Tuesday, April 21, 2009

What The Doctor Saw

Sunday 19 April 2009
My side of the bed, home

“The castles the mind builds by day
the heart can tear asunder
in a slumber”
Stupor Mundi

So much has happened since Thursday that I find it difficult to pick up the narrative thread of what happened next and what feeling or thought that evoked.

When Sarah and I were alone that Thursday evening I felt, dare I say, excited. There was no part of me that thought that this would end in tears. I remember saying something to her like, “this feels like the first time I went overseas.” And it really has. I remember sitting on the plane, flying to America, exhilarated to be sailing into the unknown, hungry for what was going to happen next.

There has always been that part of me that, like a Meerkat, sticks its head out of the borough at the first sign of anything vaguely interesting and out of the ordinary, even if it is burrowing inside my head.

Thursday night I slept, if that’s what you can call it. It woke up exhausted. It felt like I had spent the whole night pouring the left part of my brain into the right and back again. Sissyphus eat your heart out!

Friday was a busy day, full of distractions, things to do, people to meet, places to go. Thank goodness. Dr White had me check myself into the Cape Medi Clinic where I met him later that morning. He was in theatre all day and popped up to see me on one of his tea breaks, between brain operations. The moment he walked in the door I felt good about what was happening. I told him the story, pretty much like I have here and he had already seen my CAT scan. He asked me if I had been experiencing any ‘other symptoms’. Always one for over-sharing I let him in on what to date has been a very personal journey and for me in no way connected with what was going on… or so I thought.

About 5 weeks ago I was sitting in my office listening to a colleague when I suddenly become hyper aware of everything happening around me. I could hear Theo talking to me. I was thinking about what he was saying and it seemed at the same time I was also aware of everything else that was going on in the street outside, the room next door, and dare I say somewhere else that I knew wasn’t as easily placed and explained as the room next door.

The feeling passed. Then it happened again and again. Except each time it happened it become more layered and nuanced. It felt like something or some other time and place was bleeding through into my waking awareness. At times it felt like a memory. At other times it felt like it was happening to me right then and there. Each time it was an aspect of the same thing. There were actually people in this other time/place I kept bumping up against but I could never see a face or recognise anybody.

The first time I described it to Sarah I remember saying to her that I feel like a new sense has switched on inside of me. I felt like I was experiencing all this extra stuff on another level in addition to the five senses we make do with every day. If I had to locate the sensory organ for this new sense I would say it was inside my solar plexus.

It was at this point that Dr White, my neurosurgeon, piped up and said, “oh that must have been the beginning of your seizures.” What could I say. At that point it dawned on me how limiting the maps are that we have drawn up to describe the territory we find ourselves in. The doctor’s map tells him I’m having a seizure. My map tells me I’m experiencing a world beyond my borders.

Of course there was nothing else to say to Dr White at that time. Probably because he sent me to the City Park Hospital (Christian Barnard Medical Centre) where I had an MRI scan. If you’ve ever had one you will know that it is a very foreign place to be, lying inside a narrow sarcophagus that huffs and puffs with a myriad of magnetic pulses and impulses. A friend wrote to me today about her experience of hearing ‘God’ talking to her during her MRI scan and I knew exactly what she meant.

En-route back to the Cape Medi-Clinic I had another one of my experiences/seizures and was very relieved to be back in the hospital. I was attached to a drip and put onto an anti-seizure medication Epilim and a saline solution to hydrate me. I’m going to get off this Epilim as soon as I can. It’s scary stuff. I totally realise why I’m on it and while Dr White is running the show I’m going to allow him to make this call. But as soon as I’m out of surgery I want off this stuff. Nuff said.

The MRI Scans were sent to Dr White who was still in theatre and he appeared later in the afternoon to tell me what his prognosis was. At this point he hadn’t had the time to inspect me and he made an appointment to meet me the next morning and do a full consultation with the MRI scans and give me the full run-down on what he saw and what that meant. At this point he assured me that if it had been urgent I’d already have been in surgery. This is what his first prognosis sounded like:

I had an ‘aggressive’ tumor behind my right eye which had to be surgically removed as soon as possible. He told me he wanted to operate on Friday after the election craziness had subsided and when he had his trusted theatre team with him. He prescribed a substantial course of steroids containing cortisone to combat the swelling to reduce the pressure of the growth on my brain. He made an appointment to see me for a full consultation on Saturday morning to take inspect me and discuss all his findings and answer all my questions.

I went to sleep on Friday night drugged up to the eyeballs, enough steroids to give the ‘governator’ a run for his money and talk of brain surgery that still left me feeling excited and a more than a little intrigued by what this all held in store.

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