Wednesday, January 5, 2011

Christmas Jar Story: 'This Christmas I received a Christmas Jar'

Ft. Worth, Texas:

This Christmas I received a Christmas Jar along with the book Christmas Jars. It was left on my front porch with no indication of who left it, but my story actually began May 20th 1991. That is the day my daughter Meagan was born. She is my wife Janine and my first child of two, Steven our son was born in May of 1994. We were overjoyed as new parents. It was a brand new experience for us. Janine was a bit timid at first so I stayed home with her the first week to get both of us accustomed to the new situation. Everything was going great so I went back to work. Five weeks later I experienced a severe headache and being unaccustomed to this I went to the doctor. He looked me over and said your fine go home and rest and go back to work. So I did. The next thing I remember Janine is taking me back to the doctor because I can barely walk and can't speak. She tells him this is not just a headache so he orders a catscan. he comes back to her and says I'm sorry to tell you this, but he has a brain tumor and needs to get to a neurosurgeon as fast as we can. We went to the neurosurgeon and he placed me in intensive care, but my brain was too swollen to operate on. It took 3 days to minimize the swelling, but by that time the tumor had ruptured so all they could do was rinse the material out as best they could. I spent 6 weeks in intensive care and they operated on me a couple of times almost losing me once. They transferred me from there to a rehabilitation hospital. When I arrived there I could not move my arms or legs and could not speak. They made me a bed on the floor so I would not roll out a bed to the floor.

Janine took three months furlough from her position to take care of Meagan and me. This put a severe strain on our income as I was receiving a small amount through my employers insurance program. Janine had to apply for government assistance. Janine visited me frequently. Early in my stay at the hospital Janine was there at lunch time. They strapped me in a wheelchair and rolled! me to a table in the lunch room. Set before me was a plate of food and eating utensils. Janine watched me attempt to feed myself with no avail. So she began to feed me. The staff came and told her not to because I needed to do it myself. She stop for a while, but realizing I would starve if left to myself she fed even at their reprimand. I spent 4 months there and they got me to where I could walk and talk and had a minor amount of comprehension and they transfered me to Easter Seals for further training. They worked with me for 6 months and obtained for me a job at a different position with my past employer. I made it a couple of months before I had a seizure which put me out of that position. At that time my neurosurgeon placed two shunts in my head which drained spinal fluid to my abdomen to help prevent seizures. As I lost my employment we applied for Social Security Disability. We were turned down twice so were obtained an attorney to represent us. It just so happened that at the time of the court date I had another seizure that put me in the hospital to have another set of shunts placed in. The judge ruled I should receive the disability. It took about 3 1/2 years for my mind to begin to partially return though my short term memory is variable. Through all of this Janine has been a pillar of strength. She has also obtained her bachelors degree. During this time Janine has carried the primary burden of our family's well being. Her health has also come into play over the years. In 1996 I had another seizure for which my surgeon designed a new set of shunts plus a pump which I could use to move the fluid if I began to feel thick in the head. I next began to have irritation in my feet. I thought it my shoes, but one morning I awoke to some pain. The next morning I could not let air blow across them. Come to find out I have gout. The next thing I was hit with was 10 kidney stones spread between both kidneys. I went to a urologist and I told him of my medications. He gave me some medicine to assist me in passing the stones. At the time Janine was going to Dallas to take some licensing exams so the kids and I went to my cousins home to visit. Within 3 days I lost 17 pounds and began sleeping 20 hours a day and my mind went flat. Janine took me to my neurosurgeon and he said there was nothing wrong with my shunts had I been taking any new medications. I told him I had and he said that was the problem. the new medication was making the shunts work against each other and had I kept taking it I would have died. The urologist put me in the hospital and remove 2 of the stones.

My mother passed away in September of 1998. The morning following the funeral I awoke to a paramedic on my chest ,because I had another seizure. My surgeon checked me out and said I was caused by stress and lack of sleep not requiring a new shunt. The next thing was my kidneys acting up again so 2 more were removed. My most current seizure was on November 12th 2010. I spent 5 days in the hospital and for 3 weeks had strange feelings in my head. I am not allowed to drive for 6 months to make sure I am OK. Before all this occurred when I was about 19 it was found that my lower 3 vertebrae and left hip socket did not complete thus giving me pain. It aws found that my tumor was not a cancer, but a dermoid cyst which was probably my twin that did not complete as it was found to have hair and teeth in it. My mother had told me her body had attempted to abort me once during her pregnancy. All in all my life has been blessed over and over again. Though I do not know who placed the Christmas Jar on my doorstep I am sincerely thankful and intend to make it a tradition of my family. I thank Jesus for everything in my life.

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