Saturday, October 2, 2010

The final segment...Husband and Wife

To start from the beginning of our love story...go here

     In the days that followed I learned what it meant to be a wife. Trevor couldn't walk, he couldn't sit up, he couldn't go to the bathroom alone. I was his constant aid, waiting on him, and I loved every second of it. I learned he needed a relentless encourager. When he sat up for the first time by himself in a chair, I cried.      When he brushed his teeth for the first time I rejoiced with him. When he took his first steps away from the bed, I thought I was going to have a heart attack but I told him how proud I was and how amazing he was doing.
     At 42 weeks pregnant I slept in a chair beside his bed for a week. I read scripture to him out loud whenever he needed, and I was silent and didn't speak when he needed that too. It was hard not to hug him for an entire week when he was right there in front of you. All I wanted him to do was sweep me up his arms like he used to and swirl me around. But those days were gone for a while.
     I decided that I was going to have this baby by C-section so that he could be there. We didn't want to risk me going into labor on my own, because that would cause too much stress on Trevor and not be good for his blood pressure. So 6 days after Trevor had brain surgery, he sat with me in the room as our son was born and he was the first one to hold him.

     The surgery had many affects on him. One was his eyesight. Everything below the middle point of his vision was double. This made walking very difficult, as you can imagine. He also had nausea. They had to remove part of his balance, coordination and nausea center to get to the tumor, so they told him he could very well have nausea problems the rest of his life. I remember how different Trevor was after surgery. He got frustrated really easily and got mad at little things. No matter how hard I tried sometimes I just couldn't get him to smile. I was scared. The "normal" Trevor always, always had a smile ready. It was going to take some time getting used to this new Trevor.
     Trevor was amazing through it all. Re-learning everything and nausea and his first son being born, he fought hard to do things right and learn them quickly. He recovered at an amazing rate and had the doctors and nurses completely stunned at his progress. He was in Martial Arts before this and the parts of the brain they cut out were healing fast because he had trained them so well. God takes care of His own in amazing ways...
Brushing his teeth by himself for the first time

My bed for a week and a half at 42 weeks pregnant

The night before we had Jeremiah

The day we were sent home together

     I won't go into detail about the days after we were sent home. They are some of my darkest and I will save them for another time...maybe I will write about them in my other blog, "Let it grow..."

     2 weeks after surgery we found out that they type of tumor Trevor had was Pylocytic Astrocytoma. Basically, there are 4 levels of brain tumors, and his was the very 1st level, which is the best to have, if you have one. It's slow growing, non-cancerous. We rejoiced greatly. That meant no radiation, no chemo-therapy!! The doctor also said he was completely positive he got all of the tumor, and that Trevor was 100% CURED. He actually said this 2 weeks after surgery.
     Trevor's nausea has completely vanished. His balance and coordination are not what they were before surgery, but they are at the level of a normal 20 year old male now. We've had a few scares over the past year, but today, Trevor is completely healed. We've had 2 MRI's since surgery and both have been clear of any signs of tumors growing back. They are most likely to grow back the first 2 years, so we're not completely out of the woods, but the possibility gets smaller and smaller as each day goes by.
     It's incredible, writing all this out and thinking back on it. I'm reminded of God's incredible grace and mercy, and His awesome power to save. I can honestly say though, that the night before surgery, I came to a point of total spiritual exhaustion, total numbness and grief. I was so afraid. But finally, after hours of weeping and laying at the feet of Jesus, I did come to the point of giving it to God and being okay with whatever happened the next day. He was still going to be God. And that's how I feel now. If the tumor comes back, God is still the same God He was when things were going well. It won't be easy, but I know God will be there, my Rock and my Fortress.

The day the sutchers were taken out

Thanks for reading our story. If you have any questions, please email me
To start from the beginning of our love story...go here

Forever Changed...October 2nd, 2009

To read from the beginning, click here...

