I don't think I have tons of people following this blog that don't know me in real life, but I know a few Classical Conversations moms were dropping by for my weekly lesson plans, so I wanted to do an update.
Starting last year in June, I started having some head pain. I couldn't lay on my stomach to read, I got headaches that were nearly debilitating, my back and neck were in terrible pain, and running (even though I'd just run the Cherry Blossom 10 Miler) was impossible. In July I went to our local ER convinced I was having an aneurism because the pain was so bad. In general, I'm pretty stoic. I had three babies with no pain medication, I don't go to the doctor, "I'm fine", so for me to be crying in pain and laying in a ball on the bed meant it was bad.
The doctor told me I was having migraines, to take some nasal spray and a pain killer, and man up.
So, I tried. I couldn't use the pills the doctor gave me- they fixed the pain, but knocked me out cold, which isn't really an option for a mother of three young children, let alone a mom who is a homeschooler. I spent a few months being a substandard mom. My kids went through their workbooks for math and English some days with me curled up on the sofa with a towel over my eyes, thinking that if it was a migraine I needed to avoid light. The pain got worse and I got frustrated and short-tempered. I tried essential oils and every over-the-counter I could get at. I went to my general practitioner who ran some blood work, I went to a chiropractor, and it just kept getting worse. When I woke up in the morning and sat up in bed, I felt incredible nausea and like I'd run head first into a brick wall. Every. Single. Day.
I walked out of Christmas Eve service in tears from pain.
The last hockey practice morning of 2012, I passed out in the hallway when I was helping Riley brush his teeth. I spent the next week in bed crying and my mother had to come over and take care of the kids because I was literally unable to function. I found a neurologist that could see me on Thursday, and I think I got her attention when I led with "I don't want any drugs. I just want to know what's wrong, and I don't think it's migraines." Compassionate, kind, and wonderful, the neurologist acknowledged that while chronic migraines fit for my symptoms and age, and she would help me to find a medication regimen that helped me if that ended up being the case, she opted to rule out a few things based on family history, and ordered an MRI for the next Thursday.
The following Thursday, she called me about 40 minutes after my MRI. I missed the call, but she called me back at the end of the day, ironically right as the Peapod Delivery Guy was bringing groceries (my sweet hubby wasn't letting me drive until we figured my fainting out- $5 for peace of mind is worth it). As Austin let the delivery guy in, my neurologist was telling me I had a brain tumor in one of my ventricles, which was blocking my spinal fluid in some capacity, causing the nausea and neck/back pain, and, of course, the headaches. Austin came up to ask me about where I wanted the groceries just as I hung up (It was a good call. I asked the doctor to spell "subependymoma" and thanked her very much for getting in touch with me.) and burst into tears. Understanding without asking anything, he went back down and tipped the delivery guy and came back upstairs so I could choke out the news. My mom had the kids already, so we gave ourselves 24 hours to panic and freak out, and then, we did what the original doctor had recommended and manned up.
The thing is, God has a plan for my life, so me worrying about it and crying about it, and being angry about it, wasn't going to change anything. I felt such tremendous peace when I turned the entire situation over to Him, and I'm not just saying that, I honestly did.
My initial consultation with a neurosurgeon was with Dr. Vikram Nayar at Georgetown, who went over my MRI with me in detail, talked with me about my options, and then decided that he'd like to admit me for testing. He was worried about hydrocephalus (this is where your spinal fluid is trapped in one spot, causing a whole host of problems, most notably death) and being admitted also let them get a few other things worked out, including an MRI with contrast and a spinal MRI (Ependymomas, the type of tumor I'd eventually be diagnosed with, have a fun little tendency to drop metastases into your spine- whee!).
Have you ever had a 2 hour MRI? They're not fun to begin with, and in mine, I had NPR playing in my headphones talking about Hillary Clinton making another run for the presidency. It was horrible. :)
I was admitted on Monday, and on Wednesday Dr. Nayar had enough information to let me go home with a surgery date for the following Wednesday, February 5th. He wheeled a computer into my room and told Austin and I that the tumor was more extensive than they originally thought, that his proposal was surgery, the exact procedure he expected to use, the side effects, the chance of death, the duration (he guessed between 4-8 hours), and then he told us what would happen if we opted not to do the surgery. He also told us he had great confidence that he could successfully extract the tumor.
What I loved about Dr. Nayar was that he gave me the option. Granted, if I didn't get surgery, I would die, too, but I liked that he didn't dictate to me that I MUST do anything. He calmly and patiently answered our questions, and scheduled to move his clinic patients so he could book my surgery. I felt great peace and confidence about Dr. Nayar, and had been praying for discernment about what to do, but we'd booked an appointment at Johns Hopkins before going to Georgetown, so we went on Thursday for a second opinion.
(We'll pick up there tomorrow)