An aspirin a day will keep surgery away….

My surgery was scheduled for November 28th.  When the doctor told me this, I just assumed that that was the first available date, after allowing for additional testing. My testing was completed on November 14th. Ms sister felt that this was too long to wait if we didn’t need to. She and I both called the Neurosurgeon’s office to ask for an earlier date. This was on November 15th, I think. They said “okay” and I was told to wait for a call from the Neurosurgeon’ office to confirm a new date. They explained that it may or may not be possible due to insurance reasons and hospital scheduling and such. We were told to wait on the 16th for the call.

Finally about 4:30PM I got the phone call from Summerlin Hospital. My surgery wouls be on November 18th. They went through all of the pre-check in questions….Name, date  of birth, medical conditions, and also a complete list of my medications…..including ASPIRIN. She then gave me a number to call for the hospital check in appointment. I called right away, but they were closed. So I called my wife and told her to start calling the family to get flight and such out to Las Vegas.

The next morning I called the hospital check in number and after going through all the same questions AGAIN, they said I needed to come in by 1 PM that day. That worked out well because I was already going to be in Las Vegas at my Neurosurgeon’s office anyways. The day before, my mom, dad, brother, and sister all booked flights for Vegas and rented a mini-van.

So finally I meet with my Neurosurgeon at his office. He asked me what I knew about my condition….being that I have several family/friends that are nurses, and I had asked for copied of all of my MRI’s, I was able to send some images to my sister who had a nurse friend of her’s to look at the images. Also, I scoured the internet looking for clues as to what I had. The tumor itself was very visible, but being that  there are over 100 types of brain tumors, it was hard to pick out. By looking at my MRI-Spec graphs, I could clearly see that it was a tumor, and not just a tumor but it is cancer:(  So explained, as best I could that I had a tumor that showed” a primary tumor that showed a reverse Hunter’s Angle, low HAA, very high CLO,  very high lipids and necrosis at its core” He looked at me and said”What are you a scientist?” We all chuckled and explained that we already had a neurologist read the report, and I googled the heck out of everything it mentioned in the report. So after we talked a bit more, I began to realize he may not know that surgery was scheduled for tomorrow….so I asked, and he said he knew and we would get to that in a few. So when we began talking about surgery, he asked, again, what medications I was taking…..We rattled them off to him until we said ASPIRIN.He asked me when I last took the aspirin and I replied yesterday. He replied that I needed to be off of it for a week before surgery. He even said that he COULD operate, but if it was his mother or father, he wouldn’t operate for at least a week. By this time, my brother  was already landed in Vegas, my mom and dad were getting ready to leave, and my sister had a later flight!

So now we had to call everyone and tell them it got cancelled! On the bright side, I got to see my brother for a bit, and my parents are just staying until the surgery is over.

All of this over ASPIRIN, which I repeated to EVERYONE I spoke with.In theory, someone should have caught this sooner than they did, but life goes on.


The rest of the tests….

November 7th was another long day in Henderson. This time at Steinberg Diagnostics for a MRI with an with out contrast, and a MRI-Spec. The staff there were great. The whole thing only took about an hour and a half. I did ask for a cd-rom of the images, to see for myself, where this tumor is. It took a while to find it,

My Tumor

and not being a Neurologist, Neurosurgeon, let alone a doctor, it took a while for me to locate what I “think” is my tumor. It was a complicated process figuring out how to manipulate the three sets of images contained in the cd-rom. There is a viewer that comes on the disc that allows you to view the images many different ways, all the time seemingly linked together so that as you scroll up or down on one image, it changes 2016-11-07-3that image all the while cutting through a different image in a coordinated fashion. As I moved through the one image on top, which is a frontal view, it automatically moved through the second image, which is a top down view, thus showing a sort of 3-D image of the brain and tumor. This is actually an over simplified description of what was going on but it gives you the basic idea of how it worked. It took quite a while to figure out what I was looking at and looking for. Although in the top image the tumor appears on the left side, on the second image, it appears on the right side of my brain. It took a while to finally figure out that the second image is shown with my 2016-11-07-1feet towards you, and my head away from you. Therefore the right side is actually my left side. At first this caused me to dismiss these images, but I could find nothing else that looked remotely like a tumor. The 3rd image shows the tumor from the side view. All told, there were 572 images taken in 3 different MRI studies that day.Many of the images seem to be irrelevant, at least to me. This last image shows the 2016-11-07image viewer and how it interacts with other linked images from the series.But for the tumor, it was a fascinating tour through my brain. It proves wrong all the people that ever said I didn’t have one:) So far, since being put on Keppra 500mg BID(Twice a day), I have been seizure free. There have been two apparent side affects from this new medication. One being that It is making me very tired, although that seems to be getting less and less. The second one though, and its not listed anywhere that I can find, is that, as many men my age have a harder time urinating, now it flows like Niaggra Falls:)

Another Day, Another Test

Yesterday, as we called to set up more MRI tests, they said they wanted me to come in today because the Dr. ordered the tests STAT, which means within 2 days.

So now I need:

Each requires a trip to Las Vegas.

My Neurosurgeon, the man with a plan, is Dr. Keith Blum D.O. He has been as D.O./Neuro surgeon

Dr. Keith Blum

for 20 some years, and graduated from Michigan State University. As soon as my family learned of my tumor, my sister booked a flight out and was here the next day. She has been a nurse for 20 some years and knows the right questions to ask. In the beginning she felt that I should fly back to Michigan because  U of M Ann Arbor is one of the top 10 or so hospitals in the world. Las Vegas, on the other hand, not so much. Nothing against the hospitals in Las Vegas, but U of M has a long history or medical research, and cutting edge technology. After being here for a while and hopping on the internet, and talking to my admitting Doctor, Dr. Smith, my sister agreed that it would likely be best to stay in Las Vegas for the surgery.


