Sunday, January 22, 2012

The Reaper Came Knocking

December 17, 2011.
Patient is unresponsive, heart rate is in the 20's...
One emergency craniotomy later I am here to say nice try cancer.
On December 28, 2010 I was diagnosed with cancer. After that day my main goal was to make it to December 28, 2011 to be able to celebrate my "new birthday". One year as a survivor/patient. One year and still going strong.
I almost didn't make it to that day and the celebration.
11 days earlier a newly discovered 9 cm brain tumor in the left occipital lobe very nearly kept me from reaching a very important milestone.
I had been experiencing some vision issues as well as increasingly worsening headaches for a period of a couple of months which lead me to seeking an appointment with Ophthalmology. After a field of vision test it was determined that I had lost my vision in the lower right quadrant of both eyes, leaving me with a blind spot. The speculation was that, worst case scenario, I had a tumor in the occipital lobe of the brain damaging the optic nerve and an urgent MRI was scheduled to be conducted within 48 hours. Thus began a whirlwind 9 day period.
  • December 8, 2011: MRI of the brain.
  • December 9, 2011: Results confirmed and delivered, a 9 cm mass is present in my brain.
  • December 12, 2011: Consult with Neurosurgery, surgery scheduled for December 20, 2011.
  • December 12, 2011: Consult with Radiation Oncology, a course of radiation therapy recommended for post surgery.
  • December 15, 2011: A series of worsening headaches brings me to the ER.
  • December 15, 2011: I "black out" and have no memory of any event until December 20, 2011.
  • December 15, 2011: Admitted to ICU.
  • December 16, 2011: Surgery moved to December 19, 2011.
  • December 17, 2011: Vital signs take a dive, I become unresponsive and my heart rate drops into the 20's.
  • December 17, 2011: Surgery becomes urgent and a left craniotomy to resect my tumor mass is performed this day.
Surgery was a success, but this latest obstacle set me back a bit more and gave me more hurdles to overcome. Prior to discharge day I was evaluated by speech, occupational and physical therapy to determine what services I would need in order to regain my abilities and whether I would be able to be discharged to home or to a treatment facility. With sheer will and determination I was able to prove that I would only need physical therapy and that I would be able to be safe and function at home. When discharge day arrived I needed to use a walker to leave the hospital, but I was able to walk out. It was a slow walk and a bit unstable, but I was walking.
And now to the present day.
After a few weeks with the walker I was able to transition to a cane, presently I use neither.
The vision loss is permanent but I am making adjustments and learning to accomodate for it.
With the help of an amazing physical therapist I am regaining endurance, coordination, balance and strength. I have a ways to go but I am making great progress.
So, to make a long story short, everybody gets knocked down. How quick are you going to get back up?


  1. Brian,
    I am in awe of you! I can't even find the words to explain my reaction to this post. All I can say is WOW!!! I can't begin to imagine what you have endured and what you must continue to endure. I don't know how you do it. I think I would have given up by now. You certainly are an inspiration!!! God bless you, Ellon, and the soon to be Dougan! Keep fighting and be strong!

  2. Thank you Jen, I most definitely will!