Sunday, January 30, 2011
Wednesday, January 26, 2011
The Man Who Saved Her Life
Dr. Lawton- Mary's Surgeon
He said, "Mary, move forward with your life. It is done. I will see you for follow up in 6 weeks and then once more in 5 years for an angiogram to be sure it is gone. But for now, forget about it, it's done."
UCSF (to the right of the big tower, where we spoke with Dr. Lawton today)
We learned a few important things"
Her AVM will not go to 'waste.' Half of it was sent to pathology and half of it was sent to Neurosurgery Research Tissue Bank. They will study it. They are close to finding the gene that determines why AVM's bleed or not. Mary is so happy that the medical community will learn from her AVM experience and help other AVM patients in the future.
Battle Wages On
Mary's pain level today is a 7 out of 10. But that's down from 11, 12 the last 3 days. Dr. Lawton said she should not have had the amount of swelling and pain that she has. But it will get better. Her eyes are in pain and she cannot look up. She can open them now though! Her swelling is down and she can shuffle to the bathroom. Hopefully we can find something that she will eat too!
She has many weeks of rest and recovery. We are so grateful for your continued prayers and faith. We will appreciate your patience and understanding that she will need quiet, private recovery for quite a while. But it is only good news and only better days ahead!
We were told with insistance that this was impossible. Don't ever tell us something cannot be done. We will ride to the challenge and prove otherwise.
Tuesday, January 25, 2011
Monday, January 24, 2011
This morning my sister had another angiogram to be sure that all of the AVM is gone. A team of 3 doctors came in to talk to her about the procedure. She did not have a good night last night and slept about 3 hours, feeling very uncomfortable. She has another excellent new nurse today and has been working hard to find the right meds that work for Mary.
The pain meds that work for most patients just like her are not nearly enough! But, although she is in pain most of the day, she still finds ways to make us smile.
My parents stayed with her until the last moment before she went in for her procedure. One of her Doctors, Dr. Farid held her hand, and was wonderful with Mary.
The machine that they use for the angiogram is huge. She was not completely out but had enough meds to keep her in less pain and discomfort. The procedure lasted for 2 hours and from the doctor's mouth, " The AVM is gone. No leaking. Looks very good." I cannot believe we got to hear those words.
Mary will have to return to SF in 6 months for another angiogram to be sure everything still looks great.
She is now on drugs that will help the swelling of her face and neck go down. She is 50 % better than she was earlier today and is happily enjoying listening to the Office/Bachelor tonight (her eyes are still swollen shut.)
Although her eyes are still swollen shut, her swelling is slowly going down and her spirits are going up.
Thank you again for all of your thoughts and prayers. So far, this could not have turned out any better and we are so, so grateful.
We love you Miracle Mary.
Sunday, January 23, 2011
She has been in pretty good spirits all day and even got to see herself in the mirror for the first time today. We were worried that she would be sad or scared when she saw her swelling but being the Mary that she is, she simply had a good laugh. It is only temporary and was expected by her doctors, which makes things easier.
She had a rough patch this afternoon, intense pain in her head and body, but was good as new for a couple of hours with some heavy drugs:)
Mary's fave nurse, Brittany
Zane went back to Provo tonight, and it was bittersweet. He has been amazing with Mary. He is always by her side. Helping her eat, helping her to calm down when she is in pain, massaging her to make her feel more comfortable and listening whenever she wants to talk. She did not want him to go but they will see each other soon and a little of that "Zane Magic" will return!
Mary brushing her teeth for the first time:)
Today we saw Mary's personality come back and had fun joking, laughing and telling stories. Tonight she was able to talk to her siblings, and what a blessing that was. Catherine was able to video chat with Mary and Peggy for almost 2 hours and they had so much fun. Technology is truly amazing.Sister CatherineBrother Phil
Tomorrow she has another angiogram to triple check that they got all of the AVM out. We ask that you keep her in your prayers for tomorrow. We have continued faith and have been blessed so much in the past several months. We could not have imagined a better ending to one chapter and beautiful beginning to the next chapter of Mary's life. What a bright future she has ahead.
We love you Miracle Mary.
Saturday, January 22, 2011
She has had major pain today but not more than expected. Any movement of her head or near her head is torture, so we stay close to her side and try not to make any sudden movements. Today she had a CT scan to verify that everything was removed and as far as that scan went, everything looks great. On Monday she will have another angiogram (where they go through the femoral artery and dye is shot through the vessels up to her brain) to triple check that all of the AVM was successfully removed.
Mary likes to have her hand held and just to have us near. Today she was very quiet, simply exhausted but she did whisper to us a little here and there.
We are so impressed with UCSF staff and hospital. They are amazing and treat us so well. Exactly what we need this week. They have 2 neuro ICU floors and an entire neuro wing for recovering neuro patients.
Mary is not the typical post-op patient-they treat her fabulously. They let us be with her in her room and have been very accommodating. This has been a huge relief for our family.
There are beautiful views out of every window and an amazing cafeteria (helping with the occasional Diet Coke need:)) She now is in her own, quiet, private room-which is a great blessing.
Today has been a difficult day. Lots of pain, which is expected but always hard to face. They are taking phenomenal care of Mary and are planning to get her up and out of bed within the next couple of days. She has made it this far and we expect that she makes great strides within the coming days.
