Josh’s Awesome Video

Aloha! It’s the first Saturday of the semester, and I have exactly nothing pressing to do right now. #thatawkwardfirstweek. A few highlights of the week include my sister Lauren getting her mission call (!!!!!), making nature journals in my Science Methods class, watching Interstellar twice, taking my roommate to the temple for her second time (which I think is the scariest), and seeing this incredible video my friend Josh Mason made about me.

Part of me feels awkward that there’s a video about me, but it highlights a lesson that I think I’m on earth to teach: our loving Heavenly Father gave us weaknesses BECAUSE He loves us, and He knows that weaknesses bring us closer to Him. I am so grateful for my experiences with epilepsy. I can honestly say that I am the person I am in part because of those experiences.

So for your viewing pleasure, here is the video. Go ahead and share it so your friends can feel God’s love for them, and remember who they are.

Two Years!

I have an exciting announcement to make: it has been exactly two years (730 days) since my brain surgery, and I haven’t had a seizure since then. This is the longest I’ve gone without having a seizure in my entire life, so it’s kind of a huge deal for me.

Primary Children’s Hospital. This is the place where the miracles happen, mine specifically, along with SO MANY others. I can say with complete confidence that I could not have gone to a better hospital, or had better surgeons or doctors or nurses.

There are angels in this building, ranging in age from newborns to however old the oldest worker is, and including both living and dead. I think I’d like to spend some time over there after I die, as odd as that sounds. I absolutely know I was watched over during my surgery. I don’t really know how that whole deal works, but if it’s possible, I’m doing it.

Prayers are answered. The priesthood is real. Heavenly Father loves His children.

The True Story of the Adextrohippocampul Cranium

Aloha! I have an exciting announcement to make today: This day, precisely 364 days ago, I was put under anesthesia and lost my right hippocampus to brain surgery. (Thus the adextrohippocampul cranium. That means “without the right hippocampus in the brain”. I coined the term myself.) In consequence, I continue to have a poor sense of direction, and sometimes I’m more forgetful than other times. But I also haven’t had a single seizure in over a year, which is huge for me!!!!!

I had countless prayers offered in my behalf, much fasting, several powerful priesthood blessings, and an almost incomprehensible amount of love and support. I know without question that the Lord had His hand in this entire process, and this recovery, which was 3 weeks faster than anticipated, was a miracle. I am so grateful to have been blessed with this experience– the experience of growing up with epilepsy, and of having and recovering from a successful surgery.

In commemoration of this special day, we went up to Primary Children’s Hospital. We ate at the Rainbow Cafe, where everyone ate when they came up to visit me. (Let me add that I still sometimes get tears in my eyes when I think about the love and support I’ve had my entire life with my seizures and everything, as well as during the period I spent in the hospital.) I also went up to the Neural Trauma Unit where I stayed, and my mom showed me the rooms I’d been in. Wow. I felt so strongly that I need to make some contribution to children with neural trauma, be it teaching, speaking, donating, or all of the above. I know I’ve been given this experience for a reason, and I need to start giving back. This is coming from a girl who doesn’t have a right hippocampus. 😉

Links to related posts:
Scarred for Life (Sweet pictures of my scar. And a few others)
I Stand All Amazed (An essay I wrote about the experience and some things I learned from it)
To the Right (A song I wrote to my late right hippocampus)
I’m Losing my Mind– Literally (And explanation I wrote early on about my surgery and stuff)
Hippocampus (Pictures of what a hippoampus may or may not look like)

I Stand All Amazed

I wrote this essay for a diagnostic english test. The prompt was something about a way a certain scripture or psalm has changed your life… something like that. So this is what I wrote about.

ON JUNE 22 OF THIS YEAR I woke up seven hours after being put under anesthesia. I had a big incision on the right side of my head, and my parents and a team of neurosurgeons were standing around me. My right hippocampus was no longer in my brain. I was diagnosed with epilepsy when I was three years old, and this surgery was performed in the hopes that the site and source of the seizures was this brain structure, and its removal would prevent further seizures.

My seizures have varied throughout my life, sometimes only occasional, other times more frequent, sometimes less-involved Partial seizures, other times more severe Grand Mal. I’ve gone for long stretches of time without any seizures, but when I came off the medicine, they would return. After going through five different medications, each being unsuccessful in completely curing me, my doctor told me that what was happening in my brain– hoppocampul sclerosis– could usually never be permanently controlled by medicine. She posed the idea of neruosurgery, and after much fasting and prayer, we dicided that would be the best option for me.

