Monday, August 30, 2010
ON LIVING WITH A BRAIN TUMOR Day 84: Seeing Double
Two of my favorite quotes have dominated my thoughts over the past four days because events over the past four days have found me living those two quotes. At first glance they seem to have nothing to do with each other. But that's an outward appearance. First the quotes, then the explanation: Quote #1: "Life is what happens to you when you're busy making other plans." (Anonymous) Quote #2: "...the time we are afforded to find happiness and satisfaction cannot be spared or wasted.... Whenever possible, dreams must be pursued, not deferred." (Anna Quindlen) Here's the back story: Six months ago, episodes of double vision led to a referral to a neuro-ophthalmologist who recommended an MRI. The MRI revealed a benign brain tumor. The next step was a referral to a neurosurgeon who told me that while some of my symptoms were related to the tumor, it was the cause of none of my vision problems. “Great!” I said when he offered the well-reasoned option of “watching waiting” as opposed to radiation. In the interim, in order to eliminate the double vision, I was given a prescription for prisms to be inserted in my eyeglass lenses.. They worked great...for a few days. So I headed back to my neuro-ophthalmologist. "Dr. Neurosurgeon told me that my brain tumor is unrelated to the increasing and now-constant double vision, so I'm back here on the assumption that the prisms aren't as strong as they need to be." "I'm not so sure about that!" Dr. Neuro-ophthalmologist said. He loaded the images of my MRI onto his computer screen and explained why he believes the tumor is the cause of my vision issues. "I'm meeting with my radiologist," he said. "I'll bring your case to the meeting and give you a call on Monday.” Jump ahead to today's phone call. "The radiologist concurs. We both believe that the tumor is the cause of your double vision." Now here's where the quotes come in to play. The "other plans" my husband and I have been making before life getting in the way are for a trip abroad. We started planning for this trip before the vision problems became an issue. But because I'm a big believer in pursuing not deferring this trip. I'll be darned if I'll cancel it just because I’m seeing double! Current plans: Get new prisms installed, take trip, see how things work out. No more double vision? Great; back to "watchful waiting." Continued problems? It scares me to say this out loud, even more so to write it out because committing my thoughts to paper places them in the category of reality. So if need be, I’ll submit to having four holes drilled in my head in order to anchor the cage that will zap The Little B*#*tard. I can handle the four holes. The scary part is the very slight but very real possibility of some crummy side effects, one of which is my benign tumor will transform into a malignant one. So it's back to the occasional panic attack, which I deal with by writing, and it's back to being aware of my life as a WWABT (pronounced "wabbit." It stands for Woman With A Brain Tumor.) With any luck--and maybe a strong gin and tonic--my sense of humor about all of this will return. Until then, thanks to seeing double I intend to look forward to seeing twice as much of Bruges, Copenhagen, and Amsterdam.