June 3, 2017

I think we all know that words can hurt—maybe really hurt. How many of you remember this old song?

“You always hurt the one you love
The one you shouldn’t hurt at all
You always take the sweetest rose
And crush it till the petals fall

You always break the kindest heart
With a hasty word you can’t recall, so
If I broke your heart last night
It’s because I love you most of all”

We are all familiar with misplaced words used by sharp-tonged comedians, brain-dead TV anchors, clueless politicians, abrasive supervisors, etc.  They can inflict wrath with words that make us look forward to the next vacation.

Let’s take a very quick look at several words, new words, my family and I have learned throughout the month of May.


A meningioma is a tumor that arises from the meninges — the membranes that surround your brain and spinal cord. Although not technically a brain tumor, it is included in this category because it may compress or squeeze the adjacent brain, nerves and vessels. Meningioma is the most common type of tumor that forms in the head.  Most meningiomas grow very slowly, often over many years without causing symptoms. But in some instances, their effects on adjacent brain tissue, nerves or vessels may cause serious disability.


Meningitis is an inflammation of the membranes (meninges) surrounding your brain and spinal cord. The swelling from meningitis typically triggers symptoms such as headache, fever and a stiff neck.  Most cases of meningitis in the U.S. are caused by a viral infection, but bacterial and fungal infections are other causes. Some cases of meningitis improve without treatment in a few weeks. Others can be life-threatening and require emergent antibiotic treatment.


“Gram-negative” refers to gram staining, a routine laboratory test used to determine the presence of microorganisms like bacteria or fungi in your blood or tissue. During the test, the gram stain will turn pink if gram-negative bacteria are present. These types of bacteria can also cause infections and pneumonia. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, gram-negative bacteria are resistant to multiple antibiotic drugs commonly used to treat infection. In addition, they have the capability to become resistant to new drugs. As a result, gram-negative meningitis is harder to treat than other forms of meningitis. An estimated forty (40) to eighty (80) percent of gram-negative meningitis cases end in death. Moreover, complications are generally higher in survivors of gram-negative meningitis. It’s more common in infants than adults.

On April 24, 2017, our oldest son suddenly collapsed on his way to a late lunch.  As a result of this fall, we discovered he had a tumor at the base of his brain stem.  This had been growing for at least ten (10) years.  Surgery was performed on May 4, 2017 at Methodist Hospital in Memphis, Tennessee.  It was successful and he will live but we have a long road to recovery.  He has lost hearing in his left ear which will not come back.  Some paralysis in the left side of his face and double vision which we are told will correct itself over time.  It is absolutely gratifying how friends have rallied around our son and our family.  We will get back to normal but it just might be a “new normal.”


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