...and a new vocabulary word: "Cranie". As in, "She's going in for a cranie." (What the nurse said to the hospital when scheduling the surgery.) It's short for craniotomy. Cranio = the brain, and tomy = to cut. They will cut my brain. Ew. Ow.
Monday, December 12 is the date of my surgery. BARELY the 12th - I have to be there at 5:30 a.m., so it's practically still Sunday the 11th. Surgery is at 7:30. And we go forward from there. It gives me some time to try and wrap up work projects, home projects, Christmas preparations, etc., and yet gives me enough recovery time to be basically functional in time for Christmas Day.
Today's comments about my prognosis: if benign, I could live "decades and decades". If malignant, more like about 5-10 years for a lower category; 1-5 years for a higher category.
I also learned today that recurrence of the tumor is more of a matter of WHEN than an IF. I will have routine MRI scans to check for regrowth. Depending on whether it is malignant or not, it could be every few months or up to every six months. FOR-EVVVV-ER.
I also learned that I will get fat over the holidays (not that I wouldn't have anyway). They will put me on steroids for a week post-op, and he admitted that steroids do cause weight gain. Also, the surgeon said I was not allowed to exercise for 7-10 days afterward (breaking my three-year streak) and then I can only resume light walking for a few weeks after that. I think I gained a pound just listening to this. BUT - there is some hope. For example, I also learned that my jaw will be sore afterward, because the muscles that control the jaw will be traumatized by the incision, and so chewing will be painful. So hey - I may not want to eat! And okay, it may not be much, but the tumor that comes out has got to weigh SOMETHING, right?
I asked more about the memory impact. He said it won't affect stored memory so much (as in, I will still remember my wedding day), but new information will be hard to hang onto. He actually asked me - and I am not kidding about this - "You know that old Saturday Night Live skit about Mr. Short-term Memory?" There's a comforting thought.
I asked what he does about the space left behind by the tumor? Does the brain just squish together and become solid again? Does he fill it with putty? No, they leave a hole. A nice little hole, which incidentally lets the next tumor (!) have a place to go to prevent damage.
I also learned that VECTOR VISION is super-cool. He talked about a patient whose tumor was wrapped around an artery in her brain, and he had to get it all out without nicking the artery. Thanks to VECTOR VISION, he was able to do that. I am glad to know that he is able to work with such precision.
We talked risks and benefits, so I could sign the informed consent forms. Risks: death, coma, bleeding, loss of bladder/bowel/sexual function (so, basically, "wish you were dead"), personality change, neurological deficit, memory loss, failure to completely get it all out, recurrence of tumor, and all the good stuff that goes along with these things. I asked specifically about musical ability, because the right side of the brain is where musical ability comes from. I want to be able to sing and direct music like I do now. He said that they would be going into the lower part of the lobe, and the musical ability stuff tends to happen in the upper part. So while it is still at risk of being affected, they would try to prevent that. Benefits: getting the tumor out and finding out whether it is cancerous. And hopefully being responsible for bringing back the Cindy Lauper hairstyle as a fashion trend.
I found myself feeling very nervous as I went into my appointment. My husband came with me and held my hand through the whole thing (as I said before, he's a keeper). Yet, coming out of the appointment, even after hearing some harsh realities that are sobering, I felt better than I did going in. I still think I will be okay. I feel at ease putting this in the Lord's hands. I am not looking forward to what will be a difficult process, but as with most trials in life, you have to go THROUGH them (can't go around them). So I will go through this. I will not like the "through" part much. But it will be okay.