Whale ~ Record Keeper
This is my story
of my most recent journey with cancer. Just for the record.
"It's a Tumor! It's not a Tumor!"
~ Kindergarten Cop, 1990
Your Crown Chakra is governed by the
astrological sign Cancer. For several years, I have noticed that when
breathing and clearing out my chakras, there seemed to be a block on the middle
right of my crown. For even more years, I have been plagued with migraine
headaches. One was so bad, I remember asking Jody to just shoot me
now. That headache lasted two full days and nights. It was the one time I had to
cancel an appointment at work. I also had some other strange things happen over
the years. My left eye went bonkers once with a haze and almost blind but then
cleared up within 40 minutes so I just thought it was stress. My face would go
numb on the right side from my cheek to the lips, jaw and chin. Felt like pins
and needles and then would be fine. I figured there was a pinched nerve in my
neck or something.
The summer before my fiftieth year the hot
sweats/flashes started. They got worst and worst to where they were about six or
seven an hour and I got no sleep. I would wake up in a panic and during the day,
it got so bad that I was panicking all the time waiting for the next one and
hoping and praying that I would not pass out. When I turned fifty in the fall,
it was time to go to the doctor for a full check up so they say. As I was on the
state system (a story for another time), I headed off to see Dr. Tooley. I had
not been to a doctor for about twelve years. I talked to him about the hot
sweats/flashes and he pretty much said it was menopause and that he didn't
recommend any hormones ~ only some herbs that help. I tried to explain to him
that they were really, really bad and that I thought it was something else like
an infection but he didn't listen. So, after all the blood tests came back, all
that was wrong was my blood sugar was high which explained a lot. It was decided
to try to control it with diet and go back after a month for another test.
Shortly after, I ended up with a slight upper respiratory infection so I went
back for an antibiotic. (Probably got it the first time I went in to the
doctor.) I took the antibiotics and my hot sweats/flashes subsided
Well, the blood sugar didn't come down no
matter what I did so it was decided that I would take "Metforman" to control it.
It made me so sick that I laid on the couch for ten days straight and then
decided not to take it anymore. I saw Wayne Dyer on Oprah that last day and he
talked about watching your sugar intake. So I tried that for a while and was
feeling pretty good. Went back to doctor. Lets try "Glypisyde". Pharmacist
told me how to take it. Tried it for three days. Felt really hungry ALL THE
TIME. Couldn't handle that either so stopped taking it.
Around this time, I noticed this little
lump on my head. About the size of a quarter. I thought it was a cyst or
something so I played with it and put stuff on it. It didn't really hurt until I
played with it. During one of the visits with Dr. Tooley, I asked him to check
it out and he thought a cyst as well but go to the dermatologist to find out.
Found one just down the street (the three that Dr. Tooley had given me were not
on my plan so I had to find them out for myself). The nurse practitioner that I
saw said that she didn't know what it was either but to just watch it for now
and don't play with it. It got bigger and bigger until it was the size of one
half of a ping pong ball. Didn't hurt but there was pressure and sometimes felt
squishy (like a cyst). Went back to the dermatologist. Everyone looked a little
panicked this time. They had to get me right in to the Doctor. Appointment made
to see Dr. Hu. What I didn't know was that the appointment was for the actual
surgery to lance the cyst. Okay then, I thought I was just going to see the
doctor for a prognosis. Silly me! Dr. Hu came in and said, "I can't cut into
this, I don't know what is in there! Might be bone." Duh! Wait! BONE!?! Then
came the CT scan. Wow, can't really tell. How about an MRI? Yeah, there is
something there, looks like a mass on top of the skull and under the skull.
Don't know what it is.... Need a neurosurgeon.
So, Jody has a friend who had a brain
tumor the size of your fist and had it removed by Dr. Sanan. I called my plan
and sure enough, Dr. Sanan is on my plan so I called him up. Yes, he is taking
new patients. He called on a Friday night to say he would take my case. Two
weeks later, I was in his office and sure enough, he didn't know what it was
either. We did know that it was pinching off the main vein that ran down between
the two hemispheres of the brain and supplied most of the blood to the brain. He
wouldn't be able to tell much more until he got in there but one thing is for
sure, if you mess with the vein, it could mean death. As things seemed stable,
we could postpone the surgery even a month or two. I opted to get it over with
so it was scheduled for February tenth. I should be in the hospital for about
four days. (What I didn't realize until later was that he was hinting to
give me time to get my "things in order" just in case something went wrong.)
