I’m pretty sure I’ve been overly dismissive in the past about the difficulty of what’s going on. Thing is, if I concentrate on the difficult, that difficult ends up coloring my entire experience. There can be good things that can end up happening. As Russel Willson (the current Seahawks qb and former Wisconsin Badger) would say, “Why not me?” When someone tells an unbelievable and inspiring story about themselves, they had to make it through those unbelievable circumstances. The difficult, far fetched, part is an essential part of the overall story. For me, the difficult, far fetched part, is a brain tumor on my cerebellum.
We are stuck trying to find a way to combat that. I had my most recent craniotomy on November 19. I came home on the 21st. The surgeon removed as much tumor as was safely possible. He also did a procedure called an “ETV” to create a new path for cerebral spinal fluid to continue to flow if it somehow gets blocked again by tumor growth - which is what happened this time. The excess of spinal fluid is also known as hydrocephelus, or “water on the brain”.
After surgery I was very debilitated. My incision site began to swell and leak fluid. I began a regimen of medication to slow down the spinal fluid production so my body could catch up and drain it naturally. But as more time passed, my condition still continued to worsen. I had a few spinal taps in another attempt to drain fluid, short of surgery. The taps provided immediate relief to some of my symptoms, but wore off after a few days. It was becoming clear that the ETV was not working as designed. By Christmas Day, it was obvious that I needed to take the next step. I went to the ER, was admitted to the hospital that night, and had a shunt surgically implanted on December 27th.
A shunt has been a consideration since the very beginning in 2011, however, it wasn’t deemed necessary until now. It is a device implanted in my head that connects to a long skinny catheter which travels under my skin and empties into my abdominal cavity, where my body can safely absorb the excess spinal fluid. There was significant improvement in many areas after the placement of the shunt. My cognition and mobility got much better and my headaches subsided. One thing that did not improve is my nausea, which remains the case. I had an MRI on January 31st. My tumor right now is back to about 50% of where it was pre-surgery. That growth may be the current cause of my nausea.
Right now I’m taking a chemo called CCNU. It’s a pill that I take every six weeks. It usually takes two rounds to kick in. I’ve done one round. I started a drip called Avastin today which is administered every two weeks. Avastin prevents the creation of new blood vessels which will slow the tumor growth so the CCNU has more time to work.
Things look difficult, and are difficult. But we’ve been lucky to have many visitors to help and an outpouring of support from friends and family. These are my current unbelievable circumstances that I will continue to fight. Because, why not?