Thursday, February 25, 2010

Frances and the Tumor

I have told several friends about my sister Frances' brain tumor. Generally, I have kept it under my cap, so to speak , because I thought she might not want the world to know any issues about her health.

I heard she appeared on some church’s bulletin’s prayer list and she told her class newsletter about the tumor. So, the cat is out of the bag.

Speaking for prayers, some friends said they were going to pray for her.

She has a Glomus Tumor which normally latches itself on the jugular vein in the upper cheek area. Of course we were concerned but felt better about it after the doctor told us it is not malignant.

It did a minimum of damage so far. Hopefully its growth has been halted.

The ear, nose, and throat specialist group in Marietta Frances went to did not have the expertise or equipment to deal with her tumor. They sent us to the doctors at Emory Hospital.

I lost count the number of times we went to Emory over the past month see various doctors, MIRs**, and one time just to deliver some misplaced x-rays and paper work. I think, five times – six tops.

Yesterday was the day of her radiation treatment. She said it wasn’t as bad as she thought it was going to be. In fact, she said, it wasn’t bad at all.

The prayers must have worked. Thank you.

We had to be there at 6:15 am. Of course, in Hunter Time that was 5:30am, but in actuality that was 5:15. But we had to wait around for the valet service to open at 5:30.

Normally, I avoid valet service about as much as I avoid being splashed with scalding water, but this time, we got information from two different sources if you come to Emory Hospital for radiation the Valet Parking is free.

We first reported to the Same-Day Surgery’s Waiting Room on the 3rd floor, signed in and took a seat. We did not wait very long until Frances’ name was called. I went with her while Anna and Bonnie stayed in the waiting room.

We went to a pre-surgery room where they prepped you. In Frances’ case, they hooked an iv to her and attached a big bracket to her head that resembled a heavy cast-iron flange.

I picked it up and it wasn’t as heavy as it looked. It is designed to keep her head from moving during the radiation blast. How does it stay on her head? Get this: It is screwed on with 4 screws; two screws into her forehead and two screws in the back of the head. The screws were screwed in with a regular looking ratchet screw-driver.

Whatever works!

While in the pre-op section I asked the nurse if he/she* could tell if a person was a doctor or a RN – they seemed to be wearing all the same uniforms. He/she* said he/she* knew most, if not all, the Emory doctors, but of course sometimes Grady doctors, Marietta doctors, and so on might show up. He/she* said he could even tell then – something about the way a doctor carried themselves.

“The strut!” I said.

He/she* laughed and said that I had something there.

I asked he/she* how many employees did Emory have. He/she* said about 15,000.

Then I said I knew it was privately owned “by the Methodist?”

He/she* made an “iffy” symbol with his/her* hand and, “Yeah, but Coke has donated a huge sum of money over the years.” He/she* added, “If a member of the Candler family or any major Coke stockholder's family member comes in we are suppose to clear the way and bend over and bow”. He/she* rolled his/her* eyes.

They did the radiation procedure in the neighboring medical building across the street. All four of us walked over with the transporter and Frances (in a wheelchair). We walked deep down in a tunnel. The tunnel went under Clifton Road. The procedure was done deep below earth level. In a way it was spooky.

In all, we walked the tunnel three times.

The radiation procedure itself didn't take long, only about 15 minutes. But there was a lot of "hurry up and wait" situations.

The doctor came in her room after it was all over and said all went fine and they would want to see her in about six weeks, and then in about six months, then six months again, and after that once a year.

We checked in, as I said, just after 5:30 and checked out after 3pm.

While waiting on the car to be delivered to us free by the valet service we saw the police escort a heavy thug-looking guy in that was wearing an orange pants suit and hand-cuffs.

Also I believe I saw Georgian MAD artist Jack Davis and his wife walk by. I didn’t have the gumption to ask him was it really him.

I cursed myself for not bringing my camera.

*The word he/she* is not to meant to point out a sexual preference of the person. It is designed to protect the sex identity of the nurse, to keep him/her* out of hot water.
** The MRI procedure Frances had was done at an Emory medical facility in Tucker last Monday. We were two hours early and they were running one hour behind. That was a guaranteed three hours time of just sitting there. With the scanning time it added up closer to four hours. During that time I got drowsy and walked into their cafeteria to get a cup of coffee. I did not see any thing that looked like a coffee container. Behind a counter with a stainless steel steaming food containers were two servers. I went up to ask them where the coffee was and they looked every way but directly at me. Then I walked to the cashier to ask her…when I was feet from her she got up and asked somebody something across the room. The invisible man struck again! However, I did find the coffee- it was in a soft drink dispenser type machine. When I poured the coffee the cashier saw me immediately and told me how much and held out her hand. It is funny how my invisible cover is blown when I owe them money.


kenju said...

What an ordeal. I'm so sorry, Eddie, and I hope your sister will be good as new after the radiation treatments.

Funny about how we suddenly appear present to people when we owe them money! LOL

Eddie said...

Thanks. I think the plan is hopefully that the one blast of radiation did the trick. She will have to go for a MRI every six months, for a year, then if no problems, an annual MRI.

G said...

What a relief, huh!
Did the radiation eliminate the major symptom she had?

I know exactly what you mean by "hurry up and wait", and I'm glad yesterday is over for Frances, you and the family.

Curious ... how long a drive is it to Emory Hosp. from your house?

Eddie said...

It hasn't had time yet. We have to take her back in 6 weeks for another MRI to see if has stopped or shrunk or grown. One doctor said it might even grow some more before it stops. They will just have to wait and see. They told us before that what damage it did will stay damaged. Like the twisted tongue and the deaden vocal chord. Luckily, her speech was not effected that much.
In middle of the day it took us close to an hour to drive there. In the wee hours of the morning it took us something like 40 or 45 minutes. Either time we allowed our standard two hours. (never know when you will have a flat or backed up in traffic because of a wreck).