The doctor said the tumor was about the size of a potato. (like a red potato, not a russet)
Two previous doctor visits and five months of pain went by, but on October 1, 2009 I finally got answers.
I woke up that
morning in too much pain to get out of bed and get painkillers. My boyfriend, John, brought me two liquid-gel Ibuprofen in bed and I peeled my head off the pillow to get up and get ready for work. The pain and pressure in my head was unbelievable, and it shot
all the way down from the top of my head, on my left side, to my hip. My fingertips on my left hand felt numb. Looking at myself in the mirror the reflection was off. The vision in my left eye was starting to fail. Trying not to cry, while I brushed my teeth,
I had to find a way to make it through another day. John stood outside the bathroom, feeling scared and God knows what else. He had tried to get me to go to the emergency room the night before, but I refused. The store that I worked at was having a very important
event that day and I was afraid to call in sick.
On the way to work my sister called me, she had also been observing my steady decline.
“Hi, where are you?” She asked.
“Driving to work.”
you are going to the emergency room.”
“I can't, I have to work.”
“Becky, you need a CT scan.”
can't today. I can't miss work.”
“What if you had a stroke?” It was that statement that made me understand the severity. My sister had a stroke when she was 31. This was more than a sinus infection,
or allergies, or nasal polyps. “I want you to turn around and go home, I'm on my way and I'm going to pick you up and take you to the hospital.”
called my manager and told her I was going to get a CT scan, I couldn't believe I was saying the words out loud, at the time it seemed crazy.
At 10am Friday
morning, the ER was very calm, so I got in pretty quickly. The doctor was surprisingly curt with me, flooding me with questions and she had contempt in her voice: “You say you have pain? Where is it? How bad on a scale from 1 to 10? What kind of pressure?
For how long? Describe it?”
Every time I tried to answer something she would cut me off, or seem annoyed that I didn't understand, or wasn't answering quickly enough. I considered asking her if I had done
something to offend her, because she truly seemed frustrated with me, but she then said, “Okay, you think you need a CT scan?”
“Yes, I think so,” and I brought up my sister's history.
“Okay, put this on,” she tossed me a pale green and white hospital gown (the first of many to come), “and wait in here for someone to get you.”
had the scan, it was the very first time I ever had to have this kind of test done. I had always been healthy, never had a broken bone, and rarely got sick.
After the scan nurses came in quickly and set me up
with an IV. They also started pumping me with heavy narcotics for pain, but I didn't see the doctor for several hours.
When she did finally come back in she looked at me and it was the first time that I had seen
her eyes, and she was holding back tears. I realized then that her attitude toward me in the beginning was that she merely thought I was some hypochondriac, which probably happens a lot, and I could also tell she felt horrible for it.
“So, I have be going over your scans, and there is a mass.” She paused for my response.
“A mass?" I question, not fully
understanding what she means. "Like....mucus?”
“No.... like a tumor, and it is most likely cancer.” Again, she paused.
all I said. My sister sat with me and listened to the doctor continue.
“I'll be honest with you," the doctor started, "this is out of my reach, I don't know what it is, I had to look it up before I could
even come in here and talk to you. I am going to have an ambulance transfer you to another hospital that has a better neurological department.” She stood up and said, shakily, “I'm so sorry,” and she left.
I looked at my sister and said, “huh.”
“Do you want me to call Mom and Dad?” My sister asked.
“Yeah. And, will you call
John too. And, my manager at work, and let them know I won't be coming in tomorrow either.”
Before my ambulance ride a nurse came in and gave me a
shot of dilaudid, and things started to feel very groovy for a short while. Apparently heavy narcotics make me very chatty. I don't remember what I said on that ride, but I do remember the female paramedic was smiling at me while I spoke. Whatever I said I
hope it was funny.