Thursday, December 28, 2017


I have had two brain tumors. Both different.  One was called a meningioma, the other an osseous hemangioma.

I had surgery for the meningioma in 2014.  The meningioma was a tumor that was growing into my brain.  It was not malignant, which means it was not cancerous.

The hemangioma, which was removed in November 2017, was a tumor growing into my skull.   It too was considered benign, or not cancerous.

I know neither tumor was considered malignant.  I was "lucky" not to have cancer.  I don't think having a brain tumor is lucky however.  I had complications after both surgeries.   However, I do not think that there is such a thing as a "good" brain tumor.

I am going to put some pictures of my post 2017 skull surgery here.  These are MRI images.  In the front area of my skull, there are star shaped things that are the clamps that hold my skull together where it was cut to remove the meningioma.   Behind that there is a big "hole" space where the piece of skull with the tumor growing in it was removed.  An implant was put into that space and it is held into place with a variety of clips and clamps.

So, this is how my head looks after having two benign tumors removed.

Sunday, December 17, 2017

So, here's what's happening in my life

I had surgery for an osseous hemangioma , on November 28th, 2017.   I woke up from surgery feeling so good.  The tumor was gone and so was the headache it was causing,  
This was taken right after my surgery.    

 Surgery was on a Tuesday and I went home on Friday.  I had mild headaches which got better and better.

On Tuesday , December 12th, two weeks after surgery, I went to Starbucks where I have held weekly "Breastfeeding Cafe's" for about 8 years.  When I got home I had a bit of  a headache.  I figured it was from wearing a hat for several hours when I was out.

Happy to be home from the hospital

Well that wasn't it.  I woke up at 2:00 am Wednesday morning with a fever and a terrible headache.  I thought for a few  minutes and decided to call the neurosurgery department of Johns Hopkins, where I had my surgery.  They told me to go see my family doctor as soon as the office opens.  I had just been there for a check up and all was fine.  I saw my doctor and this time he did blood work and sent me home.  Shortly after I got home my doctor called and told me to go right to the hospital because my white blood cell count was way too high.

A couple of hours of IV antibiotics, and blood work and I went home.

Thursday morning I woke up to go to the bathroom around 4 am and discovered that my left eye (surgery side) was swollen shut.  Off to the ER again.  Nick drove me.  I had texted my sister and she met us there.  The ER doctor spoke to one of the doctors who operated on me at Hopkins. The ER doctor wanted to send me by ambulance to Hopkins, but the Hopkins doctor said that since I had an appointment the next day I could come then

My swollen eye

Friday, we (Nick, my sister and I)  went to my appointment and I was admitted.  And here I am.  I am getting IV antibiotics, and all sorts of tests.  There was talk of the possibility of having another surgery.  The thought was that the implant in my skull might be infected.

Both of my arms are bruised up from all of the blood tests and the IVs.  My belly is bruised too.   I am getting shots of heparin in my belly to keep me from developing blood clots.

It is Sunday evening.  I am not sure when I am going home.  I might have a picc line put in so I can keep having IV antibiotics when I go home.

So, here we are.  Waiting, and doing whatever it takes to make sure I get well and stay well.

I am recovering!

Thursday, December 14, 2017

Pictures- not in sequence

December 14, 2017

November 29, 2017

I love blogging, but somehow I have not fugured out how to post pictures in sequence and capture the word tha go with the pictures.  Oh well, here's my last two week!

Saturday, December 2, 2017

Today's smile picture

Home and Healing

I got home from the hospital yesterday.  Feeling so much better, and freaking out at my lack of hair!   I have the occasional headache, which, when you see the pictures, you will understand.  But, my tumor pain is gone.

I have likened the tumor pain as being like the discomfort you feel when there's a pebble in your shoe.  Well, that pebble is gone now.

I am tired.  Staying in pajamas.  Spending too much time on the computer.   Feeling so relieved and surprised and amazed.   A week ago I was not sure I would be able to speak, walk, or even be alive.

