This is going to be a rather long post, but, may, hopefully be helpful to others who find themselves with the absolutely terrifying diagnosis of a brain tumor & for their significant others.
I had sharp headaches, beginning in November, 2000. As I have severe degenerative arthritis in my cervical spine, I thought it was cause and had an MRI. The radiologist who interpreted my scan, noted the arthritis, but called attention to a large dark area in my left cerebral area and suggested another MRI, this time of my brain 'with & without' contrast. This scan showed a tumor of the meninges surrounding my left cerebellum which was approximately the size and shape of a large lemon.
I went to a Neurosurgeon at Legacy Good Samaritan Hospital (GSH) with a good reputation, who, nonchalantly, told me that the tumor in my brain had metastasized from somewhere else in my body and that he could do brain surgery that week. Quite naturally I freaked. I called Epic Imaging in Tigard that afternoon for a total body CT scan to look for the ?somewhere else? and went there the same day. Well, my body scan was wonderfully free of any tumors!
At that point, I fired ?Dr R.? (I would like to provide his name for people to avoid like a hornet, but I don?t know the libel laws. The first initial of his last name should be sufficient). Having worked for years at Legacy Health System?s two downtown hospitals, I asked my co-workers what they knew about local neurosurgeons. I chose Dr Oisin R. O?Neill, MD, F.R.C.S.I. (he deserves his ?initials?, which stands for ?Fellow of the Royal College of Surgeons of Ireland?) who is a surgeon with Microneuosurgical Consultants, P.C., practicing at Legacy and the Sisters of Providence medical centers. He is a kind person with a wonderful sense of humor and a superbly skilled surgeon ? what more could one want!
He is an amazing person. Many surgeons are known for being ?cold fishes? ? Dr O?Neill was my miracle ? a red-headed, friendly, empathetic person, absolutely dedicated to his patients. He looked at the MRI scan, asked for other views, found them not done and commented &(*&)(, ordering another scan done at Legacy Emanuel Hospital (LEH) to his specifications and scheduled another office visit.
During my next office visit with Dr. O?Neill, he went over the scan ?photo?s and the Radiologist?s interpretation with me. He told me that I had two choices: 1) do nothing, get my affairs in order, expect death from the tumor growing and closing the ?fourth ventricle? in my brain; 2) Schedule surgery. He was wonderful for me. He told me that if I chose option #2, he would treat me like his brother.
I chose surgery and he immediately started me on large doses of steroids (be warned: a horrible experience, think a thousand cups of coffee at once) to stop the tumor growth while he got the surgical team and operatory that he wanted. He also ordered additional MRI views and scheduled me to have ?Intervention Therapy? at OSHU by Dr. Stanley Barnwell, MD ? an angiography of the brain, both mapping the blood vessels and injecting plastic ?micro-beads? into the blood supply of the tumor, to start killing it. This was terrifying in and of itself ? the consent form listed a number of possible bad outcomes and death stood out as the preferred bad outcome for me.
On February 6th, 2001, I was admitted to the Interventional Radiology unit at OHSU. The procedure went great. Dr Barnwell, assisted by Dr Todd A. Keuther, MD (also a surgeon with Microneurosurgical Consultants) treated me and treated me with kindness and understanding. After that procedure, I was admitted to OHSU?s Surgical ICU for the night and was then transferred by an ?ICU ambulance? to the LEH Trauma ICU to await surgery the next morning.
I guess I shall cut to the chase: Dr O?Neill, the surgical team that he had assembled, the nurses and many other staff members, along with my prayers and those of an amazing group of people, saved my life. After 7hrs of surgery, and only three days of recovery (I wanted my brother, my cat, my home, my own toilet, bed, and refrigerator!) I walked out of Emanuel.
Inspite of regular brain scans, a second tumor took off (the first was a slow growing cell line ? both were ?benign? which is very good, but their location & size was the show stopper) and was the size of a lime when discovered.
January 5, 2007 ? d�j� vu. This time, my surgery was done at Good Sam and to my surprise, the recovery wasn?t so easy, the post-op pain not controlled as well as at Emanuel (bless my AM ICU nurse, who advocated for my pain control!), I became an acute diabetic due to IV steroids (a necessary adjunct for my survival) and stayed a bit longer ? 5 days. Still, Iexperienced a miracle facilitated by Dr O?Neill, Dr Keuther, and all the staff at Good Sam who helped me survive. With some practice, I regained my balance and speech (still working on not sounding like a drunk).
I have had two regimens of ?Shaped Beam Radiosurgery? using the Novalis at Emanuel, under the superb care of Dr. Russ T.K. Omizo, MD and the entire staff at the Legacy Radiation Oncology Center. My last three scans show a small residual ?enhanced? area which is stable since my 2007 tumor resection. I will have 3-4 MRI brain scans a year for sometime to come. I am very grateful for the people of Oregon creating the ?Oregon Medical Insurance Pool?, which has hefty premiums, but fully covers me, after a relatively low ?out of pocket? cost. I was able to bridge my COBRA coverage to OMIP.
The purpose of all this verbiage is to convey HOPE to others in a similar situation.
posted 4 years, 12 months ago
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