Marlboro Reds and MRIs

Way back when kids actually went to school, I won the award for perfect attendance for not missing any school days in a year.  My mom always told me I was her healthiest kid.  I think she appreciated that I didn’t get sick on road trips or require multiple trips to the ER to be sewn back together from running into walls.  Discounting late-night runs to the border for Taco Bell’s Nacho Bell Grande and a fog of other questionable college choices, I have mostly lived a healthy lifestyle.

So after going through two ultrasounds, an MRI, a cat scan with angiogram, a needle biopsy in my neck, countless blood tests, visits with an internist, endocrinologist, neurosurgeon, vascular surgeon, rheumatologist, and a neurologist –  all in the span of three weeks, I considered buying myself a pack of Marlboro Reds to puff on as I rode off into the sunset on a horse that would likely buck, leaving me concussed in some cornfield wondering what became of that little girl’s certificate of good health. (Yes, that’s a long sentence but it’s been a long few weeks friends.)

Still, I can’t help but feel immense gratitude.  If I hadn’t noticed a lump in my neck that led to the thyroid biopsy and a diagnosis of a multinodular goiter then I wouldn’t have seen my doctor.  I wouldn’t have told her about the chronic headaches and cluster of bizarre symptoms that prompted the MRI.  She was as surprised as I was when the results showed severe stenosis in the carotid artery.  And on the day that I received the official diagnosis from the cat scan of a dissected carotid artery with greater than 70 percent blockage, I was terrified.  I called a nurse practitioner friend to ask for her opinion.  She just happened to live across the street from a brilliant and compassionate neurosurgeon who agreed to see me that day to explain the diagnosis and treatment. At the time, none of it felt like a miracle.  It was hectic, confusing, sordid, and surreal that this 3-inch space on the right side of my neck had not one but two separate and unrelated diagnoses. Each made more complicated by their proximity to each other.

Yet, now I see the miracle of it – the way it all tied together to keep me here.  Most of all, I see the miracle of my life – the one that many days I took for granted.  The life I sometimes felt indifferent about.  The life that I sometimes lazed away.  The life that I was so often impatient with for not being better, or more, or whatever other deficiency I sometimes assigned to it because it didn’t look the way I thought it should look.  There were many days that I felt anxious about my situation.  I felt like a ticking time bomb that could go at any time – ignoring that this is inherently the nature of life for all of us.

Every time I passed a mirror, I checked my face for signs of a stroke.  I would wake up in the night and think, wow, I’m alive.  I would speak kinder to others and wonder if they could possibly know how much they mean to me.  I would repeat “Jesus I trust in you,” during the scans, before my appointments, and when the fear became suffocating.  And with Jesus – because of him, I manage to breathe.

I still have a way to go with these issues.  I still have moments of fear.  Yet more and more, I realize I can’t waste my life being afraid.  I have been given a tremendous gift.  Maybe I didn’t always realize it or appreciate it like I should have.  Maybe there aren’t any awards or certificates for realizing this now.  I’m alive and that’s perfect in itself.  More than ever, I don’t want to miss a single day.

I wanted to share these experiences with you because I write about my spirituality.  While my health issues have affected me in many ways, more than anything it has given me pause to think about my relationship with God and the meaning and purpose of my life.  I could be private about all of it and that would be okay.  Yet by sharing this journey with you, maybe we can all grow in our faith together.  Please pray for my healing.  I have such hope.  Jesus, I trust in you.  ~ Lara

Read last week’s post 

 

37 thoughts on “Marlboro Reds and MRIs

  • July 31, 2020 at 12:35 am
    Permalink

    I love you Lara and you are a gift to all of us.

    XO,
    Em

    Reply
    • July 31, 2020 at 7:56 pm
      Permalink

      Thank you, sweet friend. I feel the same about all of you.

      Reply
  • June 22, 2020 at 3:58 pm
    Permalink

    Definite prayers for you Lara. God is in control and you will be fine when this is over.

    Reply
    • June 23, 2020 at 12:43 am
      Permalink

      Amen, Catherine! I keep trying to tell myself that this is just going to be an obstacle on my journey and I will get through it and I will be better for it. I am glad you believe that too! And, I appreciate the prayers!

