Monday, November 29, 2010

Eat, Pray, Love~Mary’s Thanksgiving Update

House, M.D.
We took an opportunity to get a second opinion on Mary’s case. Our family in the bay area referred us to an AVM specialist. After many days of researching his work online and several emails back and forth, we sent Mary’s films and scans to Dr. Lawton at the University of California at San Francisco Medical Center. 
Late one evening he called after he had reviewed Mary’s case. He felt confident that surgery was an option to remove the AVM. Up until now, Cyberknife has been the only safe choice.
We don’t have a lot of time to make this decision. The scans, MRI and prep work that was done last week for Mary’s Cyberknife can hold and still apply for about 3 weeks. But the clock is ticking.
After many hours of discussing this together and a few more meetings with Mary’s Vancouver surgeons, we all agreed that we should go meet with Dr. Lawton and hear more about his perspective.
Dr. Lawton has been a vascular neurosurgeon for 20 years. He trained under another AVM specialist in Phoenix, AZ at the Barrows Neurological Institute. He has removed over 500 AVM’s in his career. 
All of Mary’s doctors here and the UCSF doctor are respectful of each other and of the weight of this decision. The goal is for us to know as much information as we can so that we can make the best decision for Mary’s health both now and the future. Neither option is simple and they each have serious risks. But we are so grateful for this opportunity to learn even more about Mary’s beautiful brain!

Planes, Trains and Automobiles
We had our family Thanksgiving this past weekend. Catherine and Kris have to stay in Provo as the RA’s of their student apartments. So we celebrated early. We had a great weekend together and it was as if time stood still. We played games, watched movies, shopped in the city, ate and laughed a lot. It was heaven at home! 
On Monday, with one day’s notice, we confirmed an appointment with the UCSF neurosurgeon, booked flights, hotel and a car. Phillip and Jessica stepped up again, and came to stay here with Thomas.
This quick trip was all about Mary’s health, but in a short 24 hours, we also had time for some family fun. We were able to see our cousins Brian and Audrey Bigelow and their beautiful children Ariel and Aiden for an evening. They came into the city to meet us for dinner and dessert. Mary loves kids and is always the one that kids can’t get enough of! 
We had a great sleep and the next morning we made our way to the appointment with Dr. Lawton. UCSF is a huge campus on a hill with sweeping panoramic views of the whole bay. You can see the Golden Gate Bridge, the city skyline and Coit tower. We had 90 full minutes Dr. Lawton and his staff. He is so busy but he took the time we needed to answer all of our questions. 
We drove back into the city and had a chance to meet up with Jessica’s family for some shopping and a quick visit. They live in the bay area and happened to be downtown for the day. It was great to give them hugs and we even saw Jessica’s grandparents. 
That night our flight was delayed until after midnight, but it gave us some time to reflect and talk together about our significant meeting. We took the airport train into the terminal and made our way to the plane.
It was now technically Thanksgiving. After takeoff, the cabin was so dark and quiet. It seemed as though Mary and I were the only ones awake. The flight attendant brought us a beautiful snack of fresh veggies, warm spinach dip and breadsticks. *It’s important here to remember that Mary’s senses of taste and smell were affected by her hemorrhage back in June. Nothing tastes or smells like it should. 
So I didn’t think anything of it when Mary started eating her snack. She always tries whatever food is in front of her. But at this moment~something was different. She was eating the snow peas and had a surprised look, ‘Mom! This tastes like it used to!’ 
Then she proceeded to eat all of the snow peas. And mine too! Then she moved on to the carrot sticks, celery, and the breadstick. One by one, they all tasted as they should! The last thing was the spinach dip. It was warm in a little ceramic dish. She held it up to her nose and kept inhaling the aroma. ‘Mom, I used to love this so much. Now I can smell it! It’s so good!’ Even her cranapple juice tasted good. 

We sat there, in the dark, with smiles from ear to ear. Brad was sound asleep across the aisle.The flight attendant had no idea that she ‘handed’ Mary a Thanksgiving miracle that night. I sat wiping tears with my napkin, way up in the sky, so grateful for such a simple but important blessing. 
Mary has not been able to taste, smell or enjoy food for over 5 months. So much of life is about food! It’s how we socialize and help others. We have to eat to live! On this day of all days~a holiday that is all about food and giving thanks, Mary was able to taste and smell again.
I am so grateful for the privilege and honor it is to be Mary’s mom. I learn so much every day that I spend with her. 
Wishing you a wonderful Thanksgiving weekend with those you love~
The GoodwinFam