Norm-vember

No, Dad, we didn’t meet your buddy. Sorry for the false alarm.

Two Fridays ago the husband took the day off and I went into the District for an MRI to check on Martha. After the trauma of trying to find this medical center in the first place and parking in THE absolute strangest parking garage–seriously straight out of an M. Night Shyamalan movie–it was all standard fare. Very much been there, done that, except none of the nurses recognize me at this new place.

MRI tech: Have you had an MRI before?
Me: Haha, a few times, yes.
MRI tech: So you know the procedure pretty well?
Me: I do.
MRI tech: Ok, you can change in here and then bring your valuables into the next room and we’ll put them in a locker.
Me: <changes into blue paper gown and matching hospital socks, shoves clothes into purse to go in locker, crams everything into locker the size of a thumb>
MRI tech: <places IV for contrast> The first part will be about 30 minutes, then we’ll slide you out, add the contrast, and put you back in for another 15 minutes of imaging. We’ll be all wrapped up in about an hour.
Me: I have a four-week-old at home. I will be asleep in about 19 seconds. Shake me when I’m supposed to get up.
MRI tech: Congratulations!
Me: Thank you. Makes you think when an MRI sounds like a nice chance to rest.
MRI tech: Ok, here comes the football helmet. <clicks face cage into place> Would you like a blanket?
Me: Please.
MRI tech: See you in 30 minutes.
Me: Zzzzzzzzz.

30 minutes later

MRI tech: How are you doing?
Me: I’m napping and quite cozy, actually.
MRI tech: Good.

15 minutes later

MRI tech: All set! <slides me out>
Me: Here I am, right where you left me.
MRI tech: Hahaha! If you need some water I can get you some.
Me: Can you get me some merlot instead?
MRI tech: Hahahaha!
Me: …is that a no?

And then I went on my way, spent the weekend sick as a dog, and woke up on Sunday night. I’m still not sure what happened to those two days, but I couldn’t nurse the little oyster for 48 hours because of the contrast anyway, so no one really suffered. The husband got to spend day and night with his little girl and I slept like a Van Winkle.

My follow up with Dr. M was the next Friday. The little oyster came with me and sat patiently in her car seat for the entire appointment, including the 35 minutes in the waiting room. Not to worry though, Animal Planet was on and we watched a special on elephants in Borneo. We like to learn, the oyster and I.

Then came the good news. I would say it was the “good and unexpected news” but I don’t know why good news should surprise, especially when it’s an exact answer to prayer.

Dr. M: You had MRI one week ago, yes?
Me: Yes. Did they get the scans over to you?
Dr. M: Yes. MRI was normal.
Me: Come again?
Dr. M: MRI of brain was normal.
Me: <stares>
Dr. M: So this is good. This is very good.
Me: I’m sorry, it was normal? As in, nothing has changed since last year or, like, normal normal? Like a regular brain?
Dr. M: <reads from report> “MRI of brain shows no abnormality.”
Me: It’s just a brain in there?
Dr. M: MRI was normal. I am very happy. I think we check in one year. Now we discuss neck and handwriting, yeah?

We discussed my neck and the syrinx (Dr. M suggested an MRI of *that* in six months if things change, one year if they don’t, and also suggested that I’ll probably never have decent handwriting again) and then I went on my way with the little oyster, got in the car, and cried.

A normal MRI? Martha is MIA? ‘Tis the thanksgiving season indeed. Amen.

 

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The dark horse

There was a little miscommunication between the o.b.’s office, the new neurologist’s office, and me this week. What I understood to be an appointment for an MRI this morning was really just a (lengthy) consultation with the new neurologist, which means I eschewed bobby pins and a decent hairdo for the day, while carrying around a wire-free bra in my purse, all for nothing.

Well, not for nothing. Bad hair and extra undergarments not withstanding, the appointment was informative and useful. And yes, of course my new neurologist has a thick accent, originating somewhere in eastern Europe. Even her staff call her just Dr. M.

While Dr. M read silently The Detailed History of My Brain and I sat fidgeting in a chair trying to understand and then answer her questions every few pages, the minutes ticked by. I certainly got my money’s worth for this appointment. The goal was to determine whether or not it’s safe for me to attempt a standard vaginal delivery in light of what we know about Martha.

The short answer is that Dr. M does not believe Martha stands between me and a successful, safe, standard vaginal delivery. The issue my o.b. was concerned about is the strain of pushing and the blood loss/blood replenishment that accompanies labor. But if Martha doesn’t sound like something to cause me trouble in that regard then yay! right?

