A few years ago, I started having really bad headaches (don’t start freaking out just because you too have bad headaches there is more to the story). About the same time, or soon thereafter, I also would get dizzy really easy. (I thought I had vertigo). Sometime around when this all started, parts of my face and lips were going tingly on and off. At that point I decided to go to the doctor. He advised me to get an MRI, but the insurance we had would not cover the cost of an MRI, so we decided not to get one at that time. Soon thereafter, we moved to New York for my outstanding hubby to attend law school. The symptoms never went away. They would constantly come and go. I again went to see a doc who sent me on to a neurologist. He sent me to physical therapy for vertigo. It didn't help. Even the therapist said I wasn't the usual vertigo patient. I got pregnant with CaeI and then got kidney stones. I had so many other pains and discomforts that I did not pay much attention to what was going on with my head. After Cael was born, he was such a bad sleeper I contributed it to not getting any sleep. The longer it went on the worse everything got. Headaches, earaches, jaw pain, feeling like I had a cavity. Just didn't realize what was really going on.
Ben applied for BYU law school this summer and we thought the chances of him getting in were like 10%...never thinking we would get in. Well to our surprise, he got in but we didn't find out until the first of August and school started the 20th of August. So we made a fast move from NY to UT. We got settle into our new apartment. Things were getting worse with the dizziness and it was getting to the point that my face would go numb. It felt like I had just got out of the dentist and my checks, lips and tongue were trying to come un numb. It was a weird feeling. I was trying to find a doctor to go to but everyone I tried was booked for a few weeks.
A few weeks later I went and played volleyball with my friend Rachel. It had been a while since I had played and figured I would be a little bit rusty. Well the longer I went on playing, the harder I found it to even find the ball in the air. Every time I looked up I was so dizzy I couldn't even see the ball. It was then I realized just how bad things were getting. The next day I made a ton of phone calls and was able to get into a doctor that next week. I went in on Monday September 10. I told the doctor all my symptoms. I figured since I had gone through this step before, he would send me to a neurologist before he would send me for an MRI. Well to my surprise, and blessing, he said let’s get you scheduled for an MRI to see what is going on. I was so happy. I thought for sure I would have to see more doctors before I reached that point.
I was scheduled for the MRI Wednesday morning, Sept 12. I went into have the MRI and the tech asked me if I was nursing or pregnant because they have to put a dye in you that shows all the nerves. I told him I was nursing. He went and talked to the Radiologist and he thought it would be ok if I didn't do the dye. They would just get scans of the brain then I wouldn't have to worry about pumping and dumping. I was put in the tube trying to take deep breaths and trying not to think about the small space I was in. Anyone that has had an MRI done before knows what I’m talking about and I was shocked by how loud it was. About 15 min into the scan they pulled me out which I thought was weird because they told me I was going to be in there for around 30 min. When I got out, the tech came up to me and said, “Because you are having vertigo, the Radiologist wants to put the dye in so we can see all the nerves. The tech was acting kind of strange the whole time after he pulled me out and I wasn't sure what to think about it. He then put me back in and said it should take another 20 min.
After finishing, I asked the tech how long it would take to get the results. He said if your doctor does not call you by tomorrow you make sure you call him. So I left not knowing what to think. I knew the tech couldn't tell me anything but he was sure acting strange. By the time the afternoon rolled around I still had not heard anything. I kept telling myself, well no news is good news right? I figured if something was really wrong they wouldn't have let this whole day go by without calling me. That night we took the kids swimming and never heard from anyone. That brought some relief. My mom and I both believed I would have got a call if something was wrong. The next day I did my usual day. In fact, I remember that day I felt really good. My head wasn't hurting, I wasn't tired and I had more energy than usual. I was thinking to myself, I feel really good today. That is a good sign. Everything is ok.
That afternoon, Sept 13, at about 4:00, Ben came walking in the door. I was so happy. Ben never comes home before 6:00. It meant we had a little time to go outside and play with the kids…we don't get many afternoons together. Ben was home maybe ten minutes and my phone rang. I looked down and saw it was the doctor office. Right when I noticed the number my stomach just hurt. I went into the back room to answer it. The doctor was on the phone. He said, “We have your results from the MRI.” He said, “I hate doing this to you on the phone but I don't have much choice. It looks like they found a tumor.” He said, “The good part is it is on the outside of your brain so it is easy to get to. It is about 2mm by 3mm.” I don't even remember what I said back to him. I was in so much shock. I walked into my closet and dropped to the ground. He said, “We need you to go to the ER as soon as you can get there. I have just talked to the surgeon that is on call. He has looked at your scans and wants you to come now.” He then informed me that the doctor that was on call that day was one of the best and I would be in good hands. I hung up the phone not even crying but in shock and Ben standing by me knowing something was wrong. I tried to tell him the best I could what I had just been told. Sitting in my closet in tears, both of my kids came in. Cassidy put her arms around me and Cael just sat right in my lap. It is crazy how kids can sense when something isn't right.
