Guest Posts

Be Our Guest Fridays {7}: My Novel Opinion on Facing Her Fears

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Welcome to Be Our Guest Fridays!

Be Our Guest Fridays is a weekly feature hosted by Tanya from Mom’s Small Victories and Helen from My Novel Opinion where we feature guest posts by our favorite bloggers and authors. We started this feature as a fun way to give back to the blogging community. We are excited to share with you these creative, inspiring and knowledgeable bloggers.

My Co-Host Helen from My Novel Opinion

You can find my fabulous co-host Helen on her blog, on Facebook, on G+, and on Twitter. See her blog for more ways you can find Helen.

Today’s Guest Post

Today, I am thankful and honored that lovely co-host Helen is sharing a deeply personal and inspiring post about facing her fears and her life with Arnold-Chiari Malformation.  See what Helen endured and how she thrived after a life-changing diagnosis threatened her and her young family. Be inspired, I am.

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My Small Victory: Facing My Fears

By Helen B @ My Novel Opinion

My Small Victory Facing my Fears
When I first offered to write a guest post for Mom’s Small Victories, I knew exactly what I wanted to share – my own small victory: overcoming my fears and undergoing brain surgery to treat a condition I have.

As the weeks went by, I became less and less comfortable about sharing my story. I didn’t want to come across as boastful, that I am now relatively back to normal, when so many people may be coming to terms with a diagnosis that can’t be treated, or will progressively worsen.

In actual fact, I just want to show how thankful I am.

Thankful that I am now able to do so many things that I couldn’t 2+ years ago.

Thankful to my husband for his love and support, and for being there when I needed to talk (or didn’t want to).

Thankful to my children for their unconditional love and understanding when I was unable to run around in the yard, unable to laugh along with them, unable to enjoy family time because I was in bed.

Thankful to my parents for canceling their 30th anniversary vacation to instead be here to help with the kids and to take some of the pressure off of my husband.

Thankful to my in-laws for taking over from my parents when their two-week stay came to an end.

Thankful to my surgeon for not pressuring me into surgery before I was ready, and for doing an absolutely amazing job, and giving me my life back.

Thankful that even though I still feel occasional numbness in my fingers, or struggle with words, that I went face-to-face with one of greatest fears and came out on the other side.

Now to the point…

So now I’ve been babbling on for a while, I should probably tell you a little bit about what was actually wrong with me. I have suffered from migraines and various types of headaches for as long as I can remember. It was something I had learned to deal with and would continue to do so.

That was until I gave birth to my second child in 2008 (he just turned 6 two weeks ago). Soon after that my headaches seemed to change. I didn’t think much of it until the summer of 2010 when we were facing the possibility of no health care insurance due to lay-offs in the coming months. I visited with the family doctor who didn’t take me seriously and simply prescribed me some $25 a tablet medication (that I wasn’t going to pay for), gave me a shot of something (that sent me to sleep for hours), and sent me for an eye test (when I knew there was nothing wrong with my eye sight). Needless to say, I felt discouraged and decided I would just need to learn how to deal with these “new” headaches.

These “new” headaches came on suddenly if I stood up too fast, sneezed, coughed, laughed, walked too fast, ran around with my kids. And they were excruciating, the pain radiating from the base of my skull right up the back of my head into my eyes.

It wasn’t until February 2012 that I finally plucked up the courage to see the doctor again, a different doctor. This time I knew not to settle for his answers, and pushed for further testing. In the end I’m sure he sent me for blood-work and MRI’s just to shut me up!

Facing my fears #1

I fear not being in control, as well as confined spaces. Not quite on the level of claustrophobia but enough that I didn’t want to lie still in a small dark space for an undetermined period of time. I relayed my fears to the neurologist, and he told me all about Open MRI’s.

A diagnosis

Less than 10 days after that appointment, I finally had my answer.

Arnold-Chiari Malformation I.