Enter the dark horse.
In 2006, the first MRI I had to figure out why I couldn’t hold a pen showed a small syrinx in one of my cervical vertebra. A syrinx is “a rare, fluid-filled neuroglial cavity within the spinal cord (syringomyelia), in the brain stem (syringobulbia), or in the nerves of the elbow.” (Thanks, Wiki.) In other words, my brain juice is leaking down the back of my neck and pooling slowly.

The MRIs I had last year–through which we found Martha–showed the same syrinx. It seemed to be unchanged. This is, of course, a good thing.

However.

My syrinx is almost certainly the result of trauma (me+roller blades+a hill+a chain link fence in 2005). All of my symptoms are consistent with the possible symptoms of such a syrinx, which again, we assume was the result of trauma and stress to the area.

So when one considers that a syrinx is an abnormality within the spinal column and expansion would put pressure on the spinal cord and impact functions controlled by the spinal cord (read: all functions), and when one further considers that this syrinx got there by trauma in the first place, it’s not out of the question to assume that further trauma, say, something along the lines of pushing during delivery of a child, could aggravate this syrinx, increase pressure on the spinal column, and result in central nervous system damage and paralysis.

Dr. M seemed unwilling and unable to conclude anything for sure. I guess that’s why they call it practicing medicine. At the end of the appointment she asked me what I would prefer in terms of delivery. I would prefer not to have a brain hemorrhage and I would also prefer not to become a quadriplegic after delivery. But the chances of either one of those are slim, while the work of recovering from a C-section is a sure thing if I have one. My body has handled pregnancy with no serious issues and hardly any mild ones in fact, so the chances of a smooth delivery are in my favor, I think. Then again, what’s a smooth delivery if I’m paralyzed from the syrinx down?

She did mention that I can change my mind once things begin, but that I need to understand that my threshold for changing my mind needs to be much lower/earlier than other women’s. I said I would discuss with the husband and talk to my o.b. some more. What to do?

The Detailed History of My Brain also included details about the dystonia in my neck and arm and the meds I have tried to get my fine motor control back. Obviously we’ve had no success with these medications and I’m rather uninterested in trying another one, or retrying any of those.

Dr. M: Can please write sentence.
Me: Sure.
<awkwardly writes out sentence>
Dr. M: Put arm out on table. We try this.
<ties two rubber exam gloves together, ties them tightly around my arm below the elbow>
Dr. M: Is better?
Me: Yes, actually. My hand relaxed.
<much less awkwardly writes out another sentence>
Dr. M: This is treatment for tennis elbow.
<we look at the blue latex tourniquet>
Dr. M: Ok, not official treatment. Similar.
Me: Is it supporting a tendon?
Dr. M: Yes. It puts pressure on tendon and does not allow hand to overreact.
<removes temporary support, pokes my arm>
Dr. M: Does theeese hurt? Well, except for where I em bruising?
Me: Yes.
Dr. M: We try real support for tendon. Tennis elbow support band. We will not try medicine again. Nize thing about being pregunent, we try mechanical feex, not chemical.

So that’s what we will try for my fine motor skills. The mom has tennis elbow support bands and will send them this way as soon as she can. If that fails, I know blue latex exam gloves tied together just might do the trick.

And so this episode concludes with no final answer to the delivery question and lots of other angles heretofore unconsidered. The husband and I must conference.

Dr. M did mention that just because Martha won’t cause problems for me during a delivery doesn’t mean I’m free and clear yet. I need to have an MRI very soon after the little oyster arrives, and I need to follow up with Dr. M after that. My next appointment with her is already scheduled for October 29, one month (we hope!) after the oyster comes. Martha “ees not something to neglect,” said Dr. M.

And we won’t neglect Martha. Heaven knows we’re always aware that she’s there.

The husband requested that I blog about something more cheerful soon so next up is a babymoon post. I do recommend a babymoon for couples who are expecting but I most certainly do not recommend one in the third trimester. Oy.

Martha rides again

If blogging was a class requirement, I would have failed by now. Whoops! Good thing I graduated already and blogging is just for fun.

On Wednesday the little oyster will be 34 weeks. 34 weeks! If labor starts anytime after next Wednesday, 35 weeks, my o.b. said they won’t stop it. Then she said she has no reason to believe the little oyster would arrive that early–she sounds way too happy tucked away in my belly.