I went in at eight o'clock that morning ~
surgery was scheduled for ten o'clock. It was a Wednesday morning and I remember
thinking that was funny as I was born on a Wednesday. Anyway, the
anesthesiologist seemed nice and told me how far they had come since I last had
a surgery (nothing like it used to be). Two days later, I wish I could have
remembered his name so I could have kicked him in the ass. I never felt so bad
as I did coming out of that surgery. I remember seeing the clock as they rolled
me in to ICU and it read six o'clock. I had been out for eight hours? How could
that be? The surgery was only scheduled for four hours. I think I awoke sometime
before that but I don't remember for sure. There was my mom with the most horrid
look on her face and Jody who just looked worried. I must have been a sight with
all the tubes and I'm sure my face didn't look very good either. I had told my
mom to go to work that day and not worry about things. I didn't want her to just
sit at the hospital and worry. After all, there were much more pleasant things
to do to keep her mind occupied. But I guess she thought it was the motherly
thing to do. It just still breaks my heart thinking about it.
That night and into the next day and night
were challenging to say the least. I told them no morphine, so what do you think
they gave me? morphine. They would give me something to counter the heaving.
Didn't work. So I said no to the morphine and I don't really recall being in
that much pain but the machine that they had me hooked up to said something
else. So they would give me the morphine and the other drug and before the nurse
hit the door, I was heaving and heaving. Lucky (?) for me, I hadn't eaten so
there was nothing to come up but the violent heaving and falling back down on
the pillows could not have been good for my head. When your blood pressure or
your heart rate does funny things, the machine goes off and the nurse comes in
and tells you to breath. I kept forgetting to breath.
They were giving me the Glypisyde while I
was there to keep my blood sugar down. They took readings every so often. I
guess they were okay. So they knew that I was diabetic and still the food they
gave me was for a normal diet not diabetic. It tasted like they poured sugar in
everything on the plate. If it weren't for one nurse named Mark, I would have
starved. He brought me an orange, some milk and an apple juice that was a little
bit sweet but it was okay. He was a life saver! The orange was really really
I did not talk to Dr. Sanan until the
evening of the next day after the surgery. I heard from Jody later that when Dr.
Sanan came out of surgery two hours after it was supposed to be over, he looked
very worried and didn't have answers even then. He said that nobody knew what
the tumor was and he was waiting to get the diagnosis that it might be some kind
of Lymphoma. I thought, "Lymphoma in your head? Huh? How could that be?" and
decided not to worry about it until we knew for sure. Found out that the tumor
had eaten away at my skull so they had to put some mess over the hole.
Earlier on the second day, the nurse came
in and said that I was to have an MRI and did I think I could lay in the tube
for twenty-five to thirty minutes? At that point, I was still doing the heaving
thing and I panicked. The machines went wild! Um, not today! I think it was the
second day that Nurse Mark told me that we were heading down to the MRI machine and
that he would be there for me the whole time and not to worry. I was only in the
machine for about ten minutes. I worried about the mesh in my head but it was
The morning of the third day, Friday, I
decided that if I was going to get anything to eat, I better get out of there.
Nothing tasted "right". It was all sooooo sweet. Even the french toast was
horrid. I was starving! Going to the bathroom was always a challenge. In ICU,
you had a bedpan or they finally rolled in a portable potty. That was fine. The
next room had a toilet that swung out from under the sink. Very strange. Looked
like something from forty or fifty years ago. That was fine, but I really just
wanted to use a real toilet and sit like a real person. I asked the nurse if
there was a bathroom down the hall or something that I could use (thinking that
I could get up and walk around) and she said that wasn't allowed but I could
indeed get up an walk around if I wanted to.... just up and down the short
hallway. On my way down, here comes the resident doctor. I asked her if I could
go home today and she said that if I was up and walking around, I should be able
to. She followed me back to my room and took off the bandage. Said that Dr. Sanan gave me a pretty interesting hair cut, (he cut it just where the incision
was like a head band) gave me a little beanie to wear and said I could go home
anytime. I figured Jody could make it over there about one o'clock and so about
one thirty, I was on my way home.
More to follow...