Social Media Saved My Life

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I have always been totally into social media.

Back in 2003, I was obsessed with connecting with like-minded individuals who shared common interests such as music and lifestyle. You know, back in the day, when MySpace was good for that kind of thing. At one point, I had over 30,000 friends on my DANG XTINE account. It was awesome. I was deep into the Houston music scene and would meet tons of cool people who way. MySpace and LiveJournal were my favorite social networks at the time. Well, of course, it’s 2012 now and times have changed. My preferred social media of choice is Facebook and Twitter.

With the events of the past month, I truly feel like in many ways, I owe my life to social media. While in the hospital my friends and family learned of my situation through my updates on my social networks. I’m an avid social networker and truly love sharing my life with the world around me and whoever is interested in listening to my story.

During my two weeks in the hospital, the love and support that flooded my inbox was incredible. I received nearly 2,000 comments, Facebook messages, and tweets while I was in the hospital. Each and every day I would have my family members read to me what was being said on my wall or sent to my inbox. I constantly had my iPhone with me through everything, every step of the way. Even as soon as I woke up from surgery, my first instinct was to tweet.

I cannot imagine this experience had I not had social media or been connected. Ugh, how awful would it be going through all of this and not being able to instantly update my friends and family and be in constant communication with my integral support system? Well, guess what, that was reality not even ten years ago. God bless our smart phones! God bless the genius minds behind Facebook and Twitter! I know for a fact I would not have done as well as I did in the hospital and as I’m doing now if I hadn’t of had social media. To know that you have people praying for you, sending you positive energy from all over the world, and just overall pulling for you… it’s amazing. Each and every comment picked up my spirits and this means A LOT when you are stuck inside a hospital room, bed ridden, and have impending brain surgery coming your way.

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Here I am in the Neuro ICU on a breathing machine, tweeting. Always connected.

Thank you, social media, from the bottom of my heart.

From the bottom of my heart, I want to thank each and every single person who has ever posted love on my Facebook wall. Whoever tweeted me or RT’d me and my story. Anyone who sent me a message of support. Anyone who changed their default pics to photos including me. These little things meant the world to me. The incredible love and support that social media enabled me to have directly at my finger tips is something I am so grateful for. In my mind, social media saved my life and has helped me and is continuing to help me pull through this with a smile on my face. Of course, my Dr. and incredible medical care have had a great deal to do with saving my life, too. Don’t get me wrong but social media will forever remain near and dear to my heart. Also a BIG shout out to my main hospital, Memorial Hermann, for their WONDERFUL wifi access.

It’s also a blessing that I was able to document this experience in my life forever. I uploaded multiple pictures and tons of status updates. I’ll forever have those records of what it was like & of course, it’s so amazing to go back and read each and every post a friend made to me. It means the world!

So let’s keep the social media love rolling. Share, share, share. Please take a minute to share this post with your social network. RT my link. Help me share my story with the world. Take a look at my story here: How I Went From Planning My Wedding to Having Brain Surgery in a Week and share it with as many people as you can.

Social media is a beautiful thing.

Social media is so powerful. Seriously, it has magical healing powers… I should know. Social media makes things happen. Thank you, social media, for helping me make it through all of this, I owe you.

How I Went From Planning My Wedding to Having Brain Surgery in a Week

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It’s been quite the crazy month for me. January 27, 2012 – It was Friday and I had a couple of appointments in the Houston area for potential wedding reception venues. I’m still very much looking for and in need of a reception venue for our cocktail wedding reception party that we want to have. You see we’re doings a bit uniquely, much like our beautiful relationship. We are getting married on the Carnival Magic Cruise Ship in the Port of Galveston on August 12, 2012. We are having a small, intimate ceremony aboard the ship and a luncheon to follow. Then we are setting sail as Mr. & Mrs. in our first adventure out of the country. Not to mention, this is the first time either of us goes on a cruise! SOOOO very excited. Our cruise is set to go to Key West and Freeport and Nassau in the Bahamas. We are so beyond thrilled about wedding plans. As for the wedding reception party, we want to throw it once we get back and just able to host a grand event for ALL of our friends and family to join us in celebrating our love story. This is my dream wedding. After everything, I’ve been through this month, thinking about this day is what has pulled me through a lot of the time!

So that Friday, my grandmother, mom, and I checked out Rosemary’s Garden and the beaitful Chateau Crustale. I wasn’t feeling particularly well this day. I jsut felt like something was wrong but I pulled through because a bride to be has to do what she has got to do! Less than a week later, on the night of February 2nd,  I was rushed to the emergency room. I had a CT scan taken which showed something was going on in my brain. That night I was admitted to the hospital and the next day I had an MRI taken, which indeed confirmed what was seen in the CT scan.