But the oyster’s method of arrival is the next big item to settle and so tomorrow morning I go for an MRI to check on Martha. Dr. J sent over all my brain scans and pathology reports to my o.b. who said she wants another neurosurgeon to look at them and make the call on a vaginal delivery vs. C-section. A brain doc might look at the old scans, see nothing has changed on the new scans, and say “Oh, that location isn’t a problem, go ahead and push out your baby.” Or he might not say that, we don’t know yet.

I do know that there’s a reason most doctors don’t hand you your own medical record for a bit of light reading. But because my o.b. scheduled the MRI for me and it’s tomorrow morning, she sent me home with a copy of my record from Dr. J’s office so I can hand it to the new neurosurgeon in case the copy she mailed doesn’t get there by 11 a.m. tomorrow.

After my appointment today I dashed down to the pediatrics wing and asked for the bio of the pediatrician my o.b. recommended. While the very friendly receptionist printed the information for me, I flipped through my file from Dr. J’s office.

The two pages of operative notes were equal parts fascinating and disturbing. Seeing phrases like “The scalp was opened and a bur hole was drilled,” “The dura was opened primarily,” “A portion was taken consistent with abnormal tissue consistent with a brain tumor,” “The wound was copiously irrigated,” and “The system was removed from the skull” and knowing that was my scalp and my dura and my tissue and my skull put me into a bit of a funk for the rest of the day.

Flipping through the rest of the file though, it was nice to see that my post-op  psychiatric evaluation listed me as “intact, alert to place, time, person, and situation.” And that in our initial meeting, Dr. J called me “a pleasant 26-year-old female.” Those things take the edge off “lesion” and “mass.” A little.

So tomorrow I’ll go into work for a little bit and then zip out for an MRI to see what Martha is up to these days. And I do hope she’s up to nothing because I’m busy growing more important and exciting things at the moment, pleasant female that I am.

 

A typical baby doc visit and pregnancy auto-pilot

PSA: Today is brain tumor awareness day. As I told the husband this morning, in my mind (ha! get it??) brain tumor awareness day is September 15 but since May 22 is the date for mass (again, get it?) awareness, please be aware. Brain tumors are out there. Or in there, rather (gosh I kill myself). Go gray in May!

* * * * * * * * * * *

A friend was lamenting her impending trip to the lady doctor but then backtracked, saying “it’s probably nothing like having to go once a week, like you do.”

I told her au contraire, by the time you’re knocked up, provided that everything is going well, the monthly visits are non-invasive and quick. I’m very blessed to be having a textbook pregnancy so far, and this is a typical visit to the baby doctor:

Nurse: Step on the scale please.
Me: <eyes closed>
Nurse: That’s good, good. Now we’ll do your blood pressure.
Me: <falls off scale, opens eyes, sits, breathes deep>
Nurse: Excellent, right this way.
Me: <sits on crinkly paper in exam room>
Doctor: Hi. How’s it going? How are you feeling?
Me: Good. I walk the dog twice a day.
Doctor: Are you feeling the baby move regularly?
Me: Yes.
Doctor: Good, let’s hear the heartbeat.
Me: <lies on crinkly paper>
Doctor: <waves heartbeat wand over my belly> Sounds good.
Me: kthxbai.

The nice thing about pregnancy is that it’s gradual. You’re going to gain 30 lbs? Not to worry, you’ve got nine months to do it. You’re going to outgrow everything you own, underwear and some shoes included? No biggie, won’t happen overnight. Everything is going to ache and burn? Sure, but not all at the same time.

So much of what I read about pregnancy is negative or just plain stupid, and I’m talking about the articles and websites, to say nothing of the idiots who post on chat boards and e-communities–there’s a name for that kind of stupid, and I’m not comfortable including it in a post. My parents read this stuff.

I rolled my eyes at the article I found called “10 icky pregnancy side effects,” because in case pregnant women everywhere weren’t already fully aware of the itchy skin, random bloody noses, and constant need to pee, it’s really nice to have an article that spells it out for us.

My other favorite was an article–which linked to others like itself for more information/guidelines/rules about how to be pregnant–that detailed the daily chemicals we preggos come into contact with, how distressingly toxic these are to our feti, and how we must, simply must, without wasting another moment, haul our laptops to the bathroom, and sort through our face washes, moisturizers, toothpastes, and hair gels to cross-check each 27-letter ingredient against The List of Baddies Heretofore Provided and dispose properly of each offending product, promptly hopping into our cars (hold your breath, don’t breathe in the fumes you may contact on the road or rightoutsideyourownhomeomg!) and patronizing the local organic markets to purchase for prenatal consumption vastly overpriced products that use only Siberian sea salt extracts and Canadian spring water in their composition. And packaging.

