One year ago on August 23rd, my head was sawed open. An awesome neurosurgeon, Dr. Arnold Etame, took out a huge percentage of a large tumor in my brain. The tumor, classified as a Grade 2 (low grade) oligodendroglioma, had apparently been inside me for 20 to 30 years!
Drive to Moffitt through northern Tampa
To the right is our view early in the morning at the sunrise time. My husband drove my Mom and I to the hospital in Tampa for the whole day full of doctor visits and surgery prep on the day before the surgery.
On the surgery day, I remember being very nervous. Even that day before the surgery and on a prescription, I had my “anxiety” attacks. That I had found out from the doctor that these were seizures; I had a lot over the previous two years. I remember lots of random things on the surgery day. For instance, I remember arriving early in the morning with a few other people going for a surgery. I remember the nice strong support from my husband and mom, even though they were nervous, too. Once being driven in to the surgery room, I was prepped for an “awake” surgery. I felt like sort of an asleep state for a lot of the time, but I did talk a lot. I shouldn’t share some of the things I said! I also remember my neurosurgeon playing a certain song before he started his work, and it was so moving and had the positive energy flowing. Towards the end of the surgery, I really remember waking up – as they hammered the staples into my head and I called for more pain meds. I am sure the 10+ hours was even harder for my husband and mother waiting for me. Once out, I got to see them in my nice, only-me room. I know I fell asleep very quickly to start healing.
Scary view of the day after the brain surgery
The next day, I had already decided to take pictures. Like this one, some of the pictures look scary, but to me it doesn’t look so bad, considering how long the surgery was and how much of the tumor my doctor got out – 90%! No other doctor thought they would get that much. You can see that the white cotton was where Dr. Etame entered through my skull to get to the brain. It’s like creating a door opening. He and his team then went through my brain using many curves and a lot of time, mainly being as precise as possible while cutting out a tumor.
The time at Moffitt for only a couple more days was excellent. Their team was amazingly nice, but also pushing me in a good way. For instance, this day after the surgery, they immediately asked me why I wasn’t getting up and sitting in the chair and still in bed while watching the Olympics or eating lunch.
There were a lot of scary things happening at that time. But I am so glad and thankful that it all did happen!! Sure, I have had some difficulties over the past year, but not as bad as it would have been if that huge, whole tumor was still there. So, thank you everyone who has helped me get through all of this – even if it’s a Facebook like, it means a lot!!
And since this is my first blog post in a VERY long time, I will do my diary research and put up some blog posts from over the past year. That way anyone who wants to know about the past year will be able to read about the good and challenging things.