A cavernous malformation was found and had bled which was causing my symptomS and discomfort. I was then transfered from Park Plaza Hospital to Memorial Hermann Hospital in the Texas Medical Center on Houston, TX. I thank my lucky stars that I live in this city while this happened to me. All the while in the hospital, I received the best care. I met numerous nurses, nurse techs, and all kings of other hospital stazff and I have to say that I have so much respect for people in this profession. My mother is a nurse and I never realized how hard they work and how much they bust their butts to take care of their patients, all the while having the best bedside manner and demeanor. It takes an incredible type of person to be able to do this day in and day out. I am so truly grateful for every single person involved in my care, whtehrwhether it was my nurse tech, my speech therapy lady, my physical therapy, my transport wheeling my stretcher to and from places in the hospital, etc.

Hospital life was not easy. I was completely bed ridden for the most part while in the hospital for two weeks. Let me tell you, there is nothing worse than back pain you get from not being able to get up from bed. I was writhing in pain on two separate occasions toward the end of my stay. I was being closely monitered so a nurse would come in every few hours and take my blood pressure and since I was being tube feed through a PEG, they monitored my blood sugar very closely. So every four hours on the dot, somebody would be in to prick one of my fingers. (I had a feeding tube placed because I lost the ability to swallow before my surgery.) I was also receiving heparin shots in my stomach twice a day to avoid blood clots because of my inactivity. I still have so many bruises on my tummy because of those shots.

I have been having blood pressure problems since my hospital stay. orthostatic hypotension which makes it very hard for me to get up with out getting dizzy and fainting. So needless to say, I had numerous fainting spells while in the hospital. It would happen when I was attempting to use the bedside commode. I hated using the bedpan because it was so uncomfortable and difficult to use. You know, we’re kinda trained by now as adults to not pee ourselves in bed? Unfortunately, I am still having thse issues and actually fainted breifly on the toilet last night. It sucks! But things are getting better because I’m actually able to make trips to the actual bathroom and toilet now with assistance, which is a huge accomplishment from where I was.

My team of doctors was amazing. The man who performed my brain surgery is Dr. Arthur Day This is the man that saved my life. I’ll be forever grateful to him. Dr. Day is very skilled and brilliant, but also very nice and had such a great bedside manner with me and my family. He explained everything to us so well and made us feel so comfortable and good about our decision to move forward with the surgery.

My incredible Mom was with me 24/7 in the hospital. I know how uncomfortable sleeping in those chairs and make shift beds had to have been but she was there every inch of the way and I cannot even begin to express my love and gratitude to her for never once leaving my side through all of this. My Ita (grandmother on Mom’s side) was also there each and every day with me. I had multiple nurses express to me how fortunate I was to have such a great support system in my family and friends. They told me just how many people were in my very same position and had absolutely no one there to support them. No one there to come visit them. It makes me so sad to know that that is reality for many people. I know how truly blessed I am. The outpour of love and support during my hospital stay was incredible and beautifully overwhelming. Friends, family, my previous employer, Schipul – The Web Marketing Company, even my fiance’s coworker; they all sent me such beautiful flowers, cards of support, stuffed animals, and positive thoughts. Every nurse that came in to my room was in awe of all the beautiful flowers and so was I. It’s very humbling to know that so many people care about you and show their love and support in so many beautiful ways. It’s an incredible feeling to truly see those people that you love in your life actually be there for you in your time of need and not even hesitate. I am so grateful to have these people in my life and I thank each and every single one of them from the bottom of my heart because I know I would not be where I am today in my recoery without them.

My brain surgery took place on February 10th, 2012. It lasted approximately eight hours. The doctors did their job and I woke up in the Neuro Surgery ICU the next morning connected to a breathing tube.Unfortunately, during surgery, I somehow managed to bite the hell out of my tongue which resulted in me not being able to speak. As a Communication major and someone who loves to make herself understood, this was hell for me. I woke up and I think almost immediately was flipping people off because this was some sort of cruel joke but a las I had to deal with it. Thankfully, tongues are an awesome part of our body and tend to heal quickly. I was able to speak within a day or two and it’s very much on the mend.

