I know you’re curious.
I would be, too.
You’ve been so patient, and have accepted my lame attempts at a verbal description.
For some people, that’s enough.
Not for me. I need to see things, feel them if I can. I have to know exactly what it looks like. I have to know.
And then there are a few people who probably do not want to see it.
And that’s fine, too.
So here’s a warning for you.
If you don’t think you want to see what’s going on inside of Chad’s head, then don’t read any further. Don’t click this story, and don’t look at the pictures.
Now that I have all of that out of the way, I can show you something.
I can show you why I have been scared every single day since November 12, 2007.
I can show you why I remind myself to laugh as much as possible.
I can show you why I panic when the phone rings and Chad isn’t at home.
I can show you why everyone should be thankful for life, every second of every day — because you never know what can happen to change it in a moment’s notice.
I can show you the reason why you should be nice to everyone you meet. You never know what people are going through privately. Sometimes things just can’t be seen.
And also, I can show you that my husband is a miracle.
I can show you that he’s beating odds, terribly monstrous ugly odds.
And that’s all there is to it.
I’ve wanted to share these MRI images with you for a long time, but we decided against it.
Honestly, the prognosis was not very good when we started this journey. We didn’t share the images because we didn’t want people to feel sorry for us. We didn’t want to see that sad, pitiful look on people’s faces and hear it in their voices. We wanted to live and laugh and be ourselves; our happy little family for as long as time would allow.
We shared the pictures with our parents, but not all of them. It was hard to comprehend how Chad was still doing so well after seeing the tumor. It’s large, pretty “impressive” in size by definition of all of the doctors. The tumor is roughly the size of a grapefruit or softball – which is hard to imagine. How can something that large be growing inside his head? The simple answer is that the tumor is not a separate entity. It is growing slowly and replacing healthy brain tissue as it grows. There is no separate mass; simply put, his brain is the tumor.
I remember the first time I saw this devil of an image. The ambulance had delivered us to the hospital. The ER team was working diligently to figure out the cause of the seizures. We didn’t have to wait long. There was no mistake; there was a mass.
I asked to see it because I had to see it. The doctor prepped me and told me it was quite devastating.
It was. It is.
All I really remember is breathing slowly and repeating “Okay. Okay. Okay.”
Let me walk you through the images.
Take a deep breath.
February 4, 2009
This is the scan that we thought was changing everything.
It’s hard to see here, but there is necrosis and a few places of hemorrhage.
At the time, we thought the worst. We just knew that Chad’s tumor had been
misdiagnosed and we were dealing with something that was more difficult
to treat and harder to understand. We were sent to Wake Forest University
for a second opinion after this scan, which terrified us. We had no idea what to expect.
This is Chad’s most recent CT scan. I apologize that this image is a little less enhanced than the previous images.
When I receive a copy of a recent MRI, I will switch this picture out. MRIs are definitely clearer!
The two black “holes” in the middle are where tumor used to be! Spinal fluid now fills the voids, and the brain just floats happily around.
It’s amazing that Dr. Tatter was able to remove so much of it safely. He actually told us that a great portion of the brain is not even needed – isn’t that crazy to think about?!?
You can see the midline is no longer shifted slightly to the other side.
The necrotic (dead) tissue was removed, and there were no active hemorrhages found – which is great news.
Now, you know what we’re dealing with. You’ve seen it, just as we have.
I cannot wait to share another image with you one day – a clean MRI with little to no tumor left.
I dream about that day.
I know Chad looks forward to the day where the majority of doctor’s visits, prescription refills, frantic “where are you?” calls from his neurotic-yet-well-meaning wife will come to an end. Or, at least, slow down so dramatically that his head is not the main topic of conversation.
We’ve come so far since this journey started. We still have far to go, but we can see a light at the end of the tunnel finally.
It’s hard. It’s dramatic. It’s terrible, as Carys clearly says.
But you know what else?
Chad is living with it.
He shouldn’t be able to talk coherently, walk a straight line or remember what he ate for lunch.
But he can.
And that is absolutely, terrifyingly, wonderfully, miraculously amazing. Awe inspiring, really.