Sunday, February 26, 2012

Bad news and worse news.

It has been an interesting week. I had been feeling better, apart from the annoying limp which I had developed on Saturday. By Tuesday the limp had developed into pins and needles in my left pinkie and ring fingers and the weakness in my left calf was increasing. I saw my neurosurgeon on Thursday and he suggested getting an MRI done of my spine and neck to rule out anything sinister. I wasn't worried - I thought life couldn't suck that much. I booked the MRI for Tuesday of next week, which would give me enough time to psych myself up for going into that tight white torture tube. When I woke on Friday morning the pins and needles had spread to my entire left arm and my pinkie and ring fingers on my right hand. The weakness in my left leg was also worse; I had to sit down to put my pants on and couldn't push my foot into my shoe. I rang the neurosurgeon on Friday afternoon and left a message for him about the developments. I still wasn't too concerned about it all and headed out with my lovely housemate.

Much to my extreme disappointment, the neurosurgeon rang back to say that I should head into the Mater Private Emergency and have the MRI done immediately. It wasn't quite the Friday night I had planned. Armed with my parents, we headed into the hospital. It felt strange going to the emergency department again, but at least this time I wasn't in my pajamas, I had a bra on and didn't feel like my head was going to explode. Another bonus was that since I was already bald, they didn't have to shave chunks of hair from my head. I had an MRI of my head, neck and spine which took about an hour. Lying in the tight white torture tube, many thoughts ran through my head; such as why do they give you headphones to listen to music when you can't hear it over the bang, bang, bang of the machine? What happens if you have to scratch something? My thoughts also ran into what could be causing these issues. I thought of every degenerative neurological disorder with no cure and thought about how I could deal with that diagnosis. After spending quite a bit of time contemplating this question - I still don't know the answer.

As the MRI was done at 10pm, I was admitted to the hospital and spent the night in a shared room on Friday. I do not find hospitals to be the most peaceful of places, especially when you are in a room with a complete stranger who snores, expectorates loudly and likes to sleep with the light on. I didn't realise I would be over-nighting on the luxurious Ward 9 of the Mater Private, so I wasn't prepared with my ear plugs and sleep mask. I managed to get settled at about midnight and about 10 minutes later, an alarm started going off in the room. This happened about half a dozen times between midnight and 6am, so needless to say, it was not a restful night at all. After the first few times, I managed to work out that the alarm went off every time the lady rolled over, bent her arm and disrupted the flow of her drip. You would think that if I could work it out from behind the grey curtain (which is unfortunately not made of concrete), she could work it out also.

I was wide awake when my neurosurgeon came to visit me early Saturday morning with the results of my MRI from the night before. The good news was that my spine and neck were all clear and they couldn't see anything that would be causing these sensations. The bad news was that the sensations were not caused by swelling or scar tissue, so further tests would be required as would a visit by a neurologist. He then held my hand and put his other hand on my arm and told me that there was other news. I knew this was a bad sign - I could see the cancer face forming. The worse news is that the MRI of my brain showed that the tumour has returned. Apparently I have super human powers that can grow tumours through radiation. To say that I was upset about this news is the understatement of the century. I felt like I had been punched in the guts. I am still struggling to wrap my head around this news, but as always I will keep forging ahead with positivity - I just have to remember where I put it.

I was examined by the neurologist and he recommended that I have a lumbar puncture to determine the cause of these sensations. The thought of having a needle thrust into my spine gives me goose bumps, but it is unavoidable. I just hope the trauma and pain results in a good outcome. Surely life couldn't be that cruel. Once they have the results of the lumbar puncture, they will be able to determine the course of treatment for the new tumour. I will have another visit to the tight white torture tube in a few weeks and see if the tumour has grown, shrunk or disappeared. Depending on those results, I may need another surgery to remove it. I am hoping that it magically disappears as do the pins, needles and numbness.

Once again the news has spread and my family and friends have rallied around me. My eldest brother flew up from Canberra to surprise me - which was awesome. Both brothers came over last night and watched the Reds defeat the Waratahs. Surrounded by friends, family, snacks, beers and rugby - I felt almost normal. That was until I jumped up to celebrate the last minute winning try to the Reds and promptly fell over. Must remember not to do that at the game on Saturday night. I have spoken to quite a few friends and lots of family and there have been lots of tears. Some people have apologised for crying in front of me. I totally endorse crying, this is a very cry-worthy situation. This has come as a devastating blow to me, my family and my friends - I think it is definitely appropriate to shed a tear or two million. I certainly know I have in the last two days. I am just going to focus on getting through each day this week. First is to get through the lumbar puncture on Tuesday and rejoice in the clear results on Wednesday. Also, the first home game of the rugby season is on Saturday and my aim is to get there and get home without falling over.

I would ask the people who are kind enough to read my ramblings to pray to what ever God or religious leader you believe in to pray that the lumbar puncture is clear and this tumour magically disappears and I do not have to have my head sliced open again. If you have a spare minute to squeeze in a fast growing hair request, that would be most appreciated also.


  1. Many prayers coming your way! Sam and I both will be on prayer duty! Hugs as well.

  2. Dearest fabulous Panders, this is simply not on! I am praying, pleading and shouting to all the Powers That Be that the lumber puncture is clear, the Reds continue their winning form AND you are reunited with Barney before you know it. I'm thinking of you and your wonderful family and sending all love, strength and healing vibes. A xx

  3. Karen, we don't necessarily do the prayer thing but if another couple of voices will help maybe he will be so shocked he might listen. In the meantime, strong lady, we are thinking of you constantly. Lots of love Ruth, Grant & of course Jimmy

  4. Dear, dear, dear Karen. Our thoughts and wishes are with you today and everyday. Cuddles from Peaches and Milo too. XXX Jean

  5. I'm so sorry to hear. You don't know me but I'm a friend of Alisha's and heard so much about you when we worked together. She used to read out of some of your more hilarious posts. I wish you all the best and send my thoughts and love towards vanquishing that awful tumour and strength for the lumbar puncture. Jenna Xxxx

  6. I'm also a friend of Alisha's - you sound so brave and strong and I've said a prayer or two for your strength to continue, for your tumour to go, your current neurological symptoms to be easily overcome and your hair to grow back (I added that it should grow quickly and be lush). I should have asked for the Tahs to beat the Reds next time, but I thought I wouldn't ask for the impossible. Sending you hugs xo