I will never forget the night before my surgery. My dad gave me a blessing before I went to bed, but I was still very nervous. I was reading in Alma at the time, and that night I read chapter 14, which contained one of the most comforting, inspiring scriptures I’ve ever read. Alma ad Amulek are in prison, and Amulek says “Behold, perhaps they will burn us also.” Alma then responds, “Be it according to the will of the Lord. But behold, our work here is not finished; therefore they burn us not.” I was amazed at the incredible faither Alma showed right then. As I read it, I was filled with the love of my Father in Heaven, and I was at peace.

The surgeon told me I would be in bed, exhausted and unable to walk for about six weeks. I was up after three. I had countless prayers offered in my behalf, and as I recovered, i thought about the overwhelming amount of blessings I’ve been given. I was “amazed at the love Jesus offers me, and confused at the grace that so fully He proffers me.” I have so much to give back! After coming home from teh hospital, I was suddenly very missionary-minded and determined to serve. I had always wanted to go, but it was then that I realized that I absolutely needed to. It is for that very reason that I decided to come to BYU Hawaii– to prepare to serve a full-time mission for the Lord. I now that because of what I’ve received, I need to return it by serving others. Alma and Amulek still had missonary work to do, and so do I. My work here is not finished, and that is why my surgery was successful and why I’m here today. Alma inspired me, and I’m now prepared to go forward with faith, always believing.

Oh, and I might add that my teacher wrote, “Wonderful essay!” at the bottom. I just wanted to say that. And I also want to say that the testing center is FREEZING.

To the Right

On my own, pretending he’s inside me,
all alone I “think” with him ’til morning.
Without him, I don’t even feel a gap in my head.
And when I lose my way, I close my eyes and remember that directions were his dormant job.

In the rain, the pavement shines like silver
and I can’t see it as well because he also couldn’t govern visuals like he was supposed to, so all the lights are misty in the river. Without him, nothing even changes,
and all I see is him in a lab forever and forever.

And I know he’s no longer in my mind,
and I’m talking with the Left and not with him.
And although I know that he’s always been blind,
still I say there was never a way for us.

(No, I don’t love him.)
And when the night is over, he is gone, the gap is just a gap.
Without him, the world around me doesn’t even change because he wasn’t even doing his job before he left.

(No, I don’t love him.)
And everyday I’m learning that all my life, I’ve only been pretending that I can do math or have any sense of direction.
Without me, he is terminated for life,
a world that’s full of other brain parts that I have never known.

I don’t love him,
and I’m not even on my own anymore, becuase I still have the Left.

Oh False One, you have deceived me!
It’s too late to apologize.
I can live with or without you.
Gotta get you outa my life!
So long, Farewell, auf Wiedersehen, adieu.
Adios, Muchaco.
I can last the rest of my life without you.
Can’t you see that you don’t belong with me?

Okay fine. God be with you ’til we meet again.

I’m losing my mind… literally

Okay. In the last year or so, I’ve been having quite a few brain tests. Specifically, 5 days in the hospital last summer, 2 sessions of food and sleep deprivation in preparation for EKGs, MRIs, EEGs, and probably more. So the consensus is that my right hippocampus is scarred. (This is called mesial-temporal sclerosis.) Apparently each time I have a seizure the scarring gets worse. We know this because it shows up all white and bigger than the other hippocampus in the brain scans and stuff. Turns out this white inflammation is scar tissue. In our last epilepsy clinic, which is where we talk to the surgeons and decide if I’m gonna get surgery, they broke it to me that not only is it very scarred, it’s so scarred that it doesn’t even work. So they’re gonna take the entire hippocampus out of my brain. Yes– the very structure in charge of learning and memory. The right one, my non-functional half, is over visual and spacial stuff. Oddly enough, that includes math and that kind of thing… hmmm. correlation? It’s kind of scary to know they’re taking out the whole darn thing, but since it’s so damaged and, as the surgeon called it, sick, I suppose it won’t make any difference. But anyway, I just found it ultra-intriguing to know that half of my brain, the part that remembers stuff no less, is broken. Poor guy. He’s had a long, hard life, going through so much pain and suffering with each seizure, meanwhile trying to work through stats and chemistry and trig and everything else. I take my hat off (or I guess part of my head off) (haha) to this dear friend of mine. We’ve been together for such a long time, it’ll be sad to see him go. But he’s done well. Farewell, dear Right Hippocampus. Until we meet again, Adios.