Christine in the ICU After Brain Surgery Using her IPhone

Here I am shortly after waking up in the ICU after surgery. On a breathing tube & tweeting. Always connected. Boy, do I love my social media. :)

On February 18th, 2012, I was given the green light by my doctors to go home and finally leave the hospital. I was transported via ambulance to my grandmother’s house and have been successfully recuperating here ever since. I have a nurse that comes once a week and physical therapist that comes twice a week. Unfortunately, I was supposed to have speech therapy scheduled to help me get back to swallowing… well, I got tired of waiting around for all the insurance authorization and stuff to go on. So I took matters into my own hands and pretty much taught myself how to swallow. I actually stole a cookie from my grandma’s cookie jar and that was the first thing I munched on. I rolled my wheelchair to the kitchen like a little sneaky kid and stuck my hand in the cookie jar… My Ita found me and rooted me on by grabbing me some water to wash it down. SUCCESS!! 🙂 I began eating frozen popsicles, which went down my throat so nicely. After over two weeks of not using my throat to drink or eat, you can imagine how good this felt. Now I am eating all sorts of foods!

Enjoying a popsicle with my fiance.

Enjoying a popsicle with my fiance. One of the very things i was able to eat again.

My fiance is actually on his way over bringing me my very first restuarant meal since all of this. Little Papasito’s chicken tortilla soup is something I have been craving for what seems ever and ever. I’m also excited to attempt to noms some chips and salsa. I am such a salsa lover! & on that note, my mouth is watering…

So that’s how I went from wedding planning to having brain surgery in a week. I hope to get back to doing more wedding planning. I have got to find a Houston wedding reception venue and have the rest of the wedding reception to plan. Whew! It’s definitely going to be a struggle with all of my medical bills now and trying to fund our wedding. If anyone knows of a venue in Houston looking to do some good in the world or make a great PR move for some publicity or really just make this girl’s dreams come true, please spread the word. For inquires about this, please don’t hesitate to email me. I would be forever grateful.

My Initial Symptoms Before Brain Surgery

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My initial symptoms were very strange. Over all, it was a feeling of abnormality, just being out of it and not myself. I knew something was wrong.

First it started with headaches. I didn’t think much of this since it’s not uncommon that I get them. Then I acquired chronic hiccups, which at first were not a big deal, but quickly grew to be the biggest pain ever. I remember sitting in class and just hiccupping the entire time. I also started to experience EXTREME sensitivity to lights and sounds. For example, I’d be in the bedroom and my fiance in the next room over. He’d have the volume very low set to three and I’d feel like it was just BLARING. This was terrible. Another symptom was dizziness.

While in the hospital, I lost the ability to swallow. I had to have a PEG (feeding tube) placed in my stomach in order to get nutrients.

Finally, when I went to the ER it was because I woke up and my face, hands, and feet were tingling like crazy and felt extremely hot. I knew something was definitely wrong then and this solidified it being time to go to the emergency room. I was rushed to the ER at Park Plaza Hospital in Houston, TX the night of February 2nd, 2012 and received amazing and quick care.

They took an emergency CT scan and could see something showing up in my brain.

Hi there. Let me introduce myself.

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I’ve been wanting to start a blog for a long, long time now but felt I never had enough time to dedicate to it as rightfully deserved. Well, the time is here and the time is now. I’m so excited to share my life with you.

A quick introduction about myself because we may or may not know each other just yet. My name is Christine and I’m from Houston, TX. I’m 24 years old. I’m a graduate student at the University of Houston studying Communication, just one semester away from graduating. i’m also in the midst of planning my wedding to an incredible man that I love with all of my heart. Our wedding date is 8-12-12 and our big day is almost here! For more on our love story, visit our wedding website. I am a social media junkie. You can find me on twitter at @xtineds. I love, love, love baseball and the Houston Astros. I’m also co-founder of the @AstrosTweeps online community. I attended Houston Community College and St. Edward’s University for my undergrad. I absolutely adore Austin, TX and Boston, MA. I grew up going to shows and loving bands like Copeland, Further Seems Forever, Anberlin, Cartel, Jimmy Eat World, Beloved, and UnderOath. My first job was a sales associate at the Houston Galleria’s Hot Topic. Trust me, for a 16 year old “emo girl” that was a dream first job! I’ve always had an affinity for people. I’m very social and absolutely love and thrive off the company and positive energy of others.

On February 10th, 2012, I underwent brain stem surgery for a very rare condition that affects only about .5% of the population. I was diagnosed with a cavernous malformation in my medullah oblongata which bled causing a bunch of terrible symptoms like chronic hiccups, dizziness, headaches, extreme sensitivity to light and sounds, and over all just horrible feelingness.

This is my story. I am so thrilled that you’re here to follow me on my road to recovery.Welcome, my readers. It’s so nice to meet you. Please feel free to leave a comment and share a little of your story with me. I’d love to learn more about you, too! :]

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