Wednesday, April 22, 2009

What the Doctor thinks he saw

Sunday 19 April 2009
My side of the bed, home

When I woke up on Saturday morning I felt better than I’d felt in a long time. Was it the reduced swelling from the mega-dose of steroids I was on? Was it the night’s sleep bereft of rolling a large boulder up a hill and then watching it tumble down the other side? The only thing I remember out of an otherwise flatline of a sleep was hearing my son, Jude, crying in the middle of the night, hearing him get up and then knowing that he was ok.

Dr White arrived mid morning and began to doctor me. There was something re-assuring about the way he tested my reflexes, checked my eyes tracking his finger, my pupils dilate and various other oddities of the neurosciences. Then he began with the neuroscience lesson.

From the MRI and the previous CAT scan and his experience he felt that it was more than likely an “Astrocytoma”, one of the more aggressive variants of brain tumour.

What's obvious is that there is some bleeding (the white area) around a darker area of growth.
The most active cells in our brains are called glial cells and they do most of the repair work and maintenance. It follows that if there was going to be any 'bad' mutation that it would more than likely happen in and amongst these glial cells which are constantly reproducing themselves in the process of building the various bits of neuron sheathing, brain scaffolding and whatnot that they do.

Dr White offered that given the size of the growth he could see on the scans and the way the symptoms were manifesting (headache’s and ‘seizures’) he thought that it was an “aggressive” Astrocytoma. Cancerous growth are apparently ranked from grade 1 to grade 4 depending on how active and virulent they appear and behave. He went on to say that until they can do a biopsy on the tumour this is all speculation but that he was proceeding on this basis.
He went on to explain what was going to happen to me in these rough stages:

On Friday 24 April he plans to operate on my brain, removing this growth and putting my head back together. I will go into an Intensive Care Unit (ICU) for a day or two, or until the risk of any bleeding, swelling or infection was ruled out. From there to a general ward at the Cape Medi-Clinic and then home by the following Friday.

Once the scientist dudes had sliced and diced my dragon they will know what to call it on their carefully devised maps of the human brain and then we’ll all get together and talk about what their map suggests is the next step to take. Dr White has told me that if it turns out to be an Astrocytoma then it will more than likely involve 6 weeks of Radiotherapy and a milder form of Chemotherapy.

We’ll cross those bridges when we get there.


Bernard said...

Ouch Llewelen. That'll teach you to have so many l's in your name ;-).
So sorry to hear about this. What a way to be reminded of old classmates.
It sounds like you're surronded by lots of clever and caring people, but if you need to talk about any of the medical stuff, drop me a line. Anaesthetics and ITU are my little world.
Best Regards Bernard McClement aka Fox

Heidi's Healing said...

Hi Llewelen

I have a friend who has just been treated for a form of brain cancer (I know there are so many variations).

After the first op in SA to remove the bulk of the tumour, she flew to a clinic in Germany that does a very new form of surgery - the name eludes me now. She had the rest of the tumour removed there. She has now come back for the radiotherapy part. Please sms me for her number if you are interested in more details: my cell: 083 382 1300

Having been diagnosed with breast cancer last October, I have some idea of what you are going thru. The decisions and possible outcomes from here on out can be so daunting, all consuming and just plain scary.

I am sending you and your family much love, strength and courage.

Heidi van Loggerenberg (Glenn's wife)

justin fiske said...


A privilege to see inside you head, mate! What an amazing machine you live in. Thanks for showing us that (incidentally, others, if you drag the image onto your desktop or into iphoto you get the full tour of half of llews brain! miraculous)

Well done on the op so far and my best expectations for the recovery, I hope things start going better inside there. I'm sure they will.

relax, concentrate & get better

Love to you all

macjanet said...

Hi Llew
Thanks for the pictueres of your brain. Could see you so clearly in your profile.
How are you feeling post-op? It's been a few weeks now.
Let us know.