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Monday, October 19, 2009


The tumor in my head was classified as one of those "safe" kinds where they are generally benign and simply need to be extracted. Mine was unusually large, though—the size of a golf ball, not a pea—and since I had sudden changes in my vision, headaches, and had experienced the onset of intense ringing in my ears I knew the people around me wanted to get the thing out quickly for reasons I didn't care about. "No chances!" And I was not one to argue with that logic. If I could have moved up the surgery a few hours, I would have been elated. Get rid of it now.

I'm not an expert, but I think there are about four major categories under which a tumor like mine, in the area it was causing trouble, would be classified. Mine did not fit into any of the categories, and now it is being sent to labs around the country to be analyzed. I am one of those odd cases, once again, where I don't fit. I really wish, in this case, it would be true that I could finally be just like everyone else. But this is me. Why should this be any different? Every time in medicine, it seems, I find myself in that 1% of cases.

The tumor was so large, so confined by the cranial bones around it that is squished my pituitary gland down to a little crescent. Imagine a single plump sugar-snap pea, glistening bright green on your plate, so wonderful, so full of life. Then imagine squishing it with your fork with all the pressure you could muster, holding it down in place, overpowering it with so much force the pea just withers into a state of submission.

In so many words, this pea has been me. I have been squished for quite a while.

The "pea" we are speaking of is the pituitary gland, which is the regulator of all the hormones in your body. It is the Wizard of Oz behind the curtains of your brain, pulling all the levers which make you the intriguing person you are. For example, have you ever overstepped slightly by making a sly remark laced with overtones to be suggestive but perhaps not "officially" socially clumsy? Thank your pituitary gland for those moments of hormonal acuity. It is something we all share—a common experience that makes us bond on some unspoken level.

Again, my natural instinct to do this has been squished.

As I recover on the couch for the many hours I do every day, just reading, "recovering", typing this blog and trying to remain horizontal, a good patient, day after day after day, I do feel changes happening in my body. I am forty-one years old, a middle-aged man, but I am now growing up for the first time too, into an adult. In the physical tests before my surgery it was determined the testosterone produced by my pituitary gland was about one-eighth the level of a regular, healthy adult male with no indication of how long this has been the case.

Squish, squish.

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