I met with my local neurotologist in Denver who was blown away by all my progress. Based on my hearing and balance tests and the normal results from my latest spinal tap, he officially said I didn’t need to keep seeing him (unless of course, I experience seizures, double vision or migraines..all things to watch out for due to the cysts on my brain). Hallelujiah! So as of Sept. 1st, I am DONE with surgery, neurologists, testing, bills, appointments, spinal taps, follow-ups and pretty much everything medically related to SCDS. YAAAAAY! 🙂 What a massive relief to have all of that stuff over and done with. It’s been a l o o o o o n g 15 months full of medical stuff and I can finally see the light at the end of the tunnel, praise God!
Along with that news, comes the fact that I just feel better. I know I say this with each month that has gone by, but I just feel so much better. I’ve made tons of progress in 6 months and I’m so grateful that my progress has been steady and uneventful for the most part. I’m still a part of a SCDS support group and there are many people who had surgery around the same time as me, who are deaf in one ear, developed infections, developed spinal fluid leaks, still struggle with vertigo and some who feel worse now than before surgery. Yikes. It makes me grateful for my healing journey. What I went through is not a easy thing, not something you can bounce back from every time. So I am very grateful!
I think that since I got that clean bill of health and I also started to really feel better around the same time, I sort of took off at 90mph. I went hiking, did a 4000 mile road trip, photographed a gazillion elopements, went to Aspen for a week, dinner with friends, had many late nights editing 25,000 photos (not an exaggeration!), trips to the mountains, more photo shoots, I started 3 Bible studies, started class at Seminary, grocery store trips, dry cleaning, trips to Denver, errands galore!!
And suddenly, I didn’t feel so great anymore.
The past 2 weeks I have just felt really “off.” I’ve had a few dizzy spells, I’ve been exhausted, I’ve had some ear and incision pain, headaches, restless night’s sleep. I’ve had several moments of confusion where I can’t understand something that David is explaining to me (scary). I feel like I took a solid 20 steps backwards. I was pretty baffled by it for a while. Like, why are some of my symptoms returning? Why do I not feel well? What. The. Heck.
And then I realized…oh yeah, I’m still recovering from surgery. It’s a 12 month recovery period. Not a 6 month recovery period. I am not done healing. And healing requires rest. It requires a slower pace of life. It requires walking (honestly, I had not gone on one single physical therapy walk in 7 weeks…no wonder I was getting dizzy!!). It requires little stress and low stimulation. And have I been doing ANY of that? Nope. So as of today, that changes. I have one photoshoot left and then my off-season begins and I can slow things down and be more intentional about giving myself the space to heal.
I guess this is the downside of trying to run a business and heal from brain surgery. I had this fear that my business was going to fail this year since I wasn’t able to operate it “normally”. That if we weren’t out there crushing it every week, we would become obsolete. And so every inquiry I received, I allowed Andrea (my associate photographer) to book. After August when my doctor said “you’re good to go!”, I booked every single client who contacted me. Every single one.
Ironically, this year, the year where I wanted to take things slowly so to allow myself time to heal, turned out to be my busiest year to date. We took on almost 50 wedding clients this summer between the 2 of us. Absurd. Unnecessary. Counterproductive. Fear-driven. I stopped trusting the Lord to provide for my business and keep things afloat. And instead I took things into my own hands at the expense of my health. And now I am paying for it.
Thankfully, I have repented and realigned with what I feel God is telling me to do…”slow your roll, Beck” (and yes, I think God can speak to us in pop culture slang haha!). I have handed the reigns to this little business and my healing back over to the One who is really in charge of it all. I have committed to saying no more often, to declining invitations, to taking more walks and being more intentional with rest. I find it so interesting, that as someone who is a big advocate for living slower, simpler lives, obeying the Sabbath and creating margin in our lives…I happened to be doing the exact opposite, during a time when rest was of utmost importance. It’s humbling, embarrassing, sobering. But I’m thankful for God’s correction and grace as I get back on to a slower, more intentional path towards complete healing.
*Random side note that I don’t want to forget to mention, but also doesn’t really have a good place to fit into this post to I am just sticking it here….I have another broken bone in my head. I know. What the heck.
When I went to see that local neurotologist in Denver, I said “ya know, I still can hear my heartbeat in my ear sometimes…why do you think that is?” He spent about 30 minutes looking through my CT imaging until he landed on a suspicious black area. “There should be a solid piece of bone here, but you don’t have it” he said. Basically, another area on my right side, called the Sigmoid Sinus plate has worn away. There is a vein that runs right next to the area, thus exposing my auditory canals to the sounds of blood flowing through the vein. Thankfully, the only symptom of this is pulsatile tinnitus (hearing your heartbeat). It will not impact anything else like balance, so I am free to just live with it and leave it alone if I want to. I can also choose to fix it, which would require a similar, but less invasive skull-based bone grafting surgery. But honestly, I don’t want to do anything that would potentially impact my SCDS repair, so I am choosing to leave it alone. Now, ask me in 10 years if I want to keep living with it and my answer may be different. But for now, we’ll let it be.
I just think it’s really interesting that the very first symptom of SCDS I ever had was pulsatile tinnitus. Surgery did help with its intensity, but to know that it is due to an entirely different dehiscent bone is just really interesting to me. Frustrating. But interesting.