I amazed myself one time when I realised how I coped with things.
I had been on anti-convulsant medication for years after just two seizures. One day I was massaging my darling wife’s back (she wasn’t my wife then) and thought I saw this bright spot appear on her back. I remember it so clearly. It was bright white. Almost completely round but with a wavy bottom. Just a little like Pinky. “Gosh, that looks strange” says I. Then it starts moving around her back and changing colour. Hmmmm … not good.
I look up and it is still there.
After a chat to wifey, and how I had been having funny dizzy spells (you know the sort – the blood pressure ones where you grey out a little, lose a bit of vision, have ringing in the ears and all that? No? well, I’ll continue then).
Where was I? Oh yeah – dizzy spells. Trundle off to the doctor who is a tad concerned and sends me to see the neurologist. The neurologist is a bit concerned and sends me off for an MRI. All of this was pretty ho-hum and just going to appointments. The neurologist told me “If we find anything we’ll let you know”. “Bloody well hope you find something in the MRI of my brain” thinks I.
Time goes by, and nothing was heard. So I start to forget all about it. Then the call.“Ah hi, David, it’s Mr [name] here.” pause “We have your MRI back and, uhhh, there’s something … not quite right”. “Oh?” (that doesn’t sound very good) “Yes. I’d like to see you first thing tomorrow morning. 8:00” “Oh. OK then” (shit, that serious – that I have an urgent appointment with a specialist??)
Funny thing was, it didn’t really matter. Yeah I was shocked, but for some reason I switched into analyst mode.
Well, had the appointment. There were two brain tumours. One about 2cm in diameter in the corpus collosum, the other about 1cm on the parietal lobe. Neither operable due to their location. The one in the corpus collosum might become operable if it grows because it would push the hemispheres of the brain apart, giving access to the tumour. The parietal one was on gross motor function area – risk too great.What sort of tumour? (medical analyst coming to the fore again) Well, we can’t tell. Based on the expected mass (you can tell by how bright it is after the contrast was applied), we think it might be an oligodendroglioma.
(Or check this). But without a biopsy (out of the question) or a mass spectography test (too expensive), we don’t know. Curiously, at about the same time, Buffy’s Mom was dying from the same tumour. And I just found out that things called buffy coats can be used in the diagnosis of this and other conditions. If anything, it was the Buffy episode that shocked me more than anything. Because as soon as the diagnosis was mentioned, I knew what was up.
Wait for the second scan in six months, and if anything changes, come back and see me immediately.
Meantime wifey calls the bigger tumour Sylvester and the smaller one Tweety. Bless her.
…. waits ….
Second scan – no change.
Great news – no change means that it probably isn’t growing. (Yay – love that word probably … not). But still, we just don’t know. Either it will kill me, in which case knowing about it won’t do me much good, or it won’t, in which case I don’t need to bother about it. Another scan in another 6 months.
… waits …
Third scan – same as the first. The “Yays” are getting bigger. Another scan in a year. And another. Then two years.
Still no change. Although Tweety has shrunk a little.
“OK, we’ll go for one last scan, and if there is still no change, then we will stop altogether and if your symptoms get worse, let us know”
… waits for results …
Tweety has disappeared. Completely.“That’s cool” says I. “[laughs] Absolutely is” says the neurosurgeon.
OK, now we want to do more scans to see if we can tell why it disappeared.
There is still no change to Sylvester. He is still hanging around in there. Not doing any damage as far as I know.
But the whole episode taught me a vital lesson. When faced with something that might be horrible and life-threatening, we often get anxious about it when it is just so far beyond our control. It taught me that when I am faced with bad things, to put it aside and look objectively, analyse, gather information, and then figure out what it all means.
I have often said that crises are often easy to manage. All the trivial day to day stuff just goes away. There is only one priority, and things become really clear. It is the day to day life that gets you. The old parable of “It is not the mountain in front of you, but the grain of sand in your shoe that wears you down.”
Apologies, folks. Not overly happy with this post. But want to get it out tonight. I promise I will write something better soon.