I decided to end 2014 with a snap, crackle, and pop so I scheduled my MRI for the thirty-first.
It’s been almost four months since I lay down on the radiation table for the last time and I wanted to provide a quick update for family, friends, and all the kind souls who wished me well on my radioactive journey.
I’m blessed to the nth degree to say that I feel great and I have regained all of my strength. Radiation treatment zaps a generous amount of energy from your system and this is coming from a healthy, young whippersnapper. When I wasn’t at treatment, I was napping. And when I wasn’t napping I was on the couch, halfway to napping. In order to stay healthy and give my body the best chance to receive the radiation well, I stuck to all-natural food (oooooh you trendy dev!) and I gotta say, it helped immensely. So if you’re reading this and undergoing treatment, I recommend tossing the frozen Eggo waffles (in exchange for fresh JJ’s Diner waffles) and cultivating victory gardens!
Since I was fortunate enough to not lose any hair during treatment, I chopped off eight inches and donated it to Children With Hair Loss Organization. I haven’t had short hair since I watched Blue’s Clues every day (“Hey Lauren who says that wasn’t two years ago?”) and I love it. And I think my parents love it because I resemble my toddler self again.
As far as my vision goes, I’m a solid 20/200 in my right eye. That means that what I can see from 20 feet away, a person with 20/20 vision can see from 200 feet away (if there are any optometrists in the audience correct me if I’m wrong). So that big “E” that you see on vision charts is the only letter I can read from 20 feet away with my right eye. But once again, my left eye is stepping up kind of like our boy Andrew Luck.
Just like how the Colts should protect #12 (don’t listen to me, I should probably give our back-up QB more credit), my optometrist warned me that I have to guard my left eye with the utmost vigilance. I can still drive and walk and run and do pretty much everything I need to do, but I’m not the best at aim anymore. Over a month ago I got to help my friend Rose at her Midnight Run site and serve dinner to the homeless community of Milwaukee. I was on drink duty, so imagine me double-fisted with pitchers of milk and juice, pouring drinks and spilling a bunch. (My wimpy arms probably had something to do with it too.) God bless those guests, because after splashing drinks on the tables a few times, they forgave me and laughed when I joked, “Don’t cry over spilled milk, am I right??”
In all seriousness, I feel incredibly lucky that my other eye is healthy, that I have access to amazing care, that I was able to undergo proton radiation, and that my family, friends, and school have been so supportive. Last semester was nothing short of challenging, but through my treatment I was served a heaping plate of perspective. The bigger picture presents itself whenever a looming project deadline threatens to take hold of my positivity. When the going gets stressful I remind myself that a few short months ago, I had nurses asking me if I was undergoing chemotherapy.
It’s not that I’m flippant about things like school and little hiccups here and there. It’s just that gratitude shrinks these kinds of anxieties. My meningioma could’ve easily been a glioblastoma and every time I remember that, the positivity protons still swimming around in my system realign my priorities.
During MRI scans the technician (shout out to Eddie!) usually plays music in my headphones to try to drown out the loud sound of the machine. Yesterday during my MRI, “Holocene” by Bon Iver came on and sounded like a whisper as the machine bleated. While trying to focus on the beautiful, melty song I realized how representative that was of the year: craziness and chaos and negativity are noisy but usually if you can tune that out there’s something good going on. Sometimes you have to strain a bit to hear Justin Vernon crooning, to see the positive “for miles, miles, miles,” but it’s there.
I got a call from the doc and my scans came back stable. I’m alive and well and I’m darn grateful for that.
But parallel parking is pretty much out of the question.