Wow, we packed in a lot today.  Our day began with an MRI, which was much shorter than I anticipated, much to my delight.  Last time I had an MRI done here, it seemed like at least 45 minutes, but this one was only 20 minutes.  Yay!  After that, we killed some time walking around the UCLA area, until my appointment with Dr. Liau.  I think I could spend a week around this area and never run out of things to do.  Our appointments with her are always a breath of fresh air.  She is such an amazing person.  She is so compassionate and genuine, and I’m truly amazed that this person who’s been featured in numerous shows like Dateline NBC,  will engage in email conversations with me, whenever I have a question or concern.  In December, when I first found out that my tumor was for sure growing, she was still emailing with me at midnight that night.  Simply amazing.  These are the things that we learned from Dr. Liau today:

~ My tumor is not visible on MRI, yet, as an actual white mass.  Some of you may be wondering then, why in the world I’m letting this woman cut open my head for something she can’t totally see??  Here is why.  There has always been some swelling along the cavity of where she resected the last tumor.  This area of swelling started to look a little “plumper” on my October scan.  She caught the change, but my local radiologist didn’t.  So we waited until the December scan to see if that area changed, again, and it did, looking slightly more plump.  So she said that it is creeping very slowly, but with these tumors, it is always best to stay ahead of the game and get it out, if something happens to be in there.  Astrocytomas love to morph or recur as high grade, and become very difficult to control, at that point.  So surgery it is!  She also thinks that taking out that swelling will help alleviate these pesky seizures that I have from time to time.

~We learned that the area that she wants to take out, that was possibly inoperable, is bumping up against the membrane/blood vessels that surrounds the brainstem, but that she thinks she should be able to successfully remove it.  Yay!!  This is never a given until she is actually in there to see what’s going on with her own eyes, but that was very encouraging.

~The surgery will probably last around 8 hours.  We were hoping that it would be significantly shorter than the last surgery, which was 10 hours, but it sounds like another marathon.  Boo for my family sitting in the waiting room!

After that appointment,  I had to meet with the anesthesiologist, get some blood drawn and pay the cashier in Patient Financial Services.  The MRI and appointment with Liau took about an hour and a half.  The other appointments took 3.5 hours!!  I would say 3 hours of that was just spent waiting. (sigh)  SO glad all of that’s over.

This morning, Marvin ran to Starbucks to get a coffee before one of my appointments and noticed that they were setting a whole bunch of stuff up at the Fox theatre next to Starbucks.  He asked what they were doing, and the guy told him that they were setting up for the premiere of Will Farrell’s new movie Semi-Pro, and that the whole cast would be showing up tonight.  Sweet.  We’re there!  So, after dealing with some pesky motorhome issues, we headed over to try and get as close as we could to the runway that they had setup.  When they do these premieres, they give away of ton of tickets to the actual movie premiere showing that night, through contests, connections, etc, so there are people swarming everywhere.  We mingled our way pretty close to the fence that surrounded the carpet they had setup, so we had a great view of all the actors/actresses who were there.  The longer we stood there, the more drawn into all the excitement we became, to the point where I was a little bummed out that we couldn’t go inside and see the movie.  I noticed a guy running around, that appeared to be heading up the whole event, so I thought I might track him down and chat with him for a second.  When I stopped him, I asked him if there were any premiere tickets left…..and I’m not totally sure, but I perhaps mentioned that I was there with my husband for brain surgery this week, and would love to go to the premiere (wink, wink).  He asked where we were standing and then told me that he would see what he could do.  About 20 minutes later, a lady came over and tapped me on the shoulder with 2 tickets in hand.  So we got to go to the premiere!!!!  The timing worked out so well that we actually followed Will Ferrell down the carpet runway, into the theatre.  After the movie, we headed into the lobby and were able to get some great pictures of Woody Harrelson, Marvin talking to Andy Richter and Marvin slapping a high 5 with Will Ferrell. There were some other celebrities, too, but I didn’t know most of them.  If I was a faithful “The Office” watcher, like 99% of all of our friends are, I could tell you the name of the cast member that was standing next to me while I was waiting for Marvin, but I have no idea.  So, anyways, that was quite the unexpected surprise ending to our day!

Wow, thanks for sticking with me through all of that rambling!  So at this point, it looks like we will be heading to brain surgery, rather than Disneyland on Thursday.  God is amazing, though.  The tumor still looks to be low grade and it looks to be completely operable.  I am so blessed, and I get emotional thinking about how good God has been to us throughout all of this.  His mercies have been new every morning and his grace has been beyond sufficient.  We’re so humbled by his blessings through each step of the way, and we know that so much of it is due to our family and friends backing us up in continual prayer.  Thank you so much, from the very depths of our hearts!  Our boys are doing amazing being away from us, which is a huge answer to prayer, as well!  I promise I won’t yap your ear off tomorrow.   The next time you’ll be hearing from me, I’ll probably be sporting a stylish new gauze turban.  Until then….