Six Month Follow-Up Doctor Visits

June 9, 2017

Dear Friends,

So hard to believe already a half a year has past since I had my brain tumor resection. I felt it only right to fill you in on what the doctors said since you have prayed for my well-being and cared for my family and I through this road trip detour. I am glad to report both my ophthalmologist and neurosurgeon had mostly good things to say.

I visited the ophthalmologist last December because I noticed I was seeing double when I looked to my right. At that point in time they offered me prisms with the strength? of 12, but I declined them because they would distort the rest of my vision. It was not worth it. This time my vision had improved to a 6. However, I started having difficulty focusing at close range the past two months. Regardless if it was the surgery or just old age setting in quickly, they advised me to get a set of dollar store readers to keep on hand to address the issue. So far I am able to go about my typical day without any type of glasses still, so I will continue to hold out as long as I can.

A few days later, I had an MRI and then met with my neurosurgeon at the University of Minnesota. He said that the images still look very good. He compared the size of the current residual tumor to the images immediately post surgery. Epidermoids tend to be slow growing, but 10% regrow quickly, and not necessarily linear growth either. Mine has not grown at all. According to the images, my innards have healed quite nicely with no build-up of spinal fluid anywhere or other potential issues visible. My cerebellum has relaxed into the vacant cavity again returning to a semi-normal position. He does not know if it will continue to return to the proper placement, but stressed that it does not have to completely. We welcomed the good news.

The neurosurgeon went on to reiterate how happy they were with the success of my surgery. The epidermoid was sticking to my brainstem and they got it off without any major nerve triggering. They resected around 95% with some residual left towards one side. With the excited smile on his face, I could tell he couldn’t be more pleased considering the tumor’s position and the risks involved. In the end he told me to visit him again one year from now.

Sometimes answers to prayers are easily overlooked because you do not see something bad happen; all went smoothly. But how the surgeon continually responds to the success of my surgery, intensifies my gratitude for how everything went. Reading between the lines, a much higher number of people must come out with many more issues than what I had assumed. Seizures, hydrocephalus, loss of sight, swallowing, or hearing. Headaches, dizziness, loss of motor control, numbness in the face, let alone complications on the operating table, etc. The list goes on. But I was able to walk out of the hospital in less than one week, though still in pain, being intact. Praise God. Thank you once again for holding me up in prayer.

Of course I do have some residual issues I am trying to resolve still, though not life changing. When I addressed them to the surgeon, he was perplexed and said that wasn’t the section of the brain where I would typically have those difficulties, though not entirely impossible. He referred me to an Ear, Nose, and Throat Specialist and a Neuropsychologist to get to the bottom of the issues.

Being puzzled as to my symptoms not being a direct result from the surgery, I brainstormed and researched on-line for potential causes to my symptoms. At this time I am leaning towards my symptoms as possibly being the long term effects from having aseptic meningitis which lasted many weeks post-op. Many of my long term symptoms lined up with those from other forms of meningitis, but I am not a doctor and do not fully trust my own hunches. I will have to be patient and see how this will all play out in my future.

Now that the initial summer doctoring is over, I have returned to the beautiful north woods of Minnesota with my family. It may take another year or so to become completely normal again, but I am satisfied with my healing’s progress for now. In the meantime, this summer I’ll enjoy my therapeutic fishing, ATVing, and hikes with the ones I love knowing the scariest stuff is behind me.

Until we meet again,
Regina

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