Saturday, March 31, 2007

A bad hop/Q&A

I've recently been in the hospital and there's a reason for it. As some of you know, I've been plagued with headaches for most of my adult life. Monday night into Tuesday morning, I had probably the worst headache I've ever had, requiring a trip to the doctor. Because of the additional symptoms I had that morning (blurred vision, slurred speech), I was given a series of tests and I have learned that I have a pituitary tumor. I will be returning to United Hospital next week for surgery to remove this tumor and will likely be in the hospital for the next week. As a result, blogging will be light in the coming days - it's hard to write when you have IV tubes in your arms, of course.

Anyway, here's a quick primer on what's happened and what my prognosis is.

Q. So, what the heck is a pituitary tumor anyway?
A. It's a pain in the head and a pain in the butt. The pituitary gland sits at the base of the brain, more or less behind your eyes. It is the master gland that controls the thyroid, adrenal and other glands in the body. It is small (1.5 cm) but mighty. And when it develops a tumor (which happens to about 14 of 100,000 people), it can cause real harm, with the greatest threat being to the optic nerve. My blurred vision indicates that I need this dealt with, now.

Q. Base of the brain? Does that mean this is brain surgery?
A. Yepper. It is brain surgery, although the surgeons will be able to go in through my nose to get to it. That means I won't get my skull sawed. That's something.

Q. Is the surgery dangerous?
A. Not so much. The neurosurgeon who is performing my operation is one of the best in the country and historically this surgery has about a 99% success rate. That's pretty encouraging. Also worth noting - pituitary tumors are almost 100% benign, so this is not cancer.

Q. What will this mean for your long-term health?
A. Well, I'll probably be taking a lot of pills. Since the growth is so large, there's an excellent chance that my pituitary gland will need to be removed entirely. That will require hormone replacement medication for the rest of my days. More people than you'd suspect have to do this, however.

Q. Will this mean your headaches will go away?
A. Maybe. There's a disagreement between the cavalcade of doctors who are working with me. The neurologist suspects that I have also been a migraine sufferer and that those may continue, but the horrifying headaches I've had in recent weeks will likely stop. I guess that's progress.

Q. How long will you be in the hospital?
A. Sounds like about a week. The surgery will be pretty much an all-day sucker, then I'll have to spend a few days in intensive care, then a few more in the neurology ward. After that, I'll have some pretty strict doctor's orders to fill for the next 2-3 months.

Q. Any other issues?
A. I've had my wings clipped; because I have lost some peripheral vision, I am not allowed to drive until after I've recovered, and may even face restrictions after that. That's a big bummer, but I'll try to figure a way around it.

Q. Where can we get updates?
A. They'll probably set up a page for me on the Caringbridge website. I'll try to make sure that happens before I go in.

Q. Will you still blog after the surgery?
A. Mais oui. I enjoy blogging a whole lot and appreciate the chance to share my thoughts with my vast North American audience.

Q. Is there anything you need?
A. Prayers are greatly appreciated. I'm trying to keep my composure about all this and I can feel God's hand in the events. He will take care of me, with your help.


hammerswing75 said...

It's not exactly a Christmas present is it? I'm glad that they've found it and will be able to take care of the problem. I will pray that the surgery is successful and the repercussions slight.

Anonymous said...

I wish you all the best....that the surgery will be successful and that your headaches might go away or at very least moderate. Grandpa Chris

Anonymous said...

Mark -- Best wishes on the surgery and the recovery afterward. You will be in Mark's and my prayers.

Pat Miller