The Diagnosis

Telling the story about how I was diagnosed is emotionally draining, but since the first words out of peoples’ mouths are usually, WHAT. THE. F***?!?!? How did this happen? How did they find it?!?!?, I figured I should start there.

I was homeschooling my 3 little kids, taking care of the house and trying to keep it together just like everyone else. And I got headaches. Lots of them. Bad ones. Mostly in the mornings. Butttt we were in The. Middle. Of. A. Pandemic. Anddddd I was homeschooling 3 kids by myself. So wouldn't it be weird if I didn't have headaches? Turns out the answer to that is a hard NO. Headaches all the time, especially in the mornings, are not normal and you shouldn't ignore them.


A few days, later my vision started acting funny – like a cloud kept appearing in my right peripheral. I was concerned, but I decided to wait it out a couple days. A couple days passed, the cloudy vision continued, and suddenly a new symptom developed. I was in my living room and I had to cover my eyes because there was a blinding light shining into my eye – kind of like the feeling you get when you walk out the doors of a dark movie theater and step outside on a bright and sunny day. At that point I called my ophthalmologist and made an appointment for the next morning.


I sat in the exam room at the ophthalmologist's office, like I had a dozen times before, and I wasn’t overly concerned. He looked into my eyes, stepped back, put his tools down, lowered his mask, and said, “there is a ton of swelling in there, you need to get to a hospital NOW,” in the sternest fatherly voice anyone has ever spoken to me with other than my own dad. I laughed it off. Didn't he know there’s COVID in hospitals!?!?


He told me “you don’t really have a choice. Now, go and get an emergency MRI – the nurse will get you squared away.” I argued with the nurse about how I was not going to the hospital – how bad could it be? They wouldn’t let me leave until I promised I would get an MRI THAT DAY. I called my dad and he set up an appointment for that afternoon with a neurologist.


We went to the neurologist and he didn’t seem too concerned. I passed all the initial tests except one - I could touch my finger to my nose, answer some questions about current events, and walk straight, but when I had to say the months of the year backwards, I forgot April! Oops. Anyways... he suspected it was migraines. He even said that if I had come to him first, he wouldn’t have ordered an MRI because I seemed fine and it was probably just migraines, butttt since the ophthalmologist insisted, it would have been irresponsible to ignore that.


So I got the MRI the next morning. I still wasn't that concerned. It was probably just migraines, right? Not quite. The next day at the neurologist’s office, I found out I had a baseball size tumor in my head. A Meningioma: a usually noncancerous tumor that arises from the membranes surrounding the brain and spinal cord.


"meningioma" "meningioma diagnosis" "what is a meningioma" "brain cancer" "brain tumor" "cancer during covid" "cancer" "cancer recovery" "brain cancer mri" "meningioma mri"
A baseball size tumor smashing my poor brain
"meningioma" "meningioma diagnosis" "what is a meningioma" "brain cancer" "brain tumor" "cancer during covid" "cancer" "cancer recovery" "brain cancer mri" "meningioma mri" "brain mri"
Another angle because, well, how crazy is that thing?

Takeaway: Don’t ignore really bad headaches, especially ones that occur in the morning when you first wake up, don’t ignore even minor changes in vision, and get a great ophthalmologist. They just might save your life.