     The night before the surgery I slept 3 hours. His parents got in around 4 am and we met them at Ihop for an early breakfast before we had to be there at 5:30am. I got strawberry banana French toast and maybe took 1 bite. I barely talked, just watched Trevor walk around Ihop on the phone with his brother in Chicago.
     The drive over there was terrible. I wanted to cry so badly, my heart ached to be leaving Trevor so soon. But I had to be strong for him, to show him I was going to be okay. It would make things easier for him. He started singing the song we sing when things are going badly..."Everything little gonna be alright...don't worry..." I smiled at him. He said, "Marybeth, I'm not scared. Either I wake up and see your beautiful eyes, or I wake up and see Jesus. I'm okay with either."
     He had another scan before they prepped him for surgery. When he came out they had shaved little dots into his head and drew circles. I think it was slowly sinking in more and more just what was happening. We went into this tiny little room where they were going to prep him, and I brought his family back 1 by 1 to say there goodbyes. Then all of a sudden it was time for him to go. I didn't realize I wouldn't be going to the next place with him. I didn't even get a chance to talk to him really, or say anything. We walked out to the waiting room, him in his white robe and IV pole, and I hugged him and he whispered, "You or Jesus." And then he walked away. He didn't look back.
     I turned to the waiting room and it hit me with full force that I was alone. It was only Trevor's family there so far. I didn't cry, but oh how I wanted to. I wanted to run down the hall and hug Trevor one more time, and make sure he knew how much I loved him. But I gathered up my things and we all walked to our own private waiting room where we would be the next 6 hours.
     They gave me a beeper so that I would know what was happening. I wish they hadn't. When it went off and the little light started shining next to the words "Procedure started" I almost threw up. All I could picture was them cutting into his head. My love's precious head.
     Dr. Abassi's nurse called me every 2 hours to let me know how progress was going. She said it was taking longer than expected to cut the tumor out, but I was just grateful for her happy, reassuring voice. I knew things were going well if someone who was in the room with him sounded like that. 6 hours actually went by pretty fast. I held myself together and just prayed. I read over Psalm 91 about a billion times and walked the halls by myself. Finally, Dr. Abassi was done and came to talk to us. He said everything went just amazing.
      He said there was a little part of the tumor that was attached to a blood vessel of the brain stem, and he didn't want to cut it for fear of cutting the brain stem. He had to burn that part as best he could. He said there's a possibility there could be microscopic cells left behind, and we may have to go back in and do treatment to kill them. He also said that when I saw Trevor, he might look a little funny because they weren't able to take the breathing tube out just yet. He wasn't awake yet.
     I sat there for two hours after he left, wondering where the nurse was or why my beeped wasn't going off. I finally hunted a nurse down and they were so sorry my beeper hadn't gone off. He was in the ICU ready to be seen. No breathing tube. I praised God silently for sparing me that sight.
     I almost ran to the room. I couldn't get there fast enough. He was alive! He had made it through! I walked into his small ICU room and saw him laying there...he looked like he was sleeping. But the nurse said, "Trevor, someone is here to see you." And he slowly opened his eyes and saw me and kinda half smiled and slurred, "I love you..." and I just ran to him and kissed his face and grabbed his hand and started telling him what a good job he was doing and how amazing he looked. He was so out of it. My heart felt as if it could take no more, and as he slept I stood over him and just wept silently. It hurt so bad. I couldn't do anything for him when he started vomiting or when he got really angry because they wouldn't let him have any fluids yet. I just held onto that hand and prayed and smiled whenever he looked at me. I figured that if he saw I was okay and not having a mental breakdown, that his recovery would go smoother...
     The hardest part was leaving him. For anything. To pee, to eat, to sleep. I almost camped out right there in the ICU room that first night. But I started having contractions and had to be checked out 1 floor up on the women's center floor. I almost had Jeremiah that night but somehow he decided to wait a few more days. I was bound and determined for Trevor to be there.