Natural ingredients are awesome, but there is simply no way on God’s green earth that I’m going to believe washing my face with Noxzema is harmful to my baby and a dereliction of my motherly duty. Yes, I did text my older sisters, who have normal and healthy children of their own, to find out what truth there was to this business, and they were equally unconvinced and unswayed.

A lot of the pregnancy industry (yes, it’s an industry) is predicated on taking advantage of women who are vulnerable to opinions, thanks to hormones and the idea of being solely and uniquely responsible for another human life, and pumping them full of more opinions-disguised-as-requirements than there sperm in a fish in the sea so that they buy every last product out there to guarantee a health pregnancy and brilliant baby. Implying that only a bad mother would continue brushing with Colgate total and painting her nails adds insult to injury, both of which preggos are extremely susceptible to. These women, already getting familiar with the new responsibility their bodies take on, are eager to do whatever the pros say to do or not do, buy or not buy, lay on, sit on, pick up or avoid.

Case in point: I have read and heard that it’s dangerous to lay on your back after a certain point in pregnancy–but this certain point varies from book to book and doctor to doctor–because the weight of the growing baby puts pressure on the mom’s major blood vessels and can constrict blood flow to the baby, killing it. After about 18 weeks, I was extremely careful not to lay on my back, responsibly propping myself up on an extra pillow to lay in bed and read and wedging myself between a pillow and the husband at night to guarantee that I didn’t roll onto my back and murder my unborn daughter. And then I went for the 20 week ultrasound, during which I was–did you guess?–completely flat on my back for well over an hour, and which procedure I will repeat at 25 weeks, presumably inflicting the same lack-of-harm on the little oyster as the last time I held this supposedly life-threatening position. And guess what? With only one pillow to think about now and no more contorting myself like a Tetris piece to remain firmly on my side while asleep, I sleep better, which itself is better for me and the baby.

Unlike preparing to bring a baby home and gathering all the required equipment, insurance, etc., actually carrying one during a normal, healthy pregnancy is a relatively auto-pilot thing for a body to do. There is work involved and some adjustments to be made for sure. I can’t move as fast as I used to or carry things on my hip at the moment, but that’s because my body adjusted itself to not do those things anymore, not because I planned to stop carting the laundry basket around on my hip at week 22. Do I need to wake up each morning and consciously think of what I need to do today for my body to complete another day of pregnancy? Apart from making sure I drink enough water to fill a Volkswagen because it helps me not cramp, no I don’t.

There are some obvious things to avoid while pregnant, and others to take in moderation. Chat boards should be avoided, while websites should be consumed in moderation.

Ha, and you thought I was going to say no wine while expecting. Yeah, ok.

Thank you, readers!

Yesterday this blog crossed the 14,000 hits threshold–thank you, readers!

Some of those views are one-time, and some of you are faithful readers. I appreciate each one.

The stats tell me where in the world my blog has been viewed on any given day, and redwhiteandnew has made appearances this year alone on screens in Canada, Turkey, the Philippines, Italy, Ireland, France, the Czech Republic, Germany, the UK, Japan, Indonesia, South Korea, Nigeria, Vietnam, Colombia, Malaysia, Finland, Sweden, Belgium, Bulgaria, the Netherlands, Australia, New Zealand and, most interestingly to me, the Maldives.

I started this blog to keep friends and family up to date on our lives as we moved from the old home state to the center of the free world, and assumed that the blog would be primarily work-related and work-focused. Life takes some funny, not funny, unexpected, exciting, and terrifying turns, but it’s never dull and realizing that has helped me feel just fine blogging about What’s Happening Now, whether that’s Martha, moving, having the little oyster, looking for work, or just walking Dietrich.

Redwhiteandnew is a biographical statement, nothing more and nothing less. What I post is an honest account–or my best interpretation–of daily life, milestones, and unique events or experiences, nothing more and nothing less. I have fun writing, and I love reading comments when readers post them and so, for all the time and attention you all have put into pushing the blog over the 14,000 mark, thank you! Nothing more and nothing less.

“Acting on dangerous impulses, extreme mania, and attempts at suicide”

I’m not sure if I’m supposed to swallow it whole or take bites.

