That place still traumatizes me.
Wait, back up. I should start at the beginning.
Yesterday it was finally time for my 7-month MRI following my brain tumor removal last September (and my 7th lifetime MRI at that!) My mom came down a few days ago to spend some time with me while my husband was out of town, and to drive me to my appointments.
I was already stressed out about the day because of the timing. My MRI was scheduled for 9:20 am at a nearby family health center. Originally, my appointment with my neurosurgeon was at 11:40 am at main campus, but last week it was changed to 9:40 am. The office called me and told me it was ok to get there as soon as I could after the MRI. Ok, then…but it still stressed me out because if there is one thing I can’t stand, it’s tardiness.
We arrived on time for my scan and I was taken back fairly quickly. I got changed and had forgotten my card that says my aneurysm stent is MRI-safe, so the tech looked it up while I was having my IV placed. Luckily, all was fine. She then escorted me to the scanner…which was located in a trailer out back. Which was a bit odd, because they had a paved sidewalk and covered walkway out to the trailer and a carpeted waiting area once you got to the trailer, which to me seemed to imply the intent for a permanent structure…whatever. I hopped in the scanner and we got down to business. I opted for no music because you can’t hear it over the scanner anyway. 24 minutes of jack hammering and Mack truck idling later and I was done. I completely missed the huge thunderstorm that rolled through while I was in the scanner because the scanners are so blasted loud!
By the time we were on our way to the hospital, it was 10:30 am. I called the office to let them know we were on our way from my MRI. We got to the hospital fairly quickly, but then had a bit of unknown territory to get through. The new cancer center opened last month and I had never been in it before, so we had to locate the office, which fortunately was simple to do. But even though it was unfamiliar to me, I still felt my hospital phobia creeping up. That place still traumatizes me.
An important step for me was that I decided to forego my wheelchair and walk from the parking garage, across two skyways, and through the building to the brain tumor center. Seriously, this was a daunting decision on my part because I haven’t walked that great of a distance since my POTS symptoms started in December. But I was determined to push myself to prove that I wasn’t as useless as I feel. And I did it! Granted, by the time we got to the desk, I was beat and a bit shaky, but I had my hydration pack with me, so all was well.
I filled out the depression/pain/sleep/quality of life questionnaire they always have you fill out before these appointments, which I hate. But we didn’t have to wait long to be called back. My vitals were excellent. However, I knew when the first person to come into the exam room was a social worker that this was going to be a challenging appointment. Darn it, I hadn’t even hit the “suicide button” on the questionnaire this time! But she explained that my depressive score wasn’t where they’d like to see it, so she asked to speak to me without my mom present. And of course, because I’m a highly emotional person, as soon as I started spilling the beans about why I’m depressed (a story I’ve had to relate to probably at least a dozen healthcare practitioners by now, although it never gets easier), I started crying.
Right in the middle of all this, Dr. Recinos came in. The social worker left and Dr. Recinos said, “So, things aren’t going so well, huh?” Without saying anything specifically, he had an air about him that said he knew what was really going on. Then he said, “Well, let’s talk about some good news. Good news is good, right?” So he pulled up my MRIs from last August and from that morning to compare side by side. He pointed out how, even though my current MRI doesn’t look completely normal, the spot seen on the pituitary gland is the cavity from where the tumor was. He said he could see no indication of tumor recurrence!!! Hallelujah, thank you Jesus, and praise the Lord! ???
He went on to explain that from here on out, management will just be occasional monitoring of my prolactin level and my endocrinologist will take the lead on that. Dr. Recinos asked about my menstrual cycles, which I told him seem to have essentially normalized. He said he was happy to hear that because he knew one of my reasons for having the surgery was to be able to start a family, and that it was great to see things moving in the right direction.
At this point, he was trying so hard to make me happy, bless him. He was phrasing everything in a positive light, saying things like, “We did what we set out to do, right? And that’s a good thing.” I think he felt bad because my life has pretty much gotten worse since the surgery, even though he did everything he could to make my life better. Although he did succeed in successfully removing the tumor and leaving me with no tumor-related complications. But I think if he had felt it appropriate, he would have hugged me. And bought me a puppy.
I then asked him if he had ever seen any patient develop POTS after having pituitary surgery. He said no, not a single one. He’s operated on people who have POTS, but it was present before the surgery. He said to ask my endocrinologist if she’s ever seen it in her patients, whose prolactin is normalized gradually via medication, versus his patients, whose prolactin is normalized instantly via surgery. (Seriously; my prolactin had normalized within an hour of surgery.) But other than that, he had no answers for me.
Then the social worker came back in and suggested I try a different modality of therapy. Whatever.
But I’m tumor free! I’m so glad Dr. Recinos is such a skilled and compassionate surgeon! I know, however, that there’s always a chance it could come back. I know of people who have gone years tumor-free and then had a regrowth. If we ever come to that bridge, we’ll cross it then. But for now, that’s one less health problem to deal with! Thank You, Jesus!??❤️