To be

The day before the surgery

Journal Entry from October 1st, 2009. <typos included from original entry>

     Last night I learned my sweet love has a brain tumor. I almost want to laugh, writing it, because it seems so ludacris, so surreal, to be happening to us. I was completely devastated. I was confused. Scared. Trevor's eyes were scared and big and I cried into his chest. I couldn't stop kissing him and crying and just repeating, "Oh honey, I love you so much."
     We cried into each others arms for hours, telling each other "By His stripes we are healed" and not allowing each other to think the worst.
     I got about 3 1/2 hours of sleep last night and we had an appointment with neaurosurgeon at 9am this morning. Dr. Abassi. Basically what he told us is that tumor is in the middle of his brain, in the cerebellum, next to the brain stem. It's 2cm big. He said it was serious and recommended emergency surgery. For tomorrow. He said with a surgery like this, there are major risks. Death being the obvious one. So we left the office, and half way down the hall I just broke. In the middle of the hallway I sobbed into my darlings arms, when he should have been the one crying. He's so brave.
     I'm 9 months pregnant and could be spending my last day with Trevor. I have all these emotions and fears and I'm sick, literally sick to my stomach with fear of him dying. I cannot believe he has a brain tumor. A brain tumor. And a part of me knows he's going to die, and a bigger part of me believes he'll make it. But our enemy, the enemy of our very souls puts black thoughts inside my head, and I am constantly trying to subject my mind to Christ. How do I do this? How do I have a baby and care for it while my husband is recovering from brain surgery? How do I face people and the world alone without him? It's all I can do from going crazy. I'm so confused at the Lord. Why? Why this? Why now? Why me again? Haven't I suffered enough?
     Then I realize I have no idea what God is going to do with this, only that He has every one of Trevor's days written down in the Book, and I know, I know there is a divine purpose, even if I do not understand any of it.
      I'm so scared. I'm scared of leaving Trevor's eyes alive and coming back later and seeing nothing. I'm scared of being alone, raising Jeremiah w/out a father, a wonderful perfectly good father who loves this baby more than anything else, after Jesus and me.
     A verse just came to mind...
                  "Perfect love casts out fear."
     What do you say to the absolute love of your life, your soul mate, knowing this could be the last 15 hours you have with him? We were planning on 60+ years, not 1 year. We never dreamed or thought it would happen. I always feared it though. I knew, or "thought" I knew something would happen.
     Oh God please help us! Please please please protect my love. Keep him on earth to glorify you and get closer to you and finish the work you have started in his life. Please give me the courage and strength to face tomorrow.
     He's about to go in for another scan. The surgery is tomorrow @ 9:00am and it'll be 6 hours long. If everything goes "perfectly" he'll be out in a week. Then a couple months of either rehab or treatment to get the rest of it gone. Crystal is driving up by herself (Lord protect her) and Trevor's parents are flying into Omaha then driving (Lord keep them safe.) I've talked to so many people on the phone and all, I'm so exhausted. Running on that little of sleep."

To be

Tuesday, September 28, 2010


     A couple of dear friends from church had found out we were in the ER and came to visit us while we waited for the MRI results. We were laughing and talking and making jokes about the baby being born soon. Then our doctor walked in and said she had the results. I asked if our friends could stay with us and she got a serious look on her face and said, 
     "The results we got are very serious." I saw my friend's faces fall, and my hand immediately flew to my mouth, and tears filled my eyes. The two of them left quickly and I walked over to Trevor and held his hand tighter than I had ever held it,  and we waited for her to continue. 
     "The MRI results show a 2cm mass in Trevor's brain. We do not know what it is or how long it's been there. We contacted neurosurgeon Dr. Abassi and you have an appointment with him at 9:00am tomorrow morning to discuss the specifics." As she is saying all this, I look at Trevor and start crying and cup his face in my hands and just start kissing his face and saying, "oh honey, oh honey, oh honey." He has a look of total shock on his face. I don't think he's fully registering what she is saying. Our lives just completely changed. Forever. 
       She starts talking again. 
       "A nurse will be in to unhook the IV and then you both may go home whenever you are ready."
       "Can we please have a few moments alone?" I asked. I didn't recognize my voice. I felt dizzy. 
       "Please, whenever you are ready, push this button to let us know you are ready. Take your time." And with that she got up and left. 
        We were shocked. We didn't even know what to do. I can honestly say I forgot I was pregnant. All that existed were those results and this man sitting in front of me who I loved more than anything on this earth. Nothing was certain. We had no facts other than there was a mass in his brain. I had no idea what that meant.
        Trevor just held me and said, "It's going to be alright, okay Marybeth? Jesus has got us. Everything is going to be okay. Marybeth look at me, I love you." He was being so strong for me, when he was the one who was just told he had an unidentifiable mass in his brain. We pushed the button and got ready to go home. Then the nurse handed me a piece of paper she had printed off. 
     "If you want to read over this there are some details for you." On the top of the paper it said: Brain Tumors. I stopped. I hadn't even thought the words brain tumor. The only thing I knew about brain tumors was that people died from them. I quickly folded that piece of paper up and stuffed it in my purse. I haven't read the entire thing to this day.
      Trevor drove home and we were in total silence. When we got home we fell on the bed and wept in each other's arms. It was pretty late at night and we knew we had many phone calls to make, but we needed each other's presence desperately in that moment. I started asking him if he felt anything or if he was okay and he finally just had to stop me and say, 
     "Marybeth, I'm the same I was yesterday before we knew I had the brain tumor. I can still do all the things I did before. It's not going to hurt me right now." I knew he was right, but... my love had a brain tumor! How do you handle that? What do you say? What do you do? I was lost. I was scared. Trevor got up and went into the kitchen to grab his Bible. He flipped to Isaiah 53:5. Over and over he read the words: "by his wounds we are healed." He made me repeat it over and over. He said God is still the same. Trust Him. I just cried. 
     I'm not sure how we slept that night, only that after making all those terrible phone calls, we finally fell exhausted into bed. The next morning we got up and headed to the hospital to talk to the neurosurgeon. We had no idea what was coming. 

