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Thursday, August 5, 2010

New Tests

Yesterday was quite a day. It was my first complete round of tests in two months. The very, very good news is there is no sign of tumor regrowth along my optic nerves. This is the most likely place for it to come back so most of the time they were studying my eyes.

I still have some serious symptoms—and the neurologist recorded all of them in great detail—but I am told they are more likely related to an ongoing recovery from the two brain surgeries last fall and not another regrowth of the craniopharyngioma tumor.

"But I read something on the Internet," I told my neuro-ophthalmologist.

"Oh?" he asked, staring into me like the little RCA dog.

"Yes," I said. "In some cases a craniopharyngioma can metasta ... metisasso ... uh."


"Yeah. In some cases the tumor can ... what you said ... to other parts of the brain and regrow and expand there. Could my symptoms of brain shocks, disorientation and tingly scalp be symptoms of that?"

"I suppose it's possible, but very unlikely," he said. "You would be having other symptoms too. And don't forget craniopharyngiomas tend to regrow very slowly anyway. An MRI in a few more weeks will spot any signs of a metastatic tumor."

I proceeded to tell him about my last experience in an MRI machine: complete torture.

He offered, "I can prescribe Atavan."


"It's a calming drug that will relax you for the experience. But only if you need it."


He asked me some questions about my life and my career.

"How's your composing going?"

"A review last month compared me to Andy Warhol. I think that's good."

"Oboe playing? Still feel like you're healing every day or have you reached a plateau?"

I moved my hand between us like a flatline. "Plateau." For some reason I spoke the word with a French accent.

He checked a box. I hate it when they do that. It doesn't capture nuance. Did he check "French?"

I added, "There's only so much I can give every day. If I perform in the morning, I'm useless for the remainder of the day. If I have a performance at night, I have to convalesce all day to prepare. It's been this way for months and I worry this is as good as I'm going to get."

"It will get better," he said. "Keep resting."

"Oh, I'm resting. I watched all of 'The Bachelorette.' That's how 'resting' I am."

Just then a fire alarm went off. "Code red! Code red!" a voice spoke over the intercom. He poked his head outside and I saw lights flashing up and down the hallway from the emergency units.

He came back inside and sat.

"Don't worry, that's nothing," he said.

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