#8 “ Well Scott, the punches just keep coming. You have a brain tumor. “
“ Well Scott, the punches just keep coming. You have a brain tumor. “
That was the ‘ hello ‘ to my call last week with my eye specialist following an exhaustive MRI I went through to get to the root of what we believed was an eye specific thyroid disorder.
Nope. Definitely not an eye specific thyroid disorder.
Nope. A brain tumor.
My son. My dogs. My horses. My home. My family. My work… like a slideshow. Flashflashflashflashflash…
And then panic.
“ Am I going to die “… ?
No. Not today I’m not. I have a benign meningioma.
‘A meningioma is a tumor that forms on membranes that cover the brain and spinal cord just inside the skull. Specifically, the tumor forms on the three layers of membranes that are called meninges.
These tumors are often slow-growing. As many as 90% are benign (not cancerous). Most meningiomas occur in the brain. But they can also grow on parts of the spinal cord.
Often, meningiomas cause no symptoms and require no immediate treatment. But the growth of benign meningiomas can cause serious problems. In some cases, such growth can be fatal. Meningiomas are the most common type of tumor that originates in the central nervous system. They may become malignant.
A small number of meningiomas are cancerous. They tend to grow quickly. They also can spread to other parts of the brain and beyond, often to the lungs. ‘
Next week I launch into interviewing neurosurgeons. Grateful to an incredible eye specialist who has been at the co-captain helm with another eye specialist, surrounded and supported by my primary physician, my physician’s assistant and my optometrist, who is referring me on to choose between UC Davis and Stanford for the procedure, which will involve cutting my scalp away from my skull. Bone sawing my skull open and setting the bone piece aside to expose my blood brain barrier. Perforating my blood brain barrier to reach the tumor. And then excising the tumor from my brain. I’m told that the majority of the tumor is on my brain. However, a portion of the tumor has managed to weave itself into the backside ‘ wiring ‘ of my left eyeball and eye socket. So, with risk being too high to excise that portion, the surgical procedure will be followed up by regular radiation until the portion that is interacting with sensitive eye matter is killed.
Like every good Irish man, I laughed and quickly got to work with constructing jokes to make light of this moment. And like every normal Irish man… and human being, I then retreated to a private place to cry.
The worst thought racing through my panic’d brain – tumor and all – is missing the experience of watching the most incredible 4 year old grow and become a man. There isn’t a single project, or home, or vacation, or car, or sofa, or drape… or dog or horse… that can even measure to how lost I’d be by missing that.
I’m lucky. The tumor is benign. It is NOT malignant. And while my eyesight and neural issues are in play and must be managed with a precision I could never summon in my skill set with my hands or focus, my actual life is not hanging in the balance.
So, for today, I can dream of soccer games, and carving first turns. Of setting out pumpkins lit with candles. And Christmas trees filled with presents from Santa. Of smelling daffodils and iris and lilac together in the Spring on our neighborhood walk… or razor… or bike. And of building sand castles and diving off the back of the boat come next summer, when he’ll turn 5. In short, of hearing a little boy laugh and giggle and enjoy the days he moves so fluidly through with absolute engagement.
Someday, I hope, I may even get the chance to help him decorate his college dorm room. And maybe even walk him down an aisle to his life’s partner. …Someday.
Today, I get to summon my God given Irish wit and tell the tumor, ‘ Kiss my Irish ass! ‘ . I get to plan a staycation at a comfortable hospital in Davis or Palo Alto for upwards of a week. And I get forced to slow down for maybe six weeks or so to recuperate from brain surgery. When its all done I do get to say to my clients with their dramas and blow outs, with actual expertise, whether or not something qualifies as brain surgery. And I’ve got a killer – pardon the pun – opportunity to design a bitchen tattoo with Russell, my tattoo artist, to decorate the noticeable… errr massive – scar that will be left behind on my big fat bald Irish head.
For now, lets just get this thing out of my fucking skull. And get my left eye back to normal.
Through it – ALL OF IT… turning 50, getting divorced, 2020, COVID19… and we haven’t even passed the 12 month mark since this stretch of the journey started for me in October…
Keep Calm… and Carry On.