To be

Sunday, September 26, 2010


     On September 30th, 2009, we were visiting a good friend of ours in the hospital. Actually, the very same friend that was coming into the large amount of money.  He was having cancer removed from his throat, and we went to give him comfort and to just be with him. I was only a little over a week away from my due date, and boy was I feeling it! I was huge! I'm a bit of a shorty, so Jeremiah had nowhere to grow but OUT. Everyone was convinced I was having twins...much to my chagrin. 
     As we walked into his room, I immediately noticed his drainage tube. I had never seen one before and I thought it was gross but manageable. After talking with our friend for a while I noticed Trevor was gone. I didn't really think anything of it. Maybe he went to the bathroom and needed some time. So I just kept talking to our friend and the other friend that had come with us. A while went by and we decided to give our friend some rest. Trevor hadn't come back yet and we were headed to the elevators to see where he was. He walked out of the bathroom right as were entering the lobby. And he looked strange. 
     I asked him if everything was okay, and he said, 
     "Yes, everything's fine. I think seeing _____ drainage tube made me a little queasy. I walked out of the room for some fresh air, felt better, walked back in, then started feeling really bad, so I started walking to the bathroom. Half way down the hall I lost vision in both eyes for about 30 seconds. When I got to the bathroom I waited for my vision to return and just rested." Now, if the love of your life and husband says that to you, and you are 9 months pregnant, what do you think the normal reaction would be? On the inside I about died. On the outside, I about died. I stopped him and looked at him. 
      "Honey, are you sure you are okay?" I was shaking. I had no idea what any of those symptoms meant. He assured me he felt fine now, and we got on the elevator to go home. About a block away from the hospital he said,
     "I've lost feeling in my left hand." 
     I don't really remember a lot after that, only that I was supposed to be on bed rest at home because I was having contractions and Trevor had to go back to work to do Youth Night. I made him promise me he would call me with any more symptoms. He said he would and assured me his feeling had returned. So I went home, poured myself a bowl of rice crispies, and started watching "What Not To Wear." 
     20 minutes later he called.
     "I'm feeling really disoriented and when I reached down to pick up something off the floor, I smacked my head into the table." He was getting a little nervous now, because he was in martial arts and his balance and coordination was amazing. This really threw him off. I started getting really worried by now, but said, 
     "One more symptom and you call me and we are going to the ER." I knew all the symptoms he had already had probably weren't bad enough for an ER doctor to check us out very seriously. I figured, one more different symptom and we are definitely ER worthy. I tried very hard not to panic, and forced myself back to my Rice Crispies and television show. I tried not to look at my phone every 3 seconds waiting for it to ring. And then it rang. And my heart stopped. 
     "Honey, I lost vision in my left peripheral. I'm really nervous." 
     I said, "Be ready in 2 minutes. I will be there to pick you up and we are going to the ER." He tried arguing with me about it, and through angry tears I reminded him that I was 9 months pregnant and this seemed really serious and I would rather it not be something terribly wrong and us not do anything about it. He consented. 
      So they dressed Trevor in a white gown and hooked him up to an IV. 3 different nurses and 2 doctors came in over 2 hours, making Trevor re-tell his story. Finally, our "official" doctor came in, and sat down. She had a clip-board in her hand and a smile on her face. 
     "Basically what you guys are describing is very common. It's called a vagal response. It happened when Trevor saw the blood and all the symptoms following this episode are normal." I let out my breath and smiled at Trevor, then smiled at the nurse who was giving me very good news. I knew Trevor would be "just thrilled" with the fact that we spent 3 hours in the ER and all they told us was that he got squeamish at the sight of blood. But then she went on. 
     "One of the symptoms that you had does concern us a little. The loss of peripheral vision in your left eye. We want to run a MRI on the brain to make sure there is nothing going on up there." We said alright and she left. Trevor immediately said, 
     "MRI's are really expensive, Marybeth." I shook my head and said, 
     "I would rather pay all that money to find out there is nothing wrong, than to have not payed it and there had been something very serious wrong." He said, "I know, you are right." Then we waited for the results. 

