Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Examine Your Head

I am waiting in the OR waiting room at the National Institutes of Health in Bethesda, Maryland. It is hour five into Mrs. Lock's brain surgery to remove a pheo tumor from her skull. I just got an update from the room nurse that things are going fine and that I can expect to talk to the surgeon in the next 45 minutes.

Update 1457. Dr. Heiss, the neurosurgeon came to talk to me. Procedure was uneventful - relatively speaking. They removed a good portion of the tumor. The parts left on the vein they didn't want to touch, too risky. Radiation will have to take care of that. They're waking her up now and I can see her in about half an hour. I have no idea what to expect.

Doctor did say a good portion of it was in the skull. It didn't look like any of it had invaded the brain, maybe touching it but not growing into it. And she was stable through the whole thing. She did receive "two units" of blood. Doctor said when they were closing her up, the bleeding had stopped.

Thursday, October 07, 2010


Don't mistaken prophecy for a really good plan.

Sunday, October 03, 2010

Worst day of my life

99% of you will never have a day this bad.

Today, on my wife's 37th birthday, her oncologist scheduled neurosurgery for her.

Yesterday, the oncologist and a team of doctors told her that she has a tumor in her skull growing and pressing into her brain. Brain surgery is the best option followed by radiation, but because of her existing condition surgery has to wait until they can get her blood pressure under control which they'll do with medication.

So we wait.

The speed of the growth of this neuro-tumor is surprisingly fast since it was just a speck on a scan just over a month ago. Now we wait another week before neurosurgeons can go in and remove it hoping it doesn't move in and make itself at home first.

Since my wife was diagnosed with metastatic pheo four years ago, we've been treading water. When that first doctor sat us down and told us she had a tumor in her hip and one in her neck, I remember being stunned. I couldn't move, react, talk, I couldn't even swallow saliva as it hung in my throat. This is the reaction to devastation. We thought at that moment, it was the end of the world. She had surgery later that year to remove both which did a bit of damage.

After that, she was accepted into a study group program at the National Institute of Health to began regular scans to find where else these tumors may grow. The scans revealed they were EVERYWHERE! She had them in her liver, her spine, her skull, her ribs, her other hip. When we got this report, it happened again. Stunned. We're still treading water, but we're sinking.

Now with this latest news, a disease that can not normally cross the blood-brain barrier like most cancers, it has found a way into her brain directly from the skull.

We are drowning.

If we felt our backs were against the wall four years, we've already pressed through the drywall and are standing outside on the lawn. I don't know how many more times I can reassess the situation, go through the stages of grief and come out at the end optimistic. This is the god damned brain we're talking about. It does NOT get more serious than this.

After the news in that NIH hospital room on that fateful day, after the team of doctors left us alone to grieve, and grieve we did, Mrs. Lock came through with it and still maintains a positive attitude. This automatically makes her the strong one.

We did even start to joke about it that day. Her lunch arrived. She had a popsicle she opened, tried to remove it from the package but only the stick came out, leaving the popsicle inside. When I saw what happened, I replied, "Boy, this just isn't your day." We had a good laugh about the obvious understatement this conveyed.

To take our minds of things, she asked me to go to the hospital library and check out a movie for us to watch. She said she wanted a comedy, no drama. I asked, "So no Brian's Song?" Are you starting to sense how I deal with grief?

When we debated when to call our parents and give them the dire news. Mrs. Lock said "Well at least it's not all in my head...well it is...but it's not." I suggested she call her parents and say it exactly like that "Well, it's all in my head!" Mrs. Lock laughed but reminded me they would be so pissed.


Saturday, October 02, 2010

Facebook Family

Sometimes I wish my mom wasn't on Facebook because she can get all motherly in front of 250 of my friends. But then I think, how many people have a mom who's on Facebook? That's kind of cool.