it was snowing that day. i went to school with no idea of what was to come. i was excited to get the afternoon off and go to dinner with mom and dad after my scheduled cat scan. but then. it all became so different. so fast.
flashback:: i had headaches on and off in january and february. one here or there. nothing major. sissy got married one blustery winters day in january. i was excited for the spring and what was to come. having occasional headaches was normal for me. so nothing seemed out of the ordinary. on February 27th i woke up with a really bad headache. it was pin-pointed to one spot in the back of my head. i just kept telling mom "if you just push on it it feels better." it was not a migraine. it was just a headache. well day 5 came and the awful headache was not gone. i showed no other truly alarming symptoms. but mom being the superwoman she is just had a feeling. a feeling from God i believe. so off we went on march 2 to the pediatrician. he did my exam. looked in my eyes. and i think this is the point he knew something was wrong. but he did so well. he did not say anything was wrong. he took my blood pressure. it was sky high. mom sat with her legs crossed. he simply said "you know you might just have a new food allergy but i want to do a cat scan TOMORROW to make sure." i am still thankful for the way he handled the situation. dr johnson will always be one of my favorite people on this earth. he is one of the reasons i'm still alive. so off we went. i got home told dad "daddy i get to get a cat scan and miss the end of the day tomorrow!" he told us he would join us. ( ANOTHER GOD THING...dad usually skipped out on little visits like cat scans. he always made me more nervous. but this time. it was totally great he was there. because what was coming was unimaginable. ) i was excited for an afternoon with mom and dad. the months prior had been so busy with wedding buzz that in my mind i was just excited for the attention. who would have thought. me..attention? nahhh. hahaha. so anyways. the night went on. everything was normal. i went to bed. life was good.
morning came. it was march 3, 2005. i probably ate some unhealthy toaster strudel. (which i recently learned is one of the worst things you can eat.) i was obsessed with those. i got dressed. picked out a super cute outfit to wear to my special appointment. [because if you know me. i dont go to my doctors appts dressed poorly. if your gunna have something wrong with you you misewell look cute when you find out or when your getting help.] anyways. off to school i went. morning schedule as normal. ate lunch with my friends. went to math class. and then walked down to dad's office. changed my clothes. and i sat on a bench in the lobby and waited for mom.
when i was sitting on the bench a kid named johnny came and sat beside me. i think he was leaving too. he asked me where i was going. i said children's to get a cat scan cause of a headache i was having. he looked me in the eye and said "wow you are brave, im sure everything is gunna be just fine. ill be praying for you." i remember this like it was yesterday he seemed so honest. and i had never categorized getting a cat scan with being brave. but. turns out he was right. he probably has no idea how much him saying that helped me. i've never told him. maybe i should. he probably doesn't even remember me. anyways. mom pulled up. i waved bye to johnny and off we went. dad, mom and i. the three amigos.
we pulled into the hospital. walked across the bridge to the main hospital. took the elevator down to radiology. checked in. i got my hospital bracelet. it was red. like always. symbolizing allergies. my child life lady betsy came out. asked if we had questions. walked me back. mom came too. dad stayed in the big waiting room. i layed in the machine. mom stood close with one of those big smocks on. and it started. it only took a few minutes. and then. the storm started. the big wig radiology guy walked in. i recognized him from other tests. he said we needed to go have a seat in the waiting room.
this. doesnt. happen. like. ever. they usually say "we'll call your doctor with the results and he'll get a hold of you. you can go!" yep. didnt happen. we sat in the waiting room. it was a few minutes and the phone rang besides us. the receptionist told us the phone was for my mom. it was dr. johnson. my pediatrician. mom instantly started getting hives. she does this when she gets nervous. dad sat trying to listen. and here came betsy. my child life lady.
dr. johnson on the phone:: "lorrie the cat scan is not clear enough. her brain has way too much fluid on it. they need to do an MRI to see what the issue is. to get better imaging."
mom:: "can you explain this to roger please, im not understanding." (she meant she was in full blown panic.)
