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Itsy, Bitsy, Spider (and a trip to the neurosurgeon)

October 08, 2008 | Category:

It's spider season. You know, when it starts to get cold and suddenly there's an arachnid tucked into every corner and little strands of web floating from the ceiling fans.

I used to be afraid of spiders. Hell, I'm still afraid of spiders. I can't even watch those Discovery Channel specials about the big ones. And the dime-sized biting ones? Oh, yeah, I take a vicious pleasure in squishing them SUPER DEAD. (Which is different from all dead...)

Anyway, so I'm on a lot of drugs these days. You know that, right? This could totally be "Corporate Mommy's Magical Trip Blog."

To be honest, I've never really done drugs. Yeah, well, I just missed that movement. A Tylenol 3/Codeine after a trip to the dentist has been known to cause a lost weekend. I mean, let's put it out there - I'm a lightweight.

So this morning, I go into the bathroom to brush my teeth. Bear was still sleeping, the rain was pitter-patting on the roof, and as I squeezed the toothpaste onto the brush, I noticed an itty bitty spider crawling up the wall.

"As soon as I'm done here, you're so dead." I thought it was only fair, to give warning. Sporting-like.

"That's pretty aggressive," the spider snapped back. "What's got your panties in such a twist that you kill helpless, defenseless spiders for fun?"

"You bite," I told him around a mouthful of foam. "Plus? I'm meeting my neurosurgeon in a couple of hours. He's making the go/no go decision on whether to take this lump out of my head. So excuse me for being a little snippy."

"That's good news, right? To finally know what's going to happen next? I would have thought you'd be all giddy and shit. Not contemplating arachnicide with a mouthful of Sensodyne."

"After a couple of years of this, it's pretty freaking momentous to be contemplating a resolution," I defended. Maybe a little heatedly, because this was one well-spoken spider and I was maybe a touch intimidated, what with toothpaste now dripped on my fuzzy pink bathrobe.

"A couple of years when found out how strong you were by fighting back. A couple of years when you've reassessed your faith in an Almighty. A couple of years while you fell back in love with your husband as he supported you. A couple of years you've spent curled up in the ordinary of your son's life."

"Yeah." Huh. Damn spider had a point. I rinsed and thought about it. "But on the other hand, as afraid as I am of my life re-filling with busyness - I'm more afraid of who I will become if the pain doesn't stop."

"I can understand that," the spider replied, still scampering up the wall.

"And? It's brain surgery."

"Hey, at least you have that choice. According to the NY Times, my brain weighs, like, about .005 milligram. And Nerve cells? Fergettaboutit."

"All right, you're pretty smart for a spider. I'll give you another chance."

"I commend you on that decision," the spider stopped to salute. "It will bring you good karma."

"It better," I muttered, spitting out the mouthwash and giving the spider the appraising eye.

One thing and another, and I (and CD, and Dee) were ushered into the office of Dr. Byrne. That's his real name, he's Chair of Neurosurgery at Rush, and he's freaking awesome.

Dr. Byrne looked at my brain. My brain? Is on a disk. Sliced and diced a dozen different ways.

At the back of my brain is a big (benign) cyst that I've probably had since birth. We all looked at it. It was fascinating and disconcerting.

The people who wrote the MRI report said it was exerting something called a 'Mass Effect' and after exams by two neurologists, two MRI's, endless blood tests, a creepy hunt through a hospital basement for my old medical records, and a growing dependence on my big red "happy" pills...my doctor and I hoped & prayed that this last resort would also mean a solution.

Fast forward to my appointment with the obscenely faboo Dr. Byrne.

Dr. Byrne? Could totally remove this cyst. Blindfolded, I'm telling you (not that he would. That so totally wouldn't be awesome.) He removed two like it just last week (he said ever so casually). But he won't. Because the cyst? Isn't the problem. In fact, removing it would - he said - give me worse headaches. Plus a hole in my head.

I wouldn't have minded the hole in my head if my headaches went away. If I could have a life back where I could think straight. Especially in the last couple of months - when everything has gone terribly dim.

But back to the cute and talented Dr. Byrne. He said that what's happening to me isn't being caused by the mass effect. I mean, it could be causing headaches and nausea, but in his opinion something else is going on. Something neurological that isn't triggered by the big ol' squish where my cerebellum's supposed to be.

What is needed here, he explained, is a whole new *cough* caliber of neurologist. (Not that anyone is calling the previous two incompetent.) (But now that I've had Dr. Byrne, how can they keep me down on the farm? That's going to become an adjective, now. "Dr. Byrnian." )

So now I'm going back to Rush, to meet the Neurologists there. The Dr. Byrnian ones, who'll have the file from the dude himself. I'm waiting to hear when my appointment will be.

On the one hand, I was so terribly, completely terrified of the brain surgery that I just about peed my pants with relief. On the other? I wanted to beat something. I'm so damn out of patience and frustrated and more appointments to talk about more scary stuff is just SO not helping.

As I drove home, I didn't know whether to laugh or cry; so I did both. It was cathartic, but ultimately didn't move me very far along in processing what happened.

"Hey, Spider!"

"Oh, human. How did it go?"

"It was great! Plus? It SUCKED!" I took off my shoe. The adorable new black Sketcher.

"Oh, shi......!"

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Wow. I'm praying for you.

So...did you do a funeral for the spider?

Posted by: Janie on October 15, 2008 08:45 PM

That must have been a moment of great high (no brain surgery) followed by a moment of a great low -- the pain still continues!

A second, third or fourth opinion isn't a bad idea consider you are dealing with a delicate body part. I hope you get the best news in the end and that they can resolve your pain :)

Posted by: Eyes on October 15, 2008 08:31 AM

*big hug*
I'm hoping things get better for you soon!!!

Posted by: Laura on October 9, 2008 08:29 PM

Oh, dear. I am so sorry that you aren't getting any resolution. You are in my thoughts and prayers.

Posted by: Christina on October 9, 2008 08:04 AM

ah the fabulous "who the f$%k knows" answer. Well, I hope you get some resolution, and soon. But then again, if you get well, who knows what fabulous creatures you will miss out on talking to....

Posted by: caltechgirl on October 8, 2008 09:47 PM

Wow! I'm go glad you were able to find a doc that sounds like he knows what's going on. I hope this next appt goes well.

Posted by: Grace on October 8, 2008 08:43 PM

Oh, I should so totally have put that in there the first edit around. He did point me to the Neurology practice right there in the building. Just waiting to hear when....

And thanks, Cindy, for the nice words about missing me. I miss me, too :)

Posted by: Elizabeth on October 8, 2008 06:37 PM

Can't the fabulous Dr. Byrne refer you to a fabulous neurologist? I am so sorry you are going thru this. I sure have missed your writing, but now I understand where you've been. Hope you find a fabulous Dr & find relief for your headaches!

Posted by: Cindy on October 8, 2008 05:49 PM