Bender Middlekauff

First post: Mar 19, 2020 Latest post: Oct 16, 2020
On Sunday, March 8th, I experienced what was initially believed to be an unprovoked seizure while watching TV alongside my long-time best friend and roommate, Hunter G. Thankfully, he took control of the situation immediately and was able get the paramedics there as soon as possible. Later that night, I was transported to Baptist Beaches Hospital where I was met by family and friends. The nurses, staff, and doctors alike took exceptional care of me during this stressful time. I stayed under their care over the next few days while they ran tests including a CT Scan and MRI. This time in the hospital was also critical for my body to recover from the excruciating soreness from the seizure.  

For some context, there was an incident back in 2009 where I suffered a TBI (traumatic brain injury) from a dirt biking accident. Admittedly, my family, myself, and even the doctors at Baptist initially believed these occurrences were linked in an effort to explain a seemingly random event. However, we soon found out this was not the case. While I was impatiently waiting to be dispatched from the hospital on Tuesday, March 10th to return to my normal simple life, the day took a dramatic turn. The doctor informed me that this seizure was in fact provoked. It was provoked by a brain tumor made visible in the MRI. To paraphrase, he went on to explain that there is a brain mass that contains some calcification and is suggestive of a low-grade glioma possibly an Oligodendroglioma. He felt that it was unrelated to the dirt bike accident in 2009. However, with this discovery, there is no way to confirm exactly what type of brain tumor it is until a physical biopsy can be taken, which will occur in the middle of the surgery. During this moment in time, I have never felt so uncomfortable in my entire life. My mind started to race and my heart rate immediately escalated "Did he really just say I have a brain tumor? Am I seriously going to have to get brain surgery? Can this be real?" In that very instance of time, this diagnosis would change my life forever. Not only would this dramatically affect me, but also everyone around me (family, friends, coworkers, etc). So, how does one begin to process this information and take next steps? 

*Enter the support group!!* Immediately after sharing the news of this discovery, Carlton (my sister), Sam (my brother), and Crawford (my godmother) came stampeding into town. They helped me and my parents in any and every way they could from picking up food, shuttling me to appointments, the occasional back and head scratch, packing up my stuff, and providing general words of encouragement, comfort, and motivation. Right now I am supported by my loving family, Grandparents, cousins, Godparents, my old babysitter, our Beach Boys Bible Study group, pastors, DKE fraternity brothers, Brasfield & Gorrie mentors and coworkers, high school friends, past girlfriends, my parent's friends, my friend's parents, members of the community, St. Mark's Episcopal Day School, our neighbors, friends of friends, and the list goes on. They have kept my spirits high and faith strong. But it's not just the support I am currently receiving that I am thankful for, it extends to the people that I do not stay in touch these days like my high school and elementary school teachers, my sport and life coaches, Church of the Highlands friends, etc. have all played an important role in preparing me for this exact moment. 

These wonderful people that I mentioned above have served as continuous streams of support that have been essential for my development and growth as a friend, a man, and a Christian. To transition into my next verbal tangent let me say, I do not believe in coincidences. It is not a coincidence that my friends and I talked about starting a Bible Study Group in Jax Beach for the entire summer and then finally mustered up the courage to have our first meeting three weeks before I was admitted into the hospital. Similarly, it is not a coincidence that our group leader David B. recommended the Book of Psalms to be the criteria for our Beach Boys Bible Study Group titled "Lifting HIS Name" (Shout out to Josh and Bennett for the O.G. Lifting HIS Name pioneers). As a matter of fact, it is not a coincidence that God planted this tumor on my frontal lobe. I am now certain of the fact that this is all part of God's plan. It is abundantly clear that I like the tree in Psalms 1:3 has been purposefully "planted" on this earth by the hand of God to which he has surrounded me with wonderful and righteous people to prepare me for this journey. I do not know when I will be prepared to yield fruit from this arduous journey, but I can feel the endless opportunities for prosperity through this. Just like Psalm 1 being the beginning and artfully chosen as the first of many books, so my journey as a believer continues. 

Psalms 1:3 
"He is like a tree planted 
by streams of water 
that yields its fruit in its season,
and its leaf does not wither.
In all that he does, he prospers"

Thankfully my city of Jacksonville, FL is home to some of the best neurosurgeons in the world. After several follow-up meetings and consultations with these specialized doctors, it has been determined that, without a doubt, surgery is necessary. The operation is scheduled for Thursday, March 26th and will likely be an awake craniotomy.

For my family and friends reading this: 
Thank you for caring and supporting my family during this difficult time. I am asking for your prayers during the decision-making process and execution of this operation. Please pray first for my family to bring them comfort, support, acceptance, stillness, and peace. Please pray for the doctors to exhibit confidence during the operation, clairvoyance during times of complications, and steady hands to work effectively under duress. Please pray for the world to unite and conquer the uncertainties behind COVID 19 and to alleviate the stresses of this situation across the globe. Shout out to all my prayer warriors in advance!

My intentions for this page is to serve as a streamlined form of communication with anyone and everyone interested in my progress. I am beyond blessed to have so many supportive family members and friends that generally and sincerely care about me. Much love and appreciation to everyone.

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