Many people have been asking for an update on the medical situation as we move closer to surgery on March 22. Honestly, we have been reluctant to put too much information out there because it is constantly changing and we are constantly learning more. But, we want to keep you as well informed as possible so you can walk this journey with us through your prayers and support.
We are currently scheduled for a pre-surgery meeting with Dr. Market at 8:30 am on Monday, March 21. We hope to come out of that meeting with even more specific answers to many of the questions still running around in our heads. We are very thankful for Dr. Market’s expertise and patience as we battle the up hill learning curve of new medical terminology and the complexities of neurology. So, here is what we know at this point.
Early Tuesday morning, March 22, we will arrive at UAB hospital for admission. Dr. Markert will use all the data gathered from the Functional and Spatial MRIs with a Guided MRI in the operating room. This type of surgery typically last between 4-6 hours. They will cut a panel of bone out of the skull to access the brain. Once they have arrived at the location of the tumor they will wake me up and stimulate various parts of the brain to further confirm areas of tumor and areas of active brain matter. The tumor sits on the right side of the brain in the visual cortex so they will test field of vision, left side motor skill, as well as verbal and other cognitive skills. Once that is done, I will be put back to sleep and they will remove as much of the tumor as they can with as little impact to brain function as possible. Then they will reattach the bone panel to my skull with a titanium plate at the close of surgery. Coming out of surgery Dr. Markert should have a pretty good idea how much of the tumor he was able to remove, but this will be most clearly known the next day when they do a follow up MRI. According to the imaging the tumor has both a node and it is diffused into the surrounding brain tissue so they do not believe it is possible to remove all of the tumor. Tissue samples of the tumor will be sent off to pathology to determine the grade and type of tumor. We have been told that the official report from pathology will take 3-5 business days, but we hope the doctor will give us an idea of what they think the tumor is based on what he sees in surgery.
Although everyone responds differently and each case has its own variables, in a “best case scenario”, we have been told that patients may typically go home 48-72 hours after surgery. If there are temporary losses in vision, speech, and/or motor skills, then they will begin immediate rehabilitation that will prolong the hospital stay. Continuing a “best case scenario”, home recovery should last between 7-10 days with increasing possibility to be up-and-about and restrained activity based on how I am feeling and responding to medication. This leads to the post-operative doctor’s visit with Dr. Nabors (our Neuro-oncologist), probably 10-14 days after surgery where they will remove the staples and review the pathology report. At this time we hope to really know what kind of tumor we are dealing with and determine a plan forward. Until now we have been told that the tumor appears to be a low grade, slow growing tumor, but then based on the tissue sample they will be able to tell us if that is the case or if we are dealing with something more aggressive. This post-operative meeting will be key for us to understand what our reality will look like in the coming months. As far as recovery from surgery is concerned, we have been told that in a “best case scenario”, I should be able to resume full personal and professional activity 3-6 weeks after surgery.
Leading up to the pre-surgery meeting on Monday March 21, please pray that Dr. Markert would receive and review the CD with all the data gathered from the Functional MRI taken at Emory University Hospital. It is our understanding that he has seen some of the images, but as of last week, he had not received the actual CD. We are confident that Dr. Markert will get all the information he needs prior to surgery, but it would be reassuring to us if we can include this information in our discussion about the plan for surgery with him on Monday morning.
Ultimately, we know and trust that God is in control of what we know and what we do not know and even in control of what the doctors know and what the doctors don’t know. We are in His hands and He knows exactly what lies ahead for us on this journey. Our confidence is in Him. Pray for us as we step forward in faith through the next key days.