Friday, September 14, 2012

Other Medical Adventures: Meningioma.

Worst days of my life:
  • October 29, 2008--the day the results of my quad screen for Miss B's pregnancy came back abnormally high for my age.
  • November 17, 2008--the day we got the results of Miss B's amniocentesis, confirming her diagnosis of Trisomy 21.
(Side note: If I had known then, what I know now, those 2 days surrounding Miss B's diagnosis would not have been "Worst Days".  Because, really, having Down syndrome is not that big of a deal.  But at the time, I knew nothing, and those days were pretty traumatic.)
  • June 26, 2009--the day I handed my two-and-a-half month old baby over to a surgeon, signed a piece of paper saying I was okay if she died (!!!!no mother is really okay with that!!!), and then waited for hours to know if her open heart surgery was successful or not.
  • September 13, 2012--the day I was diagnosed with a large, meningioma brain tumor that will need to be surgically removed.
I have been having random symptoms--muscle spasms, weakness, numbness in my left arm/hand/leg/foot, seeing stars, whooshing in my ear, tingling in my hand--off and on for the past year.  But being a busy mother of three, and since the episodes were sporadic, I jokingly referred to my symptoms as "my alien abduction problem", or "my alien" for short, and went about my business.

But this summer, when my symptoms got worse and started happening more often, Dr. C insisted I go to the doctor.

I HATE going to the doctor.

As in HATE HATE HATE going to the doctor.

After a month of trying to find a doctor (a whole different story...) I finally got in to see a brand-spanking-new-only-been-practicing-for-a-week doctor on Wednesday.

After describing my symptoms, she diagnosed me with a specific type of migraines, prescribed some migraine meds, told me it was nothing serious, but that we'd do an MRI, just in case.

Dr. C was heading out of town, and since I had been told I simply had migraines that were easily solved with a little pill, I headed to the MRI by myself.

Surprisingly, the MRI was relaxing--45 minutes of uninterrupted time by myself is rare in my world.

But as soon as the scan was over, the tech told me the radiologist wanted to talk to me right away.

Good feeling's gone.

She walked me into what can only be described as The Sad Closet--a small room with bare walls, a tiny little desk with a box of Kleenex, a single chair, and an ugly, empty, coat stand.

I sat in the Lonely Chair and had about 15 seconds to brace myself before the radiologist burst into the room, Kramer-style, wearing an orange Hawaiian shirt, khaki shorts, and Teva sandals with socks.

"You have a large tumor on the right side of your brain.  I have already called the neurosurgeon, you need to go there right away.  They are expecting you."

Don't panic.

Breathe.  Breathe.   Breathe.  Breathe.

Dr. C is driving, 4+ hours away. Company policy doesn't allow him to use his cell phone while driving; it will still be a couple of hours before he stops for gas. My friend has my kids--who are now late for school.

I have a brain tumor.

I have a large brain tumor that will need to be surgically removed.

Breathe.  Breathe.  Breathe.  Breathe.

The next little bit was a blur.  He apologized for the news, told me he didn't want me to have to wait for the official report and that he wanted me to call someone to come get me so I wouldn't be alone.  His orange shirt was nauseating.

I called my friend and incoherently asked her to take my kids to school.  I left a blubbering message on Dr. C's phone, praying he would be able to check his messages soon.  I walked out of the The Sad Closet, got into my car, called my mom--who had this exact same type of brain tumor 23 years ago--and cried, cried, cried.

I eventually pulled myself together, locked all my emotions in a very shaky mental box, and somehow drove myself safely downtown.

As I pulled into the parking garage, I knew I was on the verge of a complete breakdown.  I prayed for strength. 

The answer came immediately: You can do this.

That simple phrase became my mantra; my shield against the overflow of emotions that were fighting hard to get out.  I thought it over and over as I wound through the maze of doctors' offices and clinics.

I can do this.  I can do this.  I can do this.  I can do this.  I can do this.  I can do this.

I. Can. Do. This.

Dr. Brain was finishing up surgery; I waited in the exam room for him to appear.

Thankfully, there was a huge stack of check-out-lane-tabloid-trash-celebrity-magazines that kept me occupied in the silence.

Did you know Johnny Depp and his girlfriend of 14 years broke up this summer?  And that optical illusion dresses are all the rage in Hollywood right now?  And, surprise! one of the Kardashians had plastic surgery. 


Dr. Brain walked in, described my tumor as "REALLY big" and recommended that it be taken out soon.  Blessedly, the tabloids had done the trick and I was able to talk with him about cutting open my head for a full 45 minutes without a complete breakdown.  When I walked out of his office, I was shaky, but in control.

It's funny how in the midst of trials, God sends little blessings our way and lets us know He does not leave us alone.  He must have been busy yesterday--prompting people to check on me at just the right time.  One friend even texted me about how my doctor's appointment from the day before had gone, while I was talking with Dr. Brain.  That sort of timing cannot be coincidental--it is a tender mercy from God.

After a little while, Dr. C stopped and thought to check his phone.  He understood enough of my message to immediately turn around and head back toward home.

