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.