To be


            The morning after we were wed, we packed up a car that had JUST been donated to us from a local church (Praise the Lord!) and drove to Sioux Falls, SD. In a week we were to become the official Youth Pastors at The Salvation Army. Trevor had just graduated high school in May of 2008 , and neither of us had any training, whatsoever. I was freaking out. The entirety of the youth consisted of young girls, and I was to be their mentor/friend/teacher. What a huge responsibility! But, we were promised training, free rent, and a steady salary during the entire 3-5 year contract, so we drove there with smiles and faith that God would work out all the "little" details.
                The first few months were really hard for me. New town, new people, no friends or family. It was looking eerily similar to my first semester at college. Change is hard for me. Especially when that change was something you were told nothing about. Let me explain.
                 I guess there was a (huge)mix-up in communication prior to us accepting the position. We were promised training, and were counting on that fact to survive. One of the hardest things for me to deal with was that when we got there, we were quite literally thrown into our positions blind, filling spots that we weren't getting the training for. I suffered emotionally and spiritually for months. I was confused, and afraid to stand up and ask where our training was. Things didn't get taken care of and I am partially to blame for that. Trevor and I felt like were slowly sinking into quick sand from the get-go, which is a stressful and awful place to be. We weren't able to give those girls the leading and teaching they so desperately were seeking and needing, and for that I am so sad. We could have done so much more for those youth.
                 4 months into the position I found out I was pregnant with our first child. I was 2 weeks along and we were thrilled. 2 months after were married I had run out of the birth control I was on and we couldn't afford more, so we just decided that we wanted a family. We were married, and that's what's happens when two people get married. They have babies. :) 
                 Trevor took it hard. He was excited, but heck, he was just 19! He had just graduated high school and now it was really happening! I was beyond excited. I think I spent no less than 5 hours a day looking up pregnancy related items on the internet. I took pictures every single month and had the nursery ready for little Jeremiah at least 3 months prior to his birth. We had two baby showers and were SO blessed by both. We talked for hours about being parents and me being a stay at home mom. I read books on breastfeeding (I felt VERY strongly about breastfeeding) and we had tons of cloth diapers stacked up, ready to cover that beautiful little baby bottom. We. Were. Ready. 
                 Around this time Trevor and I made one of the biggest mistakes of our young marriage. We sold the car we had gotten for free and took out a loan for a brand new car. We were convinced we needed a bigger car. We were also convinced that a friend of ours was coming into a lot of money, and had promised us that he would buy the car for us, any day now. We sold our free car before he had gotten his money. We picked out the car of our dreams before he got his money. We put money down on the car before he got his money, AND we finally took out the loan for the car....before he got his money. You may now roll your eyes in disgust at the terrible naivety of our actions. 
                  Meanwhile, we were living large. With no bills and a great, steady income coming in, we were throwing money left and right. Trevor was in Martial Arts where he was just flourishing. He came to me and told me he found his life dream. He wanted to open up his own Christian Marital Arts center. He was good, I mean, he was really good. If anyone would be able to pull it off, he could. He brought trophies home every month, and was advancing in his belts at an amazing rate. There was even talk about his instructor hiring him on as a head instructor one day. He loved Martial Arts, and I wanted to be a good wife so I encouraged him at every turn. I can remember talking one day and tears filling his eyes when he thought about something happening that took Martial Arts away for good...
               This all took place one month before Jeremiah was born.
The nursery
At our first baby shower, June 2009

