioneers who have come before us in times when a tumor like mine would have never even been discovered.  Instead I would slowly and inexplicably have become paralyzed.  The tumor was only 1 vertebrae from my brain, I probably would have started to have complications due to a tumor growing on my brain as well.  Anyway, it made me think how excited I am to one day have a chance to tell those who lived in that time what their posterity was able to accomplish!  It is a miracle in and of itself!

I find it hard to take it easy around here with the kids and the house to tend.  I sometimes cry myself to sleep at night because I push too hard during the day that it becomes so painful.  It's okay though, I couldn't do it any other way, I want to get back into it as much as I can.  I also want to take it one step at a time and try to get back into the things I love the most.  I have started working a bit with the exchange student program again!  I am starting to exercising again and this week plan on trying to take a slow jog on a treadmill - I have my sights set on triathlons and 1/2 marathons again!  I want to clog again! Why not!  Physically that would be the ultimate for me - a true miracle!

Many miracles come in a physical form but when that happens I think the true miracle sometimes is what happens inside.  I continue to pray for the numbness to go away and for my abilities to be restored.   Scientifically I have up to 2 years for that to happen and I believe that it will happen.  More so, however, I pray that I will be able to look back on this lesson in a spiritual sense and say I was an "honor student."  I want to look back on it and say that my experiences during the Spring and Summer of 2010 forever changed me for the better and hopefully blessed a few other peoples lives along the way - a true miracle!

Finally...THANK YOU, THANK YOU, THANK YOU!  I have felt an outpouring of love.  My cup of gratitude runneth over! I have gained so much strength from everyone I have encountered along the way.  I am not out of the woods yet, but the worst is behind me and the best is yet to come!

7 comments:

Lindsey said...

So glad to hear your recovery is going well.

Jon and Maryanne said...

You are so amazing!!! I have always looked up to you, but now more than ever!!! :)

Jamie said...

You have definitely been a blessing in my life, Kara. You are more of an inspiration to me than you will EVER know. Thank you for all that you have taught me through your experience. I look up to you so much and hope that I will be even a little bit like you when I "grow up". (Spiritually grow up, I mean.)

I love ya. I am so happy we had the opportunity to grow as friends this last year. It has been such a blessing in my life that I have been able to be with you a small bit of your journey. You have taught me many lessons and have made me a better person for sure.

Keep up the good work. You amaze me. I am ALWAYS here for you, a phone call away.

amkingrey said...

Kara,
We have never met, but I am a cousin of Brian's. Aunt LaDene forwarded your blog to me and I have followed it over the past few months. I have a 9mo old and 3 older kiddos. Your story hit close to home and made me appreciate my blessings more and recognize what is truly important. I have kept you in my prayers,and am so glad you are getting stronger and recovering to well. You are passing this "test" with flying colors. Thank you for sharing your experience.
Love, Alison Kearsley Kingrey

Kara said...

though I have not commented much, I have been following. Someday soon we need to take a recumbent bike ride together (I got one last summer and I love it!) and trade some war stories, gimp around together! Love ya, and look forward to hearing more on the family blog.

Sycamore Girl said...

Well done Kara. I'm so proud of you!

WhiteAngel said...

Hi Kara, thanks so much for your amazing blog, I came across it by goggling Spinal cord tumour MRI scan....I have one in almost the same place since age 4 with a cyst in the brain-stem....so I know how hard it is....you are a very strong person and have beautiful family...thanks for sharing...glad that you got a good outcome...love and light ... http://whiteangel0.blogspot.com.au/p/my-story_06.html I'm going to put a link to your blog on mine...thanks