Tag: Cleveland Clinic

Memory Of Cleveland Clinic

Memory Of Cleveland Clinic

Every 3rd of July I am reminded of fighting for my life in The Cleveland Clinic. Four years ago today I was in surgery, literally hoping for a miracle. Little did I know the miracle was sitting right here in Arizona, with Doctor Lettieri.

On July 3rd 2014 I was rolled into surgery, Eric gave me a kiss on the forehead as they wheeled me into the operating room. Tears rolled down my cheeks onto the pillow, nurses kindly asked what they could do to help; shaking my head, watching them walk away I knew there was nothing anyone could do. Not even with the best surgeons on the face of the earth, no one could be able to bring my smile back.

The worst was still ahead of me, waking up in the recovery room after an eleven hour surgery I felt my head. It was full of staples, like a train track from one side to the other and down the back of my skull. My ear was pounding and swollen. I just wanted to see Eric and go home; after seven weeks in Cleveland I was depressed, sad and disoriented.

The next day, the fourth of July 2014 is a day I will never forget. No attending’s were in the ICU, the residents were in charge for the Holiday. Pain beyond my belief was surging through my body; a senior resident forgot to put orders in for pain medicine; I thought I would die on that day. I was prepared with letters to my children and dear husband. When the resident did not answer page after page to come to the ICU-I went further and further into a deep dark place, actually wanting my life to end because the pain was so bad. Nurses rubbed my legs and listened to me sing “Be Still My Soul” and “I am a Child of God” over and over again. It was an hour and fifteen minutes the senior resident finally make it to my room, followed behind him were other junior residents. He questioned my pain like I was faking; wondered why I was crying, and asked me too many questions; which I believe now was a senior resident showing off for the junior residents. I was gasping for air I couldn’t speak without trembling, he finally gave me the pain medicine. Even after the pain medicine was in my system my body shook like a baby, composing myself was difficult.

This is one of the junior residents Brendan Alleyne-he came to visit me after that incident and held my hand. The compassion he showed was nothing I will ever forget, I wish I could tell him what his acts of kindness did for my faith in the future of medicine. I’m thinking about him today, Dr. Lettieri is constantly telling me about the ego’s of residents, just like the senior resident I encountered at Cleveland Clinic. They forget who they are serving, I often wonder if he would have treated me different if I had been his mother, wife or child. Thank you Dr. Alleyne wherever you are today, I believe you are caring and sharing for your own patients now and hopefully learned something from this experience that will help you always remember patients are real people, with real families and a story to tell.

XOXO Monya

What is a Saint ?

What is a Saint ?

When I think of someone as a Saint, my mind immediately goes to Viola Williams, Eric’s Mom.  In my eyes she could do no wrong, she actively would seek out the weak and weary and take them into her home for comfort from their worldly worries. Many times, the knock on the door was in the midst of the early morning, or late night, but she never turned anyone away, she loved unconditionally.  Life to her was beautiful, she was raised in humble circumstances, served a mission in Hawaii, and married the love her life Ray Williams. Ray was a postal worker, and she was an accountant.  I never saw them quarrel, they learned the art of laughter and happiness together as they struggled through life’s challenges together, I miss them both dearly.   I look to Vi as my ultimate example,  and know without a doubt I will feel her loving arms around me again when I leave this life and start my new journey.

I recently had someone say to me “you are a saint” to that person I said “I am not a Saint, unless you think of a Saint as a sinner who just keeps trying to be better than they were the day before”

Honestly, I keep tracing the steps of where I’ve been these past 5 years and cannot comprehend how I’ve been able to continue on.  I read some of my old blog posts, and I can see the Lord’s hand writing those words, He has been with me every step.