My mom called two of my sisters, each of whom live two hours away (in different directions).  Both of them immediately dropped what they were doing, hopped in their cars and drove to my house bringing Oreos, dinner, and more offers of help then I could ever possibly accept.

Dr. C eventually made it home; bringing 3 more packages of Oreos and 2 gallons of milk.  (My family knows me well.  Love them!!) 

Seeing him was what I needed; for the first time since I had walked into The Sad Closet that morning, I felt safe.  Together, Dr. C and I can handle anything life throws at us.  I could not do this without him; I am very blessed to be his wife.

As we've spent the last 36 hours trying to process this new adventure; we have come to the realization that the more we think we know, the more we have to learn.  We don't know why we need some wild medical adventures in our lives, but we do know that Heavenly Father knows our family.  We know that our job is to learn to trust Him and His plan.  We know that our children will be blessed by seeing us moving forward with faith.  We know that our lives are always in His hands.  We know that Jesus Christ understands our pains and worries and fear.

And ultimately, we know that He loves us. 

And that is the most important thing to know; no matter what else happens.

P.S. We do not have a surgery date yet, but will soon.


Scubadiver said...

Hon, We are with you all the way. We are a long ways from you - Orem - but we will keep you in our prayers always and fast, also.
You are strong. More valiant that Visgoth. More stregth than any man, because you strength does not come from man, but from God, whos daughter you are.
He KNOWS you. He KNOWS your name. And he loves you. And so do we..

Tam said...

I don't think that I have ever commented on your blog before, but wanted to let you know that my husband and I, and our 8 year old son will be praying for you from Australia. Your faith and trust in our heavenly father is truly inspiring. said...

I know we've already talked, but I love you.

Holly said...

All I can do is pray, so that is what I will do.

Mel said...

Oh Carrie. Lots of prayers coming your way from CT! I'm so glad you have good friends there and family fairly close by. Love ya and will be praying super hard for you!

Btw, ( I know this doesn't matter in your big scheme of things but compliments always feel nice) you are a great writer! All your blog posts are so well done--from the heartbreaking to the lighter days. You've got a gift! Love ya! Melissa O'Donnell

Jenni said...

Your blog was one of the first to bring me and my husband comfort when we were preparing for the land of unknown called Open Heart Surgery. It was Miss B's 2 year heart day. Those previous Worst got through. With Grace and Strength to boot. Happy days were and are on the other side. You CAN do this and we're rooting for you here in NYC. Prayers prayers and more prayers coming your way.

my family said...

Praying from louisiana {{hugs}}

heathermommy said...

I love what the spirit whispered to you. Just keep reminding yourself "You can do this." You rock.

Heidi said...

Oh, my heart breaks for you, but I know that you are a strong lady with a strong support system. One of my favorite pieces of support comes from a card that Jim's grandma sent me one time when I was struggling. She wrote, "I'm not sure why things happen, but I know that things will work out. Somehow they will work out."

We'll keep you in our prayers here in Utah.

Kurt and Kristy said...

Oh Carrie! I don't even know what to say! I can't imagine how hard that news must have been! Just know we are thinking of you and praying for you and your family!

krlr said...

I sent you an email &, after re-reading this, might send you some Oreos too. You'll rock this. Hugs. k.

Alison said...

Oreos are an EXCELLENT idea. Keep yourself fueled with stuff that helps you to feel happy and in the moment.

Ask lots of questions, and take advantage of all the wonderful offers of support that are going to come your way. Oh, and enjoy some very, very bad jokes.

I'm happy to be part of your brain tumor community!

Chelsey Wilson said...

Bless your heart! If anybody can handle this it is you. We are certainly praying for you. Much love, Chelsey

JAG said...

Hi Carrie. I'm sorry to hear this news. If anyone can get through it stronger than they went in, it's you. I'll be praying for you and your family.

Crockett Family said...

Oh Carrie, I just read this and bawled. I had no idea! I am so sorry. You are such a strong woman. YOU CAN DO THIS! I love you and admire you so much. You will be in my thoughts and prayers.

I love how everyone stopped and got OREOS for you before coming over. You and OREOS! Brings back memories. . .I love it! You have always had such a wonderful, supportive family. You will pull through this! Love you!!!

Mark Martin said...

Hi there! I will be looking forward to visit your page again and for your other posts as well. Thank you for sharing your thoughts about meningioma. I am glad to stop by your site and know more about meningioma. Keep it up! This is a good read. You have such an interesting and informative page.
Ninety-two percent of meningiomas are benign, with 8% being either atypical or malignant.
Approximately 96% of meningiomas occur within the skull, with the remaining 4% involving the spinal column. Meningiomas are the most common type of primary brain tumor, accounting for 34.4% of all such tumors. A primary brain tumor originates from the brain, spinal cord or associated tissues (called the central nervous system or CNS), while a secondary brain tumor arises from cancerous cells that have spread (metastasized) to the CNS from elsewhere in the body.


demony granger said...

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demony granger said...

Nice blog, thanks for sharing the information. I will come to look for update. Keep up the good work.


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