The protracted list of rather ignominious symptoms possible with the new meds Dr. M prescribed has done much to both entertain and terrify me. I realize they have to list every last thing remotely and potentially related to the taking of this gargantuan pill, but couldn’t “increase in hair glossiness” and “weight loss from the thigh region specifically” be on there?

This particular pill is an antiepileptic medication, intended to provide pain relief and treat some seizure disorders. Since we have yet to determine why my arm seizes up and my hand can’t hold a pencil to write my own name anymore, why not try the meds that can cause panic attacks and “new or worse irritability.” (Burn.)

As with many things Martha-related, I tell myself this or that won’t affect me the same way this or that affects other people. Martha herself never caused problems, after all, so I feel like we’re way ahead of the game when it comes to side effects and symptoms. Dr. M suggested that taking these meds before bed would mean that I’m sleeping when I would otherwise be experiencing jerky movements, double vision, and aggressive, angry and violent behavior feelings of fatigue and drowsiness.

Of course, the medication guide provided by the pharmacy suggests not driving while taking this medication until I know how it affects me. I get that. But if I am also supposed to be on alert for “thoughts about suicide or dying, new or worse depression, and new or worse anxiety,” shouldn’t I be around people, not freezing alone in a basement?

Oh wait. <rereads> Ah yes, I’m only supposed to contact someone for help if these symptoms are “new, worse, or worry you.” Well then. If I’m ok with these horrible thoughts and their accompanying viral infection (what the h—???) then I don’t need to tell a healthcare provider a darn thing.

Is this a joke? Am I on candid camera?

Suddenly I feel like the gift card the pharmacy tech gave me for my wait was more like my last meal than anything else. Wah wah.

In other news, a book I ordered with my gift card from the parents arrived today and I’m pumped to read it! I guess if I die in my sleep, I’ll go happily dreaming of Scottish highlanders and clever writing.

Meh, could be worse.

Staple-free is the way to be!

Today the staples came out! Even though a nurse removed them, Dr. J was in the building and stopped in to say hi and see how things looked. Yet again the husband and I were impressed with the service and care at our hospital. If Martha ever requires surgery again, I would seriously consider coming back here to have it done.

We were curious about how they would remove the staples. The husband came to the appointment just in case it was traumatic–it wasn’t. The nurse brought a surgical staple remover that looked like scissors and a minute later, I was staple free. We asked the nurse practitioner, who also stopped in to check on my progress, if it was going to hurt. In her words: “Well, it’s not a massage.”

And it wasn’t, but it also wasn’t painful. The nurse apologized for pulling some of my hairs, but I wouldn’t have known she was unless she said so. Pull pull pull pull pull pull and here I am: Staple-free, the way to be.

In other news, the apartment that the husband’s DC coworker checked out seems like a perfect fit. Great neighborhood, available when we are, all that good stuff. Because of all that good stuff, we’re not the only ones interested and time is of the essence in getting our application and application fee to the property people. And hooray, no one questioned “he’s a Lab mix” when the husband mentioned Dietrich.

Dietrich, who today got a letter from Nephew 1, addressed to Dietrich the dog, c/o me. Ha! What Lab mix doesn’t love mail, especially when it’s a craft?

 

God save the Queen

Today I took a nap on the couch. After sleeping in, taking a walk, and going to the shoe store, I was wiped out. The husband was going across the street to see our friends so I took the opportunity to enjoy a siesta with no football game playing in the background. Ah, bliss.

Until the dog got concerned that I was lying still on the couch and had to check on me.

Every. Ten. Minutes.

Really, it was mostly sweet. If I didn’t open my eyes when I felt him breathing on me, he put a paw on the couch until I pushed it off. If I moved around too much after he had settled down on the floor in front of the couch, he sat up and rested his big head on the corner of my pillow until I stopped. When my arm hung over the side of the couch, he nudged it with his nose until I, yet again, opened my eyes and told him it was okay.

Poor guy was probably thinking that the last time I laid on the couch with my pillow, I didn’t move for three days and he barely got any sleep babysitting while I recovered. After this, I kind of think he brings it on himself.

Last night we went out to dinner with the parents and the other middle sister and her husband, to celebrate our anniversaries. Three years for us next week! Eight years for the other middle and her hubs, and thirty-six years for the parents. I thought I would celebrate by slicing my finger on an anniversary card.

The dad: What are you doing?
Me: <finger pressed to side of ice water glass> I got a paper cut and it’s really hurting.
The dad: It’s really hurting?
Me: Yep. I hate these. They throb and sting and take a long time to heal.
The dad: Yeah, those are the worst. Say, how’s your head?
Me: Touche.

