Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Sometimes it is all in your head

A couple of years ago we were in NY, while there we were having our yearly medical check ups. I was fine, overweight but OK. I mentioned, I was having a little trouble with my balance. Our GP decided to have me do an MRI to see if there was any problem with my inner ear. Next day he tells me, no problem with my inner ear, I breathed a sigh of relief until he told me there was a benign tumor in the front of my brain, just over my sinus cavity. See sometimes it really is all in your head, even if it is benign. Here we go again.

He recommended a surgeon, and he said, “He is not only a great surgeon, but a great doctor.” Surgeons have the reputation, especially brain surgeons, of being arrogant and not necessarily having a great bedside manner. They are in a very exalted position, they go into the brain, they have some respect for heart surgeons, and less for general surgeons. They are the top. As one said, “We have no spare parts. The heart guys do, and so do the general surgeons.” I understood our doctor’s comment that he was a great doctor as well as a great surgeon.

I went to see him and he spent more than an hour with me explaining as well as telling me what my options were.

1. Do not do anything and monitor it, could result in symptoms later.

2. Go in from the top of my skull and try to remove it all.

3. Less drastic, try to remove as much as we can, with a less invasive surgery.

We decided on 3, go in from the side of the skull and remove as much as we can, since this is a slow growing tumor.

I was all set for that and then he tells me to have a second opinion. It seemed unnecessary to me, I liked and trusted him, and I even loved his outfit.

I did not need a second opinion, but he insisted.

I went to see the head surgeon (he was a head surgeon as well as head of the surgery department). He obviously was a skilled surgeon, but did not have much of a bedside manner, he was the typical surgeon, five minutes and he said we go in from the top and get it all, I also did not think much of his suit.

When you pick a surgeon amazing things matter, some incredibly important and some seemingly less important.

This was an incredible, caring guy that spends time explaining everything, not only to me, but also to my wife and kids.

He made an incision over my eyebrow, opened my skull on the right side and took as much out as he could of the tumor, almost the whole thing. It was an eight-hour operation. He was very pleased, so was I.

I did have one complaint, I expected to have scars all over my skull, and I had no bragging rights, who would believe I had such an amazing operation.
No Frankenstein scars, he didn’t even shave my eyebrow, nada to show off and get sympathy drinks.

It was actually 100% in my head, but not anymore.

Love that doctor, and his great outfits. His nurse told me his wife picked them out, even so, he had style.

When I went to see our GP a few days later, he took me around raving about my surgeon, to his associates. I had to explain that I was a pretty remarkable patient as well, I deserved a bit of the credit, and I dress pretty well at times.

I was not allowed to dive for at least a year, will do it this month, let’s hope the piece he took out and replaced stays put, otherwise there will be more stuff in my head.

1 comment:

  1. Greg,

    I am so glad you're posting again. This was terrific. Really funny. So perceptive in your descriptins of the Doctors. They're exactly the way you described.

    Just one thing. The word is SKULL not SCULL you birdbrain. I guess you can blame it on the operation. Maybe you SHOULD have him add another piece. But then you'd have to get bigger hats.