After Ben calmed me down, he got on the phone and called my friend Rachel and asked if she would take the kids. She was my life saver that day. At least I knew they would be ok with her. We grabbed a bunch of stuff and headed out the door. Ben made all the phone calls. There was no way I could even talk to anyone on the phone. He called my parents who were at my nephew’s birthday party. I felt so bad because I knew it was going to ruin it all. They were in St George and had to drive back to Enterprise to get all their stuff because they didn't know how long they were going to be gone and then headed to Provo. After dropping off the kids, we headed to the ER and checked in. I was told they would be waiting for me and the doctor was in surgery and would be with me as soon as he got out. They took us back to a room and we probably waited there for the doctor at least 2 hrs. Thank goodness Aunt Karla came and visited while we waited…she help lighten the mood. You never know what you are going to see setting in the ER so at least we got a little bit of a show ha ha.
After what seemed like forever, the doctor came in and looked at me and said, Wow, you look good.” I was shocked by the response. I didn't know how I was suppose to look. He then asked me to stand up and walk in a straight line. I had never really tried to do that for awhile and to my surprise I wasn't good at it at all. You would think I had been drinking or something. Then he had me do a bunch of other things to test me. He then had me follow his finger with my eyes back and forth. He said to my family, “See, there it is.” As my eyes were following his finger, my eyes would bounce…they wouldn't move back and forth smoothly like they should. I thought to myself, “Well that explains the dizziness.” After he got done doing that, we walked over to a computer were I saw the scan of my head. I sat down and was in shock after looking at it. I was told the tumor was only 2 mm by 3mm that is like the size of a cherry or something. As soon as I looked at the scan, I knew it was much bigger. He told me the reason I had to come in today is because the tumor was so big it was pushing on my fourth ventricle and starting to close it off. I didn't know a dang thing about the brains but I was learning fast. The fourth ventricle has fluid that runs up and down it and if it gets closed off, it means big trouble. He said I was lucky I had not passed out yet for how small of space was there. If it would have closed off, it would have caused a lot of brain damage, and in my case, it was only time before it was closed. He told me that these kinds of tumors are usually benign 99% of the time but we would have to get it out to make sure. He said this is a big tumor so I’m not sure what I will find when I get in there. There was a chance I could come out with a droopy face on the left side, hearing loss in my left ear and a lazy left eye. I will admit it was hard taking this all in. I remember thinking to myself, when am I going to wake up? This isn't happening to me. This is not my life. Somewhere in all the middle of it, I heard on top of it they were going to have to shave my whole head. WOW!!!!!!!! It was a lot to take in. I was going to come out looking like a totally different person and in the back of my head wondering if I was going to come out at all after looking at that picture of the tumor.
After the doctor got done explaining everything to me, he was standing to my side and came around to the front of me and just looked at me. I looked up at him and he said, Are you ok?” I said “I’m in shock. This is a lot to take in.” He said, “I know. That’s why I want to make sure you’re ok.” He then started to talk to his assistant about what day to do the surgery, Friday or Saturday. He said, “I have to talk in Stake Conference Friday night so I would like to do the surgery Friday morning so I can make sure you’re ok before I leave town Sunday. It was then I learned that my doctor was in the Stake Presidency. He asked if it was ok if he prepared his talked during the surgery. I told him as long as he was talking to God while he was doing it, I didn't care at all. After that I felt so much peace come over me. I knew I was in good hands and I knew I was going to be ok.
After talking to the doctor, I was admitted to the hospital and was started on steroids to help shrink the swelling. Not very often does the ICU have patience that can walk to their beds…I was one of the few. They had me stay right in the ICU. That made it a little hard because normally they will not let kids in but thanks goodness they made an exception for me. Aunt Karla went and got my kids and brought them to see me one last time before my surgery. It was an emotional time because I knew things were going to change after that night. I was hooked up to all kinds of tubes and didn't want to scare my kids. It was hard to hold Cael with all those tubes. My parents finally made it and were shown the scan. As time went on we found out by word of mouth that I had the best surgeon in the area. He is top ten in the nation. I think that night was the longest night of my life. I don't think I slept for one minute.
|I made my dad take this pic of me the night before so I could compare it later to see if I had a droopy face|
As the surgery progressed, word would go out to my family about how the progression of the surgery was going. I remember them waking me up and asking me to move my tongue around. As far as they could tell, there was no nerve damage. By the way, the tumor ending up being the size of a baseball. I will never look at a baseball the same way. The doctor thinks that it was a slow-growing tumor that I have had for about 3 years. I stayed in the ICU for two days. The first day felt just like I had had my head cut open. I was on a lot of meds and so I felt yucky. I had about eight different tubes running out of me. They had me up and walking the first day. The morning of the third day they moved me to a room. The bouncing of the ride about killed me. Doctor Riechman had no mercy and ripped the bandage off the incision site before I even knew what he was doing.
|The day following surgery|
|My 32 staples|
|My nice scar and shaved head|
I am now three weeks out from that surgery and each day is a little better. I have to look at the small progresses and take everything in baby steps and use lots of patience. This has been the hardest road I have ever traveled. It is so hard to watch other people taking care of my kids. It is so much harder being the receiver than the giver. Looking back at how everything has fallen together, I feel so blessed because I can see the Lord's hand in it all. From the moment of Ben getting into BYU, right down to the day I got called into the ER causing me to get the doctor I did, it is clear to see the Lord's hand in it all. I can't imagine going through this and being in NY. I hope there are no more hiccups and my progress moves forward. Through this trial I have had so much support from family and friends. I have really felt your support and hope one day I can repay you all.