Monday, May 23, 2011

Mom's MRI

I haven't blogged long enough to have a story on my mom yet so I need to back up before I put in the update.                                                                                                                                                                                                    Back in November of 2009, the day before Thanksgiving to be exact, we found out my mom has a brain tumor. Technically she'd had it for 3 years before they found it, but they missed it on the MRI from that time. Mom was having some shaking in her head at times, especially when she put her head down, so she finally went in to see a neurologist after we convinced her (that part took a couple months!). We thought it was Parkinson's disease because her mom, and a few aunts and uncles had it. They did an MRI and found a benign tumor that was slow growing right up against her brain stem. So from there we met with a neuro surgeon who said right there he refused to do brain surgery to remove it because it was almost dead center in her brain and was too risky. Her tumor wasn't cancerous and people can usually live a long time with these, so he wasn't doing the surgery. The risks of that kind of brian surgery-strokes, cutting off her breathing, seizures, and death- were way too risky for a slow growing benign tumor. So we met with an oncologist at IMC Hospital , Dr. Watson-who is amazing!!!!  Long story short, on January 28, 2010 they did the Gamma Knife Radiation on her to try and stop the growth of her tumor. That was pretty intense to watch her go through. They had to screw a stabilizer into her skull to hold her in place while she was given the radiation to insure there was absolutely no movement whatsoever. The radiation lasted around 48 minutes. This, even though it's non-evasive except for the stabilizer part, is still considered brain surgery. For a while after, she was a little more tired and had to lay down more. And for the first few days after the radiation treatment, her face and eyes were extremely swollen from having the stabilizer screwed in (so swollen that the first day after she could barely open them enough to see a small crack of the floor and someones feet as they walked by).
All her Dr.'s are here at IMC. We had to be to IMC at 6:15 a.m. the morning of her radiation. Mom & Dad picked me up at 5:20 that morning. Let's just say with knowing what was going to happen, I didn't get much sleep the night before. I stayed up and made homemade cinnamon rolls at 11 o'clock the night before to get my mind off it. Got maybe 3 hours of sleep that night.
Watching them try to get her IV in. Mom didn't want to watch, but I did. I love medical stuff. I was also blessed to have her lovely veins they can't stick.

Cody was so cute asking what Grandpa and I were going to do the whole 6 hours we'd be at the hospital. He sent this book... "If You Give a Pig a Pancake" along for Grandpa to read. (And he did!)
The stabilizer they had to put on. Right before they do this they give a medicine that makes you feel very loopy and tired. She slept most of the time after her CT scan and MRI while they put together a 3D image of her tumor so they could pinpoint right where the laser beams could administer the radiation and not hit the brainstem, blood vessels, etc.

Getting her ready for the radiation.

They have you lay back on this table and they lock the stabilizer into place so no matter how hard you try to move, you can't. Then, when it's time for the radiation, everyone leaves the room and her table slowly backes into into this tent looking thing and she layes there while receiving the radiation. Dr. Watson watches her from a room next door and has music from his iPod playing so mom can hear it, too, and isn't too bored.

After the radiation was done they took off the stabilizer. It was weird watching them use a basic screw gun to do this. Mom's medicine was wearing off by now so she was talking and laughing while they did this. She couldn't feel a thing cause her head was totally numb (and it actually stayed numb on top of her head for a few weeks).

The screws they used to put her stabilizer on. They only went into her skull about a quarter of an inch, but they were pretty big.

Mom icing her head once we got into the car. She was singing like an indian. My typical Mom.

She'd kill me if she knew I put these pictures on. Her eyes got really swollen and black and blue. (This picture was taken a few days after so I didn't get the best swelling and bruising.) She couldn't wash her hair for a couple of days either to let her incisions heal.

My sweet boys visiting Grandma after her radiation.

This was after she could open her eyes some.

So here we are now... May of 2011. It's been 1 year and four months since her radiation and I'm happy to report it is still shrinking!! At the time of her radiation her tumor was about 17 mm in size, and now it's shrunk to about 10x7 mm in size, roughly about 50% now. Plus, it's not sitting right up against her brain stem now so the pressure has been taken off of that and there was a major blood vessel that ran right through the tumor that with it shrinking, it's not around that anymore either. That's very good news! So now instead of going in every 6 months for an MRI to check the progress and make sure it isn't switching and growing again, she will go in every year. And if it starts to grow again, they'll just do the radiation over. We are so happy we are where we are at this point right now. It's been a long year and a half since her diagnosis. I go to every doctors appointment with her, know every single thing that is going on, and have to remember it because her short term memory problems makes it hard for her to remember what she's supposed to do. Let's just say, with how many times we've been to see the doctors, we're sure getting to know this hospital very well. But so far, it's worth it.

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