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Latest Journal Update
The alarm bells obviously went off and I've been in close communication with my doctors. Tim and I got home from Mayo Clinic this evening and I wanted to post an update while things are still fresh in my mind. After various testing (blood, EEG, MRI, CT, neurological exams), we received some answers today via my Neuro-Oncologist, Dr. O'Neill. He is the top dog in his field at Mayo, knows my case well, and I just adore him. I say that even after he tortured me by making me lay flat on my back, hang my head off the exam table, and proceed to induce extreme nausea and disorientation by turning my head side to side. But this test and many other clues validated his suspicions.
Tim and I both breathed a giant sigh of relief because there are NO new neurological problems happening--the biggest of which are NO new growth of tumor and NO evidence of seizure activity!
It turns out that damage to my inner ear is the culprit. This is ultimately another effect of full brain radiation, specifically the "boost" I received near the nerves of my inner ear. My headaches, past ear trauma, and the tumor itself contribute to the problem as well. Granules have formed in the tubes of my inner ear, which block fluid movement, similar to a kidney or gull stone. When the fluid flow is inhibited, the glands in the inner ear cannot send clear signals to the brain regarding balance, movement and spatial recognition. Not cool. This is the reason for the dizziness. The weakness and tremors are also due to my brain not receiving clear signals. The body loses ability to compensate for previous trauma when the slightest miscommunication happens. Our brain's alarm system kicks into high gear to let us know something is not right. It is so amazing to learn about how intricate our bodies are, and to think about all the functions taking place inside of us 24/7. We are truly uniquely and wonderfully made, that is for sure! I just need to work on trusting that we'll all be knitted back together perfectly once we leave this imperfect world.
So what now? Well, we have to wait it out a bit and see if my system can adjust to another aftershock of radiation. I admit, I was hoping for a more immediate resolution! However, if the symptoms do not resolve or get worse, then we'll explore medication and a form of physical therapy that is used for people with vertigo. I am told that induces all kinds of unpleasant body functions in an effort to restore balance in the inner ear. With that in mind, I am more eager than ever to tap into God's "inner ear" for a different kind of intervention. :)
So...the journey continues. I do still feel a bit unsettled, but thankful at the same time to have received some insight. I prefer it much more than the furrowed brows and blank stares that I've gotten in the past, hehe. But in all seriousness, thank you to my brilliant doctors, supportive family, and faithful prayer warriors. You all make me feel loved and and never alone. And what is better than that?
I love you, Toni, and will never forget you. I can't wait to hear your laugh and sweet singing again. Lord, please be near to the hearts, minds and bodies of those who I know are suffering right now, in ways that I cannot comprehend. Please stay near as we face our temporary battles and help us to not lose hope in a broken world.