On a bell curve my life used to be about average. My math ability would be slightly below, verbal ability slightly above, but most everything else about me and all of my experiences would be considered right at average on a bell curve. For years, I would say that I had many reasons to smile. Life was smiling at me. That is until I faced my 49th birthday. Then the world I knew shifted on me, and I found myself having experiences that were considered statistically rare. Oh, how I sometimes long for the top of that bell curve again.
In 2010 after an MRI that I expected to show a simple pinched nerve, I got a call from my doctor saying, "This might not be life-threatening, but it will be life altering." She was right. Since February 2010, I have been on a medical roller coaster ride. Between 2010 - 2017, I had my first surgery to partially remove a benign tumor on my cervical spine. Thirty percent of it was too dangerous to remove. This left me with 14 titanium screws. Next, I had a surgery to implant a shunt in a cyst that pushes on my cervical spine. This shunt system is designed to drain my spinal fluid into my pleural cavity, the lining of my lungs. A third surgery followed to fix the tubing on that shunt when it kinked, like a hose kinks. Another surgery was scheduled to put a magnetic valve on the shunt to stop the shunt from over draining spinal fluid into my pleural cavity. In 2012 came the Parkinson’s Disease diagnosis, and in October of 2017 I had surgeries five and six called DBS. With the Deep Brain Stimulation surgeries, I now have my own remote control implanted battery operated system that electrically stimulates my brain. So in the past seven years, we could say that I am titanium, I am kinky, I am magnetic, I am electric! I am basically bionic. For the rest my life, I will have a tumor on my spine that threatens to grow and a cyst that will always need to be controlled by a shunt, and Parkinson’s Disease, a regressive disorder that I will fight and battle to the last round.
At the beginning of this medical journey I lost my smile. I found refuge in my closet, my favorite place to cry. Often I would hear the words “mom is crying in the closet again." What changed? How did I find my smile again? Where do I turn if I start to lose my smile now? It is simple. My trifecta of medical diagnoses (tumor, cyst, Parkinson’s) is combated with the arsenal that stands all around me (faith, family, and friends). My positive attitude and optimism about my life are due to the small acts of kindness from others that have walked this journey with me through offered prayers, kind words, and generosity. I know that I am not alone. I have learned through my experience to look a little deeper. Everyone is fighting something, and so it never is wrong to pass on a smile and be kind. Hello, my name is Lisa Cox. That's my story. That's my fight. That's why I said yes when asked to write this blog. Your name is? What's your story? I welcome you to share it. There is healing in our stories. It's nice to meet you!