I am here to celebrate my birthday with you!
You all remember that a year and a half ago, a large brain tumor (an oligodendroglioma) was found in my head. A big seizure occurred while I was at work, and my boss took me to the ER! An MRI there showed us that a surgery was needed right away. I was then lucky to have a great surgery that removed 90% of the tumor. The tumor remains were then reduced through radiation and chemo treatment last year. You can find more details on my page, Brain Tumor on The Gail Spot.
I am truly thankful to be able to get back to myself, but I am now overwhelmed with the bills I receive. My great surgeon wants to look at my brain to ensure it is healing properly — which means MRIs every 3 months. While I am happy to have health insurance, I still must meet the deductible and out of pocket maximum before they will cover the bills. I currently have a payment plan to pay off the last two years of bills at $3200. There will be a new bill coming up in a couple of months when my MRIs start again at another $3000.
The biggest issue for me is the prescription the doctor has me stay on. It is great to stop any possible seizures. But it makes me randomly very nappy. I have not been able to find a job for which I could work around my weird naps. I have done some .com jobs to help start an income.
For my birthday, February 3rd, please say “Happy Birthday” through any small or medium or large donations through gofundme you would be willing to give.
I appreciate any support from my friends and family!
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.
At the recent visit to see Dr. Etame, I finally remembered to ask him about what that song he was playing before the full operation. I remember this song because he did an awake operation. There are certainly some things and parts of the surgery I remember, but not all of it. When he was at the start, waiting for something to be delivered to the room, I heard him singing along to the song below. I had never heard it before, but I could feel the positivity coming in. He also helped him to focus, I believe. So, here is the “Burning Train” song with Teri Hai Zameen.
Decided to (finally) let everyone know about my tumor and the surgery on Facebook. And 240 likes and 258 comments! Thank you everyone for responding and supporting me!!
Here’s my post:
“Update – I had a big brain tumor!! It was a glioma – called an oligodendroglioma. I didn’t think I had something like this – thought it was me just being nervous. Well, went to the emergency room after having an attack at work, and they let me know I had a brain tumor. I then had an operation on my brain three weeks ago. A wonderful doctor gave me a big operation and took out a huge percentage of the tumor. I am healing now and starting to feel better. We will see the doctor soon and decide what the next decision will be. My husband, Mike, is a wonderful partner in soooo many ways and helping me sooo much!! My mom, Betty, is staying to assist here with us. I am sorry I didn’t tell everyone right away, but I appreciate all your thoughts! I am still sleepy sometimes and in a healing state, so I will get back with you!! I’ve received great cards, wonderful plants and flowers, and fun things. Thank you for your support!!”
(Yes, adding this afterward…) Day of my surgery. Here’s what the surgeons and hospital call it: Awake left temporal stereotactic craniotomy with tractography for resection of temporal insular glioma.
The operation ended up taking about 12 hours I’ve been told. I know it was hard for my husband and my mom to wait in a small room for all that time. I certainly remember arriving at Moffitt early in the morning – still dark! I was quickly hooked up to a lot of meds with needles. And it did relax me a lot! I was then sent into the operation room, not very far away. I remember some chatting between all the people operating throughout the surgery. I guess Dr. Etame asked me questions before continuing, but I don’t remember that. I remember hearing some music he played before commencing on the surgery. I also remember asking for pain meds a few times when the staples were being added to my skull. That did hurt a lot!
Next thing I know, I was sent to the “wake up” area, where a nurse stopped by frequently asking me questions. Once I was more fully awake, I was brought to my room. My husband and mother showed up not too long after that. They stayed for a half hour, and I was given some more drugs to sleep well that night.