So today I took a step back and just really thought about the many miracles and momentous events that occurred for me in 2016, and what a year it was.
It all started a couple of days after New Year's day. I had just broadcasted a basketball game the day before, while having a terrible headache the whole time (even though everybody said that you couldn't tell I was in pain by the way I called the game). That scared me because when I have headaches that are that painful for that long, that is a sign that my shunts could be malfunctioning. I was hoping that a good night of sleep would calm the pain down. It didn't.
So my family took me into the hospital and they ran some tests, then came back in to tell us the results. They said that my shunts had stopped working and that they needed to do surgery. When I asked when, they said in about an hour. It was at that moment that I broke down. I was crying wondering “why now?”, but after I calmed down, I just took a deep breath and remembered that God was in control and His timing is always right. They performed the first surgery and it didn't go right. I was way out of it, didn't feel right, and didn't know what was going on so they had to perform a second surgery. That one was much more successful and I was able to go home after 5 days in the hospital. Thank God.
Luckily all of that took place during winter break from school, and since missing one day of college can almost be like missing a month of high school, I was there for the first day of classes of what would be my final semester of college. I did have to miss the next couple days with getting all of the stitches removed, but all in all it was a quick turnaround. Then in May the unthinkable happened.....I graduated....from college. Now I know what Tommy Callahan felt like when he found out he got that D+ to graduate.
Graduations never really hit me like they did everybody else, whether high school or college, because I just looked at it like a phase, and those who wanted to stay in contact would find a way to and all the others would just go on their own way.
After graduation I had the opportunity of a lifetime when I got to travel to Alaska to broadcast baseball with my good friend Lance. When the day hit to leave I was filled with emotions of terror due to being my first flight, but mostly sadness knowing that I had to leave the love of my life for 2 months. Again I broke down crying when I had to leave her, but I knew that we would see each other soon. It turned out to be much sooner then we expected.
Just a handful of days after arriving in Alaska I started to feel kind of sick and I started getting, you guessed it, headaches. Homesickness was what I was hoping it was. Even with feeling rough I was still able to do color commentary for the first baseball game, which was still a good time. Unfortunately that would be my first and last time broadcasting in Alaska.
Another thing that I didn't point out in the beginning was that shunts can have varying life spans. They can last as long as 10+ years or as short as less than a year. I had the experience of them lasting over 10 years, now I was going to experience them lasting less than a year.
My parents back home knew that I had been feeling rough, so they would stay in contact daily. They tried getting ahold of me one morning, but I was sleeping. The problem is, my idea of sleeping in was 8:30am. It was nearly 11am and I was still asleep. So my parents knew something was wrong and got ahold of my host family who woke me up, but I was even more out of it then I was in January. They took me to the hospital, and while it wasn't very clear of what made me sick, the doctors knew that they had to remove one of my shunts as a precaution to keep the bacteria from spreading, even though they didn't know how I got the bacteria.
Let me start this off by saying that my memory of this hospital stay is still cloudy, due to how out of it I actually was.
I do remember being scared because at that point I had had around 38 surgeries in my life, but this was the first of when I didn't have family around. I just remember it being not long after my first surgery there, and I didn't have my glasses on and just saw a blur walking towards me in normal clothes, but I could recognize the voice.
I focused and I started balling when I realized that it was my dad. Then I cried even harder when I asked how long he was staying and he said "until you are out of here."
My next surgery was 8 days later, and it was at this time that they removed my second shunt. Then they had to give me external shunts for the time being. This way they could tell the pressure inside my brain. I had these in for over a week.
After the second surgery, I was overwhelmingly happy because my mom and the love of my life were in Alaska as well. Once again, as if somebody was chopping a factory full of onions, I started crying again. This was definitely one of the most emotional times of my life.
Then at the end of June I had a surgery (more specifically, a left frontal endoscopic ventricular fenestration) where I no longer would need shunts. This was so surreal to me because ever since I was 2 years old I had to have shunts, and to think that I was shunt free was a lot to grasp. After a few days had passed, the surgery was deemed a success, and then they also removed the external shunts. I wasn't quite in the clear yet because of my slowed speech, memory impairment, and processing deficits that made it very difficult for me to even write, as a result of bruising in the brain. With therapy and time, I was able to heal, but I can still sense myself getting stronger and better fairly often.
After getting to Alaska on June 4th, I was finally able to go home in early/mid July.
Now before I had left for Alaska, I made the biggest purchase of my life, but it wasn't for me. It was for my girlfriend of 2 in a half years at the time. It was a ring. The funniest thing was we would always tease joke about it. She would just joke and say "So did you buy the ring yet?" Then I would joke so much about it that she didn't believe me when I said that I had bought it, but this time I actually had bought it and she just didn't believe it. Before I had left for Alaska I decided that I was going to ask her to marry me the day after I returned home, and that would have been August 5th. So on August 5th I popped the question, and I had the person that I was going to spend the rest of my life with. It was by far the happiest moment of my life at the time.
Then shortly after that, we went on a trip with our good friends to Myrtle Beach, South Carolina for 5 days. So once again I was getting on a plane, but at this point I actually enjoyed flying. Who would've thought that June 4th would be my first flight ever and in mid August I would already have been on my 6th flight. Never would have guessed that, but I wouldn't have it any other way.
A few weeks after we had returned from vacation, I had officially had my first job in the radio field also! That was a weight off my shoulders because all I heard before and after I graduated was how difficult it was to get a job in radio. Finally I had felt like my hard work was paying off!
About a month after getting the job, my fiancé (at the time) found out that she had gotten into grad school, so we were on the lookout for a place together. It was a fun (and stressful) time, and after a lot of looking we finally got a place. We moved in near the end of December and it was a big change, but an amazing one. What a way to end a memorable 2016 to say the least. God was definitely working.
Once again thanks for reading if you made it this far!