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    Trying to balance life between long moments of frustration, stress, anxiety, anger and concern. I know my mom is going through the cancer, but there are times where I start to wonder if it's going to take me out with her. I feel like Superwoman without her cape! Yet, I still wake up each day and find something to smile about, to laugh at and to always let my daughters and my parents know I love them & I'd volunteer to go through it again if it meant helping them to make it.

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    Procedure or Surgery (Surgery): December 30, 2011: By the time my dad got my mom to the ER, it was probably 3pm Friday afternoon. As would be expected for the New Year's Eve holiday, the ER was absolutely packed. Due to the symptoms my mom was having in combination with her being on Coumadin and her history of DVTs, it didn't take all that long for them to get her into one of the ER exam rooms. From there, though, it took forever. They turned her into a human pin cushion running all sorts of blood tests. They also took xrays of head & chest, followed by a CT scan of her head.

    It wasn't until later that night, around 8pm or so that the CT results were available. The radiologist was disturbed because there was notable edema of the brain. However, there were several other abnormalities present within the right hemisphere of the brain, which needed to be reviewed by a Neurologist and/or Neuro-Surgeon. For reasons beyond my understanding, Piedmont Henry Hospital has no Neurologist on call. (At least they never have one when my mom is there.)

    From that point, a Neurosurgeon was contacted at Southern Regional Hospital who agreed to review the films.

    To underscore how abnormal things appeared, the CT results were ready at 8pm, and by 10pm after consulting a Neurologist and Neuro-surgeon, they had my mom packed on an ambulance being rushed to Southern Regional's ICU.

    From that Friday night until the following Thursday, they ran every blood test, xray, CT scan and MRI possible on my mom. All of which were inconclusive. Up to this point, all the doctors could explain was that there were at least 6 lesions within the right hemisphere of my mom's brain. The largest, at the time, measured approximately 8 mm in size.

    There was a battery of specialists working to figure out what this was. They were prepared to discover all sorts of causes such as bacterial infections, fungal infections, some strange virus, or even a parasitic infection. I find it odd, now when I look back, that every possible cause was taken into consideration except for one. Cancer. They had felt sure that because of the swelling, small size of the lesions, and how they were spread out through the right side of her brain, it wasn't going to be an issue of cancer.

    So Friday, January 6th, 2012 rolls around and it is finally decided that the only way to figure out what on earth this is, is to do a crainiotomy in order to biopsy one of the lesions. They removed a small square section of bone right at my mom's right temple in order to reach the largest of the lesions. The surgery itself went fine. They were able to remove the lesion with clean borders, opting to no replace the piece of skull. And then, for whatever reason, the surgeon opted to not put in any sort of drain. They stapled her head up, stitched the other side where a XXX/bolt had to be placed in order to steady her head, and sent her up to recovery.

    As she began to come out of the anesthesia, she was rocked by pain that was so bad she was begging them to make it stop. Again for reasons beyond my understanding, they were giving her only a minimal amount of morphine, even though she was literally writhing around in pain, crying that it hurt so badly, yet they did nothing.

    Then to make things worse, when it was time to move her from Recovery to ICU, they had no beds available. So she lay up in recovery, in agonizing pain, for hours as they waited for a room to become available. Even once she was in the room, they were unwilling to do anything regarding the pain she was suffering from.

    She stay in ICU, in pure agony for another day when she was moved to a regular room on Saturday. Still pleading with them to do something for the pain, yet they wouldn't. By this time, they were handing her a single Loritab every 4-6 hours. Sunday they sent her home.

    There was no information given about how to tend to the incision. There was no information given about any restrictions. There was no information given regarding what to expect. And still, to add insult to injury, they sent her home with 12 pain pills. No one had explained to her, or to any of us, that in performing this surgery, major muscles to her jaw were being cut. No one explained that there was no drain put in and that it was the swelling that was probably causing so much pain. This was one of the sorriest excuses for treatment I have ever witnessed.

    The worst part of it all is that because of going through such a horrific experience with this surgery for a simple biopsy had such an impact on her that the idea of going through brain surgery again to remove the other lesions was something she would not even consider.

    Looking back now, how badly this surgery went was certainly a sign of how bad things were still to come.

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    Oh No (First Symptom: December 30, 2011): This Friday is one that I will never forget for as long as I live. It so happens that both my mom and dad took this day off from work. My mom is a New Year's Baby, so we had a lot planned for the day. First of all, we were going for one of our "Girls' Mornings Out". On a Girls' Morning Out, me, my mom and my two daughters, Monica & Samantha, would either go out for breakfast or grab some donuts and then go run a few of the more fun errands like grocery shopping, stop at Walmart, things like that.

    As the 4 of us are first in the car (mom was driving), we're heading up one of the back-roads that leads away from our neighborhood when my mom says her head is starting to hurt again. She comments she's getting a little dizzy. It's one of "those moments" again. (This being the first time that anyone in our family witnessed it.) As before, it lasts for only 30 seconds, if that long, and then it's gone again.

    I don't know why, something just struck me as odd about it. So I suggest that instead of doing a bunch of running around, we just grab a quick breakfast & run the errands that had to be taken care of. At this point, my mom just keeps waving these 'moments' off as probably being sinus related. (She & I both have chronic sinus issues to the extent we've been hospitalized for them).

    We continued on our way, did what we needed to do and got back home. Initially the day was going to be a bit busy for everyone for different reasons. I personally was preparing to start classes on January 4th, earning my BS in Health Science. The girls had very busy schedules with the fact that they'd both received new cell phones for Christmas, so there was very important text messaging to do. And then my parents had made plans to go see my niece, Meghan, who lives in South Georgia. I think they were supposed to take her shopping or go to a movie, something like that, no huge event or anything.

    Time came for my parents to start getting ready. At this point, you could tell my mom wasn't at 100%, but with the fact they rarely see my niece, she was going to tough it out & continue with their plans.

    It just so happened that I had stopped to talk to my parents while they were in their bedroom, my dad was at his desk and my mom was sitting on the bench in front of her vanity. We were all just chit-chatting, being silly and joking around when I noticed a strange look come over my mom's face. The way the room and all is situated, my dad didn't have a direct line of sight to my mom due to one of his large computer flat screens, but I had a full, frontal view of my mom.

    She reached up, put her hand to the right side of her head and in the time it took for that movement, every bit of color drained from her face. