The Case of the Vanishing Brain Tumor

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Miracles happen.

No matter what your spiritual believes are, there is no denying that sometimes the “impossible” happens. We are surprised with something wonderful and greatly hoped for. We want it badly, but we often assume that whatever our miracle is, it may not come to be. But sometimes it does.

Modern medicine does not like miracles.

There are no rationales for miracles.

Miracles are scary and abnormal and don’t fit the standards. Miracles don’t play well with evidence based practice. Miracles are not of scientific and factual. Miracles are perplexing and extroidinary things.

Miracles dumbfound highly educated surgeons and their staff and they find them hard to believe. 

But they happen. 

I was fortunate enough to receive a miracle in my life. 

I was diagnosed with a pituitary macroadenoma requiring a Transsphenoidal Surgery in order to avoid potential involvement with my carotid artery and prevent blindness. But before a surgeon could remove it, my brain tumor vanished. No trace. Not even a hint of the pituitary apoplexy that had appeared on the MRI scan just 2 months before. 

But because these things almost never happen, there was no repeat scan done just prior to my surgery. Tumors just don’t disappear… at least not usually and apparently not often enough for my surgeon to find merit in doing a repeat scan just prior to surgery.

I was bless by something spectacular and prayer and hope removed something  from my body without medical intervention.

But my dear surgeon was not impressed enough with a miracle happening. It wasn’t enough for my tumor to be gone without the need for clipping, scraping, suctioning, and probing around in my brain. 

No. I was on the table and they’d already carved a hole in my skull, and he was going to do some probing and scraping. The heck with the fact there was no tumor to remove. His reputation was on the line you know, and I was an unconscious test subject for him to take advantage of. 

He probed around and then decided to “biopsy” something that was ultimately normal tissue. In eagerness to fix me, he broke me. He tore a hole in the sac that holds my brain and created a cerebrospinal fluid leak (CSF). This extended a 3 day hospital stay to a 7 day stay. It also increased my risk for infection as well as  increased the risk for more problems long-term with my endocrine system. (Which came to fruition with a trip back to the emergency room… another blog post for another day)

It took me days to get a grasp on what exactly the surgeon had done. I repeatedly asked my family members what exactly the surgeon had told them. I saw him only once after my surgeon in the 7 days of haze, nausea, and pain that was my stay in the hospital. When I asked him what happened he chuckled and said “the tumor was gone…” I believe he said something else, but I was too drugged and too upset to remember. 

He found humor in my unneeded MAJOR surgery and didn’t even have the decency to make sure I fully understood what had occurred.

His extra probing is what I am most annoyed about.

It would seem that if you are performing surgery specifically to remove a brain tumor, and when you get inside there is no brain tumor, you’d stop, right? 

You wouldn’t dig around for your own satisfaction. You already knew it wasn’t cancerous, so you  don’t need to look for anything else.

He extra time in my head lead to the CSF leak which made for the most miserable 7 days of my life. 

I had to have a lumbar drain inserted to relieve the pressure of the CSF. If I wanted to lift my head off the bed at all I had to call a nurse to clamp the drain or else my brain my squeeze through the holes in my skull. (And that lovely gem came straight from the mouth of one of my nurses to another nurse… that really comforted me. Let me tell ya)

Not only that, anytime I did get up, I was plagued with projective vomiting, an extreme headache, and more dizziness than I ever thought possible. 

Then came the hallucinations. 

The only tolerable part of the entire experience were the hallucinations. 

For 7 days I waded in and out of a world of my imagination. And let me tell ya, if the content of my hallucinations are an indication of anything, than I am a weirdo for sure. 

I should write about them, but it might be just a little too strange for this little corner of the web.

My favorite one lasted for several days. In this hallucination, the brain tumor was all part of an elaborate plot to get me to the hospital to inject nanobots into me for a secret experiment. These nanobots were basically just wifi signals because it gave me the ability to have instance connection to all information online. I was like a super human computer. The midst of this hallucination I found myself battling whether the nurses were in on it. Was it a dream or was it real? It seemed so tangible at the time.

I thank myself for having a vivid imagination. It was the only thing about this entire ordeal that was the least bit entertaining or enjoyable. 

As for you probe happy surgeons with the inability to believe in miracles: shame on you.

 

 
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Comments

  1. says

    That is disgusting! I’ve never been a victim but have been a voyeur to mistakes and avoidance..awful. Is the surgeon paying for the lengthier hosptial stay that was created unncessarily? No apology for the anguish thrust upon you and your family? If the surgeon saw the scan before the dig, is there not something legally wrong with that?

    So sorry you had to go through this:(

    • says

      I’m not entirely sure really.
      Once I am feeling a little better I do intend to obtain my full medical records and obtain legal advise. I feel what he did was unethical, I just don’t know if it was illegal.

      Thank you for your thoughts and kind words.

