Exactly this day last year (23 Oct 18), I went for an MRI scan to check my weird symptoms that I was having for around 3 months. My symptoms were subtle but something I couldn't explain what was causing them, some of the symptoms were Confusion, Focal seizures, Blurred vision, Driving difficulties etc.
I still remember the day of the scan to minute details (I am happy to remember this as someone after a brain surgery, losing memory is one of the most common side effects). It was a casual MRI scan appointment that the doctor suggested I take to rule out any serious issues given my very odd symptoms that cannot be linked to one disease. On the scan day, I was going to drive to the Scan centre on my own, but something made me ask my wife to join me. We were in my in-laws home, a lunch was already planned for us so we told her parents the scan will be over in couple of hours and we will join them for lunch and fixed the menu.
The scan was supposed to be for 45 mins, my head was positioned under the MRI machine that makes a lot of noise. It was definitely loud. I was told not to move or shake the head, so the next 45 mins I was lying there still but my mind was everywhere. Given my busy busy mind that always thinks of solutions to problem, at one point I started to think of solutions to reduce the noise the MRI machine makes so it is comfortable for patients. eg. Why not the patients given a headset that plays music that the patient can shuffle using a smart watch etc. They give ear plugs sort of thing which just blocks noise, but actually we can hear everything. After about 30 mins, I had one of the attendants asking me if I have kidney problems. I was little worried at this point, I thought I came for brain scan and how come they know I have kidney problem. I have had truck loads of kidney stones since I was 12 years old so this doesn't scare me. But they asked me so they could inject a contrast dye that lets them see brain even better. The dye can cause kidney damage so it was a precautionary question before it was sent in through my veins. Once they injected the dye It felt warm for a bit but nothing alarming, so I went back thinking about whether the lunch menu that we fixed was good or should I have asked for Fish instead of vegetable curry.
Maybe after 1 hr 45 mins, I was finally let to walk out of the scan room. All this time there was one person who watched this with fear and stress. It was my wife, I asked her did they say anything, she was really calm, composed and told me there is nothing to worry. But she was already hinted about something wrong in my brain. But to date I really feel she handled that moment with so much composure that I would surely find tough to handle. I knew when I married her, she was one tough girl who can actually look in my eye and say I am wrong. But she always thinks i'm wrong that is a different story :)
We asked when we could collect the scan results and we were told it will be ready in the evening. So we drove back home, had a very late lunch around 3.30 pm. My father in law wasn't pleased since he made the lunch and he usually wants us to appreciate his cooking, he does cook well but on this day I don't know what happened we were served some ordinary dish (possibly his way of showing the frustration). Anyways we relaxed a bit and later planned to collect the results after 8pm.
Now that my wife knows what is inside me, she wouldn't let me go on my own to collect the reports. She joined me too, the moment we got the reports in hand, I wanted to read it , its not that I am a neurologist but I have google so I thought I can understand anything. I was totally wrong. The report started with lines like "Well defined...", so I concluded this is a positive statement so my brain is fine. But the word after this was "lesion" that I completely overlooked.
But my "Failed Neurologist" role, actually gave me few more hours of stress free life since I thought the scan results are good, so we will just show this to the Neurologist and then planned to go have dinner at my Brother in laws place. Yes, he ordered us some Biryani which usually is accompanied with few beers. So a fun night was planned after the doctors appointment.
So when we walked in to the doctor's room, he looked at the report and the images. He is such a cheerful guy, but his face got more straighter in few minutes and he told me exactly this "Sir, your scan results don't look good, You have a Brain lesion or tumour and you need a surgery. you are better off to see a Neurosurgeon tonight ". At this point, I just looked at my wife opposite to me to see if she's ok as I thought this is real now and we both literally didn't say a word. We just went blank for minutes and left the room with not single word spoken between us. It's quite rare, I usually have a lot to say about everything.
I was not crying or panicking. I just felt relieved that I now know the answer for all the weird symptoms that I had for 3 months before this, when I was led to believe that I am diabetic or over stressed due to my IT Job or I am drinking too much alcohol etc. But none of this is true,
-- I now got the answer for my forget-fullness or short term memory troubles. I forgot my Credit card numbers(trust me I usually remember the 16 digit card numbers, CVC, PIN) etc and all other passwords for various online accounts with ease and have a decent temporary memory to long numbers.
-- also now I found the reason for my struggle while driving or using google maps.
-- also now I found the reason for the weirdness of my face turning to oneside suddenly.
So the Dinner plan need to be scrapped, we called my brother to come for the rescue so he could take us to see the Neurosurgeon that same night.
The Neurosurgen was busy, we decided to spend the time at a restaurant opposite to the clinic. On a normal night, me or my wife would have gone for ordering everything that is in the menu but tonight was not a normal night. I remember ordering some chapathi (bread) and felt a big lump in my throat while swallowing each bite. Somehow we finished eating our dinner, then found way back to the clinic. I think we were the last appointment, it was almost 10 pm now and we were called in. I started explaining my history (by now, I almost by-hearted the timeline of my case) so it was easy to tell to anyone that asked me. He put the MRI images on the monitor, this is when for the first time I saw my brain which looked odd with a huge white mass on the right side of it. It almost freaked me out and immediately I got a focal seizure at the clinic. I guess it was due to anxiety or stress or fear. Now is the most anxious time, the surgeon decided to make me wait outside and talk to my wife and brother. I came sat outside with my sis in-law but was in utter fear. I was thinking he would tell my wife to plan for my funeral etc.
When they eventually came out, I was fully in tears and kept asking repeatedly "Is it the end?". again my wife was quite composed, we hugged for almost 5 mins and it was the tightest ever hug. She kept telling me I will be fine and nothing to worry, but my mind was already working overtime to think of the end is near. I don't think I stopped crying on my way back home, but somehow every minute or hour that passed I felt better and my usual confidence was kicking in to work this out and not get intimidated by the situation.
The moment I reached home from the doctor, I started writing my bank PIN numbers, passwords and handed over the paper to my wife. It felt like the world is crashing under me. But I knew if I showed fear then people around me will feel the heat, so I put a brave face and started discussion options for the surgery.
I think that was what that made the difference, I took control of the situation, I didn't panic, saw this as problem but was sure there will be ways to still live past this disaster. I had great support from everyone around me though some people didn't know how to console me, they were not negative to me which was good.
Here I am after 1 year, more stronger, wiser, happier with plenty of life lessons that I could write a book easily..
I am not sure if my tumour saga is over, but for now I have lived 1 happy year that I will never regret. All I can say for now is this day could easily have broken me to pieces, but I found ways to hang it together and the family/friends, wife / son were the glue that I needed to keep my pieces together. Without them, no matter you have tumour or not, your life can still be in pieces.