Monday, November 21, 2005

I Have a Brain Tumor

It's okay - probably/hopefully - but I have a brain "abnormality" that the neurologist believes is most likely a tumor. Saw it myself as clear as can be on the MRI films. (Guess what? MRI is much more sensitive than a C-T scan, which is why the C-T scan in the ER came back normal. Lesson for the day.)

It's a little more than half the size of my eyeball, in the temporal lobe (which explains the sensations I have been experiencing during seizures). The EEG showed definite seizure activity in the brain, most probably caused by this "abnormality".

Next steps - I have an appointment with a very highly recommended neurosurgeon on Wednesday morning. Although he normally takes months to get into, my neurologist worked his magical influence to get me an appointment before Thanksgiving. He said this is so I can have time to make plans over the holidays, and not because of any urgency relating to the condition. (Trying really hard to believe that...) The neurosurgeon will likely schedule surgery to biopsy (and hopefully just go ahead and remove) the tumor, and we'll see where we go from there. I am still digesting this news, which is somewhat overwhelming, and while I am understandably emotional and feeling quite violated by the presence of this foreign growth in my head, here are some things that are reassuring to me:

1. Based on its appearance, I am told that it is likely to be a "primary" growth, meaning that it probably started in the brain instead of having spread to the brain from some other cancerous source. They may still want to do an organ scan on me, but it's not a major concern at this point.
2. As a rule, tumors in the brain tend to stay in the brain, so at this time there is not a concern that this will quickly spread somewhere else.
3. The location of the abnormality is surgically accessible. The neurologist confirmed this without hesitation.

All in all, the information I have right now makes me think that this is probably (hopefully) not life-threatening, but it is serious and needs to be taken care of. So we are taking care of it. Once the tumor is gone, I will still likely need to stay on antiseizure medication for the rest of my life, which is not my favorite news, as the medication makes me really tired. The doctor said it may get better as my body gets used to it, and we may play with different dosages to help make it more tolerable. But the temporal lobe of the brain is more epileptogenic (vocabulary word of the day) than other parts, and so will likely continue to be seizure prone despite removing the tumor.

So, naturally, after going through all this information, the next very important question I had for the doctor was whether I should keep my haircut and highlight appointment for tomorrow afternoon, or whether it would be a waste of money if I am having my head shaved soon anyway. (We all know our priorities, right?) He said that the way they will probably do it, they won't likely shave me completely bald, so I think I am safe in keeping my appointment!

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