Tumor for a Month

I was a 26-year-old psychology graduate student preparing to defend my dissertation. I was accustomed to working multiple jobs, seeing clients, and going to classes in the evenings so chronic stress and I were intimately involved. As a result, I chalked the chronic headaches I’d been experiencing for a year up to psychosomatic issues.

One evening, while talking with friends after watching a movie, I went to the bathroom to wash what I thought was a fuzzy out of my eye. After a few failed attempts I realized it wasn’t a fuzzy; instead I realized I couldn’t see out of half of my right eye. The whole left side of the visual field was gone as though someone had erased it.

A week later, after trips to the ophthalmologist, emergency room, PCP, radiologists, and neurosurgeon, it was determined that I had a calcified tumor in the inferior region of my right temporal lobe.

Three weeks later I had a pterional craniotomy.

The initial recovery was very problematic, and then for about a month I had acute sound sensitivity and acute facial pain and numbness among an assortment of other issues. The subsequent recovery was gradual, but at about four months out I finally felt like myself again.

Today, four and half months removed from surgery, I still have facial and oral numbness and tingling, baldness along the incision line, and random tactile sensations throughout my body. The surgery did not address the vision loss so a still have a rather large visual blind spot in my right eye, though there was some marginal recovery of sight after the initial loss.

However, last week I successfully defended my doctoral dissertation. My academic and professional progress, though deferred was not deterred. Presently, my quality of life is minimally affected, and my situation could have been much worse with greater consequences.

Though this tumor/surgery was the most debilitating experience of my life, I am truly grateful that through having that experience I have joined a league of amazingly resilient and courageous people.

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