Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Just Call Me Israel

If your looking for an update on Samuel, you should probably skip this post.  Just warning you.  However, if you're looking for a good laugh at my expense or possibly even a good life lesson, please carry on reading...

About a month after I had Samuel, I began having really awful headaches.  I felt like I was walking under a cloud all day long.  Of course, I thought a number of issues could be causing them.  1) I just had a baby:  unusual hormones, body changes, slight anemia...etc  2) Lack of sleep:  I might have been getting 3 or 4 hours of sleep each night while we were in the NICU.  Maybe. 3) Stress.  Stress.  Stress.

But, the headaches lingered and I figured I should probably have them checked out.  A doctor's office sent me to the ER to have a CT scan...and everything came back fine.  The headaches lingered for a few weeks longer and, with the exception of an occasional day here and there, disappeared.

Then came August.  Oh August.  The headache made itself known again....clouding every day and night for the rest of the month and into September.  My previous theories were obviously not applicable...for the first time in ages, life is amazing (I'm getting sleep, I'm not stress...etc)
A trip to our doctor yielded very little results.  As is the usual case, they wanted to do 'the works' to make sure that it wasn't anything cancer related.  I seriously had mentioned nothing about a brain tumor to my doctor, and he says, "Well, I don't think it's a brain tumor.  I'm going to refer you to a neurologist since you have a pretty unusual medical history.  He will probably want to do an MRI."  OK.  Now a brain tumor is on my radar.  But that's silly.  I sort of laughed at myself.

While I waited to be seen by the neurologist, I checked in with the optometrist to make sure that my eyes weren't the problem.  The doctor was a friendly guy.  We talk about Samuel for a few minutes.  Then he dives into this lengthy conversation about how he was also born at 1 lb 9 oz and that the reason his mom went into preterm labor was because she had a brain tumor (which she didn't know about at the time) and that she ended up dying a few years after he was born. 

I wish someone could have taken a picture of my face.  I really can't express how morbidly funny this is looking back on it now.  I officially turned into Anxiety Girl at that point (see picture below.)

My eyes checked out fine.  Perfect vision in fact.  He was sure to tell me that there were no signs of a brain tumor as far as he could tell.  But just as I breathed an internal sigh of relief and self-appalled giggle, he told me that the optometrist didn't find his mother's brain tumor either.  Great.  Kill joy.

A few days later I had a quick conversation with my brother.  We have this sort of running joke that I have the worst luck on the planet...if there's a stop light, I'm going to hit it...if I need a sunny day, it's going to thunderstorm...if something's going to go wrong, it's going to happen to me.  (While he, on the other hand, has spectacularly good luck.)  It's all just a joke.  I've always considered myself very fortunate in the grand scheme of things.  After describing what was going on with my headaches, and after our typical session of discussing my unusually bad luck, I got off the phone and began thinking....

What if I really DO have bad luck?  I mean...really?  What kind of 9 year old girl gets cancer (and not ANY kind of cancer, a cancer that usually only happens in 3 year old boys), then later grows up and has a baby 16 weeks early!  What are the odds of someone having to go through two life-altering struggles like that?

And all of that led me to think, "Well, if I've already faced cancer and a 24 weeker, I wonder what's coming next?"  (WHAT A HORRIBLE THING TO THINK!)

So here's where negative, anxiety-ridden Sarah took over.  I don't know what got into me.  These headaches have been so terrible - 24/7 for two months.  I thought something had to be wrong.  I saw the neurologist (who had no idea what could be causing the headaches either) and scheduled the MRI for this past Friday.  The weekend was SO long.  It was sort of anti-climatic when I talked to the neurologist on Monday morning and learned that the results were perfectly normal.

Of course, I'm immensely relieved that everything's ok.  I've had a good laugh at myself (and I hope you've laughed too.)  But I also feel embarrassed, stupid, and dismayed at how I've acted.  It reminds me of how the Israelites acted in the Old Testament.  How easily they forget (over, and over, and over) how much God has done for them. 

It seems like I keep writing this same post in various forms...and have yet to learn the lesson.  Just call me Israel.

My 'luck' is really a matter of perspective.  Like I said, I've always felt very fortunate - surviving cancer, coming through treatment without any negative long term side effects, having a child at 24 weeks but him beating the odds time after time.  How much luckier can a girl get?  (Blessed.)

As for the headaches, I have a theory.

Remember finals week in college - hours and hours preparing, pulling all-nighters, finishing up assignments, and packing things up all before the end of term?  After you've run yourself into the ground and everything's over, you come down with a virus or get a cold.  I think that's what my body is doing.  Essentially, I've been dealing with stress for 18 months, and now that the 'term' is over, my body has had enough.  Thus the headaches.

I'll live.  But if I have to type one more blog post about this subject, I may just shoot myself in the foot.


  1. Sorry to hear you're having so many headaches. That sounds terrible. Maybe you need a spa day (see my blog)! That can work wonders. Seriously, I hope they end soon.

  2. Awww Sarah...We've been praying about your headaches and I am so glad that all the tests came out okay, but the enemy was certainly trying to get you going. You didn't act or think stupid, just scared and with good reason after all you've been through. And I think you may be right, your body and nervous system may just be decompressing after all the prolongued stress. Sending more prayers your way than I already was. (Shooting yourself in the foot would take your thoughts off the headache, but OUCH, might be bit drastic!!!) BIG HUGS from Joey <3

  3. I tend to do the same thing...I had cancer at 18 and my mom died when I was 10...I've always had a kind of "waiting for the other shoe to drop" attitude when I lose faith. But even though Israel continually learned the same lesson, they were always God's beloved and chosen people. Praying he heals you and grows your faith in the process.

    PS - I'm sure you've checked all angles but I have a sister-in-law that has had headache/seizure like reactions to certain foods, particularly sugar free stuff. Something to think about...

  4. Acupuncture helps with headaches, you should try :)

  5. I am just so glad to hear that all your tests came back clear!

  6. I had similar headaches and similar test, turns out I was gritting my teeth at night. I was even getting nerve blocking shots in my temples and just happened to mention it during a cleaning.