In May, comedy writer, director and producer Jeannie Gaffigan opened up to PEOPLE about the scary discovery that she had a tumor the size of an apple wrapped around her brain stem. Gaffigan – who is married to comedian and actor Jim Gaffigan – underwent a nine-hour surgery on April 18 to have the tumor removed.
Though successful, Gaffigan’s road to recovery hasn’t been easy: she battled aspiration pneumonia before returning home and was left unable to swallow due to throat paralysis, leading to the placement of a feeding tube and tracheotomy.
Now, three months later, Gaffigan is sharing her progress and renewed verve for life.
It’s now three months since the brain surgery. Recovery has been long and slow, and patience is not one of my virtues, but not a minute goes by when I am not counting my blessings.
In a way, it is a shame that it takes a near-death experience for us to appreciate all the little things that we take for granted in our lives. I have spent the past month surrounded by my friends and family who flew to my side in my darkest and scariest hours.
Now that the tracheotomy is removed, I find my hand moving to my throat several times a day in disbelief that I can now breathe without the aid of an oxygen tank. The surgery left my throat temporarily paralyzed and swallowing is a nearly impossible feat.
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I still have the food peg in my stomach but in the past few weeks I have gone from eating nothing by mouth for fear of aspiration (and a reoccurrence of the double lung pneumonia that kept me in the ICU for two weeks), to being able to have small amounts of water, to nectar thick liquid, and now finally purees! By the way, you can puree almost anything – and I have.
As my cranial nerves start to come back to life, I have found a new appreciation for everything. Every moment is a gift from God.
My love for my [five children] which seemed boundless before has multiplied a thousand fold as has my love for Jim. The marriage vow “in sickness and in health” became more than just words, and I am inspired every day by the strength and courage of the man who held everything together through this hurricane brought on by the brain tumor.
RELATED VIDEO: Jim & Jeannie Gaffigan Open Up About Her Life-Changing Brain Tumor Diagnosis & Operation
I dodged a bullet and my life will never be the same. Don’t wait for the hurricane to hang on to your family and friends and to find the blessings and the glory in every detail. Do it now.
- Reporting by LINDSAY KIMBLE