Recently my writing friend Michelle, asked me a harmless question. “What’s happening with your memoir?” Unprepared, I choked out a lame response. Even though she graciously affirmed my babble, our exchange sent me on a quest.
It feels like I’m on a mysterious scavenger hunt and not exactly sure what I’m looking for or when I’ll find it. In my angst, the Lord gifts me with a sense of His presence, His sufficient grace. We’re on this adventure together, He assures me. Let’s keep walking.
As most of you know, I started my blog over two years ago to practice my writing. Someday, I hope to write a book focused on God’s faithfulness while walking through a deep dark valley. If your generous encouragement is any indication, God has blessed my blog effort.
Any successful writer will agree, a book project demands teachability, rejection and perseverance. Oh yeah, AND no expectation to make any money. Yikes. That’s enticing, don’t you think? Sign me up.
While on this scavenger hunt my mind has latched onto the question, why write?
In the midst of my muddled confusion I spontaneously attended my first ever writers conference. Delivered over zoom, it was easy to justify with no travel expense and a rich resource of recorded workshops to revisit. I have much more content to wade through, but so far I’ve been both inspired and humbled. The most exciting and intimidating step was a one on one zoom meeting with a real literary agent, Andy McGuire. On my computer screen, our session’s countdown clock obtrusively appeared under his chin. With 22 seconds left he said,“I’ll leave you with one question. Why? Why write, why a memoir, why this memoir? Blank screen. Zoom session ends. Abruptly.
Don’t you hate that? You get a strong nudge that you think is from the Lord and then blank screen. Silence. Loss of signal. No clarity.
I’ve learned that this writing gig is no different than life. It’s about the journey, not the destination. I’m still on this scavenger hunt and I’m confident I’ll learn a million lessons along the way. But while praying and searching, I’m reminded that my primary focus is obedience to Him. One baby step at a time. Answering the why question sufficiently may take a lifetime. This adventure is not about me producing a book. It’s about the Lord’s work in me to the end He determines.
Proverbs 16:9 In their hearts humans plan their course, but the Lord establishes their steps.
Putting a toe in the water
Who knows what if anything will come of this. But Andy thinks YOU… my current blog audience, are the ideal readers to offer quality feedback.
Would you indulge me for this first baby step?
My memoir idea covers a slice of condensed time after Ian’s car accident, while many of you were praying. But, before that devastating blow, Ian sustained a lifetime of blows, and his complex medical history is critical to his story. I’ve wrestled with how to incorporate that context. Here it is in the form of a Prologue. Thank you for taking the time to read this first draft and baby step beginning. What do you think?
There it was in black and white– the Educational Diagnostic Evaluation report, the suggested road map for Ian’s future. It didn’t sound treacherous. As Ian’s mother, I had a front-row seat during every single solitary bit of Ian’s complicated medical history. But still, reading it in its comprehensive full glory took my breath away.
Ian Douglas Hucke has a history of multiple brain bleeds resulting from congenital cavernous hemangiomas.
October 1998 – 18 months old, first diagnosed as result of brainstem bleed
- Presented as cooler right side, foot and leg
- CHOP Philadelphia, Dr. Karin Beirbrauer.
- Due to its dangerous brainstem location, no surgery.
- Effect — slight residual right-sided weakness, ocular damage, strong vision prescription needed.
October 2000 — 4 years old, also on the brain stem, larger bleed
- Presented as right eye locked in corner, exaggerated limp, and right sided weakness.
- Dr. Michael Scott, Harvard Medical Center Children’s Hospital.
- High risk surgery attempted, but unsuccessful.
- Effect – residual right-sided weakness, eye surgery to straighten eyes, stronger prescription.
October 2014 – 18 years old. New hemangioma in left hemisphere.
- Presented as periodic seizures, often undetectable
- Dr. Howard Yonas, UNM Hospital.
- Required surgical removal of a left hemisphere large, cavernoma.
- Effect — increased right sided weakness, foot drop and fine motor degradation, peripheral blindness.
May 2017 – 21 years old. New hemangioma in left parietal region.
- Presented as depression, lethargy, visual impairment.
- Dr. Chohan and Dr. Rex Jung, UNM Hospital.
- An awake craniotomy removed a left parietal cavernoma.
- Effect — No new cognitive or motor deficits.
August 16, 2017 – 21 years old, six weeks after previous surgery. Ian was hit by a car while crossing the street.
- Presented as severe traumatic brain injury, shattered skull, crushed pelvis, fractured femur, broken shoulder, collapsed lungs, unconscious and in shock.
- Severe damage to the left frontal lobe from left-sided intracranial hemorrhage and left subdural hemorrhage resulting in left-right midline shift as well as left and frontal and temporal lobe contusions.
