It was horrifying. Just after Christmas we learned that my husband had a brain tumor and it needed to come out sooner rather than later. I remember the night he told me about the doctor’s call earlier that day. We both cried and held each other. I wondered how this could be happening!? I wondered what would happen next? He was already losing his sight because of this growth, but had anything else happened? Was it malignant or benign? Would he come out of all this unscathed? Would he lose his memory from the surgery? Would his personality change? Maybe he won’t remember me or our life together! Maybe he won’t like me anymore! (Those thoughts may seem dramatic, but those things have been known to happen when brain surgery is involved). And the dreaded question “Would he die?” I haven’t had much time to spend with him! There is so much more for us to do together! How can this happen?? What will I do without him??? For days I would go back and forth between despair and agony, to peace and calm. We had to wait another 10 days to meet with the surgeon. Hoping he would tell us it was better than we thought, we were devastated to learn that it was bigger than we thought and it really did need to come out. On the positive side (is there a positive side to a brain tumor? Still figuring that one out!) , the surgeon said he was 99% sure it was benign, but wouldn’t know for sure until it was taken out. He told us that my husband could potentially lose more if not all of his sight as the tumor was sitting on both optic nerves. He had an 80% chance of losing his sense of smell as the tumor was also sitting on his olfactory bulbs. The tumor was also pressed against his pituitary gland so there could be complications there. The surgeon said that it was in such a difficult spot and he most likely would not be able to remove all of it. There were some pretty major blood vessels where the tumor was pressed that nicking one of those during surgery was a huge concern as well.
I am amazed at the calm and peace we felt in the 3 weeks prior to his surgery. I know this was due to the grace of God and the prayers that were said on our behalf. There is no other explanation! One day left before surgery, my husband took the day off work so we could finish getting things ready (like our wills, power of attorney, and that sort of thing – so horrible! I hate that kind of stuff, especially when the possibility of having to actually use them is staring me in the face!). I remember that we went to lunch, my husband, our little three year old daughter and I. While eating our lunch my husband received a text from a neighbor asking what MY favorite drinks, treats, and snacks were. Later that evening there was a knock on our door and this neighbor (who also happens to be my visiting teacher) was standing there with a gift bag in her hand. I invited her in. She told me how sorry she was that we were going through this trial. She hugged me tight, with tears in her eyes. I know she had been imagining what it would be like if her own husband was facing a similar ordeal. I know she was showing empathy because that is the kind of person she is. It was as if her heart was breaking for us. She told my husband that she was so sad for him to go through this, but since he’d be asleep most of the next day this particular gift was for me.
She brought me a Hospital Survival Kit.
What a fantastic and caring thing to do! Of course I have been to the hospital to visit family, but never for long periods of time, never waiting for news following surgery. Her kind gift really helped me make it through grueling hours of waiting, waiting, and more waiting. She had filled the bag with some of my favorite treats, snacks and drinks. She included a journal to write down thoughts and feelings, a package of colored pencils and a coloring book to help pass the time, and a lovely magazine for some reading time. My husband was in the hospital for 5 days and most of that time, 99.9% of that time, he was asleep. I was on my own, and thanks to this survival kit I made it through the days and nights more easily. As I ate or drank something I thought of my friend. As I colored or read an article in the magazine I thought of my friend and her love and kindness.
Knowing that someone cared about me and my husband and was probably thinking about us often during those difficult days meant so much to me! One of the evenings before my husband returned home, this same friend came by with two freezer meals in hand. She was leaving to go out of town for the weekend, and knowing that my husband would likely come home while she was gone she wanted to make sure that we had some meals taken care of, things that were easy to heat up so that I could focus on taking care of him and not have to worry about what to make for dinner. I can’t tell you how much this meant and how helpful it was! That she would think of us over the course of the week, several times, wanting to take care of us, doing what she could to ease my burdens. I will be forever grateful to her for the love she shared with my family and I. She truly acted on the Savior’s behalf and shared his love with us. What an example she is to me in so many ways! My husband is doing well, and his recovery is amazing to me!! His sight actually improved, his sense of smell and taste are intact, his pituitary seems to be working correctly, he remembers me and his personality has remained intact – he is the same wonderful man I fell in love with. I am so grateful for people who show empathy and compassion, who love and serve the way the Savior would. I am so grateful for the power of prayer and for the grace of the Savior that helps us in times of need. I stand all amazed at the love Jesus offers me, the love that I have received from the angels that surround me. I know that the power of prayer works. I know that we are meant to lift and serve those around us – to mourn with those that mourn and comfort those that stand in need of comfort. As we do we are blessed and so are those we serve.
If you know someone who would benefit from a Hospital Survival Kit, here is a list of items to give you and idea of what you can include. If you know the person well, try to personalize it and if you don’t know them so well then try to check with someone who does so you can tailor it to their specific likes and needs.
- Coloring Book
- Colored Pencils
- Peanut M&M’s
- Ghirardelli Dark Chocolate Sea Salt & Caramel Bar
- Ghirardelli Dark Chocolate & Raspberry Bar
- Strawberry Lemonade
- Peach Lemonade
- Brain Food Granola snack (I thought this was pretty clever since my husband was having brain surgery – it made me smile during a hard time!)
If you know the person well, try to personalize it and if you don’t know them so well then try to check with someone who does so you can tailor it to their specific likes and needs. And really, just show some empathy. In reality the person just needs to know you care – prayers and genuine empathy and compassion are going to go a long way to help them through their trial.
See the Happy!