Four days later, the
MRI confirmed that I had a
serious brain tumor. This
news came on the eve of
a planned fight to Dallas
where I would welcome my
new grandson the next day,
so I refused to let the
notion of having my head
sliced open fully sink in. I
had other priorities, like holding
that precious baby and continuing to
make improvements in my life after a
series of reversals and challenges.
The tumor was quite large, wrapping itself around my facial nerves and
nearing my brainstem, which meant it
was far too complicated for the doctors
in Traverse City. I was sent to a specialist in Detroit for a pre-op appointment
in mid-April 2015. The surgeon
described the lingering complications I
would experience, including permanent
deafness on one side. When he said he
could operate in early July, I said, “No!
At first, I’m sure he thought I was
distressed about the ordeal I was facing.
Practically on my knees, with clasped
hands, I begged, “You have to operate
sooner than that. I have to go to the
NSA convention in July!” In a minor
miracle, the doctor managed to bump
up the date to May 1.
In the meantime, the big challenge
was funding my goal, the cross-country
trip I soon dubbed “Nancy Vogl’s
Bureau Tour.” While I’m generally creative at problem solving, we had to first
find a reliable mini-motor home. But
how? Our modest savings—originally
earmarked for a house—would not be
nearly enough for the vehicle I imagined, based on a countrywide search of
what was available.
After two weeks of looking, Dave
found a 20-year-old,19-foot van on his
computer. “Oh, that looks nice,” I said,
“but it’s too old!” He boasted, “Yeah,
but it has only 33,000 miles on it, and
look at the price and where it’s
located.” No kidding, it was the same
amount of money we had in our sav-
ings, and it was located only five miles
away. Once again, my visualization
brought us another small miracle. Now,
the trip was truly a reality—once the
brain surgery was out of the way.
Friends tell me if they heard the
words “brain” and “surgery” in the
same sentence, they would freak out.
But, in all honesty, I had only three
concerns about the procedure: Would
they have to shave my entire head?
Would I have to use a bedpan? And, as
a light sleeper, would I have to share a
hospital room? I was told no on all
three counts, much to my relief.
You may be wondering how I could
put a bureau tour at the foreground of
my consciousness, while a serious surgery loomed in my future. As there
have been enough substantive challenges and setbacks in my life, I really
did take it in stride, knowing I would
somehow get through it, often using
laughter as a tool.
My usual optimism was interrupted by a
frightening post-surgical episode that
lasted three days. With paranoid schizophrenia and mental illness running in
my family, one of my biggest fears in life
happened as a result of the surgery.
Halfway through the nine-hour procedure on a Friday, I started to wake up.
The anesthesiologist put me back under,
but overdosed me. After the surgery, I
awoke in a severe state of paranoia and
was totally out of control. Thinking
everyone in the hospital was
plotting to kill me, with Dave
as the ringleader, I yanked out
my catheter and IV with blood
spurting everywhere, scream-
ing and scrambling out of bed.
Because of my repeated out-
bursts, my wrists were tied to
the bed rails, like a prisoner, for
48 hours. This not only intensi-
fied my fears, but also brought
back painful flashbacks of abuse from
many years ago. I wailed continuously
in between injections of knock out
drugs. It was a horrific experience, but
fortunately, much of the anesthesia
aftermath worked its way out of my sys-
tem over the next two days.
By Monday morning, with my head
bandaged like Carmen Miranda (sans
the fruit), I was lucid enough to ask for
my laptop and phone. In the habit of
doing business whenever and wherever,
an email requesting NSA member
Sherene McHenry, PhD, for a speaking
engagement prompted me to make sure
no one was in the room. I cleared my
throat, put on my best acting voice,
made a phone call and took care of
business. This affirmed: If I can book a
speaker from a hospital bed with rails,
a call button and a morphine drip, I can
book a speaker from a van!
I spent the summer recovering,
working from home, creating a new
website, and setting intentions for earn-
ing enough income to acquire the things
needed for the trip and bankroll our
travel. And, true to my vision, I attended
Influence 2015 in Washington, D.C.
Somehow it all came together, one
incident at a time, including a surprise
Amazon gift card that funded “The Lou
Heckler Oven.” I was also gifted an
“extra” commission from another NSA
member after booking him. My brand
name may be all over my trailer, but
it was Jeffrey Hayzlett, CPAE, who
helped make it possible. I also received
Van and trailer in the redwoods of