Dear Family & Friends
I thought I would send out an email with the update on my health. First of all let me say, thank you, thank you, for all the encouragement, prayer, support and concern that has been showered on me this week. I have really felt God’s presence and strength daily.
Just a brief history: In 2009 or 2010 I started having some double vision problems. Doctor’s wanted me to have an MRI but I put it off until March of 2011. It was in that MRI that a tumor was found in my cavernous sinus which is located in the center back of our heads. I probably will never forget that day with the call from a doctor saying I had a ‘large tumor’ and he was sure it would have to be removed. Shortly after that we found out is was most certainly a benign slow growing tumor called a meningioma. It does not grow in brain tissue but in the spaces in your head most often between the skull bone and the brain tissue. After seeing a specialist up at OHSU, I was told that this particular area of the brain is very difficult to remove a tumor from so the best thing to do would be to watch it and have regular MRIs. I had another MRI about 6 months later and it showed no measurable growth in the tumor but the possibility of a aneurism behind my left eye. After seeing another specialist up at OHSU they thought a cerebral angiogram would be in order to look at both issues. So finally just this week I had the cerebral angiogram. You may be wondering why I’m so slow to do anything – we had to get individual medical insurance coverage a couple years ago and I was denied insurance coverage because of the double vision issue. Once you’ve been denied, it’s impossible to get normal coverage. I could get on the high risk state pool but the monthly premium was way too high and we make just slightly over the wage where we were eligible for any financial assistance. So we have had to wait until our savings account has money in it before we proceed with the next medical thing.
So back to the cerebral angiogram of this week. It went very well. My care was wonderful up at OHSU and other then a bruised and sore groin I’m doing just fine. The angiogram test revealed that the aneurism was small and the doctor told us nothing to be concerned about since most likely it would never be an issue. He was concerned about the tumor but since it wasn’t his specialty, he said he would see if the doctor at OHSU who specializes in brain tumors would have a look at the study and possible even come and see us before we left. Well, about 20 minutes later he walked in the room. He said that if I were 75 and had this tumor he would tell me to go home and forget about it, but since I was still a ‘young woman’ (I loved that part), most likely something would need to be done eventually. The tumor surrounds the carotid artery on the right side and has blocked it about 80%. If or when it grows and blocks it more, some action will need to be taken. There are basically two options: brain surgery to try and remove some or all of the tumor and a carotid artery bypass or radiation therapy to try and reduce the tumor without damaging the carotid artery. Both pretty risky and with outcomes that would probably cause some other serious issues. He recommended that sometime in the future we start looking into these options and consulting with some of the experts who do this kind of thing. He is a neurologist that could do the first option. He was also saying that this kind of tumor may stay stable for a long time and then occasionally they have a growth spurt.
So that is where things are at today. They were not able to help me with the double vision issues so I will continue to have glasses that help and then sometimes struggle with seeing well. I will try and have regular MRI’s to check on the tumor and at some point start to gather information from some specialists as to what is the best options down the road if something has to be done. The doctor who saw me also told me things to look for that would be warning signs that the carotid artery is being too compromised.
Rick is also looking into possibilities for insurance coverage. I don’t think there’s any way we could ever proceed with anything without coverage. We still don’t even know what the cerebral angiogram cost but hopefully we have enough saved with the discount we get from OHSU to cover the cost.
Now to the spiritual aspect of all this. God is using this to grow me, to change me, and to encourage others in their own difficulties. For all of us, only God knows our last breath on this earth. For all of us, if we know Christ as our Savior, we have such hope for more than this life. Sometimes things like this help us to sort through our lives and get rid of some of the junk that has no eternal significance. Wake up calls are always a good thing and a tumor in your head is a definite wake up call! I totally rest in God’s sovereignty and control over my life. I trust Him to work out His good purposes in my life and hopefully my days to come will bring Him much glory. I really have no fear. How can I when I have a heavenly Father who watches over all of my days. One of my favorite sayings of recent is from Winnie the Pooh; “What day is it” asked Pooh. “It’s today” squeaked Piglet. “My favorite day”, said Pooh. God’s Word says it best in Psalm 118:24, “This is the day that the Lord has made, we will rejoice and be glad in it” Let’s live in the moment.
So there’s my thoughts and heart on this whole journey. Thanks again for caring.