The staples were supposed to come out yesterday but an emergency brain surgery came up and all Friday appointments were rescheduled to Tuesday. I was really excited to brush my hair carefree once more, but if I was the one in need of emergency brain surgery, you bet I’d want some chica with staples and a benign Martha to put up and shut up. And so I shall.

Me: … and that’s what I said to Government Agency Y.
The dad: So now everyone thinks you’re a whiner and you hate veterans.
Me: Crap.
The dad: You should have dropped a few names.
Me: Can I call them back and use yours?
The dad: Not now you can’t.
Me: Crap.
The dad: Better hope you don’t need a passport anytime soon.
Me: At this rate, Canada is the only place I’ll be able to find work.

Actually, when I realized how many jobs I applied for pre-Martha, my confidence in finding something was renewed. If there were so many jobs open in September and they were filled with other people, there have to be just as many open in October and November, and since September’s new hires are off the market now, my odds just increased.

But just in case, God save the Queen.

It’s like trying to milk a cat

A rejection email from Government Agency Y really bummed me out the other week and I have been thinking about it ever since. Herein, an abbreviated transcript of my email interaction with the HR lady today:

Me: What can I do to make my resume more attractive to Government Agency Y?
HR: Thank you for applying. You were not referred to the selection committee because a requirement exists that states preference be given to qualified veterans.
Me: Oh. I must have missed that in the job requirements.
HR: It wasn’t on there. It’s an agency requirement that only applies when veterans apply for a particular job.
Me: Are there positions within Government Agency X that do not require veteran status, or should I focus my attention elsewhere?
HR: You should keep applying. You might end up applying for a position that no veterans apply for.
Me: So it’s not that the job requires a veteran to do it, it’s that if a qualified veteran applies, that person gets preference no matter what.
HR: You are correct.
Me: Military service is a little like going to med school–after a while, that ship sails.
HR: You are correct.
Me: And there’s no way to know that this is the situation until I apply and get a rejection letter four weeks later.
HR: You are correct.
Me: Your application process is a year long and a pain in the butt.
HR: You are correct.

Oh SIGH. I was really excited about that job, too. And so the search goes on.

At work this afternoon we had a meeting in another building. It’s chilly and rainy today, and by the time a group of us arrived a few blocks over, it was standing room only, my feet were soaked and my over-active nerve mohawk was throbbing from being cold. A very nice gentleman who knows my balance and vertical stability are questionable right now gave me his seat, for which I was exceptionally grateful.

Walking between buildings yesterday, a blustery fall day, I decided it was in my best interest to stop walking when the wind picked up, so as to avoid being blown over and landing on my back in the wet grass, only to flail about, dizzy and helpless, like a turtle on its shell. I was tempting fate by wearing heels in the first place–truly a mistake. And so as the wind gusted about me and flipped my collar and flapped my pant legs like flags, I stood stock still in the middle of the sidewalk with my head down and arms crossed, like a girl who has no friends and no balance. It would have been sad if I wasn’t picturing the alternative.

The response of friends and family to yesterday’s good news was overwhelming in all the best ways. The husband and I were flooded with support when we were waiting and working with surgery and possibilities, but have been absolutely smothered with rejoicing since the biopsy results came back. Tears of relief come twice as fast as any other kind.

Jobs, jobs, wherefore art thou jobs?

Good news bears!

And the winner is….gangliocytoma!

Dr. J himself called this morning with the best news. Martha is a gangliocytoma, a benign (!), slow-growing (!) brain tumor that may never cause trouble. While these buggers are generally operable and curable with surgery, I don’t need another surgery. As long as I don’t develop seizures, Dr. J recommends no further treatment for now.

He made a point of saying that he is comfortable with the results and diagnosis, and wouldn’t have called if he had doubts or if it was bad news. In fact, a few of the cells in the sample were normal! Right now we will plan on a regimen of annual MRIs and if anything changes–and chances are good that Martha will just stay put and not cause problems–we’ll deal with it then.

Gaglioctyomas are rare and, as a sister said, it figures that I’d have the kind no one has heard of before. Another friend pointed out that apparently I AM the 1%. If I knew how to use Twitter, #occupyamandasbrain would be trending right now.

Praise God from Whom all blessings flow;
Praise Him all creatures here below;
Praise Him above, ye heavenly host;
Praise Father, Son, and Holy Ghost.
Amen.

I called Ron Paul with the good news. Note the confetti. Thank you, good doctor.