I’m still here

I was born 7-27-48 in Germany. I was the youngest of 6 kids, 3 boys and 3 boys. Now there is only myself, one brother and one sister alive, everyone is deceased. We came to US in 1961 and landed in NYC Kennedy Airport. Since I was a kid, I had to go to public school in NY. I ended 7th grade and had very good marks on everything. That was in public school 88. From there I went to Junior High School 93 in 8th grade. Since I had to learn English, I learned it pretty fast and didn’t have any trouble with it. The only problem, besides learning English, they threw Spanish at me, and I aced it for 2 years, but didn’t pass the regent, so didn’t get credit for trying to learn Spanish.

At 48, I had to get my 3rd MRI, after it was over, the technician told us to go straight to the doctor’s office. The regular doctor was not there. We got to the doctor and he gave us the news that I had a brain tumor–a GBM grade 4. He said I was supposed to see a specialist. We made the appointment for 11 am. We had to pick up the MRIs from the office in Scottsdale. It was a while of sitting in the waiting room before I got to see the doctor. My husband was there when the doctor told us I had the worst kind of brain tumor. He told us to go home and get our affairs in order because it didn’t look very good at all. Gave us 3 months. When we got home there was a message from our family doctor again, and we had just seen him and ehe told us to wait for his call. He would either admit me the same day or give directions.

We had a NP in NY Dr. William Shapiro, and he saved my life. They sent me to another one of their doctors, picked up the MRIs again, and he took the pictures. After a little bit, he came out and said Erika, if you were 84, I would treat you, but you’re too young. He said you have to see Dr. Shapiro in Phoenix. We laughed and said that’s who we were trying to see but the insurance told us we had to see you first.

When we got to see him, he was a wonderful doctor, a little elderly, but not too old. We told him the whole story. I hadn’t had a biopsy yet. He said yes, I’ll treat you but start with radiation. For 3 weeks I had radiation treatment. Then we got another MRI. All the doctors with Dr. Shapiro at their head reviewed and treated my case. He is now retired, and I’m sure he’s sorely missed.

The first time I saw the radiation doctor, I told him I needed the garbage can; before I could vomit, I blacked out. When I woke up, I was fine. The doctor was talking to me, asking questions such as age, name, where I am, etc. After I had the radiation, they took more MRI pictures and the doctors that Shapiro had, the best doctors, got together Monday afternoon to discuss the cases. Dr. Shapiro told me they decided they could operate after all. I was scheduled for surgery, but first they did gamma knife for me; 8 sessions of 6 minutes each. They drilled this thing into my skull and I was placed on this thing for the machine and it pulled me in and did what it had to and every 6 minutes I came out again. This went on for 8 times, and we could go home after that.

The next time I saw Dr. Shapiro I saw him in Dec some time. First I’d have an MRI early in the morning, then I would see him. This time he told me the MRI pictures came out very nice and the gamma knife did a good job and the doctors decided I could have surgery after all. Then Dr. Sarah I believe, did the surgery. William Shapiro took very good care of me and was the head of Barrow Neurological.

After the surgery, everything seemed fine. I had just about started therapy and I didn’t get very far. They had a ball there, and I had to stand on this platform and use my left, bad leg, to kick the ball up with. I was about half way through the line. When it was my turn, I kicked it so hard, the catcher almost fell over, they couldn’t believe how much strength I had. I went home, and by now I had learned how to dress myself except tie my shoes because my left side is partially paralyzed now.

I had another MRI, I saw Dr. Shapiro in Dec, after being told Jan 20th of ’97 I had 3 months to live. After that every Dec I had an MRI around 7-7:15. I would see Dr. Shapiro and he would go back year to year and view the MRIs. He told me he would retire, and I told him he wasn’t allowed to retire, I need to meet him. The next time, he said the same thing, but said I have somebody I want you to meet and came back with a woman doctor, he was training her. The next year, he retired. I was still a patient at St. Joseph in Phoenix.

A year later, an orderly came and told me I was being transferred to Scottsdale Osborne. I told him I need to tell my husband. I had a lot of family and friends. I was working at the wells Fargo bank on Pinnacle Peak and everyone was so nice and had given me many plants. I told him if I go, I want all my plants to go with me. When everything was in order, they came with 2 transfer tables, 1 for me and 1 for the plants. They brought me to the ambulance and the other hospital. The doctor who took over my care at Scottsdale Osborne was an elderly doctor and he was a bit forgetful. He said you still have the staples, they look good and I’ll leave them a few days. A few minutes the orderly came to take them out. A few minutes later the doctor came in and asked who took the staples out. I said the orderly came in to take them out. He was confused. There was a lot of blood all over. I asked when can I have a shower to take care of this blood that is all over. The next morning when i was allowed to have shower, I couldn’t believe all the blood that was on my head.

Today is Feb 12, 2019 and I’m still here.

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