dad gets on the phone. dr. j tells him the whole thing. and betsy sits beside me. explains im going to get an MRI and i need an IV so they can give me contrast. they took me back. this time both parents came. i was thankful the ladies giving me the IV were old friends. not in real life. just in hospital life. but i liked that i recognized them. i told dad to look away so he wouldnt faint while i got my IV. i held moms hand tight. then dad waited in the tiny waiting room. while mom went in the MRI with me. i think she thought that over the sounds and because of my earplugs i couldnt hear her. but tiny sobs and little sniffles filled the 40 minutes. i was almost asleep when they came to get me. yep. i fall asleep in those things. i stood up. they took out my IV. i put on my shoes and when we walked out of the MRI room.
and there they were. a whole gang of them. the whole radiology team must have wanted to see. betsy got me. her and one other lady walked out of the room with us. we got on an orange elevator. it took us to the 6th floor. when the doors opened. it clearly read. "NEUROSURGERY."
a really cute nurse named renee was there to greet us. they took us back. there was a giant monsters inc fuzzy statue of sully and mike and boo. they weighed me. got vitals. by this point mom was still crying. i was really confused. and dad had gone into his mode of bouncing his knee and whistling because he is nervous.
the doctor walked in. shook our hands.and in his little accent introduced himself. "im philip aldana. a neurosurgen here at the hospital." he sat down. glistening tears filled his eyes. and the words he spoke. well it's an understatement to say that they changed my life.
dr. aldana:: "there is something there. we think either a cyst or a tumor but it is causing fluid build up and it needs to come out."
mom:: "WELL WHICH ONE IS IT A CYST OR A TUMOR?!?"
dr. aldana " shelby has a brain tumor." "it's by her thalmus on the third ventricle."
he explained everything. my headaches were because i was hydrocephalic.meaning i had water on mmy brain. this fluid was causing pressure. he asked if there was any other symptoms. because if i had any i was going to be admitted. i'm glad i didn't. he explained that surgery would be the next week. mom was crying. dad was crying. i was crying. it was a bad dream come to life. i took it upon my 13 year old self to take what johnny said into account. in that moment i thought "i am brave." so i began to ask the hard questions.
"am i going to die? am i going to be the same? am i going to remember everyone?"
he answered "we are going to try our best, your tumor is in a complicated spot, but i will have my best team to make sure you are okay. again. i am going to try my best. there is a change some of your senses could be damaged because of the location. and again. i am going to try my best i really hope you remember everything. i really do."
mom and dad asked a few questions. they started me on meds right away so i wouldnt have a seizure. we were getting ready to leave the room. he shook our hands again. and softly said...
"if you would have waited another week or so to bring her, she would have had a grand-mal-seizure and probably would have died." CRAZY RIGHT!?
plans were made for more scans. a follow up appointment and instructions to bring me to the ER if any other symptoms began. he would call us with the surgery date for early the next week. and we walked out of the hospital. so much different than how we had walked in.
we got to the car. i stayed silent. tears running down my face. i was only 13. i was so confused. there were no more plans of dinner. just plans to get me home and let me sleep. the phone calls began. lots and lots of phone calls. calling family and friends. jordyn and seth just cried. the aunts cried. everyone cried. mom called the dalton's to let them know. diane says she just fell to the floor. we told my best friend elly. i remember calling ana. she didn't say much. i sobbed. i was so sad. and really scared. i got home. got pj's on. and crawled into bed. the sun was still up. i drifted in and out of sleep. and then...a knock at the door.
pastor joe & karen. coming to pray. i love them so. i will always be thankful for them for this very reason. it was simple. he made sure i believed in Jesus and He was in my heart. he wanted to make sure there wasn't a doubt in my mind. they stayed for a long time. talking with mom and dad. i got sleepy and went back to bed. they hugged me goodbye. and a while later i heard them leave.
mom and dad came up and tucked me in. and off to sleep i went. to the sound of ringing phones and lots of tears...
and thats how the journey began. the battle had started. but beauty was coming.
Blessed by a Heavenly Daddy,