The admitting Dr said that since I was no longer seizing, it was no longer an emergency and that I could be released, and schedule the surgery at a later date after they got a cardiac clearance and better MRI scans of the tumor. I was released on Thursday and have not had a seizure yet. I am on Keppra, an anti epileptic drug, which has tended to make me very drowsy. Another side effect is that I can no longer drive. Although my license has not been suspended yet, and I imagine it will be, I refuse to put other people at risk even though I have been seizure free for 10 days now. I would be devastated if I injured another person due to my selfishness. Its just not worth it. Other than being tired all the time now, which I hope will go away, I feel fine. No headaches, dizziness, nausea, nothing at all.

Although this is scheduled as an out patient procedure, I will be spending 5-7 days in the ICU/hospital afterwards and will likely have several months or recovery time afterwards. Being that I have not completed all of the tests yet, I still want to take care of my customer’s issues as best as I can. My first priority was to complete the jobs that I had “in progress” when all of this began. It took me a few days to get back in the groove and remember what was going on where, but with the help of Brad, my partner, it all got taken care of and I am now scheduling jobs that I know I can complete in a day or two. I have the best customer’s in the world. Everyone of them said not to worry about their repairs, they will wait for me. I even had one that offered me money if I needed it later on during my recovery. Don’t hesitate he said, just come see me!

If not for Brad, p1100041my partner, I would not be able to do any of this. He now drives everywhere and does all the work that requires us to go on roofs and other situations that would put me in a perilous positions.

Overall, because I feel fine at this point, I don’t think it has sunk in that there is a tumor in my brain. Soon though, it will…….



My journey

This is the post excerpt.

Sunday October 9th, 2016 was like any other Sunday at the Western Caughey Compound. We were all sitting around binge watching The Ranch, which is a great show. This is where it gets blurry for me because I had a full blown grand mal seizure. Karen and Brad just kind imagesof stared at me for a minute, unable to comprehend what they were seeing. My right arm had locked up, which because of my herniated discs in my neck and spinal stenosis, was not that unusual. But then Brad noticed that I was trying to talk, which I do remember, but nothing would come out. Then Karen saw my eyes roll back in my head and I began to convulse violently, and she knew right away that I was having a grand mal seizure. That was the last “clear” memory I had.

They tried to dial “911” several times, but were unable to do so, due to panic I think, they finally got through…”Is he breathing?” asked the dispatcher, yes he is. “Do you have dogs?” the dispatcher asked, yes five of them. Lock your dogs up. “Do you have a locked gate to your property?” Yes we do. Unlock it was the reply….we are on our way, look out for us.

images-1Karen and I both know what to do for grand mal seizures, from observing hundreds of them in previous jobs that we worked at, often not even calling “911” because the person had a known seizure disorder.But none of that prepares you to see a loved one have a sudden onset  grand mal seizure. Brad was in a state of controlled panic, although he did manage to get all 7 dogs locked up, open the gate, and flag down the ambulance.

As is normal with many seizure victims, I was uncooperative and combative with the ambulancedownload.jpg crew. They strapped me in the gurney, I promptly unstrapped myself from the gurney….and so it went, until they had had enough and restrained my arms. I do not remember most of my visit to the local E.R. out here. They did do a CT scan which they claimed showed no abnormalities so there was no conclusive reason for my sudden onset of seizures. They wanted me to wait(hours) to be transported to Las Vegas for further testing, but in my altered mental state, I just decided that I wanted to go sleep in my bed tonight so I signed myself out AMA-Against Medical Advice.

Flash forward to Monday morning 10/10/2016. I was supposed to stay in bed, Karen was going to bring me a coffee, and then go lay down for a bit more. I promised her I would stay in bed. I  didn’t keep that promise for long. I soon got up and went into the computer room and got on the computer. I had work scheduled for that day, and was trying to reconfigure my schedule to allow me the day off… least that’s what I think I was doing.  It was at that point I had another seizure, this time falling out of my chair, scrapping my head on something which released a torrent of blood all over. Brad heard the commotion and came in to find me convulsing and covered in blood, then I urinated on myself. My seizures lasted about 1-2 mins each. All told I ad 3 more seizures that day.That day I was cooperative with Pahrump Valley Paramedics. I was transported to our small,somewhat incompetent hospital out here in Pahrump. I was not so cooperative there, continuously ripping out my IV They do the best they can, but Pahrump isn’t a desired destination for skilled doctors. I also seized at least once in the ER. At this point hey decided to transport me to Spring Valley Hospital in Las Vegas by ambulance instead of Life Flight. since by then I was essentially stable at that point. An ambulance ride to Vegas is $5,000, a chopper flight is $30,000, but I digress. I do not remember any of this. They gave me a large dose of Ativan in Pahrump. That was Monday morning, I have little to no memory until Tuesday around 3AM or so when I woke up in my hospital room alone. I was alone because they would not let me have visitors until I woke up. I slept most of Monday and much of Tuesday. At Spring Valley Hospital they repeated my MRI scan with and without contrast. They also did pelvic, abdomen and chest scans to see if I was riddled with cancer….I am not. So the good news is that this is a primary brain tumor. We will not know if it it benign or malignant until it is surgically removed and put under a microscope. My neurosurgeon is cautiously optimistic that this is a benign lesion/tumor. He also said that due to its location it is not likely to change any of my gross/fine motor skills, vision, hearing,balance, or ability to speak.Truth be told, he said that he could remove a large area of the brain where the tumor is to no ill effect on me. But this all depends on what he actually finds when he cuts me open. For now, I can continue to work under careful observation. No driving, no ladders, ect. but simple stuff.