Aug 29, 2021 Latest post:
Sep 21, 2022
Our mom in July started having more significant neck and upper back pain, which she initially thought was from hanging pictures shortly after their move into their twinhome in Woodbury. We are so fortunate that they are close to us.
By mid July, her right ear began bothering her as it felt plugged and had a ringing in it. She went to a primary care doctor at the end of July after the ear and neck pain had lasted a few weeks. They gave her muscle relaxers and referred her to a physical therapist. She also saw a chiropractor around this time as well. The muscle relaxers reduced her appetite and energy level quite a bit. By mid-August, she could not hear at all out of her right ear and the ringing was very loud. My dad had started to notice some changes in her memory, as well. My brother and I spoke with her on the 17th and 18th, we also started to see some unusual memory changes, but we thought it was still likely to be the fatigue, ear ringing and pain. Over the next 3-4 days, we continued to see memory and personality changes and our concern grew quite rapidly. On Thursday, the 26th - we took her initially to urgent care after speaking at length with a triage nurse about her condition. We then proceeded to United Hospital for a Brain MRI. She was admitted about 10pm that evening after the radiologist confirmed our greatest fear, there were over half a dozen nodes / tumors on her brain. The location of the tumors explain many of her side effects - ear pressure / hearing loss, rapidly decreasing balance, and significant changes in her short term memory and emotional responses. The primary suspect was lymphoma. As a result of her condition, she didn't understand any of the results being shared with her. The only consolation to her impaired cognitive state was she had no fear or worries about her potential diagnosis.
We waited most of Friday for an update on what tests would be performed to understand where we would go from here. Late that afternoon, we met with an oncologist and neurologist to understand what tests would be scheduled. The first, a full body CT scan to understand if the cancer had started in her brain or if it had spread to it after originating elsewhere. The second, a spinal MRI to understand if their were tumors throughout her central nervous system. Both of these were completed late Friday. The third test ordered was a lumbar spinal tap, which happened early Saturday morning. The CT scan and spine MRI showed no additional tumors, which means it started in her brain and has not spread. We were very relieved to hear that it hadn't spread, but we have also been told that these types of cancer can be very aggressive (which may explain the rapid changes), as opposed to some other types of lymphoma.
They started her on steroids on Thursday night, which would help reduce the inflammation around the tumors, which has restricted the flow of her spinal fluid. By Saturday, her ear felt a little less pressure and the ringing grew a little quieter. She also regained a bit more of her memory and personality. She is growing more aware of her condition, but she has continued to remain so tough and not shown any fear. In my first journal post, I will share the next steps, but they did have to discontinue the steroids on Saturday afternoon in advance of the biopsy.
Jeff or I will do our best to update her journal. We thank everyone for their support, love and prayers. Our mom is so strong and I am impressed with her every day.