Monday, January 3, 2011

A Long Weekend

Well, as is sometimes the case about significant things in my life, I was wrong. Talking to doctors it turned out was a bad idea. The ER doctor said “Lots of people have seizures as a one time incident and never have any issues again. We’re going to do a cat scan just to make sure.” The cat scan doctor said “Well, there’s something a little bit off so we’re going to do an MRI.” The doctor after the MRI (yes each time it was a different guy!) said “well there’s something wrong in the center of your brain, it could be scar tissue, a tumor benign or cancerous and we’re going to admit you.” During the first doctor, my coworkers had been there. During the second one, my wife had shown up and left during the MRI to go get my daughter. After the MRI, when the doctor told me they were going to be admitting me was one of the few times I was alone in the hospital. The rational reaction would have been to wait for them to admit me or to wait for my wife but I wasn’t exactly rational. Rather, I covered up my IV with the long sleeve shirt I had on and put on my jacket and walked out of the ER. Not quite sure where the destination was, being admitted to the hospital was not a possibility I accepted real well. Coincidentally as I walked out, the EMT who had brought me to the hospital was bringing in someone. He coincidentally commented to me “Oh, you getting out of here, good. You look way better than the last time I saw you.”

As I walked towards the parking lot, I noticed my wife and my friend Troy walking into the main entrance. I got their attention and she asked what I was doing and was neither surprised nor pleased with the answer. She walked me back to my hospital room and then they admitted me. More than a few friends had noticed my facebook status and started calling, emailing etc. I posted what room I was in and by that evening over a dozen friends had visited.

The jokes started quickly:
“Well, the half of us who thought there was something wrong with your brain were wrong”
“We always knew there was something wrong with your mind, now we have proof”
“The things that you’ll do for attention”

I was admitted shortly before dinner time and a neurologist and a neurosurgeon didn’t come in to see me until after 10 PM. The neurosurgeone came after a 14 hour surgery at 11:30 PM. Luckily, there were friends still there so it actually was a lot of sitting and talking etc. I asked the neurosurgeon what was worst/best case scenario. Best case scenario was that it was some type of scar tissue and worst case was that it was a grade 4 malignant tumor which means I’d likely be dead within 18 months. He pointed out that he didn’t think it was either of those but rather an astrocytoma or a glioma, probably grade 1 or 2. This being Friday at 11:30 PM, he said he’d do a biopsy on Monday or Tuesday. Asking if I could be released till then, he said that he could release me but he’d rather monitor me and that it would likely be more expensive if I had two separate hospital admissions.

It was a very strange scenario for me. I couldn’t remember a time before that where I had sat for that long. My resting heart rate, in the 40’s, had gotten the doctors to put me on a heart monitor since apparently a weak heart and a strong heart beat at similar rates, just different efficiencies. I kept ripping it off (it itched!) and the doctors finally got a doctor to get me cleared from it so they didn’t have to keep coming in every time I took it off. I kept asking every doctor if I could go running. Unlike everyone else in the hospital, I wasn’t in pain and I literally had no memory of why I was there so I needed to get back to marathon training. My doctor finally agreed to let me run around the block as long as I had a friend run with me. My friend Matt came and the nurses walked us out and watched us do the first lap. They were casually informed that we’d be taking a while as I’d be doing a lot of walking since I was so tired. After they were in, we may have ran 8 miles. (Of course if anyone from my insurance or medical staff is reading this, I’m clearly exaggerating for good story telling).

The weekend (and Monday) was very long due to sitting around but was also very short because was spent with friends constantly visiting. We even had a poker game till 2 AM Saturday night. People brought movies, magazines (a couple pornographic, never figured out who that was), video game consoles but most importantly almost everyone stayed there for a while and talked.

Several doctors came to talk to me and they all kept saying we needed to defer to the biopsy. But they thought maybe radiation, maybe steroids, maybe surgery, maybe nothing maybe chemotherapy. They put me on a couple of ant seizure medications which put me off balance. Walking was difficult for the first little while each time.

The big question marks would be settled about 24 hours after the biopsy so they just wanted me to wait. So I just kept waiting for November 8th to see what was wrong inside my head.

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