Trevor trying to decide how to change a diaper for the very first time in his life
As you can see in the background, everyone was SO interested in this haha

At our second baby shower on Sept 1st, 2009

Trevor after a belt ceremony

To be


        So I went to Hong Kong and realized where my true feelings lie. Where they had always lain. With Trevor.
        The following months were hard. We wanted to start completely over and have a godly relationship, but neither of us knew what that looked like. So we remained friends.
         I wish I could spare you this next part friends...but it's a vital part to our love story. I write with a heavy heart, remembering the pain and anguish I alone caused so many people.
         During my second semester I made the biggest mistake of my entire life. I gave my virginity to a guy on campus that I cared nothing about. It was the same night Trevor and I had decided we were in love and were going to wait to be together till God told us it was time. Are you confused? I obviously was. I'm not going to sit here and blame my past on my choices. I made a conscious decision, fully aware of what I was doing, and I was able to make the decision to stop. I loved Trevor more than anything; we were soul mates. But in a moment of sheer selfishness and immaturity I ruined myself for my future husband.
         I know there is forgiveness and Jesus makes you whole and new, and in my marriage now we were able to experience restoration and newness in the marriage bed...but you cannot undo that one single act. The memory remains forever. Thinking back on it all now, I'm still so confused as to why I went that far. I cannot tell you why. Only that it was the biggest mistake of my life.
        But...In those hours afterwards, I felt for the first time why a sinner needs a savior. I had always come to God before this thinking I deserved His grace, His love, His relationship (how could I ever have been so prideful!) all because of the abuse and loss I had suffered as a child. But in those early morning hours as I lay sobbing, barely able to breathe, I turned to Him for the first time seeking salvation from death. I turned Him desiring to be washed clean, and I knew Him well enough to know that even if I didn't deserve it (oh how I didn't deserve it!) He would lovingly and tenderly draw me back into His arms and purify me clean as snow.
          Thinking of telling Trevor, though, was another matter entirely. He was coming up in a week with my sister for a visit, and I knew I had to tell him face to face. I couldn't see the pain on God's face during and after my sin, couldn't hear the sadness in His voice. But Trevor would be sitting right there in front of me as I spoke the words out loud. It was like a knife turning slowly in gut every day I waited for him to show up. I was torn between joy at seeing him for the first time in 4 months, and the excruciating pain of knowing it might be the last.
            Sitting on that couch finally facing him was so hard...I just cried, not knowing how to say it. I wanted to spare this man the pain coming, this man who had done nothing but love me with all his heart from the very beginning. I finally stopped crying, took a deep breath, hung my head and whispered, "I had sex with ____." I sat there, knowing he was being ripped apart, knowing his anger with me was rising, knowing he was thinking of a million harsh words to throw at me, then he would be out the door and I would be left alone. It was what I deserved.
              He squeezed my hand and simply said, "I love you."
              Time stood still. I couldn't breathe. I broke down sobbing as he reached out to me and actually hugged me. All he kept saying was, "It's okay, I forgive you. I love you." The forgiveness and love I had not been able to actually see and feel as I knelt before God showed itself tangibly in those moments after I confessed my worst sin. Trevor felt an unconditional love for me in that moment, he said, a love that didn't come from him. It was supernatural and from nowhere inside of his heart. But it was genuine and so, so healing. For both of us.
               From that moment I was his girl. That December we were engaged to be married (he proposed!) and 9 months later were standing before everyone we loved and cared about, declaring our love and promising our faithfulness to each other. I became Mrs. Marybeth Thielke, and I was presented as a beautiful, wholly restored, pure bride to my husband on my wedding day. Praise the Lord!

To be