Happy Annie-Versary

16 years ago today I didn’t know if I’d survive to see another sunset after suffering a rupture brain aneurysm. Tonight I was greeted by this stunning rainbow shard over the water and two cardinals at the feeder. I am blessed. My brain is wicked tired, but I am blessed.

Just Another Scar

Two weeks ago, I finally got a funky bump on my forehead checked out by a dermatologist. I’ve had it for about two years and it has slowly started to grow.

Hearing the word “cancer” in any form during a doctor’s visit is shocking, especially when you think you just have a little skin mutation. I was quite surprised, and was unprepared for that initial diagnosis of the bump upon the first glance by the doctor.

A quick biopsy was performed and a week later it was confirmed to be a basal cell carcinoma tumor – skin cancer. The good news is that, of the three types of skin cancer, this is THE most common form of skin cancer. It is also highly treatable and curable with a one-time procedure.

I will have the Mohs micrographic surgery performed in late July to remove the tumor. Although the biopsy was more of a scraping of the tumor and it bled like a son of gun due to still being on Plavix for my April brain aneurysm stent procedure, the Mohs procedure will be a bit more invasive and has potential for some lovely discomfort, MORE bruising, and additional scarring.

The tumor is above my right eyebrow. My craniotomy scars, dent, and screws are on the left part of my forehead. Of course the cancer couldn’t have developed on the left side where I already have strategically cut bangs (fringe for my UK friends) to marginally cover all that loveliness.

I can live with another scar. If I was going to get cancer, this is the kind I’d vote for. One treatment in the office, some pain and discomfort for some time afterwards, and obviously more sunscreen and sun care. I have no right to complain, but I might do it a little bit while it’s happening. All in all it’s just another “bump” in the road. Carry on!

#basalcellcarcinoma #skincancer #scars #scarstellstories #IGotThis

Medicine for the Brain

I discovered last night that laughter can be exhausting for a brain 3-weeks out from receiving more metal. More to the point, laughter for 90-minutes straight is exhausting. But it was so worth it as we enjoyed a rollicking night of improv at the Waterville Opera House. Fans of the television show “Whose Line Is It Anyway” will recognize the touring show called “Whose Live Anyway?”, which includes many of the same performers seen on the TV show but performing live. They did NOT disappoint.

Prior to the show we enjoyed a tasty dinner at a Greek restaurant down the street from the theater. It was the first time we’ve been out to eat in a legit restaurant for long, long time. The restaurant was full up with other attendees for the show and the background noises and activity stimulated my brain for sure. THEN add 90-minutes of solid laughter and needless to say the nerve endings in my brain were WOUND UP.

I know the saying is “Laughter is the best medicine”, but I was curious as to what the science was behind that. According to the Mayo Clinic

Short-Term Benefits of Laughter Can:

  • Stimulate many organs. Laughter enhances your intake of oxygen-rich air, stimulates your heart, lungs and muscles, and increases the endorphins that are released by your brain.
  • Activate and relieve your stress response. A rollicking laugh fires up and then cools down your stress response, and it can increase and then decrease your heart rate and blood pressure. The result? A good, relaxed feeling.

Long-Term Benefits of Laughter May:

  • Improve your mood. Many people experience depression, sometimes due to chronic illnesses. Laughter can help lessen your stress, depression and anxiety and may make you feel happier. It can also improve your self-esteem.

So, it’s no wonder I seek out two of my favorite situational comedy television shows time and time again when I’m feeling down or stressed: “I Love Lucy” and “Friends”. They’re both a sort of “comfort food” for me. They’re familiar, they’re still funny even after seeing them multiple times, and they provide a respite from whatever is going on my life and brain. I also prefer funny plays, musicals, movies, and television series over the more serious criminal dramas. There is enough hate and killing in the world – let me find the humor and love instead.

I am also reminded of what my late mother used to tell me every day before leaving for school: Have fun!”. I certainly try to. I certainly try.

To bring a little laughter into YOUR lives, here is a short clip of some of the best lines from Season 2 of “I Love Lucy”. Enjoy, laugh, and HAVE FUN!

Days of Rest

Eight days after my brain stent placement, I’m doing very well. I went back to work on Tuesday and worked four full days. I did take two 15-minute breaks a day to step away from my computer to sit and close my eyes. It did help.

Thankfully, I didn’t come back to an excess of projects that needed my immediate attention. There was just enough to test my eyes. And it was my eyes that felt it the most. After a couple days of headaches, those eased, but fatigue and eye strain weighed heavily on Friday. Based off previous non-emergency brain procedures, none of this is unexpected.

I went to bed early every night, listening to my brain and body. Sleep was welcome and thankfully my kitties let me sleep in this Saturday morning.

During the week I received two special “Get Well” boxes in the mail from family & friends back in NY. I appreciate that they took the time and spent the money to do something to help in my recovery. Tea, tasty bites, and heart-felt messages remind me I’m not forgotten and I welcome the support.

I won’t know for SURE if the stent is secure and stable for another six months when I’ll have ANOTHER angiogram. In the meantime, I’ll continue to live each day, try to take care of myself, and be careful to avoid any injuries.

As we celebrate Easter tomorrow, I too, celebrate another battle with this brain aneurysm with hope, renewal, and new life with more brain bling.