And here I am!  Tada

Copied from my Caring Bridge page:

This is the hat I knitted for myself before surgery so I could keep my head warm

.  I am so glad I did!
Well, they asked if I wanted to have my whole head shaved.  I said no.  So this is what I have- "bangs"

My head looks like a baseball.

Wednesday, November 22, 2017


This holiday rolls around every year and what we do and how we celebrate varies from year to you.

Last year we had a lot of family here.  We celebrated my mother in law's 99th birthday.  Today is what should have been her 100th birthday, but she died in May.  I know she would have loved to have made it to 100, but her body was ready for a well deserved rest.

There are so many things I could write about.  Pilgrims.  All of our memorable Thanksgivings overseas.  The year we had duck.  The year we had burritos.  And on and on.

But tomorrow we are going to spent Thanksgiving with family close by.  My nephew and his family.  My sister.  Others I am not sure about.

Four of my kids just got back from a week in Ecuador.   Quite an adventure.

All five kids are descendants of the Pilgrim, William Brewster, so Thanksgiving is their heritage.

I am having brain surgery in less than a week.  I keep telling myself I will be okay.  I suppose it's out of my hands and in the hands of my medical team.  So send good thoughts their way.

Thanksgiving with Grandma and Grandpa Sherwood- around 10 years ago

Friday, November 17, 2017

Quick Change

I'm not going to write a whole lot.  Just wanted to say that it's still me.  I changed the background of the blog because I was tired of the brownish color and wanted to try something new.

More later

Sunday, November 12, 2017

why, when, how

I started out, I imagine, like most kids, asking "why"?.   Growing intellectually, starting around the age of three, ask why about everything.  So much that eventually their parents either start ignoring them, or saying "because I said so".   That was my mom.  Because I said so.  I swore I would never say that to my children.   Oh, famous last words.

There is so much that we just know before we have children.  What we will say in answer to their questions.  We would never say no, never be impatient, never bribe or threaten.  And always have answers to "why".

Next comes "when" either as a question "when?" or a declaration "when I grow up".  We want to grow up.  We want to have power over our selves.  We want autonomy.   We want to be able and allowed to do what older kids and siblings do.  In my family, you had to be 14 to use my dad's slide projector.  I couldn't wait.  And, I thought, it wasn't fair.  It sucked being the youngest.

We were going to be eternally patient with our own, eventual, children.  We wouldn't restrict their creativity.  Then we had kids.  And we put safety locks on the cupboards and gates on the stairs.  And we protected and guarded  them from the frighteningly dangerous world around us/ them.  And the "when's" started again.  When will the baby start to sleep more hours.  When will we be done potty training and when can we stop washing diapers.  When will they start school.  When will they ever learn to pick up after themselves.

When do we start realizing that our parents are not everything, know nothing and are annoying.

And back to why.  Why is it that no matter how old you are or your parents are, when they die, you want them back more than you ever knew you would.

And how.  Showing your baby how to smile.  Play peekaboo and patty cake.  Crawling on the floor with your little one and graduating to writing their ABCs.

How and when did these people, who came from you and through you stop thinking that they need you.

And how did I, who used to be a little girl, a teen, a young woman and a wife and mother.  How did I become old enough that I am now called "young lady".

When, how and why did I learn to hold my feelings.  Sometimes I want to be like a toddler who has skinned her knee, and just cry, unembarrassed, and unashamed.

Thursday, November 9, 2017

More questions than answers

I've been thinking about something.  When I was in high school, one of my teachers told me about her husband's strange behavior.  She was young- in her 20s.   And they were fairly newly married.  She said her husband would come home in the evening and go lie down.  He didn't want to talk.  he was argumentative.   Sometimes he would cry.

It was so bizarre and alarming.  Next thing I knew, the teacher's husband had a brain tumor.   I was probably 15 or 16 and I just knew that it was something terrible.  I didn't know enough to be curious or to ask questions. 

After the school year, I went to spend the summer in Oregon with my grandmother.  Turns out my teacher was in Oregon too.  So I went into Portland to spend the day with her.  She was so thin and nervous.  She told me that he husband was in a nursing home and was in a vegetative state.  She offered to take me to see him but I declined.

