Christine writes: I am a special education teacher on medical leave because of brain surgery for a tumor. The tumor was found when I bumped my head accidentally. The tumor causes sudden death because of the location in the brain. God intervened to save me. My husband is diagnosed with terminal cancer. We frequent the National Institutes of Health for his very rare and aggressive cancer.
Bam! The door hit me in the head and I fell to the floor I could feel blood trickling over my left eye and face. Friends crowded around me attempting to clean the blood of my face and get me to my unsteady feet.
We were at our friend Vicky’s’ birthday party om May 5, 2013. My husband, Stacy came to my rescue. Despite friends’ suggestion, I go to the ER, Stacy took me home. He kept a vigilant eye on me as I slept and woke me periodically in case I had a concussion.
The next morning, my wound looked like I had been in a bar fight and I decided to go see Dr. Daub, our primary care physician. Dr. Daub sent me to the hospital to get a CAT scan of my head. Into the tube I went. Hold your breath, breathe, hold your breath, breathe. Dr. Daub called immediately following the scan.
“Chris you have a colloid cyst in your brain. It has nothing to do with your injury. I am going to refer you to a local neurologist. Do not worry everything will be okay.”
Cyst in brain, Cyst in brain was a constant mantra as I drove home in a daze.
I went to the neurologist, who was very arrogant, not warm and fuzzy like Dr. Daub. He referred me for an MRI and told me it was nothing to worry about.
Into the tube, my head restrained by a contraption. The noises sounded like jackhammers over and over again. Lie still, do not move I constantly told myself.
Stacy and I arrived for the follow up appointment to discuss the results of the MRI with the neurologist. As soon as we entered the examine room I saw a picture of my brain on the screen. My heart reacted by beating faster, my palms were slick with sweat. The first fear set in like a baseball had been lodged in my throat. On the screen it appeared that the cyst was completely blocking my brain fluid.
The doctor finally entered the room, looked at me and said” what are you doing here?’
I was shocked at his attitude towards my very serious, unwanted visitor, in my head.
“I do not think you have anything to worry about. We will scan you periodically to see if the cyst has grown”
We were dismissed, like we had caused a ruck-us to his controlled day. We left the office baffled by his statement and manner.
I relayed that appointment while meeting with Dr. Daub and asked for a second opinion. He referred me to Dr. Zomoridi “Dr.Z” the head of the neurosurgical department at Duke University. Duke University had done Kennedy’s surgery, I told everyone! The department has a hospital in Durham, NC as well as Raleigh NC. My appointment was scheduled for July 24th.
In the interim, I learned that colloid cysts are mostly found during autopsy. They cause sudden death by blocking all the brain fluid at the third ventricle of the brain.
My close friend Kelly, really my soul sister, came from Lawrence Kansas to go the appointment with Dr. Z. We waited for 3 hours amusing ourselves with funny dog videos. We were finally ushered into an exam room to wait for another hour!! Kelly and I were debating on decorating the white board since we both teach special education when Dr. Z came in. He pulled a chair and sat down right next to me. He was patient and kind and had a sense of humor.
“Chris, you just have bad luck. We have to get the tumor out. I may not be able to get the whole thing. It will need to be done in the next 3 months.”
He explained that he will cut the skull open with high powered saws. My brain will “open like a flower”. Then he will remove the skull and surgically remove the tumor. He would reattach the skull using plates and screws.
“You will have a reason to have a screw loose,” he joked.
The surgery was scheduled for August 23, 2013 at the Raleigh campus. I preferred it because it was much less hectic. Brain surgery marked the date on my calendar! Kelly drew some funny pictures of Dr. Z and his PA Gonzales.
For the following two months I prayed to God and read scripture. I prayed with family and friends. Dr. Daub is an angel sent to me from God and his prayers are a direct connection to God. Aaron, my close friend. prayed for me and with me. He is another one of my guardian angels.
By the time August 23rd came, I was completely and utterly in peace. God was watching out for me. He had already given me divine intervention when I hit my head and discovered the un- invited guest lodged in my brain.
My parents flew from their home in New Jersey to support Stacy and I. The night before my surgery. We had a lovely dinner at Bahama Breeze across from the hospital. My close friend Becky called me to lend her support.
At 3:00 the morning on August 23rd, I was awake and ready, I did not need to be at admissions until 5:00 a.m. I waited with Stacy, buzzer in hand. I was so calm that when the buzzer went off I jumped in my seat. Sonya came to get me to prep me for surgery She offered Stacy the sedative that I did not need. He was a nervous wreck. It felt like a dozen people asked me what kind of surgery I was having. Each time I replied intracranial re-section of my brain to remove the colloid cyst. Just before I was going to be wheeled to surgery, Dr. Z ordered a CAT scan to the dismay of the head nurse. I was thrilled that he would be able to see my brain to guide him to the tumor!
Dr. Daub arrived in Raleigh to keep Stacy and my parents company during the long wait. He warned them that my face would be gray and I would be despondent.
Dr. Z told Stacy, my parents and Dr. Daub that the surgery was a huge success, He was able to get the whole tumor! He said I woke up talking about riding horses! This was a first for him, most patients do not dream and certainly do not remember! However, as I recovered, I remember talking and riding my horse Pickles who died in 2001. God had brought us together in heaven!
In the interim, before my family and Dr. Daub were allowed to see me, I talked non-stop to the nurses. I wished one a happy birthday. I had an obsession with my surgical hat and asked anyone who went by “Do you like my hat?
When my support team came back to recovery I was sitting up and immediately exclaimed hi, “Do you like my hat? I am starving!” The recovery nurse, Terry, was shocked by my request!
“I want to see what she does, go ahead and get her what she wants.”
Stacy brought me an enormous burger with avocado and fries. I munched happily talking between bites.
In 20 years of a recovery nurse for craniotomies Terry, had never seen a patient so alert post-surgery. She called me her miracle patient!
I skipped ICU and went directly to room 222, my favorite 3-digit number! When Dr. Z came to check on me, I asked him, do you like my hat?
“Yes, Chris, I tied the bow.”
“You did a good job Dr. Z!”
Everyday Terry came to my room and brought me a new hat. My favorite was the blue one with yellow butterflies. I asked Stacy to take my picture in it. I love it so much!
Three days later I was discharged. When we arrived home, I begged Stacy to wash my hair. It was matted with blood. Stacy brought a chair into the shower and very gently washed my hair. He was my wonderful care provider. We were honoring our wedding vows, “in sickness and in health.” Stacy and I are soulmates brought together by God.
(© 2016 Christine Sinkhorn – All rights reserved. Written material may not be duplicated without permission.)