My doctor told me to Google it, and schedule an appointment with a neurologist. When the neurologist wasn’t giving me the answers I was looking for, he referred me to a neurosurgeon.

Facing my fears #2

Surgery! I thought I would be able to get through life without surgery. I would have dreams (bad ones) about not waking up from anesthesia. Now I was being told that surgery was the only viable treatment for this disorder that was having a detrimental effect on my quality of life, and would continue to get worse.

My first reaction was to delay surgery for as long as possible. Six months later my symptoms were getting worse. Pain more frequent, and numbness in my arms, hands and feet. I also began to experience problems with word selection. Words were forever on the edge of my tongue. Even the simplest of words. I could describe exactly what I wanted to say, but had no clue what the actual word was that I should be using.

I finally bit the bullet and underwent surgery in January 2013. If you are interested in the procedure you can find it here. My surgeon told us that recovery could be slow, and some people take six months to a year to completely get back to normal (or as normal as can be). I was back at work, albeit part-time, after six weeks. I was working full-time four weeks after that. At my three month post-surgery follow up, my surgeon was amazed at the progress I had made. Three months later I was riding roller-coasters at Disney World, something I had been told not to do before surgery.

Now I’m just two months shy of two years post-surgery, and I can’t imagine what my life, or my kids lives, or my husbands life, would be like if I had not faced my fears! I can laugh, I can cry, I can sneeze, cough, run around with my kids without experiencing the excruciating head pains. And for that I am thankful.

Thankful for laughter.

Thankful for tears.

Thankful that I have my life back.

Thankful for my small victory.

And of course, I am thankful to Tanya for allowing me to share my story, and to you for reading.

Have you had to face any of your fears? Do you have a fear that you would face head-on if you knew it would improve your quality of life? I’d love to hear your stories.

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Helen’s post really resonated with me. As an RA patient, I’ve endured two surgeries on myright hand and my right foot, both when my kids were very young. Recovery was really hard on me and my young family physically and emotionally. I have postponed getting surgery on my hands to straighten them out because of fear of recovery and losing what little grip and mobility I still have in my hands. Reading Helen’s story, I realize what a big wimp I am…seriously! Btw, she needs to retitle it My Greatest Victory, there’s nothing small about enduring brain surgery! 

Thanks Helen for sharing not only your experience and amazing courage but your gratitude and appreciation for the gift that you’ve been given. In the spirit of Thanksgiving, it reminds us to be thankful for the laughter, tears and small victories. You’re an inspiration to us all.

What’s your biggest fear? How do you overcome it? Don’t be afraid to start a conversation in the comments. You’ll have my support and encouragement!

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11 Comments

  1. My biggest fear is failure. But I can’t fail if I don’t try. And even if I technically “fail”, I still count it as a win, because I’m such a positive person. Every time I find myself in a sticky situation, I think: I’ve gotten out of a worse situation before, and I survived that, so I know I can do it this time too.

  2. What a wonderfully uplifting story! Not boastful at all! It takes a lot of strength to face our fears, especially when those fears surround our health and quality of life. Your post is inspiring and heartwarming and I am so glad you shared it with us all. I agree with Tanya, it’s definitely a GREAT victory to face brain surgery and come out laughing. Major kudos!

  3. I’d say that was one gigantic victory. Brain surgery is no joke, so I can understand completely. I have had allergies and asthma all my life, and have been taking medicine all my life. Anymore, I don’t know what a day of feeling completely healthy feels like. Lately, it’s been my eyes giving me the most trouble..burning and itching. And nothing the doctors give (except steroids) helps. I have been toying with the idea for a few years of doing hookworm/helminth therapy, which is not approved in the U.S., but has shown great promise in helping many with various auto-immune diseases. Too difficult to explain the ins and outs here, but the essential idea is the hookworms calm down immune system overreaction. BUT the idea of hookworms and the $3000 cost have made me hesitate. Along with hoping something mainstream would come along. Don’t know what I will do in future, but this story gives me inspiration to take the plunge.

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