In 1998, as a 65 yo, Dot was diagnosed with a brain tumour - a meningioma in the middle of her brain.
This is a benign tumour which doesn't spread so has a different outcome to malignant tumours.
She had three neurosurgeries for the tumour which reduced its size but didn't remove it entirely.
The first was simply to relieve pressure on the brain.
The second was to go from the top of her head through to the centre of her brain.
The third was to try to remove the remaining piece of tumour by going from the back of her head to the centre of her brain again.
To the end of her life, there remained a small part of it attached to an artery in her brain.
MRI showing the part of the tumour still remaining as at 2008
In the 11 years since her neurosurgeries, she experienced a gradual loss of all living skills to the point in 2008 where she was unable to speak, comprehend, walk far, feed, bath, dress, swat a fly or even turn over or get up from a chair but she was still alive. Her mind and body had given up but her spirit was alive, well and inspirational.
Her own parents and siblings had remained at home until the end of their lives.
She had cared for her terminally ill brother in her own home so logically, she may have expected the same care for herself.
Up until mid 2007, her life was routine. Her symptoms defined her .. the brain tumour symptoms were the focus of everyone's life .. having to solve each new symptom. Her life as we knew it had ended and this was a whole new person with no memory of the past or people around her. All simple tasks that we assume adults can do became challenges for her.
The major problem became finding her when she became lost. All it would take was to turn away from her in a shopping centre and she would walk off or if the gate was left open, she would walk out. Thanks to the quick response by police, taxi and bus drivers and sometimes strangers, she was always found by kind people.
There is no real strategy in place to assist the many, many people who have Dementia, Austism, Alzheimers or Brain Injuries when they become lost. Eventually I had a standardised checklist of people I'd call and always found her with hours.
I'd even phone the bus companies and taxis in the areas she'd gone missing describing what she was wearing in case they saw her on the street. One time she had wandered away and after hours was found at a totally surprising location. Literally at the point someone stopped to help her was one street over from where I lived but she had walked kilometres to get to that point. The coincidence was uncanny.
Doreen Powers of America advised of a programme in the States -" PROJECT LIFESAVER ".
At the time Dot was wandering, the technology wasn't available in Australia. It may have been instituted in some places now.
Response time in finding lost people is rapid and would have been an enormous help in locating her.
Citizens enrolled in Project Lifesaver wear a small LoJack® SafetyNet™ personal transmitter around the wrist or ankle that emits an individualized tracking signal. If an enrolled client goes missing, the caregiver notifies their local Project Lifesaver agency, and a trained emergency team responds to the wanderer's area. Most who wander are found within a few miles from home, and search times have been reduced from hours and days to minutes. Recovery times for PLI clients average 30 minutes -- 95% less time than standard operations.
Dot in hospital after neurosurgery
PROBLEMS ENCOUNTERED WITH DIMINISHED BRAIN FUNCTION
Being aware of expiry date of food in fridge,
not knowing how to make a cup of tea or a sandwich,
loss of understanding,
not being able to say if she had any health problems,
not knowing to hang up the phone after a phone call,
leaving the garden hose running,
not knowing how to bath herself,
not following a set course of eating meals i.e. dessert before say Weet Bix
Other issues that are common to brain tumour patients :
1. In Dot's case, there was a long period of telling the same stories over and over again.
2. Another issue was phoning everyone and being angry. It's not something that the patient can control.
The hard part is that the person hearing the abuse takes it personally and doesn't often get over it.
Many people I've spoken to who have relatives with brain illnesses say the same thing
It is often so hard to deal with that the family walks away from the person.
3. There was a period where she had lost the sense of diplomacy and would say things out loud about a person's appearance.
4. Sometimes lost sense of propriety .. wouldn't realise she should have clothes on.
These were all stages she went through until she reached a place of perfect peace.
In reading about Dot's adventures, it is important to be aware that we didn't get to the place of having all the fun and adventures without encountering all the above obstacles along the way.
It was a long road to get to this time of adventures but it was all worth it.
