Tuesday, January 29, 2013

My brain tumor says hello

          It all started in my grandfathers front yard.  I think it was August of  '12 and my wife and I had just finished setting up a simple spinkler system in Grandpa's yard.  In the dusk hours of the day I walked around the corner and was hit square in the chest with a cold stream of water from one of the sprinklers.  Instantly my legs felt weak and I fell to the ground where I felt really confused and my right arm was jerking and twitching, banging my knuckles into the concrete.  I yelled for my wife and Grandpa to call 911 as I believed I was having a heart attack (which would be rare for a 25 year old).
 The episode only lasted for 30 seconds or so and then let up.  I stood up, ran through a quick checklist of my body's functions, felt my pulse, and decided I was ok.

       Over a month went by without another blip.  Then one morning I got out of bed and the right half of my body felt very odd.  I coundn't put it into words, all I knew is that it just wasnt right.  This lasted all day and then the next day it was gone.   Being raised in a conservative farming family it usually takes an act of Congress to get one of us men to go to the doctor so I just brushed this weird day off as stress.  However; I started having what I called focal seizures where my right leg would get weak and my right arm would curl up and jerk.  these seizures would only last for 30 seconds or so and then they would go away.  I would never loose consiousness but I would feel very tired afterwards.  Finally I relented and decided to see our local doctor.

      When I say "local doctor" I mean literally local.  I live in an extremely rural community.  The nearest Wal-Mart is an hour away, about 60 miles.  There are 2 doctors for the entire town, actually the entire county. Where my town is the largest town in the county with roughly 2000 people.  The other two towns have 400 people and 43 people. 

     Anyways,  I told the doctor (the one who delivered me 25 years ago) my symptoms and he quickly ordered a CT scan of my brain.  I walked over to the hospital (across the street from my house) and got the scan and then I sat in the waiting room.   As time passed it seemed like something was amiss because usually a nurse will come and get you and then ask about your grandma and your parents and your dog, because everyone in the entire town knows each other.  But this time was different,  I sat in the waiting room for an extended period of time.  Not until later did I realize that the doc was waiting to finish up with the other patients in order to speak with me.  I walked into his office where he sat in front of a computer moniter with the scans of a brain on it.

     I do not have a medical degree but it didnt take one to see that there was something wrong with that brain on the screen.  The last few feet I had to walk to the chair seemed very long.  I sat down in the chair and looked at the black spot that was in the left side of the brain on the screen.  I knew the brain was mine, it just hadnt sunk in yet.  The doctor simply said "there is a mass" and I could feel my eyes brimming with tears and I felt kinda faint. I asked the doc if it was cancer and he said he didnt think so, it didnt look dense enough to be a brain tumor,  he showed me a scan of a brain tumor and I must admit it looked nothing like mine.  To my relief he told me that it was probably a cyst and I could have it removed and then  move on.  I walked back to my house and the words choked out the words to my wife "they found a mass" and I felt fear like I have never experienced it before.  I desperately believed my doctor but i was scared of other, scarier, possibilities.  my doctor wanted me to drive to another town to get an mri (we have only a portable unit that only comes one day a week, not that day) for a second opinion.   A few days later the results of the mri came in and it was confirmed, a cyst, no signs of aggression no big deal.  My doctor referred me to a neurosurgeon in Wichita for a second opinion.  My wife and I have rental property in Wichita and her family is there so we just decided to make a small trip out of it since it is about a 5 hour drive.  His interpertaion of my mri wasnt as relieving as the others.  His assistant called me on our son's 2nd birthday while driving to Toys R Us to get him some gifts, to give me the news.  The results from the neuro were a low grade tumor in the left parietal lobe but he was unable to tell if it was malignant or benign.  It was a rough day to have as a second birthday for our son.

1 comment:

  1. Glad to see you decided to document your experiences. Looks like you're off to a good start. :)