I mentioned that I had no symptoms prior to my first seizure, but in retrospect there were probably some, even though they weren’t obvious. Here are some of the joys and side effects of having a tumor, then having it cut out of your melon, then going through treatment.
I’m sorry that technology isn’t yet good enough for me to add the 4D experience. I’ll keep talking to Disney and the folks at Skywalker Ranch and ILM.
Headaches – I’ve had migraines ever since I hit puberty – hormones are a necessary, but unpleasant part of life. I’ve had headaches because I clench my teeth from stress. I’ve had headaches because I spent 14 years staring at a computer screen all day and eventually most nights. I’ve had headaches because of my allergies clogged up my sinuses. Headaches were a regular thing – some minor, some not. I’m no stranger to a headache. Did I have more leading up to my Brain Surprise? I honestly can’t say. BUT, I’ve had some doozies since.
For those of you unfamiliar with a craniotomy – it involves shaving some hair off (did I mention that my neurosurgeon was kind? He – 0r rather, one of his steady handed residents – shaved only what he needed to and what my other hair would largely cover post surgery.) They remove part of your skull to get in there to do what they need to do. They reattach that piece of skull with magic. Ok, it’s not magic, but that sounds way more exciting than wires and screws or whatever they actually used – some things deserve to be a mystery. They stitch you back up. Turns out – this hurts. Oh, and the part where they’ve cut part of your brain out? That hurts too.
About a week after surgery, I had a migraine. Of course, at the time we didn’t know that’s what was causing my head to feel like it would explode at any moment. When you’ve suffered from migraines most of your life, you feel really silly when the ER doctor and the neurosurgeons say – after hours in the ER and after a CT scan and after blood tests – ‘it’s a migraine.’ At that point, it becomes quite obvious. Unfortunately, if you’ve just had brain surgery they insist on ruling out a brain bleed, brain swelling, stroke – requiring lots of expensive tests and hours in the VERY bright, VERY loud ER. The good thing about it being a migraine is the fact that a simple shot in the belly takes the pain away in under 5 minutes – talk about magic! We also find out that the steroids I was on to control brain swelling can trigger migraine. Um, that would have been helpful to know before you sent us home.
Going through radiation causes your brain to swell. When you consider for a moment what radiation is, this perhaps seems obvious. They asked me weekly ‘have you had any headaches?’ Every week I said, ‘no, not anything serious.’ This time we KNEW it was a possibility. So, why was it a surprise when the headache started to get serious? I have no idea. More steroids (the irony is not lost on us, believe me) and the headache went away.
I haven’t had anything more than a minor headache since. If they start up again, though, I’ll be prepared.