We went to my teacher's in-laws for dinner.  Teacher's mother in law said that she had been to see her son that day and he had recognized her and spoke.    After we left my teacher told me it was so hard.  Her husband's parents were certain their son was recovering.  My teacher knew he was dying.

Ultimately, the teacher's husband did die.  She got married again and had a baby.  I went to see the baby in the new hospital.  That was over 40 years ago.

I have not seen my teacher since then.  That baby is all grown and may even have children of her own.   The teacher's first husband died as a young man.  His parents lost their child.  My teacher lost her love.  Life went on.  Life goes on.

And now I have my second brain tumor.   I didn't die with the first one, and I am not going to die with this one.

I suspect my teacher's husband had a cancerous brain tumor.  I am told that mine is not cancer.   I wonder, how was a brain tumor diagnosed 45 years ago.  How was it treated?  

I don't have answers.  Just more questions.   Not "why me" sort of questions.  Why not.   Just "why" in the first place.

I'm tired.   I'm lucky.  I'll be okay.  But, honestly, what the fuck!  

Monday, November 6, 2017

Counting down

Just over 2 weeks until my surgery.    I'll get through this.  We'll get through this.   The waiting, anticipating , the concerns about the outcome.

I'll be okay.  I have to say and believe that.

I set up a Caring Bridge page three years ago when I had my first brain surgery.  It is still there.  My sister and my daughter are able to post there in addition to me posting there.

Here's my blog post from three years ago- after surgery.


Saturday, November 4, 2017

Thinking about the past and the future

As I drift off to sleep every night, my thoughts wander all over the place.  Much of the time I start thinking of all the things I think I need to get done in the next day or so, and making lists.  I have found that, at least for me, writing things down helps a lot.  I have a pad of paper and a pen in my night table drawer where I jot down my reminder notes to myself.   Sometimes I even look at what I have written down.  I check things off as they get done.

With my impending brain surgery, November 28th, I have been thinking a lot about life.  Mine, of course, but also my children's.

In my head I compose letters.  One to each "child" (come on, they are all over 30 except for the 26 year old).  I say how much they were wanted and imagined even before they were conceived.  I imagine myself telling each one of them about how I learned I was pregnant with them, and how carrying and birthing was.  And how we got to know each other ex-utero.   In the world where they had to breath and eat and I had to love and feed them. 

Then I wonder, should I write one, longer letter addressed to all of them.  So they have all of the stories together.   What if I start writing and don't finish.  What if I leave one of them out?

Remembering my pregnancies brings me a lot of happiness.  Happiness at the anticipation of meeting a new creation.   Happiness with the memory of having my child's heart beating inside my body as my blood fed them and helped them grow.  Wonder at who might be in there.  A boy or a girl?   Silly, funny, smart, compassionate.   So much love and hope.

Every time we had a birthday, for many years, whenever Nick or I had a birthday. we would wish for another child as we blew out the birthday candles.   We smiled secretly, knowingly at each other.  I wonder if anyone caught our smiles?  I wonder if they knew our wishes?

Do I have regrets?  Yes.  But no regrets about my babies.  My children.  Our children.  And the adults they have become.  They are all funny, smart and caring.  They all have a sense of right and wrong, and they care about other people.  And, they all have cats.  Yes, I said cats.   To me that means that they have open, loving hearts.

Mr. Rogers, on TV, used to sing a song "you were once a baby and then you grew and you grew and you grew and your grew and you grew. And now you can do what a baby couldn't do.  You story is your history".

Tuesday, October 31, 2017

All Souls/ All Saints

I am often remembering events of the past. Tonight I am recalling All Saints Day and All Souls Day in Poland. November first and second are the days that candles are lit on graves all over Poland. The first year we were there- in Poznan, Poland, 1979, we went to a large cemetery where a light snow covered the graves and the candles reflected off of the snow. It was a quiet, serious but not somber scene. Very peaceful and thought provoking.

Friday, October 27, 2017

San Diego October 2017

Carroll Beckham, Bonnie Douglas & Nancy Sherwood

Nancy & Mindy- haven't seen each other since 1974