      Reply
  • Pingback: Hope for Unity is in Love of Neighbor | Mercy Me! I've Got Work to Do

  • June 10, 2020 at 11:59 pm
    Permalink

    Lara,
    We are praying for you. Your story is a great reminder to live each day to its fullest and take nothing for granted. May God continue to watch over you and your family.

    Reply
    • June 12, 2020 at 4:11 pm
      Permalink

      Thank you, Stephanie. I appreciate the prayers! And yes, each day really is a gift. Puts everything in perspective for me and I am grateful for that. Love to you and your family.

      Reply
  • June 10, 2020 at 4:31 pm
    Permalink

    Prayers for healing and support on your medical journey. Thank you for sharing and reminding us the importance of enjoying each day, the gift of our bodies and the love we are given daily. It was great seeing you at graduation. We didn’t get to speak to long but loved seeing you and the family❤️

    Reply
    • June 10, 2020 at 7:13 pm
      Permalink

      I loved seeing ya’ll too! And it was a much needed happy day in the middle of the storm (I got my diagnosis the day before graduation.) I was thrilled to know they would be attending college together too. They have so much to look forward to — I am kind of jealous! But I don’t think my body could do college again! Thank you for the prayers and the friendship. They both mean a lot!

      Reply
  • June 10, 2020 at 4:27 pm
    Permalink

    Lara,
    You are always in my prayers. I am here for you if you need me. Love you.

    Reply
    • June 10, 2020 at 7:11 pm
      Permalink

      Thank you, Alexa.

      Reply
    • June 22, 2020 at 12:58 pm
      Permalink

      Praying for you, friend. You are so strong and faithful! Thank you for sharing your story – and the reminder that we find God everywhere when we look. We watched the movie “Miracles from Heaven” recently – which reminds me of your post. Have you seen it?

      Reply
      • June 23, 2020 at 12:41 am
        Permalink

        Thank you, Jeannette. Your prayers mean a lot. I don’t remember seeing it and love a good movie so I appreciate the recommendation!

        Reply
  • June 9, 2020 at 8:13 pm
    Permalink

    Today’s Rosary and Divine Mercy were for you.

    Reply
    • June 9, 2020 at 11:39 pm
      Permalink

      Thank you. That means so much to me. And I know it will make a difference in my healing.

      Reply
  • June 9, 2020 at 4:17 pm
    Permalink

    Sending love and prayers for healing and continued strength. God bless you
    ❤️🙏🙏

    Reply
    • June 9, 2020 at 6:09 pm
      Permalink

      Thank you, Kathy! Your prayers mean a lot. And I know they will make a difference.

      Reply
  • June 9, 2020 at 3:43 pm
    Permalink

    Lara,

    Thank you so much for sharing your amazing faith filled story. YOU HAVE GOT THIS!!!
    Put your armor of God on, and remember only HE can shield you. We often use this quote in our house, hope it helps:

    Don’t tell your God how big your problem is, tell your problem how big your God is.

    Blessings, love and light,’

    Reply
    • June 9, 2020 at 4:29 pm
      Permalink

      Amen! Love it, Mary! Our God is BIG and so good too. I can’t even believe how much he has blessed and protected me during all of this. It is humbling and life-changing. I hate going through this and I get scared sometimes but I am grateful to have a better understanding of how much our time on earth matters. If it makes me live a more Christ-centered life – if it makes me more aware of how precious life is it will be worth every test, every fear, and every unpleasant symptom. Jesus, I trust in you because I know you will turn this suffering into something good. In so many ways, he already has.

      Reply
  • June 9, 2020 at 2:29 pm
    Permalink

    DITTO! On Jan. 26, 2020, on the way to church I was hit by a drunk driver which left me in the ICU for a week with 2 fractures of my femur and multiple broken ribs as well as a blood clot. 5 months later I thank God for all of the blessings that He bestowed on me during this time of recovery as well as the day of the accident. God’s gift of life to us is SO PRECIOUS! Hang in there Lara! God has a plan for you!!!

    Reply
    • June 9, 2020 at 4:08 pm
      Permalink

      Oh my gosh, Jennifer. That is terrifying. Praise God you are alive and healing! It is interesting about your blood clot because dissections often occur with trauma (like car accidents). Mine actually happened while I was sleeping. I woke up with an excruciating headache. My dissection is considered spontaneous – it just happened. So obviously I worry about it “just happening” again. Still, I know now what to look for and I can’t spend my time here worrying and in fear. Your story is such a good reminder that bad things just happen and more importantly good things come from it. I am going to pray for your continued healing and peace. Sometimes, I think the mental trauma of all of it is by far the hardest part of our healing.

