Annual Dr. Gonzalez Visit

Nov 30

On Tuesday I had my annual MRI exam (major “unlike”) and then yesterday I had my follow-up with results from Dr. Gonzales.  For those who haven’t been reading from early on, Dr. G was the brave surgeon (and guardian-angel/Holy-Spirit-inspired-genius!!!) who performed my initial life-saving brain surgery to remove the massive AVM that was sitting on my brain stem.

This annual appointment (to simply check on my brain since the AVM rupture) has morphed into the monitoring of the small aneurysm that was discovered 2 years ago.

It is ultra-tiny.  The chance of rupture is .05%.  That is why it has not been removed.  The safest method for removal still has a 1% chance of causing it to rupture.  Thus, it has only been monitored for the last 2 years.

Yes, as you can see by me using the present tense about it, it is still in there.  I had hoped it would go away on it’s own, but aneurysms don’t just do that.  (I believe in miracles, however, so stay tuned…).

The wonderful news is that it is exactly the same size as it was last year.  It has not grown at all.  WOOHOO!  You really have to be concerned if aneurysms grow, but this guy is stagnant.  We are very happy about that.

{Above is my aneurysm in all its microscopic glory–it’s the bubble in the middle of the far left vertical vein–strange how something so tiny can cause so many potential problems}

I will admit that I was nervous about what the results of the MRI would reveal this year.  As I’ve had a chance to really feel like a Mommy again, my mind honestly went to some worst-case scenarios, I guess an instinct to protect my baby.  What would I do if the aneurysm had grown and needed to quickly be removed?  What if the worst happened, like when my AVM ruptured?  My brain would clearly not do well if another bleed were to occur, not to mention this aneurysm is on the LEFT side of my brain (my AVM messed up my right side).

  I reread this piece that I had written last year as I was forced to wait quite awhile before finding out the results.  (By the way, we will be making that same advent wreath from that picture again this year on Sunday at church.  Feel free to join us and make one- 10:15 a.m. and 12:15 p.m. > BAPC in DC101 >> Register at belairpres.org/registration.)

{at the bottom left of the scan, you can see the empty area where over half my cerebellum was removed–pretty unbelievable}

Thankfully, the news was positive, and the visit with Dr. G was great.  It was particularly cool to have him look at my current brain scans after all these years and to note how much brain imaging has advanced even since my stroke.  Then, looking at the area where the AVM used to be, he was again in awe of the miracle that removing the AVM, which necessitated scraping the AVM off of my brain stem, did not kill me or horribly affect my heart beating/ability to breath/eat/sleep.

My relationship to Dr. G is very unusual.  It is extremely intimate, and yet I don’t remember meeting him until months AFTER he saved my life!  Dr. G is a kind, soft-spoken man.  He has a gentle and calming spirit that has touched me long before I even understood the risk this man took by “going to bat” for such a hopeless case as mine.  I am grateful to be in his extremely skilled and loving hands.

I will likely always be his patient, which is sad but also comforting.  I guess we’re all technically sick unto death, all going in the same direction, but the difference is that not all of us actually realize the skilled, loving hands in whom our lives rest.  What confidence and hope lies in that knowledge.

A sweet friend, Jaki Granger, wrote me a super encouraging email before my appointment yesterday.  It resonated so deeply.  She said…

More and more, I believe that the Lord isn’t as much trying to teach us
things – though He does – as He is allowing circumstances into our lives
that will press us into Him – that we would know Him more and that He would
make us like His Son – which is His greatest act of love apart from saving
us through His Cross.  This is the greater, eternal work of the Gentle
Healer.  And this is our Great Hope, Katherine!  WE WILL BE WITH HIM AND WE
WILL BE LIKE HIM!  No more broken bodies or broken hearts!

AMEN!

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