November 21, 2009 at 7:30 pm (Uncategorized)

Mom seems to have come through the surgery OK, and the docs were able to give us the breakdown of most of what they know earlier today, though I guess full biopsy results may not be available until Monday or something like that.
She’s been a bit groggy and a little “out of it” all day, but it’s expected she will probably be able to go home either sometime tomorrow or Monday.

The neurosurgeon took my dad & me aside and gave us what was basically an onslaught of bad news.

Verified it is a very aggressive brain cancer.
Because of the location, they can’t get to it to remove it (“it’s in the worst place it could possibly be in” were the words used).
It is hoped that through radiation therapy and possibly some chemo they will be able to halt further growth.
This will not by any means bring her back to her former self – it will just help hold it back from getting worse.
For a while. Maybe a year. Maybe a little more. Maybe a little less.

Dad’s talking about how he has no idea how he’s going to be able to take care of her when they live in a two story house and the bedrooms and bathroom are up two flights of stairs.
Not sure what to tell him – I really feel just as helpless as he does right now.


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Mom: Surgery this weekend

November 19, 2009 at 7:18 pm (Uncategorized)

So the full body PET scan they did came up with nothing, so the doctors have decided that they need to go in and do some exploratory surgery Saturday morning.

Even this “exploratory” surgery is going to be risky – in order to get to what they’re trying to “explore” they still have to somehow dig down and get to the center underside of her brain against the spinal column… without hurting her further in the process.

Assuming it goes OK, they’re still expecting to have to keep her for a number of days afterwards both so she can recover and so that they can keep her for observation to make sure she doesn’t start brain hemorrhaging, etc.

Dad has asked if LabGirl and I can watch their dog during what will likely be him spending pretty much day and night at the hospital by her side.
I have to clear it with LabGirl, and figure out some arrangements with the cat (as both the dog and the cat have a mean streak and I could easily see them getting into it), but I’m sure she’ll be fine with it.

The sadder side of me is of course thinking that if there are any complications at all, Saturday morning may be the last chance I get to see my mom.
But let’s just pray that’s not the case.

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Blowing a Gasket

November 19, 2009 at 7:56 am (Uncategorized)

So a couple of days ago I was getting ready for work, and all of a sudden I had this MASSIVE headache, and noticed this thingie in my vision that was sort of like the after-image you get after looking into a bright light…. except it wasn’t going away.

I took a crapload of Tylenol and went to work, did some Googling and from my reading it sounded like I was probably having an ocular migraine. I’m not usually a migraine kind of guy, the last time I had one was so long ago I don’t even remember when it was, and the visual thing has never happened, but whatever.
According to the descriptions, it’s harmless, and the visual obsurity usually goes away pretty quickly.

Then yesterday morning, the “blind spot” is still there. Hasn’t moved. Hasn’t faded. Hasn’t reduced in size. Something told me I needed to get this thing checked out in case it’s something a bit more serious than what I was self-diagnosing through Google.

So I make a lunch hour appointment with a local eye specialist, and I end up being there for about 2 hours having a crapload of tests run while the doc kept looking at things and saying she didn’t see anything that looked like it was wrong.
Finally they put me on this funky machine that does a visual scan of the macula (the part of the retina most responsible for your central vision)… and they found the the problem.
Showing me the image, she pointed out where I had somehow blown through a layer of tissue, which was now bubbling up and had a layer of fluid under it – causing the big “spot” in the vision of my right eye.

She said when it happens it’s usually in men in my age group, and that it seems to usually be stress related – then asking if I was under an unusual level of stress lately (to which I simply answered yes, rather than ranting about how noooooo dealing with working 10 hours a day six days a week, and mother dying from brain cancer, and adjusting to newly moving in with my girlfriend, all at the same time, wasn’t an unusual amount of stress at alllll).

She then said there wasn’t much that could be done for it other than to just give it time to heal naturally, which can take up to a few months.
Also scheduled me for an appointment with a retina specialist just to double check.

So… I now get to work on a computer all day with this damned huge spot in the middle of the vision of my right eye for who knows how long. Great.

And I suspect I’ll probably blow out another one once I get the bill for them to tell me there’s nothing I can do – they had to do a crapload of tests to get to that conclusion.

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Another Mom Update

November 19, 2009 at 7:39 am (Uncategorized)

LabGirl and I stopped by for a visit Sunday afternoon.
Things appear to be progressing in the wrong direction.
She basically tries to not stand up or walk unless she absolutely has to.
And, very sadly, she appears to have completely lost the use of her left eye. She mentioned the doctors have told her that even if they are able to operate on the tumor (which still looks unlikely) she’ll likely never get it back – it seems that once the brain shuts down a vision sense like that it’s next to impossible to turn it back on again, regardless of how much has healed.
She got a couple of calls from relatives while we were there, and just from her describing to them what’s going on, LabGirl had to leave the room because she had started to break down into tears.

Amazing, but Mom actually seems to be the strongest of all of us right now as she goes through all this.

She had a PET scan yesterday. The docs have been unable to even do a biopsy on this brain tumor because it’s so hard to get to, so they’re doing a full body scan actually hoping that this thing has spread somewhere else, so that they can sample it and do a biopsy so they can have a better idea what exactly they’re dealing with. Probably a few days before much comes from it.

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Mom’s not doing well

November 14, 2009 at 1:07 pm (Uncategorized)

Although I’m not really in a writing mood I figured I should at least mention this – my mom’s in pretty bad shape right now… to the point where I am very afraid she may not be here with us on this earth much longer.

The symptoms progressed very quickly – a couple of weeks or so ago she started having trouble with her vision, seeing double. She saw an ophthalmologist who told her that from what he could tell her eyes were perfectly fine, so whatever was causing her double vision, it didn’t appear to be her eyes themselves.
So she scheduled an MRI.

The results of the MRI were, to say the least, not good.
She has some sort of growth, possibly a tumor, at the base of the brain and against the spinal cord, at an area called the pons – it’s jacking with her senses and her symptoms are getting worse – only a couple of weeks later, and now her left eye will no longer move right of center, she can’t walk straight, and her balance is messed up.

Although she’s got lots of doctor visits lined up, so far they are not at all optimistic, and say due to the location (which is pretty much smack dab bottom-center of her brain) it may not be operable – and even if it is (which appears to be unlikely) they’re not even sure what the mass even is yet – though one possibility may be some sort of moved recurrence of the breast cancer that she fought against so hard about a decade ago and thought she had beaten.

My dad is so worried he’s hardly eating, and I’m not ashamed to say I broke down in tears for a good part of the night after he told me about it, and continue to try not to think about it too much as I go through my day just so I can function.

I’ve never lost anyone close to me before, and definitely not a family member. I mean, I of course knew the time would come eventually, but now… she’s only in her mid 60’s.

And I keep thinking sad thoughts like… what if she passes on before I get married? What if she never gets to meet my future kids? What is dad going to do without her? I mean, like probably most couple that have been together for decades, their whole lives revolve around each other.

We were never the closest of families – we’re not were never the give-hugs-and-tell-everybody-you-love-em type family, and really we never needed to be – my parents have always shown how much they care through their actions if not necessarily their words. Always there if I needed them, even if I always tried my best not to have to burden them.

I work in a building that’s right next door to a Catholic diocese building. They have a statue of Christ out front with arms outstretched overlooking a pond and a grove of trees.
Yesterday during my break I took a sit under a tree, meditated for a short while, and then prayed for the first time in a very, very long time. I can only hope it was so out of place that somebody actually listened.

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