Continued prayers are greatly appreciated. We love you all.
Peggy and Brad are by her side constantly and are enjoying watching this amazing girl recover. Mary has had a rough past 8 months but yesterday we saw a glimpse into a very happy future for this girl.
Although there is a long road ahead, we know she can do anything!
Zane feeding her applesauce, only took 1.5 hours:)
Always close by.
More pictures and quotes from Miracle Mary to come!
Friday, January 21, 2011
He thanked us for coming to him and San Francisco and said that all of the prayers helped.
We are so thankful for Dr. Lawton and his surgical team! In about 5 minutes we will get to see Mares and cannot wait. She is so strong, so brave and truly a miracle.
Here's to a successful recovery!
We love you Mares.
Below are some pictures from today.
At 9:15 this morning the first incisions were made. The surgeon guessed that the surgery would be 6 hours, but we are just focusing on the small updates that we get each hour.
Mare was very happy. She drifted off to sleep easily before these brilliant surgeons, nurses and anesthesiologists went to work.
Surgery is still underway and they are studying now how they will proceed with the removal of Mary's AVM. But don't worry, Mary was telling all of the nurses she loved them and was trying to relax by starting to plan her next vacation to Freeport Bahamas:)
We Love You Mares.
Wednesday, January 19, 2011
I still have to pack myself but for the most part, we are ready to go! We have a team of eager helpers all set to care for Thomas, our dogs and our home. Tonight we were able to have a special evening at home with Phillip and Jessica. They and my parents will stay with Thomas during our first week away. It is not easy for me to leave Thomas for 2+ weeks under such serious circumstances. But imagine how grateful I am to have our family nearby. It is such a blessing that my film student son’s first job just happens to be 30 minutes from us. Amazing!
After some routine appointments on Wednesday, we will try to make the best of Mary’s free night before she is admitted on Thursday. We’ll have dinner at a favorite spot, drive over the Golden Gate Bridge and take in some sights of the city.
While we are in San Francisco we have some wonderful support. Brad's company, Oracle, has allowed him time off to be with us and have given us great personal support. My cousins who referred us to Dr. Lawton, my aunt and uncle, and Jessica’s family all live in the bay area. Brad’s parents live in Placerville, about 2.5 hours away. All of this was important in our decision to choose a San Francisco surgeon vs. those surgeons in Dallas or Phoenix.
During that difficult decision process, Zane helped Mary to have the courage to choose surgery over Cyberknife, saving her life. He was with her the day she found out the date of her surgery. Even though he has a heavy load in school and is also preparing to take the MCAT’s, he has arranged his life in order to be with Mary as much as he can. It is important to both of them that he is with her before she goes into surgery and when she wakes up.
The visiting hours are much more restrictive at UCSF than the ICU here in Vancouver. But we plan to be with her every moment that we can. We anticipate she will be in the hospital for about 1 week. We will stay an additional week in the bay area in case there are any immediate complications. Dr. Lawton expects that we will then be able to fly back and Mary can recover at home for about 6 more weeks.
Mary and Peggy
Just before Thanksgiving, we flew to San Francisco to meet with Dr. Lawton. I had so many concerns and mixed emotions as we sat in his office that day. From the moment we found out that Mary had a large AVM in her brain, we were told that surgery was not an option. We had learned everything we could about Cyberknife (radiation surgery) and Mary already had all of the preparatory tests completed. They even had made the special protective mask that she would wear.
Yet, there we sat~in a strange hospital~700 miles from home~with a surgeon we just met~telling us that this ‘impossible’ surgery could save Mary. He made every effort to be sure that we understood the risks and the benefits of surgery vs Cyberknife. He explained why he believes he can remove Mary’s AVM and why it is ultimately a much better option for her. He told us that he can give her a 90% or better chance for a full cure and complete recovery within 8 weeks!
In 2010, UCSF was ranked #1 in neurosurgery and neurology on the west coast. Dr. Lawton is one of the few vascular neurosurgeons in the US, qualified to remove Mary’s AVM. He will be her surgeon on Friday. Many students and specialists all over the country will learn from Mary’s AVM. UCSF has an AVM study group that will follow Mary’s case for the next 2 years. Mary and I are so excited about that!
Of the many people who read about Mary, I know that this audience is comprised of many different religions. Even though some of you do not believe in any religion or even in God, there is still a measure of hope and faith. Thank you to those who have prayed for Mary, even though you have not prayed for anything else for many years. Your combined good thoughts, well wishes and prayers on Mary’s behalf have made a difference in her life. I believe that we cannot get through this trial or any other trial without each other.
I believe that we have seen miracles through Mary. On June 19, 2010 Mary lived. Over the course of her critical condition in the ICU, she lived. 10 weeks later, she began classes at BYU. In 7 months, she has not been sick one time (an actual illness, not including nausea & headaches!). Mary’s AVM separated itself after the hemorrhage, ending up in the Sylvian Fissure, making surgery possible
No matter what you believe, miracles have happened to Mary this year. I believe that there are more miracles to come. Mary will have a successful surgery this Friday morning. She will fully recover and lead a full, happy, normal life!
Read more about Mary’s story at: