Tag Archives: Hospital

**The Road To 27** Post 5 of 7 – Health

I know health is an awkward thing to reflect on the week of your birthday, but hey, it’s something that’s important to me!

From the second I was conceived, I battled and fought to have a healthy life. When my mom was in her last trimester, doctors could see that something “wasn’t right” with me. In the eighties, technology wasn’t as advanced as it is now, so basically all they could do was speculate.

On the day of my birth, it was discovered that I had a massive brain tumor that prevented a large portion of my skull from forming. To make things even more perplexing, I was the first case in US history to have a brain tumor connected to ANOTHER arachnoid cyst, which rested in my throat. Doctors were flown in from overseas and it was predicted that IF I survived the first day or so, I would be nothing more than a common vegetable. After not being able to even HOLD me after I was birthed, those doctors sat there and told my parents (as I lie in the UNC Chapel Hill Hospital NICU) that I would never walk, I would never learn to speak, and that I would never to be able to do anything more than stare up as they faced a lifetime of changing, feeding, and cleaning me. Can you IMAGINE how that felt?!

Needless to say, I’m here typing this blog, so OBVIOUSLY God had much better plans for me! I am so thankful for praying parents and family!

As I grew, I was in and out of the hospital for check ups, maintenance, and a few other minor things (given the enormity of my first diagnosis) — but other than a few tussles with asthma, I was as good as gold!

One thing always rested heavily on my mind though….would I be healthy enough to ever have my OWN children?


If you have met me over the past 10 years, you would probably think of me as a head strong, determined, career oriented, “I can do bad all by myself” type person. The truth is, that’s not at all who I am. My number one goal/desire in life (and always have been) was to be a wife and mother (emphasis on the mother part). I am still striving daily to advance in life and excel in a career that makes me happy, but it doesn’t take the place of family. To be honest, I am totally find with being a housewife and working from home if it means I can spend more time with my future kids. One issue with that according to my neonatal surgeons…. is that the shunt doctors wired throughout my body runs through the entire length of my torso — thus on paper, make it risky to carry a baby.

Let me stop right here and say that though I’ve battled suppressing these negative thoughts throughout life, I have learned to lean on God in faith through Jesus Christ my Savior who made it possible for me to even come to God’s majestic throne and ASK for a miracle. So whatever God’s will for my life is, I believe wholeheartedly, that it will include me being a mother SOME WAY, some how. Ok…now back to the reflection…

Toxic thoughts began to knock at the doors of my mind at an early age saying “Who is going to marry someone who needs so much medical care?” and “What man will want a woman who can’t bare children?” and “If you want someone, you’ll have to settle.”, and “You might as well just cope with being single forever, because it isn’t medically possible or safe for you to have your own children.” — the lies continued on and on.

Up until my first year out of college, I was able to keep thinking positive as I rose above those negative thoughts and denied them access into my psyche. But after a brief bout will illness in 2011, these thoughts exploded back onto the scene with a vengeance. I would literally sit in my room and cry….just cry. All those terrible “doctor’s predictions” came knocking louder as anger tried to rest in my heart as I witnessed these hoodrat chicks (just being real here folks) and TODDLERS pop out babies they didn’t take care of or didn’t even really want. I even found myself getting upset at some of my friends who’d had babies out of wedlock — because here they were venting to me about the struggles of having a child, when I would GLADLY take on that struggle if it meant being a wife and a mother. (those feelings are now gone by the way)

It’s taken some years, but now — here upon year 27 — I’m on the path to continued healthy living! Emotionally and physically. I am trying to keep my weight down…I’m adopting new exercise plans…and I’m focusing on healthy eating. I have now resolved those emotional issues that once plagued me (and work at it daily), I haven’t had any serious health problems (and I don’t plan to) and most importantly, I realize that whatever man I marry will have to accept me for my past, where I am in my present, and be willing to create a future together with me — however and whenever we are blessed with our children.  ❤


Photo shot and edited by Rich Griffis (www.richgriffis.com)

[photo by Rich Griffis ]


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Let’s All Donate To Help Ava’s Recovery (from brain surgery)

Growing up I never met anyone like me.

Baby Joc at birth after surgery

Baby Joc at birth after surgery

The only other kids I knew that went to the hospital as much as I did were the ones I saw in the pamphlets on the coffee table while I waited to go in for yet another CT Scan/MRI. I was never allowed to go gymnastics. I wasn’t allowed to do half of the stuff other kids my age did because I had a shunt. 

At birth I had a rare form of hydrocephalus in combination with 2 unconnected arachnoid cysts in my brain. There were times growing up that I wondered if I would live to ever reach adulthood. Even now, God constantly gives me hope when thoughts of not being able to birth my own children come to my mind. I know I’m a miracle because each day I’ve been alive was another day I wasn’t supposed to be here. It is another day that I’m supposed to be cooped up in a hospital bed in a vegetative state. 

About 4 years ago, one of my college friends changed my ‘feeling of aloneness’ when she revealed that one of her twins had Dandy Walker Syndrome and had a shunt as well.

Little Ava

Little Ava

Though I’ve never had the pleasure of meeting little Ava in person, I instantly felt a connection to her (yes even though Facebook). She will have to face challenges of her own, but if she’s anything like her mom, she will succeed beyond everyone’s expectations. She has a mother and father who love her and two sisters and more family who will undoubtedly have her back as well. God and family are important for a child living with a shunt because they will be able to give love and support on even the worst of days. 

Well unfortunately, one of Ava’s worst days has come sooner than later. Over the past month or so, she has had to have emergency surgery to revise her shunt due to a malfunction. For those who don’t know, a shunt is a device placed in your cranium that is triggered to drain any fluid that may build up in your brain. Ever heard of ‘water on the brain’? Yeah, well if too much pressure is created….your brain can suffocate and you could die. So now you understand how much of a miracle Ava is since she has survived not one, but two close calls! 

While Ava’s progress and very breath is miracle enough, her parents (who are my age) are now faced with the trail that every parent who has a little miracle must go through ….paying for treatment. 

Support Ava! Donate ANYTHING to help!

Support Ava! Donate ANYTHING to help!

Through God’s grace touching the hospital staff and even strangers, my parents were able to pay back the hundreds of thousands of dollars it took to for me to have my surgeries and receive treatment. Now it’s OUR turn to help bless Ava’s parents; Fred and Demetria Wilson. 

Here’s what I’d like you to do….



…and pledge ANYTHING you can. Right now Ava receives physical therapy, occupational therapy, and speech therapy 2-3 times a week. With this most recent hospitalization, her recovery will require a tracheotomy and a feeding tube. Once Ava is stable enough to leave the hospital she will attend an inpatient rehab facility in Charlotte, NC or Atlanta, GA – which will cost her parents MORE money. 

You will only be charged the amount you pledge and nothing more. So if you can only donate $10…then only $10 will come out. Any amount will help. I know my family and I will donate because we know all too well the impact being/having a child requiring consistent hospital care can have on your life. 

Ava, her twin sister Mya, and little sister Zoe

Ava, her twin sister Mya, and little sister Zoe

Whether you are of the Christian faith or not, just know that your life will be touched in a very special way when you invest in the life of this glowing, and very special little girl. 

Since I AM of the Christian faith and know that we are all here to be a blessing to each other, I’m reminded of what Matthew 25:40 says… ‘Truly, I say to you, as you did it to one of the least of these my brothers,you did it to me.’ (ESV)



– Joc

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