Next Steps

Here’s the approximate timetable (for me, anyway) for the rest of this week.

  • Wednesday: Meet with the anesthesiologist and neurologist. Submit to another MRI. (This is an additional reason to keep my head shaved: during the last MRI, they had to adhere little saline-filled discs to my head, to serve as reference points and target markers: since said discs adhere poorly and imprecisely to hair, this required them to shave quarter-sized areas on various points around my scalp. I’m expecting that they’ll want to use such markers again, so I might as well beat them to the shaving punch. There are few things more dorky-looking than a little pseudo-tonsure halfway between your hairline and the whorl where any normal human would start developing a real bald spot.)

  • Thursday: The main event. Put Dan under, open up his skull, bring him back to consciousness under sufficient sedation that he won’t freak out about the existence of the improvised access panel on his head, and probe him with electrodes while asking him various questions in a mixture of languages to map out the temporal lobe. Remove as much of the tumor as is feasible. Put Dan back to sleep and close him up.

  • Friday onward: Recovery. Give the bones a chance to knit, watch for signs of infection, perhaps keep me somewhat centered in a narcotic fog. (I don’t know that I’m getting any really good drugs, but I can hope.)

  • Tuesday of next week, maybe: Meet with the neurosurgeon and neurooncologist to map out further treatment plans. Chemotherapy is pretty much a given, but as I’ve written before, this is not as grim as it sounds. The chemotherapy agents used against brain tumors are supposedly well-tolerated, so the sick-as-a-dog puking-my-guts-out scenario seems distant and unlikely.

    Radiation is the big question mark. It can be effective in helping to kill the tumor cells, but it can also have some undesirable side effects, in particular upon vascularization (read: the distribution and character of blood vessels within the brain). The fact that this particular tumor is fairly superficial, lying close to the junction of brain and skull, means that the radiation won’t have to penetrate much healthy cerebral tissue to be effective. This is good, and may reduce to the potential downside.

    My father’s tentative inclination is to keep radiation in reserve, but he’s quick to add that the state of the art is advancing rapidly, leaving much published research inherently behind the curve. I suspect that this is one of the topics we’ll go most into depth on whenever we do meet with the neurosurgeon and neurooncologist. (Again, there’s no guarantee that it will be next Tuesday. A Tuesday, most likely, because that’s when the two practice together.)

I expect that I’ll be discharged from the hospital sometime in the middle of next week, but I don’t know exactly when, and I’m not sure that anyone else does at the moment, either. It will be predicated largely upon how quickly I recover and heal, and whether any complications arise on the way.

I will try to keep folks posted as best I can. This depends a bit on when I regain consciousness, how soon I’m allowed to use my computer, whether I can get any kind of network connection in my hospital room, etc., etc. It may well be that the place to look for the earliest first-hand sign of post-op life is my Twitter feed, since in theory I’ll be able to update that from my iPhone even if I don’t have WiFi. (Of course, lately Twitter has me completely beat when it comes to succumbing unpredictably to seizures, so… no promises.)

3 thoughts on “Next Steps

  1. Your attitude towards all this is absolutely astounding to behold. If I ever find myself with a brain tumor, I hope I can maintain such a positive attitude. They say it helps with the healing process. May it be so for you.

    Please let me know if I can help you in any way. I think of you often.

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