... in my brain actually. My very own brain tumour

Wednesday, January 16, 2008

First signs of my brain tumour

I naively thought I would live, well, not forever, but perhaps into my 80s. Frankly, I have not given much thought to dying or having a terminal disease. A brain tumour was just about the last thing on my mind. But, since 14 January this year (see “About”) it has been very much on my mind!

The thing that has amazed me about the process is that the tumour has been growing (according to the neurosurgeon) for possibly about a year with very little effect until now. I have tried to look back to think of any subtle changes that may have taken place in the past year or so that I may have dismissed as unimportant at the time.

The first really worrying sign was in January this year in the Cederberg while on holiday with my family. I noticed that my left hand didn’t seem to know where it was. It became clumsy and weak, and I had difficulty changing gears in my car. In fact, for about 6 to 8 weeks before the holiday, my typing ability on my computer started deteriorating progressively. This worried me but i ignored it.

I have certainly been more forgetful and grumpy than in the past, but have put that down to advancing age! I have also lost my confidence in my ability to lead groups of people on mountain hikes as I did in the past. For some reason I have also developed an intense interest in the workings of the brain over the past year and have studied its anatomy and physiology quite seriously. Strange.

After returning home from holiday, I went to the doctor, had a set of (very expensive) MRI pictures taken and then visited a neurosurgeon who showed me all the details of the MRI. The pictures suggested a fast growing, aggressive tumour in the right parietal lobe, invading adjacent brain tissue and pushing my brain over to the left side. The initial indications are that it is a primary brain tumour, not a secondary from somewhere else, and that it is malignant. He suggested that he should open up my head and take an open biopsy so that a more informed diagnosis could be made. That will happen on Thursday 24 January. I asked him about the prognosis and he told me that all he could do was to give me the recorded statistics for the provisional diagnosis made from the MRI: about 3 months without treatment and 9 months with treatment. Horrible. But, I now have information, and that will help me make proper decisions as time goes by. I have great confidence in my neurosurgeon, who is very highly regarded. He also understands the kind of person I am, and accepts that I want to know what is going on.
Click here to read the first email I sent my friends

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