- UNM Hospital Trauma ICU emergency craniectomy removed a large section of skull to relieve pressure.
- Induced coma status for six weeks.
- EKMO lung bypass 9 days.
- October 2017 – Air transported to Craig Hospital in Denver for acute brain injury rehabilitation.
- November 2017 – Crainioplasty, surgery to reattach man-made skull implant.
- This TBI injury and other injuries has produced significant changes in Ian’s physical and cognitive functioning.
If you’ve managed to get through the historical highlights from the report, you will surmise that Ian, at 22 had endured five brain bleeds taking a cumulative toll, with five major brain surgeries. Unexpectedly, he survived a six-week coma. His rare congenital condition behaves unpredictably and future bleeds are possible.
As clinically sterile as words can be, the report was detailed and thorough. One hit would have buried most, but this included each of Ian’s hits — hit after hit after hit with no end in sight. His young life would proceed based upon the recommendations in the document.
It made sense to me now. Why it took Ian’s clinician, a gifted encourager, so long to send. And why she made sure to caution me not to show it to Ian. This could take the wind out of the most buoyant sail.
As I read through the entire report, almost detached from present reality, I wondered how the family of this young man, MY FAMILY, could even lift their heads in the morning? How could Ian, my spirited, handsome ginger, possibly bounce back again? How could I, Ian’s mother, carry on with cavernous hemangioma uncertainty as the only promise to Ian’s future?
The report was comprehensive and full of medical details. But the report was only that… information. It did not include all truth. Data comes at us to tell us what we are dealing with. Truth comes from God and helps us to process what we are dealing with. While the report provided necessary data, I have access to the truth that transcends it. This report is not the definer of Ian’s future. Scripture is the truth we stand on.
After wading through the 14 pages, I stood up, indignant. “But you don’t know us,” I shouted to the wind! “You don’t know Ian. We are still standing, vibrant and full of life, and with an unexplainable joy.”
I pressed the thick report to my chest and looked up. “God, YOU have the final say. You are the author of this story. It’s because of You that we are still standing as a living testimony to your perfect plan. It makes no sense to me, but I trust You. And as I’ve claimed over and over and over, this is Your fight. You’ve Got This.” God’s Got This.
Our family has endured much. But we stand firm. We proudly wear the scars of suffering and THIS is our survival story. I can’t wait for you to read it. It’s a story of perseverance, grace, joy and miraculous never-ending hope. And it’s not over. This can be your story, too.
To God be the Glory.
Imagine that you don’t know me or Ian’s story. After reading the prologue, would you want to read this book?
A lot of this history is tedious but important. What could I cut to make it more succinct without losing essential content. Does the bulleted format help?
Does knowing Ian’s medical history add to what you know of Ian’s story?
While on this scavenger hunt, I am grateful for any clues.
Deb, yes, I would read your book. I think your format summing up your journey is a great way to start. You have a natural rhythm to your writing that is honest and inspiring. Wishing you the best as you move forward with your book.
Thank you Carlotta.
I like the bullet points. It’s very succinct and pulls us on to Ian’s and your family’s story. I would certainly want to read it. I have a medical background and like the details, so I may not be the best critic, but I can be the best encourager!
Yay Margie, At this point “best encouragers” are so appreciated. Thank you.
Karen Shope says
I would’ve liked you to include your daughter somewhere. I’m sure this impacted her also. Most of the medical terminology was over my head but I can relate to child who was born with something “you” can’t fix.
Very valid point. I plan to highlight Becca on the dedication page. She sacrificed alot without having much choice. I don’t think it’s all that important to understand the particulars of the medical terminology. I think the reader can get the gist of the severity when you read the results. I appreciate your input.
Anne kole says
Ian’s history is overwhelming, even though I was aware of most of it. The bullets do help.
And as a prologue it definitely compels me to read what you will say next. I want to know more about how your family lives with joy. People everywhere have struggles, tragedies, and challenges. Your story is a human story and a God story. I think reading it will give a lot of people hope and perseverance. Hopefully drawing them to the Lord if all!
Go for it Debbie!
Thank you Anne! Ultimately we live with joy. But much of the content will be trudging through it all with perseverance and constant hope while leaning on the Body of Christ. It is real, for sure.
Betsy Everett says
Debbie I’m glad you are finally “taking the baby steps” to start your book! I am confident it will be one that inspires people in their own faith journey. I would suggest that the prologue include a bit of personal info; You and Doug’s marriage, your two children, and what started your writing journey- FB posts to a blog and why.
Perhaps it might make more sense to see the above info in the first chapter?
God Bless you!
Helpful input Betsy. Thanks.
