Mary’s Story

Site created on January 11, 2020

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My story begins on August 2nd 2019 with me sitting in Rick’s wrecked BMW on the inside shoulder of I29 near St Joseph Missouri. I was shaking from nerves, covered in tiny shards of glass and even had glass fragments in my mouth! Thirty minutes prior to that I had dropped Rick off at a car dealership in Kansas City where he was signing papers on a vehicle that was replacing the one I was sitting in. Since I knew he would be a while I decided to head back to Omaha rather than wait it out in KC. Now, I’m not at all comfortable driving on the interstate and especially driving a vehicle I’ve never driven before, nonetheless I felt I was doing pretty well keeping up with the traffic and even passing a few slower cars. Just then I see the spare tire break loose from a camper just ahead of me and watched it bounce 20 or so feet in the air. As the tire headed right toward me I only had time to say the words “please God let it miss me”, before it crashed down on my roof at 70 MPH!

Even though I couldn’t see out the windshield, was covered in glass, and had parts of the sunroof hanging down around me, I managed with the help of God to get the vehicle safely pulled off the road as traffic continued to fly by. I called 911 and even though I didn’t know exactly where I was the first responders managed to find me and I was taken by rescue squad to the ER in St. Joseph. I was checked over thoroughly and the nurses even used adhesive tape to assist in removing the tiny shards of glass covering my face and arms. Other than a few cuts and bruises caused from things flying around the interior of the vehicle, I was told that I appeared to be okay and that I could expect to be quite sore for some time.

Rick picked me up from the ER and we headed back to Omaha first stopping to see the wrecked vehicle which was in an impound lot in Mound City. We both were amazed at the damage to the vehicle and thanked God that I was relatively unhurt considering the speeds that were involved and the potential for things to have been much worse. We finally made it home and after several showers I managed to get the glass off of me. Then I figured it would just be several days of soreness and taking some meds for pain. Or so I thought…

One week later I noticed some tingling in my right arm and a strange bruise that had formed on one of my fingers. The bruise wrapped around the finger and it looked like I was wearing a ring. I called my doctor and tried to get in to see her but there weren’t any openings so she suggested I go to the ER to have it looked at. Prior to heading there my PT trained son Nico came over and did some arm manipulations which relieved the tingling and the bruise appeared to be going away. I decided to have it checked out anyway, so off to the ER I went.

The ER doctor ordered a CAT scan and when he stopped by with the results said, “I have some good news and some bad news”. After a pause he continued, “Your arm is okay but you have a brain tumor.” I was in shock and disbelief to say the least and sat there stunned while he drew some pictures on the whiteboard of my brain and my tumor. He ended it by telling me that he had already spoken to a neurosurgeon and I could get in to see him in a day or two. On the way home from the ER I decided that the only way to deal with this at the moment was to stop by Dunkin’ Donuts and console myself with a couple of donuts. And yes it helped a little.

I won’t bore you with all of the details of my doctor appointments, but I will say that I was told that although the tumor is considered large (over an inch in diameter) it is benign and that it may have been growing for ten years or more. Since the tumor is located in the frontal lobe, removing it will unfortunately result in me losing my sense of smell and taste, nonetheless I am grateful because it could be a lot worse. Even though I am symptomless, after visiting with Doctor Surdell at UNMC we decided that it needed to come out sooner rather than later. Since making that decision I have heard many glowing reports about Dr. Surdell and I’m grateful to have found him.

I want to thank my family and friends for all the love and prayers during this difficult time. Your support has helped me to stay strong and think positive. Hugs and kisses to all of you. 

My surgery is scheduled for Wednesday January 15th, so stay tuned!

Newest Update

Journal entry by Rick Koziol

Hello to my Dear Family and Friends, this update is from me: 

I start this off with a big “Thank You” to Gianna and Rick for keeping everyone informed.  Many of you have commented on the wonderful job they did, and I truly agree.  I am very grateful!

Next, I apologize for the big gap between updates.  As you are aware, my dad passed away within a couple weeks after my surgery.  It has been a very rough and emotional month as I was healing from major surgery and grieving the loss of my dad. 

My Recovery: 

I was in the hospital for 9 days and after about a week the doctors kept telling me that healthy people need to leave the hospital which was very encouraging considering I felt like I was hit by a bus.  The last couple of days there were spent working with PT and building up my confidence that I was able to go home and be OKAY.  When I returned home my days consisted of long naps and walking around the living room with a walker for exercise.  I hired a CNA to assist with showers and hair washing.  I am happy to announce that I nap on occasion, am doing daily exercises and no longer need CNA assistance.

I had an eye appointment last week with the neuro ophthalmologist who conducted several tests and took pictures of my optic nerve.  I received wonderful news, no damage to the optic nerve or surrounding nerves.  Kudos again to Dr. Surdell and his medical team of experts. 

Currently I am feeling good.  The sharp head pains have subsided to a few headaches every now and then. The top of my head remains  numb while the front of my head near the incision is still tender.  It seriously feels like I have a brick on my head; I can’t wait for this feeling to go away.  My right hand trembles sporadically throughout the day which is from the anesthesia, but this will go away within time.  I am finally off the anti-seizure medication which is awesome news because I was experiencing some of the awful side effects of it.  As for my hair, it has grown about a quarter of an inch, yay, it’s a start!  

Last but certainly not least, I cannot express how thankful I am to have you all in my life.  I am so very grateful for the thoughts, prayers, well wishes, cards, masses, gifts, visits, food, etc., that you have graciously blessed me with.  I am truly honored and blessed to be surrounded by your friendship and love. 

I feel that because of your prayers God's healing hands are helping me to a healthy recovery.  

Hugs and kisses, 



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