Sunday, June 22, 2008

Thumping Down Memory Lane

Fifty-two Sundays ago today, my brain exploded.

It was a sunny and pleasant day, a little past noon. Lee Ann and the boys were downstairs going about their business. I was upstairs in the spare room, systemically mowing down Nazis on the GameCube playing Medal of Honor (the original, and, in my opinion, the best of the Medal of Honor games). I was in the midst of Mission 4, "A Bridge Too Far," and was near the end of the second level, "Yard By Yard," when it hit me. I had just taken out the last tank and was engaged in a heavy firefight with a couple of Hitler's henchmen who were blocking my path.

Suddenly, the image on the screen appeared through my left eye no matter where I looked. To make things even more weird, the image was encased in what I can only describe as spinning disco, blue, yellow, green.

I had no idea what was happening, but I knew it wasn't good. As the aura intensified I yelled to Lee Ann who came bounding up the steps in a flash. As I lay on the floor, she called 911. The last thing I can recall is saying that maybe I was having a stroke and hearing her talking on the phone to the 911 operator.

When I awoke, I was in a hospital bed in the emergency room at Indiana University Hospital in downtown Indianapolis. Lee Ann was there, but I don't recall there being any medical personnel around at the time. Lee Ann was there and I remember talking with her for a little bit, but I don't remember what we talked about. I do remember that the first thing I asked her was, "Have you been weeping?" when she first came over to the bed.

I don't think much time passed when the aura started again, signaling the start of another seizure. I saw the same spinning disco lights and told Lee Ann it was happening again. She called out to the ER folks and I remember several people crowding around the bed and in my face before the lights went out again.

The next several hours are a blur. I have vague recollections of being carted around the hospital for various tests - CAT scan, MRI, EEG and some vision test that required me to stick my head in a device that reminded me of a planetarium. I was supposed to push a button every time a tiny light flashed inside the orb, but I kept falling asleep. I was exhausted. The woman administering the test could see it was futile and so suggested that I might have better luck the following day.

I would learn the next day, Monday, June 25, that I had a small tumor - about 10 mm by 25 mm - around my occipital and parietal lobes on the right side. I wish I had a screen shot of the tumor I could post, but, alas, I was not forward-thinking enough to ask for one at the time.

And now to the present...I made my most recent visit to the NIH on Thursday and Friday, June 12 and 13. I was told there was no change since my visit in April - which is good - and was sent on my way. I saw my neuro-oncologist in Indianapolis a few days later and his reading of the MRI was a bit different. He noted a small, triangular area that "lit up" when the contrast dye was injected. Could be nothing. Hard to tell. He suggested that I could wait until my next regularly scheduled appointment in August or perhaps go back to the NIH in a month for another scan on the same equipment. We left things with him going to contact my doctor at the NIH and decide what to do.

In the meantime, I am finishing up my ninth cycle of chemotherapy on Monday, June 23, and am finally making that trip to Loretto, Ky. and the Maker's Mark distillery.

Epilogue: I returned to the GameCube this evening, one year to the day after I last picked up the game controller, popped in Medal of Honor and finished off those Nazi bastards.