      Reply
    • June 9, 2020 at 2:22 pm
      Permalink

      Thank you, Pat! I am so grateful for the prayers!

      Reply
  • June 9, 2020 at 12:54 pm
    Permalink

    I enjoy your Tuesday posts and will be praying or your complete healing. Thank you for sharing and allowing others to be part of your journey.

    Reply
    • June 9, 2020 at 2:22 pm
      Permalink

      Thank you, Melanie. That means a lot to me. I really believe the prayers will heal me so thank you for sharing yours — and reminding me that I am not alone.

      Reply
  • June 9, 2020 at 12:13 pm
    Permalink

    Oh Lara, I am so sorry you have been dealing with all of that!! I may have missed it, but what is the treatment for it? Is it still ahead of you or already done? I am holding you in my heart big time and would love to get a little time together.
    So much warmth and love coming your way.

    Reply
    • June 9, 2020 at 2:20 pm
      Permalink

      Thank you, Kitty. No, I am still in the thick of things. I have an appointment with the neurologist today and the endocrinologist Friday. I am taking blood thinners and the hope is the clot will reabsorb into the body and the artery will heal. I will get another scan in three months to see if this has happened. So I take my medicine and I pray. As far as thyroid, they can’t really do anything right now because of stroke risk. Maybe when I am through all of this, I can have the nodule removed. And we do need to get together and catch up! Maybe a walking date soon! Love you.

      Reply
  • June 9, 2020 at 11:46 am
    Permalink

    Lara,

    Thank you so much for sharing your story. A crucial reminder to all of us to make EVERY day matter, only God knows what the future holds. I enjoy your writing so much, and the content always seems to resonate with me — thank you for that. Stay healthy, I will be praying for you. God Bless.

    Reply
    • June 9, 2020 at 2:15 pm
      Permalink

      Karen – thank you so much for your sweet words. It is such a huge wakeup call to me to appreciate ALL of my life – not just the pretty parts but the struggle and the hard days and all the lessons that wait for me there. I am hopeful. I don’t even know if I would have said that before all of this. God will use it for good. Thank you for the prayers. I think that’s the absolute nicest thing we do for one another. So I will pray for you too.

      Reply
  • June 9, 2020 at 11:27 am
    Permalink

    Good morning, Lara! The parallels between your chapter and mine are eerily similar – how God in His permissive will allowed thyroid cancer in me 14 years ago to show me His Sovereignty over my life, and how He works ALL things unto good. The most confusing, painful, and sorrowful mystery of our life leads to glory and light. Thank you so much for sharing your story – redoubling my prayers for you and your family. Please reach out if I can help you, my blessed sister!

    Reply
    • June 9, 2020 at 2:10 pm
      Permalink

      Wow, Ann. I did not know that and your words are perfect. I very much believe that however this goes God will use all of it for good. I don’t think of myself as an overtly positive person, but I feel so much gratitude for the perspective this has given me. Even in the darkness of fear, I think I can’t like this anymore and as you say it leads me to look for the light. I am also taking your own healing and recovery as a sign of hope. Thank you for the prayers. They make a difference.

      Reply
  • June 9, 2020 at 10:55 am
    Permalink

    Thank you for sharing your story. I will pray for you 🙏🏻

    Reply
    • June 9, 2020 at 2:03 pm
      Permalink

      Thank you. It means a lot to me.

      Reply
      • June 17, 2020 at 12:50 pm
        Permalink

        Thinking of you Lara! You are one strong lady and I know between God and you…the two of you have this!

        Sending love, hugs and prayers to you and your family!

        Reply
        • June 23, 2020 at 12:34 am
          Permalink

          Thank you, Julie! I miss you and appreciate the prayers!

          Reply
  • June 9, 2020 at 10:10 am
    Permalink

    Keeping you in my prayers Lara. He is watching over you and your sweet family.

    Reply
    • June 9, 2020 at 2:02 pm
      Permalink

      Kim – I am in awe at how much God has protected me during this. Thank you for the prayers. It means a lot.

      Reply

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *