Saturday, 9 April 2011

An unexplained bruise, a stroke, melanoma and brain surgery...

I mentioned my brother in a recent blog post. He was concerned about a large bruise on his side that appeared without any seemingly related cause. He had it checked at the local  hospital emergency department (Feb 9) , x-rays were taken, blood work was taken and nothing untoward was found, the assumption was that he must have hurt himself slipping on the ice. They advised him to keep an eye on it, it should fade, and if it turned red, to come back.
After a couple of weeks (Feb 28), the bruise was spreading, swelling a bit and his arm was numb, hot and in pain. Back to the  hospital emergency department he went. Nothing was apparent so they sent him for an ultrasound scan on March 1 (Tuesday). This led to a CT  scan, which led to him being admitted to the hospital immediately.
The doctor felt that there was a large blood clot that needed to be removed asap. So this was done the very next day. He also took a biopsy and sent it to the lab. On Thursday Charlie was discharged, feeling great, with orders for a home care nurse to tend his surgical site.
The very next morning, as I sat at the counter having my tea I turned on my Blackberry to see texts from my brother that he had lost the feeling in his right arm, it was paralyzed. I really thought that he must be kidding so I call him to check. It was not a  joke. He had woken up with no feeling in his arm. I take him back to the hospital,  now with a stroke. The hospital was great, they put him in right away, checked him over, did a CT scan, and found that he had hemorrhaged in his brain.
The doctor was so helpful, caring and assuring. Charlie was sent for an MRI the next day - which identified a tumour. This was the cause of the paralysis - the bleed had put pressure on the brain and it was located exactly in the area of his motor skills, on the left side. This matched the paralysis in his right arm. The pathology results of the biopsy from his side are in now and it was confirmed as melanoma.
Melanoma...I do a Google search and it scares me. I stop looking. I won't look any more.
 March 18th, now we head off to the cancer clinic, where we hear that the tumour in the brain is likely a melanoma as well. She recommends that both tumours be removed within the next 2 or 3 weeks.
Charlie has been trying to work with the paralyzed arm but not much is happening there. He has been in the hospital since March 1. He is not very happy though being stuck in the hospital. Charlie is used to taking long walks every day. The hospital staff really show that they care about Charlie as a whole person, so they send him home on a weekend pass, this lifts his spirits immensely, and also helps him to see  that he will need a bit of help.
What are the options: Chemotherapy is not an option as Charlie has had a kidney transplant and is on immune suppressants. Radiation....may be an option but apparently not very effective on this type of tumour. Removal is the best option. So off to the neurosurgeon we go, March 29. 
This is scary and so much is changing so fast.  Charlie has been in the hospital for over a month now. The mysterious bruise had became concerning less than a month before this.  So now, not even 2 months later I am sitting in the waiting room while Charlie is having neurosurgery to remove the tumour in his brain. We need to minimize the risk of him becoming paralyzed along the whole of his right side. April 6, 5 hours of surgery by an amazing, smart doctor and the tumour in his head is all gone. I asked all of my friends, both "the everyday in my real world  life" friends and all the sweet people here in internet land for prayers and positive energy. We could feel the love.
It is unbelievable to me that less than 2 hours after his brain was opened up that he can answer questions. The next day he can stand up, and even walk a bit with the nurse's help.
We don't know what will happen next. It is terrifying to try to even guess. What will happen to the other tumour which is growing so quickly? From nothing visible to an obviously large mass in less than 8 weeks. We will handle this one day, one step at a time.
I truly appreciate all the caring attention that Charlie is receiving. The nurses, the doctors, the transport teams, the technicians, everyone has been so wonderful to him. This is a rough road but there are so many warm guiding lights.

Usually I write about stuff, or quilting, this post is about living.

P.S. 16 years ago today Charlie received a new kidney.

(The Melanoma Journey, 4 parts to the rest of the story)