With this past trial I am trying to deal with, there are times I feel very vulnerable, it’s hard to speak sometimes to people, my eyes tear up.  The aching of this is so real to me, I remember not being able to get the Villain out of my head, it was a day to day struggle, fighting to stay alive.  I have poured out my heart and soul to the Lord at times feeling his loving arms around me, and at times feeling deserted and alone.  The feeling of peace, and knowing His grace remains with me,  has certainly gotten me through some unbearable times.

While talking to Doctor Northfelt, I told him it’s hard for me to look in the mirror,  and be ok with what I see.  This is a change even I have to get used to seeing, and right now I am dealing with it my own way.  It’s hard to feel attractive for my husband, in my head I wonder if I am sexy to him anymore. Will I be able to live with this face if I have to?  I asked Eric if he is embarrassed to walk with me or hold my hand in public, knowing already what his answer would be I still needed to ask.  This transitional period is hard, very hard.  I’m grateful for Dr. Northfelt, although not all of what I just shared here I shared with him, but he is always so good at listening.

The people who know me, know my heart and that has not changed. I do feel a sense of loneliness sometimes, when I was going through chemo and radiation I had a support group, people I could talk to, who were either going through it themselves or had already been down that road.  We all had similar feelings and could help each other get through the bad days.  I don’t have anyone to talk to, I  don’t know anyone who has or is going through this life altering trauma.  I do my best to keep positive, but smiling is hard, because it looks so weird, one side smiles while the other is “normal”  Even when I am happy I catch a glimpse of what I look like when I smile and it is hideous to look at.  So this leaves me in a predicament, do I never smile or laugh again?  No, it does mean that I need to learn to smile with my eyes, and listen with my heart, knowing others who love me don’t see that ugly smile they see the heart of the same ole’ ‘say it like it is’ Monya.

I quit trying to understand why, or how this happened.  I instead have been focusing on happiness, what does happy mean to me?  In December after my 1st ear surgery a dear friend called me, and invited me to hear about her new home based business. I think the 1st three times I said I’d be there but either forgot, or simply didn’t want to know what it was.  I don’t remember, but Shelli reminds me of it.  Finally, she invited Eric and I to the Barrett Jackson event, I really didn’t want to go, but Eric wanted to get me out of the house.  I was still feeling post surgical pain, so I sat with the girls in Shelli’s  booth, I sat and observed (you know how I love to people watch) there were a ton of men coming up and buying her anti aging cream, at the time I thought they were probably just coming back because all of these girls were drop dead gorgeous. I observed the interaction these girls had with people, then I was approached by Liz Decker she said “so what do you know about our products?” I said “Nothing, but I want in, it’s time for me to get out of this cancer world and I heard you mention you are all going to St Louis in April, sign me up for that too, I need a girls trip” I went to St. Louis had an incredible time watching person after person serve and help each other. It really was quite amazing, EVERYONE was so happy.  This was exactly what I needed, get out of my cancer world and start living my life with friends I had excluded because of my diagnosis.  Shortly later I had the emergency surgeries at Mayo Clinic, the new friends I had met came to visit me. It pierced my heart knowing these people are REALLY genuine. Then when I went to Cleveland Clinic for 7 weeks, they were so supportive and kept in touch with me.  I continued to share my thoughts about this new home based business I started with people and even shared enough that I was able to sign up a partner from a bed with my computer.  I gave magazines to everyone, day by day I could see and feel myself gaining confidence in who I was.  When I came home, I was welcomed back with open arms and tearful eyes.  We took off again just where I left off, not skipping a beat, or feeling vulnerable at all with them, my face was different, I thought it would be a deterrent and was afraid to face them, still I wasn’t sure how I could represent a business in the beauty industry knowing I was not feeling beautiful.  Now that I look back on that, I can see the Lord’s hand leading me and guiding me to this place I thought I could never be in.  With that I have to say “thank you” to all my friends and family, who have truly loved m.  I may not be moving as quickly as I had originally expected to, but I’ve learned the goal is still the same, the timing is just different, and finally I’ve learned that those who truly love you will never leave you, this my friends is unconditional love.  Saint I may never be, but trying to be better day by day, yes I can do that.

