Retrospective – Initial Decisions

Tomorrow I will travel to MD Anderson for my second post-op check up. I thought this would be a good time to reflect on my recovery and to remind myself how far I have come in a relatively short period of time. These are posts from my CaringBridge site. I set it up prior to my surgery to help me communicate with my friends/family. Hope this is of some help to those of you who are just beginning this journey.

In the beginning…

Back in May, I went in for an MRI and to be honest, I wasn’t the least bit worried. Just between you and me, I thought I probably had fibroid tumors again and would need another surgery (had one back in 2006) to remove them. It was going to be inconvenient, but it wasn’t a game changer. So you can imagine my surprise when my GP called and told me that the MRI showed a mass on my spinal cord in addition to the suspected fibroids.

It is never nice to be told that you have a mass anywhere, and it is even more unpleasant when the doctor tells you over the phone. Unfortunately, I was driving when he called, so as I was pulling over to the side of the road I heard him say “probably not cancerous” and “surgery” and “not something to be ignored”.

I scheduled an appointment to meet with him face-to-face to discuss the MRI results. He didn’t say anything different, but reading his body language, I could tell this was something serious. A spinal cord tumor – probably a schwannoma – something rare and dangerous.

I began to research my condition, and I made an appointment to see the neurologist who has been treating me (and my mother and father) for migraines for years. After looking at the MRI results, she agreed that this was not to be taken lightly. I needed to find a good neurosurgeon – possibly far from home.

Traveling for treatment is never easy, so I wanted to at least consult a local neurosurgeon. After talking to a number of people, I scheduled an appointment with one of the more highly regarded surgeons in my hometown. I had to wait a month and a half to get in to see him because he is so popular. When I finally had my appointment, he made it quite clear that the surgery I needed required both special skills and special tools that he did not have. I would need to go to a major medical center to receive treatment.

And so, the journey begins…

Step Two

I have been putting it off, but today I finally purchased my ticket. I will arrive in Houston on October 4, and I will leave on October 8. My appointments are scheduled on October 5 and 6.

I will see Dr. Laurence Rhines. He is the director of the Spine Tumor Program at MD Anderson, and he comes highly recommended by his patients . He has the skills that are needed, but he also has the right tools in the high tech operating room that he helped design.

And, as an added benefit, he also seems to love what he does

There is also the benefit that lots of people here have gone to MD Anderson, so the hospitals and doctors here already have working relationships with the doctors at MD Anderson. Will keep you posted.
**Click on the colored words to link to articles that will give you more information.


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