While this blog originally started as a travel blog almost 5 years ago, as of Friday, we are taking a trip to a place which is beyond what I ever imagined seeing.
Where & how?
Vanity pays off, don’t underestimate it. In an effort to obtain some fashionable Warby Parker new glasses, I went to get a fresh prescription. I signed up for some “new” imaging test for 3D that lets you get better pictures, for extra $35 dollars. Turns out my optical nerve behind my eyes was swollen a bit. A nerve I never even heard of and thought of – and given my age, flawless medical history and no symptoms – not too much to worry about – but the doctor wanted me to get blood work and offered to get me to a neuro ophtalmologist (did you know that was a specialty?). Week later, I am there learning that the doctor is my neighbor I’ve never seen around and that both of my optical nerves are swollen actually – a situation a bit more concerning. Anyway, still nothing specific and referral to MRI. And so far, all the doctors are Indian – the least surprising thing of all – this is a little poke on my neverending jokes with my Indian friends who are 90% doctors – the only profession that really counts 🙂 They nod their head with smirky smile as they read it.
Friday – Dec 1
I have only seen the MRI machines on Grey’s anatomy – you know those rolling tubes where the doctors talk to you while they stare at colorful pictures of your organs. My thinking was – hey I will lie down, take a nap, they snap a few pictures, I am out in a few minutes and feel like a Grey’s anatomy superstar. Not so much. The prep was like a course for entering a space shuttle – don’t move, here are your ear plugs as it will be loud, an emergency button if you need to come out urgently, a cover over your face as if you were to step out on a moon – oh and you will be in it for 2 hours!?! What? 2 hours in this thing? How many pictures are you taking? And Grey’s anatomy is so misleading – it never takes more than 20 seconds?! 🙂 Yes, go TV expertise. And my claustrophobia was triggered, just like that.
I made it through but lots of breathing, a few take outs to re-compose, no nap unless you can nap while your neighbors are drilling into the walls for 2 hours. Thought that was it, wait for your doctor to receive the radiology report and call you in a few days. Not quite, this is where it takes a whole different spin.
The initial impact
The technician Melissa who was fabulous asks me to wait as my neuro ophtalmologist (whom I have met 2 days ago) will call me right in here, right now. OK, folks, that is not how American healthcare works in my book. I knew right then this was not going to be normal turn of events.
Here is the news: the technician saw a mass in the back of my brain, called radiologist to look at it real time on the screen, radiologist calls the doctor. Doctor calls me and delivers this – there is a sizeable mass on your brain and we are sending ambulance for you that will take you to a hospital right now, you can’t drive. I can’t quite describe what was going through my mind. Holy shit – what? I was here for a picture to get my new glasses. I have stuff to do, kids at home, dinner to go to, life ahead of me. Brain tumor? I have no symptoms, I am healthy, I can think, I am 43. Of course – the more realistic part of me flashes the brain tumor stories from People magazine, TV and how they end up not so good (for some reason I read the Beau Biden story a few days ago – similar age, rather quick, cancerous) Lots of stuff flashing ahead of me. Called Brian to meet me at the hospital who I am sure didn’t expect a call like this – noone does.
Two medics show up in ambulance, with stretchers – this is getting more surreal. I am fine, I have no symptoms, no pain. Yes, I have had headaches in the past month – but anyone who knows me knows that I am a queen of headaches – have had them since I was 6 and learned how to treat them. Vision was a bit blurrier, hence the glasses prescription.
ER – sick people everywhere, in hallways. They are apparently overbooked and in diversion. No movie superstars walking by, go figure. Got a room quickly though and the doctor/staff are fantastic (the speed of action is not reassuring here as I am sensing the emergency). Blood tests, CT scan, hooked up to IV – my gosh – what is going on here? Waiting for the neuro-surgeon consult (do you notice my medical jargon here?). I have a mixed feeling of excitement to get some real data/facts as to what is in my brain – and a minor suspicion and disappointment that this won’t quite be the McDreamy moment I imagined. Not at all.
What is going on?
Dr. Chandler, my neuro surgeon (did I ever want my own?) comes in – great bed side manners, calm, confident. Brain specialist. Brian is with me at this time so we are hanging on his words. Here is what he says: you have a large sized tumor in the brain lining (not the brain), so sort of that shell the brain swims in. It is a few inches big and you need a surgery. There is some swelling so we need to keep you here until the surgery – reduce it and monitor seizures. The size is beginning to put pressures on your brain, hence your headaches, blurry vision. We don’t know what is inside, pathology will tell us after surgery but 90% of the meningiomas (the expert name) which we think this is (and month later we know it is not) – are non cancerous. We will do CT scan to see if there aren’t any other tumors that this would be a by-product of (results – there aren’t any)
So basically, the thing is growing in the purple shell and it it is slowly growing so pressuring the brain – apparently months, if not years!
Update as of January 2018: It is growing into the purple thing but actually started in the pink, so it is not meningioma – glioma instead.
Here is what I hear: A few inches? how the hell can something few inches big live in my brain unnoticed and with no symptoms? Surgery, yes, get it out of me. Not in the brain but outside – sounds like good news. Fully operable – good news. 90% noncancerous is a great number in my analytical mind. OK, I am officially over the initial shock and dealing with real data. Gosh, and I will have more pictures and scans of my body now so at least I will know I am pretty clean after this.
Surgery is on Tuesday, hanging out in the hospital until then – bored out of my mind – a bit tired as an array of hospital people walking through for blood, IV, seizure meds, swelling meds, dining, regular doctors, blood thinner shots…..in the middle of the night, so scattered sleep. Now I feel sick + everyone asking me how I feel and wishing me to feel better. Am I in denial or crazy? I feel fine but clearly a few inches of alien matter in my brain is not fine. Some psychosomatic symptoms definitely here as now I know what should be the symptoms so probably overthinking any funky feeling 🙂
Stay tuned…. I have my computer here, wifi, phone – so will be binge watching some shows (taking recommendations as can’t take more Bridezillas or news on disastrous tax bill that just cut out 13 million people out of insurance for instances like this), write my blog, sleep … at least until Tuesday. And then, let’s see where it takes us.