The One About Life Coming To A Screeching Halt
For the last year, my dad has been having recurring headaches. They come on fast, are super painful, and then go away just as fast as they came. My mom had done some research and she decided she thought they were cluster headaches – they fit the description pretty well. So my dad went to the doctor, who did some routine testing and put him on some medication that was helping with the pain of the pain of the headaches, but not lessening them at all.
He kept going back to the doctor, who kept running tests…in the meantime he was also applying with the VA, as he’s been laid off from his job, and in checking into insurance possibilities was told he should be going through the VA for any health issues.He had always thought the VA was only for “retired” veterans, and because he was drafted into service during Vietnam and honorably discharged after his service he isn’t considered a”retired” veteran. Come to find out, he qualifies – he started the application process.
Meanwhile the doctor he was seeing sent him for an MRI. The MRI showed a small(ish) spot on his brain, which the doctor wasn’t all that concerned about. He said it could be from a recent fall, or even something that had been there since he was a child. Of course, my dad having been in Vietnam and all of the physical “altercations” he had been in throughout his teenage years (it was the 60’s…what else did you do for fun, right?), it was basically just a mild concern. The doctor scheduled him for another MRI in 6 months, just “to be sure”it wasn’t growing.
Skip to this year…and he was just recently approved for the VA benefits. He’d had a couple appointments with the local VA hospital, and they decided that although it hasn’t been a full 6 months – since he was still having the headaches – to go ahead and do the follow-up MRI.
It grew. My dad has a brain tumor. The doctor at this point thought low-grade astrocytoma…which was on the ‘not so bad’ side of things.
The past week has been spent (for me) realizing that my tough, military, non-emotional dad really isn’t invincible. It was so heart wrenching for me to see my dad cry. I have seen him choked up while visiting the moving Vietnam Wall, or watching a particularly “real” movie about the aftermath of Vietnam on a soldier. But never, never have I seen a tear. There was a roller coaster of emotions for him, and we were afraid the anti-seizure medication they put him on was causing him serious depression, so much so that the doctor prescribed an anti-depressant, and all firearms were removed from the house temporarily. The whole thing has been entirely too ridiculous for me to wrap my head around, although I know people go through this every day. I just don’t know how they come to terms with it.
Yesterday, the entire day was spent at the hospital with my mother, my husband, my brother and my sister-in-law. Waiting on my dad to get out of surgery. SURGERY. That is what they consider a biopsy of the brain. Because, well, it’s a brain.
He came out well, in fact in pretty good spirits (I think he was very worried about them drilling into his brain, which, who wouldn’t be?). The tumor however? Not so well. The doctor now believes he was correct that it was an astorcytoma but thinks that it is more of a mid-grade instead of low-grade. They grade on a 1-4 scale…originally it was guessed that the tumor was a 1-2…now it is estimated at a possibly 2, likely 3. 4 is the worst, so you can imagine how I feel about a 3. Words like radiation and oncologist were being thrown around, although to me it just sounded like “cancer! cancer! cancer!”. I don’t even know how to cope with this, I hope learning more about it will help with that part. We won’t know for sure the grading for a couple of days while they examine the tissue.
We are praying it’s a 2. If you happen by this blog in the next week…I’d really love it if you would pray for a 2 as well.