Happy Halloween everyone. I hope your weekend will be filled with scary movies, amazing costumes, and mouthfuls of teeth-rotting candy. The one day of the year when you can dress up and pretend to be someone or something other than yourself. Well, you can do that any day, but this is the only day you can do it and not get weird looks. You have to laugh at the thought of what aliens would think if the one day they visited to observe us was on Halloween.
More scary than Halloween costumes and movies is the fact that the Nonfiction Writing Challenge starts tomorrow. I’m not sure I am prepared to start, but I am excited and ready to get going on my first book. If you haven’t been following along with my story so far, I’ll give you a preview. When I was 4 or 5 months old, I was adopted by a loving family, but very soon after settling into my new life, I got very sick and was diagnosed with Hydrocephalus. Because of this, brain surgery was required to save my life by installing a shunt to relieve the pressure in my brain from Cerebral Spinal Fluid (CSF) build up. Without this surgery, I would have died from brain damage when my brain was crushed against my skull by the outward force of the pressure.
As you can imagine, just one brain surgery did not fix me for life. Over the years, I had to undergo many shunt revisions, from malfunctioning valves to separated drain tubing, and even shunt replacement at least twice. When I was 20 years old, I had been under the knife a total of 15 times I think and my family was ready for a different solution, one that was more permanent. We learned about a new procedure that could rid me of a shunt altogether, called an ETV (Endoscopic Third Ventriculostomy). This procedure is not for everyone with Hydrocephalus and you have to meet certain criteria for it to even be a possibility. Lucky for me, I was a perfect candidate for this surgery, so for the first time in my Hydrocephalus history, I wanted to get surgery.
In December 2000, I went into surgery voluntarily and healthy, to have my shunt removed and the ETV performed. Since I went into the hospital healthy, two surgeries had to be performed. First, they had to remove my shunt and induce Hydrocephalus so that my ventricles filled with CSF and swelled up. They had to do this so that they had the room to perform the ETV. I spent a week in the hospital after the first surgery, just waiting and monitoring my pressure, waiting for the pressure to rise. Once it was high enough, I went back into surgery to get the ETV. My book will have the details of all this, but long story short, the surgery was a success, and I sit here now, 15 years later, shunt free and headache free. The ETV is still working and I am grateful not to have had to get any more surgeries. I’ve been meaning to write this book since the ETV, but now is the time and the story is even better now since I have had 15 years without a problem.
OK, maybe I am prepared to start this book tomorrow. 🙂
Thanks for reading. Hopefully I will have the complete story for you to read in a month or so.
It’s only a week away from the start of the Write Nonfiction In November Challenge and I am getting really excited to finally telling my story. The photo above is just another example of the awesome beauty in this world. The fact that I am here to witness this beauty with my own eyes is reason enough for me to write this book.
This week, I have some decisions to make before the challenge starts. There are many directions I can take this book and I need to figure out the best path. I could stick to talking about the accomplishments in my life and how I beat the odds. I could focus on the medical side and tell the story of the progression in technology which has enhanced my quality of life tremendously. I could talk about the sports I play, against all odds, and against some recommendations. I could talk about my adoption and how Hydrocephalus did not break apart my adoptive parents hopes and dreams, but instead made us stronger. I could talk about how, in spite of having multiple birthdays and holidays in the operating room, I am a very optimistic person.
I could talk about one of these topics, and I probably will. In fact, I may talk about them all, and 10 more topics too. It is going to be a challenge for sure. Staying on topic will probably be the hardest thing of all for me. I love rabbit trails, but in the end, I am here, I am healthy, and I am able to write, so I hope I can bring you a story that brings a smile to your face.
Come on November, let’s write.
Since I can remember, I have wanted to write a book. I have the stories to share, but I have never taken the time to put them down on paper. Well, I think now is the time to get started. Why now you ask? Well, I’m not entirely sure, but I have just recently started blogging again and it feels good, so I guess it has inspired me to look back on what I really want to write. Anyone who knows me well knows that I am no stranger to hospital stays and surgeries, and I have the scars to prove it to the ones who don’t know me.
At a very early age, I was diagnosed with Hydrocephalus. I have been through many surgeries, a few shunts, and lots of hospital food trays. Today, I have zero shunts, zero headaches, and have been surgery-free for 15 years. This was made possible with new cutting edge technology and the surgeons willing to try something different. I want to write a book telling my story, not only as a historical record of my journey, but also to give families hope that there are success cases out there. I am here and healthy and I want all the parents of hydro babies to know that their kids can grow up healthy like me. Hydrocephalus doesn’t have to control their lives. I just feel like my story can help in some way, to show the possibility of a positive outcome which doesn’t end in headaches and more surgeries. It’s time for me to share.
Another reason I am ready to start now is that I found out about a novel writing contest in November. Even though I am not looking to write a novel at this time, from the site of that contest, National Novel Writing Month, I found another challenge just for me, The Write Nonfiction in November Challenge. I’m going to do my best to finish my book in a month, but more importantly, I am going to start my book in November. If it takes longer, so be it. The challenge for me at this point is just to start. Anything more is icing on the cake. Wish me luck.
I hope you stick around and read my work when it is complete. I will try not to make you wait too long.
I learned something unexpected today. My wife and I went to the park after work to enjoy the weather and get some walking in. I noticed these trees where the bark had obviously been peeling off and it made some nice patterns in trunk. So naturally I took out my cell phone and snapped a few pictures of the camouflage designs. My first thought was that these were birch trees, but in the background of my mind I knew they looked a little different. Birch trees didn’t usually shed all their bark, did they? Maybe they did, I didn’t know, nor did I seek confirmation.
We moved past the trees and continued our quest to walk the trail around the lake. It’s a beautiful small lake, or more like a large pond you could say. We walked 4 laps around it, which maybe equaled 2 miles….. maybe. I didn’t give the trees a second thought, not even when we passed them on the way back to the car. The evening continued and we went out to eat dinner, and then attended the homecoming football game in which my niece was marching in the band. Our team won, which made the end of the evening quite exciting.
We walked in the house close to 11:00PM and I was tired (still am), but I wanted to write a blog entry today. I didn’t have a plan about the topic tonight, but I knew I wanted to use the pictures of the “birch” tree that I look this afternoon. I sat in bed a few minutes ago ready to start typing about how nature changes so much in the fall and shows so much beauty in the process. Well, I started that way….. added the pictures from my phone into the blog…… looked at the pictures again….. and then decided to google birch trees just to make sure. Well, I searched birch tree images and couldn’t quite see one like my picture. I searched peeling bark and presto, there was a few like mine, except they were not birch trees. No, I made an assumption about peeling bark and associated it which birch, and only birch. Well, now I know that my pictures are none other than Crepe Myrtles. Surprised? Maybe not you, but for me, yes I was. It wasn’t that I even claimed it out loud that they were birch to begin with, but it’s funny how I never even considered anything but birch at first. Maybe it’s just me, but I find it funny.
So, my lesson for today is that I need to learn more about trees and not let my mind jump to conclusions. Anyways, the silliness of the whole situation gave me my blog for tonight, even if it was unplanned. I’m still glad i took the pictures though. Without them, I would be blogging about birch trees and never giving it a second thought that i could possibly be mistaken.