Pic of me a few days after surgery. You can't see the entire incision, as my hair covers the back of it.
My brain drain had been removed by this time, as well. This is one of the least gruesome photos.
The tumor was accessed and a portion of it was able to be removed. There was no way for the entire tumor to be taken out due to its difficult location, so the pieces they got were sent for biopsy. It was, as we all now know, determined to be malignant. Chondrosarcoma, to be precise.
The staples were removed on Thursday of the next week, which came as a great relief to me.The incision was healing well, and my neurosurgeon seemed pleased with my progress. I was still bothered a great deal by pain on the right side of my face. It was terribly difficult to chew and swallow, my right eye was black-and-blue, and my face was extremely swollen. I was also upset that I had become mostly-deaf in my right ear. The incision was not outright painful, but most worrisome. I was tired, sleeping most of the day and could not be out of bed for more than an hour or two at the time.
It was a very difficult time in my life. I felt dazed, alone, and useless. I wondered if this cancer was going to kill me sloooowwwwllly. I didn't want to be this "sick person." I couldn't do much of anything for myself. I read magazines, books, and watched a lot of movies and television. Depression was inevitable, as I was not at all used to being in the position of someone who needed help. It's a very humbling experience when one must depend on the goodness and kindness of others. Mostly, I missed my mom.
When we go through something tough, I think that many people just want to be held and hugged by their mommies. I was no exception. My mom gave the best hugs and cuddles I had ever experienced. She would always have the most soothing and sweet words to bring me through any crisis or calamity. Her prayers for me would instantly bring peace and calm. And she was not able to provide me with any of those comforts. She was gone. I don't think I had ever missed her as much as I did during the days after my surgery and diagnosis.
But I had a secret weapon. The most amazing and awesome friends and family that ANYBODY could ever ask for. My school went above and beyond any expectations to ensure that I was taken care of and prayed for before, during, and AFTER my surgery.
Before my surgery took place, Myra (a living angel on earth) organized a card-drive for my class to participate in. Everyone in my entire class had written a get-well/good-thoughts card with the sweetest, most encouraging messages inside. Some were even hand-made (and adorable). Myra delivered all of these to me in a gorgeous gift-box tied up in ribbons and bows with some hospital-goodies inside the week before my surgery. It really helped me get ready for the battle ahead, and made me feel so special and loved.
The dean of UABSO, a bevy of professors, classmates, and friends came to the hospital every day to visit with me. A dear classmate and friend, Karla, started a website for me so that I would be assured a good meal and visitor EVERY DAY. Classmates and professors alike signed up for days to come to my apartment, bring me a delicious dinner, and sit with me for a while. I never went without anything I needed, and I was given much more extravagant meals than I would have EVER made myself.
The Trusty Gang of Girlfriends were godsends. They'd come hang out, make me laugh, and start up our usual craziness. They brought over DVDs, Slushies, Balloons, flowers, joke books, any little thing to make me happy. It was all of these incredible people who pulled me through what could've been the darkest time of my life. They were the sunshine and rainbows I looked forward to each day.
Family stepped-up in a big way. They came up from Mobile to be with me during my surgery. They brushed my hair, sat with me, tended to my every whim. Treats were brought in every day... I was treated like a princess by all of them.
It was hard to leave Birmingham behind. So many supporting people had come to my assistance when I so desperately needed it. I loved my little apartment. There were many memories shared. It was going to be terrible to not be so close to the Gang of Girlfriends. They are my family, and are such an important part of my life.
Nevertheless, it was time to pack up (at least temporarily) that part of my life and come home to Mobile. I was on the road to recovery.