November 3, 2012
“So what has been your best birthday, so far?” asked my fiance, as we cut into our filet mignons at Silver Fox Cafe in Fort Worth, where my “other” son, Colin Kelly — my son Terry’s best friend and Best Man — is Propietor.
I sipped my wine and thought a minute.
“Offhand, four stand out,” I replied, as I buttered another slice of warm bread. “My sixth, when my parents gave me a new piano. My sixtieth, because I was newly-divorced and in top physical shape. And…” I added, squeezing his hand. “This one, because I’m celebrating it with you.”
“What about the fourth one?”
“That would be my forty-eighth.”
Von cocked his eyebrow. “Interesting.Why is that?”
I swallowed my bread… and the lump in my throat.
” I got a brand-new brain.”
When our meal was over, the server brought out my birthday cake — chocolate, of course — with a birthday candle. As I blew it out, I remembered another November 3 in 1995.
I had just awakened in my hospital bed, in Harris Methodist Hospital, with the notion that I would have to have more surgery. Soon a woman in a uniform and rubber gloves entered my room.
“You’re not going to stick me or take me back to surgery, are you?”
“Noooo,” she laughed. “I just came to empty your trash.”
Then, the door opened and my neurosurgeon swept through, as though on a white steed. He might as well been wearing a Superman cape.
“You are one lucky lady. That sucker came out cleaner’n a whistle!”
The “sucker” was a bifrontal meningioma that was three-and-a-half inches in diameter. It had grown slowly in my head for who-knows-how-long. Because of that free-loader, I developed a tremor in my hands that became so severe that I didn’t even recognize my own handwriting. Then, from 1994-1995, I started losing my balance. And suffering my first migraines.
My mother was stumped. Seeing my shaky hands and lack of balance, she researched the Merck Manual for symptoms of Huntington’s, Multiple Schlerosis, and Parkinson’s. We even thought it might be shock-related; I had just lost my daddy on October 6, 1995.
On October 30, the Lord took matters out of our hands. Around three a.m, I had a respiratory crisis severe enough to send me to the hospital. I have no memory of what happened in the Emergency Room, but later, that morning, I woke up in a hospital bed. When a nurse asked me to sit up and “dangle”, I couldn’t keep my head from lolling around on my shoulders.
On Halloween night, at six p.m., a doctor delivered the news: brain tumor.
“We’ll have to take it soon, or she’ll die,” he told my mother.
On November 1, I underwent an arteriogram to determine where the tumor was and emerged from the procedure giving everyone I passed the thumbs-up. On November 2, at two p.m., I underwent surgery. Mama told me, later, that the crowd gathering to support her during my surgery was so big that they soon were moved to another room. There, Dr. Wilson showed everyone the x-rays of the tumor and told them exactly what procedure he followed.
Soon, Pathology returned the results — the tumor was benign and encapsulated. Now, it was gone. All I needed would be rest and rehabilitation.
Seventeen years have passed since that day. I’ve been blessed with a number of memorable birthdays: my sixth, with a new piano; my sixtieth, as a liberated woman, and my sixty-fifth. with the love of my life. But I would not be here to write about anything had it not been for life-saving surgery on November 3, 1995.
Thank God for Birthday Number-Forty-Eight!