Ginger Horner says
Good morning, Debbie,
Without a doubt I would read your book! Your prologue was compelling from the beginning and all I could think of was –I want more.
I know the detail will come but I love the way you started with the bullet points. Intriguing way to start a book. Love it!
Your writing is always truthful, heart wrenching at times, and always real.
Go for it! I am in your corner.
Thanks for being in my corner. I feel it and appreciate it. Thank you Ginger.
Geraldine Dempsey says
Absolutely, Especially if you include the blogs with the quotes from CS Lewis and others as well as the Biblical references. Now I will give you a quote from a famous psychiatrist.”Life is difficult” from The Road Less Traveled. We all relate to your family even though our problems are different, the very way that you place your hands in God’s is what is remarkable. When many turn to alcohol, drugs, and agony, you turn your face towards Jesus. May god bless your every step in the writing of this book.
Aww thank you Gerry.
Pam Haycraft says
Debbie, I remember from Banquet talks long ago that Ian had health challenges–I had no idea the extent or the long-term implications. In reading the prologue, you’ve given me enough information to help me understand but also to draw me in. Your writing style reminds me of one of my heroes in the faith, Corrie Ten Boom–she tells her story with alarming honesty. You tell the truth even if it leaves you looking like a “schmuck”–it’s so endearing!!! Please continue with this story–I can’t wait to read it!
Wow what a high compliment. Scmuck writing… I’ll take it. 🙂 I remember being in the same room with you at my first ever GB as a guest. My bed next to yours… you were my hero in the faith before I knew the freedom of His grace. God is good.
Betty Hekman says
I really enjoy medical topics, so this really drew me in. The bullet points make the whole history very clear and succinct. I like Betsy’s idea of including a bit more of your family information and maybe a hint of how well he is doing in spite of all this. Since your aim is to talk about God’s faithfulness while going through the dark valley, it wouldn’t give away the end I’d the story. I love the honesty of your writing. It helps us in dealing with our own difficult circumstances.
Thanks Betty. I like that idea of adding a bit of how well he is doing now. I’ll probably include some artwork so the reader will know it isn’t all dark.
Yes, I would read this book as an inspiration —-I find there is always someone whose issues or life problems are so much more than our own. We forget to feel grateful and look to God as our focus until we read it in a story. I realize the medical history is long but agree that it is necessary to understand your trials and ability to stand firm as you put it.
Spelling correction, cranioplasty. If I am not mistaken, the EKMO should be ECMO? I know that is picky.
So appreciate your picky recommendations. I was actually just incorporating the spelling from the report. But never thought to check their spelling. And I agree. Gratitude is the ideal antidote to any woes. Thanks Kerry.
Nancy J Bartlett says
I find your/Ian’s story riveting….I like the bullet points and it organizes his history. As a nurse, I find myself reading it, saying “oh my goodness” to myself. Know Ian and you, and your faith in God, the theme of your book will no doubt be moving forward, with hope, in the face of significant challenges. As a side note, Dr. Yonus operated on my son a month earlier. He is very skilled and well-trained. He was the Chief of Neurosurgery at that time. It is comforting to know that someone with his ability operated on our sons. I wish you the best! Your writing draws in the reader!
Dr Yonas will get a whole chapter. He was a gifted doctor but also an exceptional human being. FYI he has retired and moved to NC I believe. I had his personal cell phone #. And when I used it… he was glad I did. Thanks Nancy.
It’s a perfect way to begin, a good orientation. Yes, I want to read more. Ian’s story is meant to be told, and God has blessed you with the talent and remarkable insight and self-awareness to do it. It will be a blessed journey.
Thanks Dorma. I appreciate your “trained” voice for writing. Your encouragement carries weight. THANK YOU.
Julie Spadin says
I enjoyed your prologue and would read your book. It struck me that although you are writing this as your memoir, it is, it some way, also Ian’s. To find joy in the midst of all you have traveled through and still cling to Christ is a journey worth telling.
You are indeed right. It will be from MY perspective but much of it involves him. I have gotten his permission. And will incorporate some of his artwork in hopes to benefit him ultimately. Good to hear from you, another mother of an Ian. 🙂
Emmy Browning says
Yes. Keep it going. Having been in the medical I appreciated every little piece of his history. Can’t go on without it. Need it for where you are going. Will definitely read. Hurry up and finish it. 😃
Ha. No pressure! Thank you Emmy.
Debra Harbaugh says
What can I say? I read all of the responses and they have given you great feedback. As you know I used to work with brain injury patients. Ian has God on his side and has made a remarkable recovery. I know it will be a fantastic book which I would like to buy a copy for my collection. Now get busy and write the book!
