The way my cancer was found is an odd story. It was not through any routine screening, any climax to a mystery illness. Just a serendipitous, random finding after one of my classic Sierra-tumbles down the stairs.
Monday afternoon, November 1st, 2011...
It's been a long day at UAB School of Optometry. My heels are only four-inches high today, so no biggie. I'll take the stairs like a champ. I trudge up the stairwell, ready to pick up the rest of my massive load of equipment, papers, notebooks, etc. No biggie.
The descent down the stairs was not so successful. Weighted down by my "necessities", a tumble down the stairs was not the way I had intended to cap off my November first. The pain in my shoulder was pretty intense. I hobbled down the best I could, and figured I would try to just get home and shake it off. That was, until I discovered that my right shoulder would not allow my arm to be lifted enough to drive home. My trusty gang of girlfriends recieved the distress call, and whisked my sorry self to the emergency room in a flash.
X-rays. Typical. Dislocated right shoulder? Not so much. Possible broken neck? Yep. Apparently, I have some awesome congenital abnormality in my spine (cervical area) that made the radiologist believe that I had sustained a compression fracture in my neck due to the fall. I was placed into a super-fashionable neck brace and sent for an urgent CT scan to see how badly my neck was broken.
Pain medications, THANK YOU. Tears a-plenty. And the awesome news that I don't have a broken neck at all. But, ma'am, by the way.... there is this lesion-thing in your head that you probably should get seen about. WHAT???
The doctor did not even tell me this, it was the nurse who rattled off some radiology lingo about a petrossal something-or-another lesion blahblahblah in my head. Being slightly medically inclined, I was struck with great curiosity about some lesion hanging out in my skull. I asked for a copy of the radiologist's interpretation of the finding, and the nurse scribbled it randomly on the back of a discharge sheet. I was sent on my way, dazed and confused on pain medication.
Again, the trusty girlfriends were at my side. Razz (short for Rasika), who lives in my apartment complex, drove me home and started researching this "expansile lesion on the petrossal apex of the temporal bone." As it is a vague, odd descriptor, we did not find this to be terribly enlightening, and revealing my mystery lesion became a new project for us. Alas, Google would not tell me what was going on in my head. Bummer.
A visit to my general physician the next week led to a MRI of my brain. I'd never had this procedure, and it was an interesting experience. My MRI scan resulted in a confirmation of the CT's finding... a 16 mm expansile lesion blahblahblah. The disturbing part of this is that the lesion took up the contrast dye during the MRI. That worried the doctor a bit, and I got a referral to my awesome NEUROSURGEON.
Let's get this party started!