Along the way, you learn
about medical conditions,
how important the brain is (that we take for granted),
empathy for those people who have worse neurological conditions
(a young boy had come off a trail bike and had total loss of brain capacity;
a young mother came out of surgery with loss of motor control; several died);
creative problem solving;
- how important a minute / an hour / a day can be
but most of all how many beautiful people there are in the world who will help -
some being total strangers. Angels come in all sorts of disguises.
Had we given up when the going got tough, we would have missed all the wonder of these adventures.
MIND ~ BODY ~ SPIRIT
The greatest lesson I learnt was that if a person is no longer their body (Dot was a 34 kg skeleton)
nor their mind (Dot had no capacity for conversation or speech) then what was the element I was dealing with.
The answer was plain and simple - "her spirit".
That energy inside us that is like the battery in a mechanical toy. Without the battery, there is no activity.
Without a spirit, there is no life.
Dot's tumour was located on her pineal gland and that is the area associated with "The Third Eye".
Extract from article by : Dr Jill Ammon-Wexler
Our mysterious “third eye” was pondered by mystics through the ages, and has long been believed to be
the source of a higher “inner vision.”
You may be surprised to learn that such a “third eye” actually does exist.
It’s a tiny gland in your brain – the pineal gland. The pineal gland is located in the exact geometric center of your brain.
Your pineal gland is about the size of a pea, and sits in a tiny cave behind and above the pituitary gland.
It is located directly behind your eyes, and is attached to your brain’s third ventricle.
And yes, it’s real!
The true function of this mysterious gland has long been contemplated by philosophers and spiritual adepts.
The ancient Greeks believed the pineal gland was our connection to the “Realms of Thought.”
The great philosopher Descartes called it the “Seat of the Soul.”
The pineal gland has many characteristics of your exterior eyes, including a lens.
It contains a complete map of the visual field of the eyes. It is activated by light, and controls your body’s various natural biorhythms. The pineal works in direct harmony with your hypothalamus gland – the director of thirst, hunger, sexual desire, and the biological clock controlling your aging process.
The pineal gland secretes melanin when you are relaxed and visualizing, and also responds to electromagnetic energy.
At certain brainwave frequencies such as deep Theta, a sense of our ego boundary often vanishes.
Our consciousness is then less concerned with our “physical” state.
According to many ancient traditions, this is when our “third eye” begins to exhibit special powers.
Ancient Beliefs about the Pineal Gland
Many native traditions, ancient mystical practices and mystery schools
refer to the ability of being aware of energy fields at higher levels.
This level of awareness is different from our normal level of consciousness,
which tends to be mostly concerned with our self-identity.
Although the actual physical presence of the pineal gland was not confirmed until recent times,
mystical traditions and esoteric schools have long felt this
area of the brain to be the connecting link to alternate realities and higher levels of consciousness.
According to ancient traditions, when the pineal gland “awakens,” one feels an unusual pressure at the base of their brain. When activated, the pineal gland is said to become a direct line into higher states of consciousness.
By the time Dot had lost her living skills, she was totally angelic, smiling and peaceful all the time.
She radiated an aura of total innocence, trusting and connectedness.
She shared my bedroom for the last 8 months of her life and for the times when we were doing the adventures,
she would wake me every morning around 3 am with the most beautiful, tinkling, musical, soft laugh I have ever heard.
Again at sunrise, there would be the same laughter.
It was as if she was communicating with a different realm.
Oftentimes she would raise her hands towards the ceiling as well.
Any stranger who met her instantly felt the same peaceful feeling of well being as you do when in the presence of
dolphins. For me, it was a 24/7 experience of that feeling.
I would joke with her at night, after I'd tucked her hands under the sheet not to bring them out because sometimes the nights
were cool. Next morning, I'd roll over to see her hands above the sheets and she'd look at me and laugh gently.
In saying that she was connected to higher consciousness, that is said having observed how she was,
what happened around her, synchronisities, miracles and higher levels of living. There are so many examples,
I am compiling them into a book as they are so uplifting to remember and proof for me over and over again that she had the power to create reality from thought.
To see her from that point of view meant that I wasn't distressed by the deterioration in her body ..
that is natural. All our interactions were at a "spirit" level .. and as the spirit is invisible in life, so it is in death.
But what remained is that same connection to the "thought" of the person.