Wednesday, April 24, 2013

Scan results and a glimpse of the future.

This week I was back at King's to see the neuro team and hear about the results of the MRI scan. As documented here, I was nervous about it. It felt a bit like waiting for my A level results; someone, somewhere knew how I had done, it was all written down and in the system but somehow I didn't know myself.

A part of me didn't really want to know as it would mean confronting the possibility of bad news. And another part of me knew I was being stupid, it's so early, and these things grow so slowly, there was incredibly low chances of there being some tumour regrowth. It crossed my mind that I might be dramatising the whole issue somewhat.

I made a big deal about getting there on time, I didn't want to rush getting to the hospital as it stresses me out being late. I think it was easier for me to occupy myself with timings and logistics. Ridiculous. We were there early and the waiting room was packed and really hot. We sat in the exact same spot as I had waited alone, last time. That was the first time I articulated I had a brain tumour to a poor woman who offered me an epilepsy leaflet. It brought a lot of things back - how far we'd all come!

Waiting rooms are stressful places. We were under a telly that was on quite loud and I couldn't hear the names the staff were calling at the front. That stressed me out. And then a man had a fit and suddenly the waiting room sprang into activity. People moved chairs out the way, nurses came running with pillows and a screen. Wheelchair and stretcher lined up behind.

It can't be uncommon in that particular waiting room, but it didn't do much for the sick feeling in my stomach. I nearly started to cry - it's so selfish but I just kept thinking how lucky I am not to have epilepsy.

Then we were up, I was really glad to get out the waiting room. As we walked into the consultation I was at the front, Olly and mum behind, and finally the person who we were seeing. (I must try and remember their names when they introduce themselves, I have no memory of her name or what her job was). There was a picture of my brain up on the monitor, and it looked bad to me. There was a white band surrounding the area where the tumour had been. From my limited experience in MRI scans, white equals bad.

Interestingly, I don't remember feeling anything about this, we all sat down in a row and mum and Olly introduced themselves while I just stared at my brain. Blankness filled my actual brain. So this was it.

The first thing she said, while gesturing to the screen, was that everything looked great, clearly. No tumour remained, and the "post surgical change" looked fine. Oh. Did it? Mum and I asked the same thing at the same time - what was the white bit?! Post surgical change apparently, perfectly normal.

I was immediately incredibly grateful that I hadn't looked at the disc of the MRI scan I'd had at home for over a week. That white bit would have been grossly misunderstood by me and I would have had to live with that terror until this moment. Phew.

So that's the headline, we asked a few questions and she felt my scar and that was it. I'll be back for a scan in a year. A whole year!

At home I felt weird, I should be over the moon and celebratory. But I just felt weird. Ok so there's no tumour there now, but that's not to say it won't start growing tomorrow. In fact, maybe it has started growing already but is too small to detect.

It felt like a (just a) reprieve, and I got a glimpse of many years and many scans and many consultations to come, where the best news I can hope for is "not yet".

That was a bit depressing, in contrast to everyone around me being really happy. As always with this experience, my feelings are so complicated and contradictory. It's bittersweet.

So we did what anyone would do, went to the Dulwich Tandoori for tea. Sod the heartburn.

And in due course, as I should have expected, I feel better now. A year is a long time for my next scan, so they must be pretty confident. And it's long enough for me to forget about it, anyway we're going to be pretty busy come August with a new distraction.

Now, two days later, it's back to normal. I'll have a wobble every time I get results but its good to know how quickly I bounce back to normal life (assuming good news).

Some good things.

It's only gone and been half a year already. Today is the 24th, which, aside from being a six month marker from surgery, is payday. And sunny. And on top of all that we're in Brighton, so good news all round really.