For several years before “my tumor” was found I was living my life in what I refer to as a cocoon. Life was going on around me but I wasn’t a participant. I slowly, over several years, went deeper into myself. As each year passed my depression became worse.
Although I was on antidepressants, they didn’t seem to be working. I felt angry all the time. I didn’t care about myself. About 5 years before diagnosis I lost my sense of smell but I wasn’t too concerned about it. Being a Type 2 diabetic and having high blood pressure and high cholesterol, I just stopped taking my medication. In my head I actually thought I didn’t need them.
My days consisted of getting up watching TV all day or sleeping and drinking soda. I would maybe eat once a day. I started losing muscle tone and dropping weight. My grown children were very worried about me and tried their best to help me.
Then one day as I was taking a shower, I feel for no reason. I laid there and couldn’t figure how to get up. It took me 30 minutes to finally have some strength to pull myself up. My head thought well I guess this is what happens when you get older. I was only 58 years old. A couple of weeks later it happened again while I was in the shower. This time I really hurt myself. Ended up with the biggest bruise on my upper leg that I’d ever seen.
I knew there had to be something wrong with me but I had no idea what. Mind you I was going to the doctor all along.
Strange things were happening as well. I’d park my car (yes I was still driving) in a parking lot, go in the store, come out and couldn’t find my car. One time I ended up taking a taxi home and didn’t go back for a week to look for my car again.
I would have staring episodes. Laying in bed just staring at the ceiling for hours. Then one day I rolled off the bed and in the floor and couldn’t get up. 911 was called and off they took me to Baptist Beaches ER. I was seen for a “psych evaluation”. But the doctor felt there was something physically wrong. So after several tests including a CT scan of my brain, she came into my room and told me I had a brain tumor.
She could have said it was raining monkeys outside. I had absolutely no reaction. I was transported to Baptist Medical Center downtown Jacksonville and admitted to neuro ICU. I watched as the nurses worked on me, yet I still had no reaction.
During the night I had a brain MRI. The very next morning in walked my neurosurgeon with an entourage. I remember distinctly he had on his white coat with his name engraved in it, wearing scrubs. He walked over to my bed and began telling me I had what appeared to be a meningioma he believed to be the size of an orange.
Isn’t it funny how they use fruit in relation to tumors?
On October 31st, yes Halloween, I had my surgery. I remember being taken to pre op and everyone was so very kind. Of course I vaguely remember being taken into the OR. About 14 hours later I’m in my room in neuro ICU. In and out of sleep. My family was there.
I spent a total of ten days in the hospital and ten days in inpatient rehab followed by two more months of outpatient rehab. I don’t know if I can explain how weak I was. I’ve never been that weak in my life. My gifted neurosurgeon was able to remove the entire tumor, which by the way, was the size of a grapefruit. It had pushed my brain back and when he began removing the tumor my brain began to come forward. He told me he had never seen a tumor that large. God put the right doctors and nurses in my life at exactly the right time.
My life now is better than its ever been and I’m making memories with my three children, who by the way are amazing. Robert, Katherine and Kelly and my two beautiful twin granddaughters Abigail Rachel and Brooke Kelly. Robert is their dad, and he’s in EMT school. Katherine is a captain in the US Marines. Kelly is a Petty Officer in the US Navy and she’s married to my wonderful son-in-law Tony.
I’m doing my best to give back and support brain tumor awareness. I love life and living and giving as much as I can. Life is a gift and very special and for that I’m grateful.
– Deborah Jackson