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We arrived at Skyline medical center in Nashville, where my very competent paramedics brought me in to register. Embarrassed, I had to tell the woman at the desk that I had no health insurance. I assumed that would change everything but it didn’t. I was brought to a private room on the 7th floor. Later a hospital administrator came in to talk to Mike. He had a pile of papers with him. The long and short of it was that the hospital was, through a benevolence fund, covering our bill, along with Tenncare. My bill was in the area of 3/4 of a million dollars in the end. This was clearly a huge miracle.
They got me all wired up and checked in, and Mike started making phone calls. At this point, we didn’t even know what the thing in my head was. We only knew “mass”. Michael was happily hoping it was an aneurism, naively under the belief that those were less dangerous. But the fact was, we just didn’t know. One by one, we thought of who to call, what to say. I was calm. I think I was still just happy that I finally knew that I wasn’t nuts.
On the second day I got all my full body scans and full MRI. The results came back too late for the dr’s to come tell us though, so we spent another night ‘in the dark’ about just what was growing inside my brain. I was fine with it. I knew it wasn’t cancer. I’m not sure how I knew but I knew.
The following morning Dr. Spooner came in and gave us the results of the scans. Nothing else anywhere in my body but that thing in my head. The thing in my head was a benign tumor. I had no cancer. The thing in my head had probably been there for years, slowly growing. One reason, the dr said, that he knew it was not cancer, was that any tumor this size that was malignant would have killed me by now. He said it had to come out and soon because it was less than a centimeter from my brain stem and there were a few major dangers with that. He said they would keep me on steroids for a few more days to get the swelling down before attempting the operation. We found out that 50% of brain tumors are malignant. I was very fortunate. The doctor learned that we knew many celebrities, and told us that if we knew of a special brain surgeon, that this would be the time to carefully choose who did this operation. We didn’t. I asked the doctor if he felt confidence that he could do this surgery successfully. As he shook my hand, he looked me in the eye and very sincerely, and confidently told me “yes, I do”. There was an honesty and a goodness in his spirit that came through to me and gave me assurance, and I told him, that I would like him to do the surgery. Later it was decided the operation would be on Jan 3, Monday.
The made me eat everything in sight. I was complimenting the cook on the hospital food. I left no scrap on my plate. I became an eating machine. I got all puffed up in the face and hands and feet, but that was the medication, they told me. My symptoms became better because the swelling in my brain was going down. When I arrived, my left arm would flying around uncontrollably when I tried to move it. It was pretty crazy. Now my arm was mostly under control again.
The people from our home group came every day. Though it was sleeting and snowing outside, they came after work, they came after church. They sat quietly and watched me sleep. They prayed and prayed for me. My neighbors John and Kathleen were diligently there too.
The girl who does my hair came in and gave me a very special ‘pre brain surgery haircut’. she came on a sleeting night, after work, instead of going home to her warm house and family. She shaved where the dr had marked and tried her best to cut something that could grow into an ‘a-line’. She refused payment.
Then I got the news that my son Aaron and his girlfriend Gwen were flying out. I was beside myself. Even my daughter Brittany came; which was such a blessing to me I have no words. A friend from our home group offered his frequent flyer miles to get Brittany here. My kids were coming!!! We joked when they got here about it taking a brain tumor to get us all together for Christmas.
Then my friend Nancy announced she was coming, but after the surgery, to be with me at home. What kind of friend flies from So. Cal to Nashville because her friend is sick? Only the real special kind. I was overwhelmed.
My nurses were all such precious people. I had my kids and my friend coming. I was at peace with everything. I knew it would all turn out alright. But I avoided thinking about the surgery itself. I kept hoping that they’d find out the tumor just disappeared and I didn’t need to have it after all. But no such luck.