Joan Schrock says
Debbie, You have “hooked” the reader with your prologue and it certainly makes me want to read your story. God has gifted you with the incredible talent of writing in such a way that is clear, to the point, and inspirational. Please continue to write this story – I would love to buy your book as I am sure many other will too. Think of how God is using you and Ian’s life’s story to reach untold numbers of people with words of hope and inspiration!
As a person with no medical background – I had to look up certain words (ie brain bleed, cavernoma) to get the meaning. If there is a way you could put a brief description so that a non-medical person such as myself could understand without having to look up the meanings. It’s just a thought – but regardless – I am so very interested in this story.
I hope this helps. Thank you again for your weekly blog – it truly has been so helpful to me especially during these difficult times. God Bless You!!!
Thank you Joan. Kind and helpful input.
Allison Jeran says
Your bullet points were helpful to someone like me who is very clinical. It clearly outlined the timeline of Ian’s story. To some may seem unemotional, but I found myself in tears. The simplicity of the bullet points were powerful! I look forward to reading your book. I know it will be inspirational for me and my family who go through struggles of our own…
Allison… that was the impact I was going for. I kind of wanted it to be clinical and sterile and unemotional so readers could draw their own conclusion. I appreciate you chiming in!
Diane Newswander says
Debbie I would certainly read your book after that prologue you produced. I love the way you write. It is always thought provoking and captivating ! I like the bullet format. It helps break it down for the medical journey you have been on since Ian was born. I would not cut any of that. I am excited you are going for a book and always thought you should. Your story and journey may give other families faith and hope. Keep going Debbie! I can hardly wait to read the completed project! God bless you!
Thanks for your input Diane. Stay tuned. 🙂
Marilyn Lehning says
Again, thank you, was moved to tears. God has gifted you with writing ability, you are using your utmost for His highest, reminds me of Oswald Chambers, my favorite daily devotion!
Not a critic, using some of Ian’s art would be a blessing. Inspirational, as always, love and hugs!
So kind Marilyn. I do plan to incorporate Ian’s art. Love and hugs to you!
Yes, yes, yes! Your story—God’s story in your family’s life, needs to be written and shared! It is a book that addresses so many issues all Christians face…pain, suffering, doubt, fear, faith, trust, and the truth and hope that only God can provide. I would not only read it but I would share it with others who are struggling with the brokenness of this earthly life. Blessings and God-speed on your journey.
Thank you Laura. Your enthusiasm is a kick in the pants. God Bless you.
Karen S says
Hi Debbie – Your prologue is so well done! It would definitely pull me into the book. The bullet points are perfect for outlining and making clear Ian’s history. Definitions? Maybe, but separate, perhaps on a different page, so as not to disrupt the flow of events. More compelling for me, however, are the paragraphs that follow where you share your raw, emotional reaction to reading the report. Wow. That really tugged my heart and made me want to read more. I agree with the desire to know more information about your family and how this all affected (affects) each of you – just not here as it seems it might distract. But very soon – maybe in Chapter 1. Also-so good-the difference between “data” and “truth.” That caused me pause and thought. What a great start to your book. Go! Go! Go! God’s got this too! Hugs!!
Yes… the desire to know my family from many of the comments has been heard. I will take that on immediately in Chapter 1. I also plan to dedicate the book to Becca who often gets lost in the shuffle. I wrestled with the detail of the medical stuff and decided I want people to conclude it’s grave, even if they don’t understand the particulars. Thanks Karen. The data /truth idea came at me during a pandemic. Imagine that?
I loved the Prologue! I knew of some of Ian’s medical background, but not all of it. I found it was very helpful to have the all the history. Wow, just reading this makes my heart ache for all of you. I know there are other moms out there that will be able to relate to your story and feel like they have someone who understands what struggles and pain they that might also be going through. I think the thing that stands out the most about you is your unquenchable trust in God. Thank you for sharing.
Good to hear from you Kimberly. Thank you.
Annette Rohrbeck says
I’m a bit biased- I would read anything a “Roeshot” wrote! Good luck!
Awww thanks Mrs Rohrbeck. Grateful you’ve always been in our corner.
Ditto – I’m a bit biased -I’ll read anything you write. I’m a reader not a writer. Your intro leaves me greatly anticipating the final product. Seems like you already have God’s direction, so get cracking. (and, I mean that in the nicest way possible).
Ha! Now that was a kick in the pants. I mean that in the best way possible. 🙂
This has been in your heart for a long time – it is an incredible story that God has gifted you with the ability to write. I will go full force ahead! God has planted this seed and will give you the wisdom and the strength to see it through….your story will bless and encourage many 😊
Thank you Cinda. God Bless You. Debbie