Friday, August 24, 2007

Beginnings - Should I Laugh or Cry?

The time had come. It was Friday around lunch time and I was driving home to pick up my husband so we could go to see the neurosurgeon for the first time. I was nervous, I'll admit it. I really had no idea what I would be told when we were in that room. I think the following journal entry that I wrote says it best:

Realm of the Unknown

Well, it's been about 36 hours now since I was told that I have a brain tumor. I think I've probably experienced every emotion known to man during that time except fear. For some reason that has just never crossed my mind yet. Although I'm sure it will before it is over. I don't have a lot of information still on the tumor but from what I have been able to gather, there are worse tumors out there but it has its own challenges. Depending on size, the tumor can be removed but this type of tumor tends to return. I am guessing this won't be an option for me since they stressed that it was a large tumor. This probably means that it's something I've had for a very long time. The problem with large tumors is it is nearly impossible to remove it all without causing brain damage and they tend to return in the malignant form. This is just all things I've put together nothing official but it's what I've been able to find. I'm not really sure what all this means yet but gathering things together I see odds somewhere between 6 months and 15 years depending on various variables. Don't worry, I don't plan on going anywhere any time soon and I've proven many times that I like to go against the odds so don't worry about me until I have something official. I will give everyone a warning though that if there are a bunch of really weird posts from me in the forums, it's probably that I'm having some emotional times and I apologize if I end up short with anyone or anything along those lines. I should have some answers in less than 24 hours so I'll let you all know what I find. *Huggles*

I think the whole tone of that entry said exactly how I was feeling as I drove home that night. However, being the person I am, I never wavered and we trekked to the doctor's office. I sat and filled out the book that they required concerning symptoms and other health issues. I'm sure I forgot things on it but my mind wasn't exactly on filling out paperwork. Unfortunately, it didn't take me long enough because it seemed like hours waiting for them to finally call us back to a room and even more hours before the doctor came in. (I think it was only about 30 minutes but it seemed like a lot longer than that.)

When the doctor came in he asked how I was doing and the only thing I could think of was "Like I just got hit by a freight train." He smiled and sat down beside me. He asked questions about possible symptoms including headaches, weaknesses in my left side, dizziness, etc. I answered as honestly as I could. Yes I used to get headaches but I cut down on the caffeine and they went away. I'm right handed but my left is a normal non-dominant side. Only dizziness I usually experience is caused from either getting up to quickly or a rapid change in my body temperature... He acknowledged that none of those things were related and put me through a series of tests to see if there were any "hidden" symptoms that none of my other doctors had seen. When he was through, he pushed his chair back and gave a slight smile.

"I believe you have a Grade One Glioma that has probably been there since you were very little and you are probably 30 years from finding it if not for the MRI."

Those were really the only words that needed to sink in. My mind quickly raced to the things I'd read and I was nearly relieved to tears. Of anything he could have told me, this was the best I could hope for. I did ask him what my prognosis was sitting as I was with no symptoms. He really couldn't give me an answer. Without a biopsy nothing could be said for certain therefore no prognosis could be made. At this time, although within my limits, I was agreeable to the biopsy. This would later change but that's for another entry.

He asked me if I had seen the MRI scans and I acknowledged that I had not. He took me in to another room and I was able to see for the first time the tumor that was present in my head. The approximate location is if you put your left finger in the middle of your forehead and slide it just to the right of your nose and then put your right finger just above and behind your temple (just in front of your ear), where the two fingers meet is where the tumor is located. It is approximately 3 cm by 2 cm in size and has very defined borders. (This is a good thing) An area the size of a softball was a lighter shade of dark and he told me this was swelling that was present. (I didn't realize at the time but I did later that this was the area my GP was seeing and thought it was tumor.)

He said because of my young age, the fact I have no symptoms, and its location very near the motor strip; he felt our best current plan was to do the biopsy, then watch it for signs of further problems. If the biopsy showed otherwise, we could come up with a more definitive plan following that.

We then spoke a bit about the biopsy: overnight stay in the hospital, general anesthesia but we can attempt it with local, at least a week off work, small burr hole, etc. After discussing the biopsy, although not real comfortable with it yet, I agreed we could look into it following harvest. My husband works on farm machinery, it is his busy season, this was not a good time for surgery. He agreed as long as if I had any symptoms of left side numbness, weakness, headaches, or seizures I notified him immediately and agreed to immediately do a biopsy. It made me relax even more knowing this wasn't something that HAD to be done NOW.

We had discussed everything my stressed brain could think of at the moment so we headed for home. As I was walking out of the office the look of relief on my face had to be apparent. I was so relieved I was having difficulty breathing because my body was confused on whether it should laugh, cry, or scream. I was absolutely shaking. I think I handled the bad news that I had a brain tumor better than I did the good news. At least I was ABLE to react to the news about the tumor. I truly felt at this point that if there was such a thing as a good brain tumor, I had it.

Although I knew we were far from through this thing, I at least had hope that this was not going to interfere with my life quite as much as I had originally thought.

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