      • says

        Yes – the law is generally open for interpretation and if you asked 10 lawyers, you’re likely to get 10 different responses. The CSF hiccup would likely be covered as a “risk” – you were just fortunate enough to be included in that stat:(

        I also recognize that some level of narcissism may be required for surgeons to function as they confidently dig through someone’s brain. I simply wish there was more accountability in our healthcare system – did the surgeon appropriately select the best of two evils and did he/she explain to the patient why the decision was made? Is there a way outside of a costly legal battle that one can remind healthcare providers to be mindful of the impact their decisions may have?

        Get some rest and feel better – positive vibes your way!

  2. says

    Lord have mercy.

    My stomach turned when I read the part about him scraping you just to find something…This is a really sad story, and pathetic surgeon. Can he be sued at least?

    On a similar note, a friend of mine also was having problems with his vision, and they discovered a small tumor near one of his sinuses. He is not a religious person, but a big believer in positive thinking, meditation and all that alternative stuff. He went on a retreat for 2 weeks to get away from all his stress, and when he got back, he went for his CT to get ready for surgery.

    A day later he got a call from the surgeon telling him to immediately come for a check up. I drove him there expecting really bad news. But the surgeon wanted to do some exams because he said the tumor was not showing on the CT. he had him repeat the test in 8 weeks, and that also came out negative. That surgeon told us, “thank your lucky stars because a miracle happened here.”

    I hope you can sue your bastard of a surgeon.

    • says

      I guess I can understand him not expecting the tumor to be gone, I just seriously don’t think that his additional probing served any purpose (well other than a CSF leak and a much longer hospital stay).

      When I get a chance to review my records and see what he dictated about the surgery, I will know better what my options are. Since all I got out of him was a chuckle and a sentence or two, hopefully there will be more details there.

      He is supposedly one of the best in the world at this surgery. I guess he just couldn’t take my body fixing it without his help… he sure showed it.

  3. says

    Oh, Brittney.
    Of course I’m happy to celebrate the vanishing tumor, but so sorry for this horrific and unnecessary experience. It sounds awful.

    Sounds like the perfect hallucination storyline for a techo nerd nurse!
    How are you feeling now?
    Take care,
    Beth

    • says

      Beth,

      Those hallucinations were the highlight of the experience. The only thing that made the hospitalization tolerable, really.

      I am feeling much better. But I am still incredibly exhausted and weak.
      My days and nights are mixed up and I find myself staying up at night and sleeping most of the day.
      I really need to get that corrected.
      I’m so weak from laying in the bed for 2 weeks that I can hardly walk up a set of stairs.
      I did, however, loose 30 lbs during this whole ordeal, so I guess that’s a win.

  4. Keri Ritenour says

    I strongly believe in the power of prayer and I have seen miracles happen. But {here comes the scientific side of me} are you (they) sure that they were looking at your films. Could it be possible that the technologist labeled the films with the wrong name (namely yours)? Just had to throw that out. Accidents do happen. I am not trying to take away from the miracle because then my prayers for you, your family and colleagues did not go unanswered.

    I think it was totally wrong and unethical of the surgeon to have done what he did, I am sure had you sign a “release” to do it or came up with some reason to justify it. I find it strange that they didn’t do another MRI prior to your surgery since the previous one was done 2 months prior.

    All in all, I hate to hear that you went through such a traumatic experience and as my husband says, “being a health care professional just adds to the trauma”. I can relate to the spinal leak. Been there. Done that. While mine was not located in the brain, it was still miserable and I can only imagine that your was ten-fold. I remember not being able to raise my head without immediate pain and projectile vomiting. It was an experience I never want to have again.

    I am so glad to hear that you are well and recovering and “did not loose your mind”. LOL. What would we do without your sense of humor. Praise the Lord for his miracle. He knew we needed you! God Bless!

    • says

      Teri,

      There were 2 scans done that confirmed the brain tumor. (one without and one with contrast a week apart)

      I wish I would have thought to ask before hand for them to do a repeat MRI just prior. Sure would be saving me a great deal of trouble.

  5. says

    Wow, so glad you are home and so sorry about your ordeal, I’m praying for your speedy recovery!
    I would ask the same question as Keri did above, Did they have the right films?
    Take Care,
    Tina

    • says

      Tina,

      Yes I am pretty sure of that.
      When I originally had my MRI done the rad tech seemed very worried when I was finished. Immediately she asked “how soon is your follow-up appointment?” I knew then that there was something wrong with my scan.

  6. says

    That is awful – why did he have to probe so much? Maybe he was being afraid of being sued if he didn’t do enough? It’s sad that we live in a society where the most people care about his being sued or not and having it dictated in the medical field especially. We sure hope you are feeling better and will recover fully.

  7. says

    I am *really* glad you are okay, and I celebrate with you in that wonderful news that the tumor is gone. GONE!! What a precious word. I wish you all the best for a speedy recovery and relief from the situation.

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