2008 State of the Head Address

Madam Speaker, Mister Vice President, members of Congress, distinguished guests, and fellow cephalids: It had been a year since my last MRI, and in the strange way of memory, the noisiness of the tube had become exaggerated in my mind. This time, I almost managed to snooze through it, the rhythmic buzzing and knocking and whirring lulling me into drowsiness. But, then, I can sleep almost anywhere, especially when I’m bereft of anything to hold my attention.

A week later, this past Monday, m’lady and I met with Dr Stovall to compare and contrast the new with the old. It seems that in the intervening year, my meningiomic mind mite has been busy. Although I’ve experienced no change in symptoms (yay, carbamzapine!), I’m carrying around even more non-brain material in my head. It’s now approaching a size that raises concern, having grown along all axes. It would seem that now is the time to act, or at least, to plan.

The preferred treatment is surgical removal. While it may seem that having open-brain surgery seems a touch extreme as a first choice, the high probability of a positive outcome seems to merit an aggressive approach. Meningiomas, the literature tells me, tend not to attach themselves to the brain, but rather their source tissue, the meninges.

 

Like a layer cake for zombies.

As you can see, that leaves it a few layers above the actual cortex, although, since it takes up space, and none of the tissues below are what you’d call “rigid” compared with the skull, it exerts pressure on the brain. They are, however, ugly bastards:

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from woodcreeper’s flickr set on his own meningioma adventure

Naturally, I find this development is terrifying nonetheless. Lumpy and problematic though it is, I fancy my head, and in fact all my constituent body parts, to be as incision-free as possible. Of course, I equally wish them to be free of dangerous, ever-expanding blobs of doom. So, you can see my dilemma.

Where there is a first choice, though, there is often a second. In this case, the second-line treatment option is radiation. This path would grant me superhuman powers, perhaps permitting me to expel the bugger by force of will alone. Additionally, it will fracture the DNA in the tumor cells, killing them when they attempt to divide. Since it grows at a fairly leisurely pace, divisions clearly don’t happen all the time; therefore, it would take a while before it dies off completely. Of course, it would still be pressing on the parts it presses on now, and may still resume expansion later. There’s also some very, very small chance that it might give rise to other abnormal cellular behavior, likely not the sort that would require great responsibility on my part.

Next week, I’ll be subject to another MRI to see where my brain’s oxygen concentrates, better defining the edges of the tumor. That information will be added to the stack of facts and probabilities that I already have, and over the course of the next several weeks, work its way through several stages of Bloom’s Taxonomy en route to a decision. Watch this space!

One Comment

  1. wardripley

    I just had meningioma surgery in April. If you are not aware of it, there is a fairly informative discussion board at
    http://meningioma.webexone.com/login.asp?loc=&link=

    I was led to believe the tumor could was accessible for surgery and the estimated time under the knife was 2 hours. It took 8 hours and I just found out this week with a follow up MRI that there is likely tumor remaining and I may have to have Gamma Knife (focused radiation) to remove the remainder.

    I have some weird facial sensations that the Neurosurgeon says are likely hypersensitive facial nerves. I think the facial nerve or trigeminal nerve was disturbed and produces the sensations.

    All this to say — get a second opinion and ask many questions. From the discussion board you can get a list of 28 multipart questions put together by Anne Breene — also a great deal of info re: her experiences with these tumors — she’s had multiple surgeries.

    hope this is helpful.
    you will find me on the discussion board under the name of ‘dialtone’.

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