Botox….Seriously?

Botox….Seriously?

Yesterday I was at work sitting at my desk, a girl walked up to me and said in a whisper “where did you get your botox done on your forehead” I whispered back with a shhh and finger over my crooked mouth “are you kidding me? I don’t have botox she said “then why doesn’t your eyebrow move?” “Umm, because I have partial facial paralysis” she then said “Oh you were gone for awhile and I just assumed when I saw you that you must of had some  botox, or plastic surgery done” again I’m laughing inside, but I replied as I took of my reading glasses “look at me, I mean really look at me, does it look like I had plastic surgery? If this is the result of plastic surgery I got ripped off and jipped out”

Wednesday I had an appointment with Dr. Barr’s at Mayo Clinic.  I was a little anxious to see him, and to see what his reaction to me would be.  I love him, and was worried he would be upset with me for going to Cleveland Clinic.  I couldn’t of been more wrong, he came in with his big smile, arms out reached for a hug and said “as I live and breath, who is this beautiful patient?” Pleased as I could be I jumped up and hugged him back.  I told him I felt like I was HOME at Mayo Clinic, not that there was really anything I didn’t like about Cleveland Clinic, but there is a reason Mayo comes in #1 every year with ratings from patients, and medical statistics.  I told him Dr. Haberkamp was great to work with, and that me leaving had nothing to do with him, it was more about the procedure the other doctor proposed at Mayo.  I was just jabbering, he shook his head and said “I was never upset or took it personal” even if that was not really how he felt, he was classy enough to make me believe him. He sat down on the chair in front of me and wanted to hear the whole Cleveland Clinic experience.  I also told him Dr. Haberkamp said he wanted us to tell Dr. Barr’s his work on my ear was impeccable.
He examined my ear, and said everything looks good, but we will need to have MRI’s a couple times a year on the head. Kathleen came in to visit with me, she is beautiful inside and out, and was so concerned about me, she embraced me as she left the examining room and said “I love you”

My eye is still the biggest concern now, he agrees but I’m doing all I’ve been asked to do.  Cleveland Clinic is calling to schedule the next surgery, I told Erin (Gastman’s PA) I can’t think about that right now.  That chapter needs to end, ironically enough I think it’s just the beginning of the end.  This is so hard.

Today, Friday I had the privilege of seeing my oncologist Dr. Donald Northfelt.  I think for most cancer patients this is a bitter/sweet appointment to have.  I started to fret and worry last night, my mind has been so pre-occupied lately with all that has happened, I have not let my  brain think of today.  No panic attacks getting off the 3rd floor elevator today, that’s progress. Maryann came in to see me, greeted me with a huge hug, we both had tears.  She is incredibly insightful, when I was in Cleveland she said a prayer with me over the phone.  We visited awhile, it felt warm and loving to be with “my” people again–I know both Mayo Clinic campus’s like the back of my hand, but today being back was a feeling of reunion, rather than burden.  Anxiously waiting to see Dr. Northfelt, I am so grateful I listened to the spirit when I was led to him for my oncologist, I love him.  He went over my blood work and said it looks good right now.  For me, for right now, as in today, this is who I needed to see. Dr. Northfelt promised to be with me the entire journey and so far, he has, he gets it. Once he was done with his report and examination, he sat down looked at me, no words needed to be said, I could tell by looking in his eye’s he could feel my burden was heavy. We talked a bit about the past few months, but didn’t hover…we moved on to happier thoughts.  I told him about working a new home based business and how positive the atmosphere is for me.  I also explained to him about trying to get more happiness in the world by spreading my own happy thoughts with others hoping they will also spread the word to BE HAPPY no matter what the circumstance. We had a great visit, I will never be able to articulate the feelings I have of HOPE just because he is who he is, not only a wonderful doctor but knowing he deals with people like me everyday, I always feel like I am his only patient, and that he loves me.