“… thou anointest my head with oil, my cup overflows. Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life …” Ps 23
Dear Family and friends,
I had a call with the brain surgeon today, and he had some news for us. In yesterday’s post, I told you I’ll be getting an update on Monday. While I was writing that post, I got a call from one of the staff members at the brain surgeon’s office. I have a brain surgeon on my team even though I’ve never had what most people think of as brain surgery. Back when I switched to a new drug to deal with brain swelling, this brain surgeon was the one who came up with the idea of using that drug to avoid brain surgery. I point this out to illustrate what an incredible team I have. My assumption is that if there’s one thing the “average” brain surgeon wants to do, it’s brain surgery. But this doctor on my team came up with a really “outside the box” idea to spare me from having them root around in my brain.
Speaking of rooting around in one’s brain, makes me think of Jeff Foxworthy on brain surgeons
Setting aside Foxworthy’s astute observation, and to get back to my point about my brain surgeon, I’m just making the point that I’ve got the kind of professionals you want to have on your team as a patient.
And going even further back, the brain surgeon’s office call to me yesterday – his staff member said, “The doctor wants to speak to you tomorrow.” No further information provided. Does this happen to anyone else out there? This is an unsettling thing to have happen. I’m going to have to drop a note in the suggestion box proposing that they not call patients to raise alarms they don’t plan to explain. But to be fair, I knew exactly what this request meant. It meant the doctor wanted to talk to me about brain surgery. Accept the call or no? Mess with the staff member or no? I mean, he started it, right? Part of me thinks I should have asked, “Can you give me three good reasons I should agree to have a call with the doctor?” But I think it’s better not to make people’s jobs harder for them, so I don’t mess with doctors’ staff even if they unnecessarily give me reason to freak out.
So today…I talked to the brain surgeon. Guess what he wanted to talk about. Well…are you going to guess? He wanted to talk about brain surgery. First I got some clarification on the tumor growth they had mentioned to me yesterday. I have three new small tumors on the right side of my brain. The proposed plan is to blast these with the photon beam, like I’ve had done several times now for previous tumors. Then there’s a tumor on the left side that looks like it’s got a hemorrhage around it – bleeding that brain experts really dislike.
Circled is old tumor with hemorrhage around it
While I hope that tumor and bleeding shrink way down, I’m going to go out on a limb and say, “That don’t look right.” I don’t want that hanging around in the HQ. If an attack is called for, well…boots on, face to the enemy, running to the sound of gunfire.
A few other details from the call with the brain surgeon. In line with the Jeff Foxworthy thing, the doctor told Kendra and me that if they proceed with the surgery, they’ll cut a hole in my skull “about the size of a cookie.” This immediately calls to mind Jim Gaffigan’s great bit about brain tumors being compared to food:
“Well, this guy’s not gonna understand centimeters.”
Size of skull hole being established, we talked possible negative side effects. 1-2% of patients having a surgery like this will suffer one of the following: stroke, speech impairment, cognitive deficit, increase in epileptic seizures. 100% get a scar that no one is nosey enough to ask you about, plus according to Gaffigan, it seems the ability to win all future arguments. He said “no heavy lifting for a week” (there go my plans), no contact sports, trampoline or flying for a week. He said I’d be on my feet the next day, home in 1-2 days, back doing my job in a week. We are scheduling the surgery for 4-5 weeks from now. I will have two scans between now and then to re-assess the area of the lesion. If it grows, there’s some live tumor tissue at work and the surgery will absolutely need to happen. If the affected area shrinks, we will probably cancel the surgery, at least for the short term. I like punches on the Tough Guy Punch Card as much as the next guy. But being able to postpone the cookie-size skull hole seems preferable. Let’s pray for that.
I think the radiation on the other side will kick off next week. I’ll have lots going on with all this over the next month and will try to keep all of you posted. Thanks for your support and prayers. Kendra and I feel very supported.
With fortitude and prayers for you,
Fortitudine means "with fortitude." It was the original motto of the Marines, and I picked the title as a reminder to myself about how I intend to deal with cancer.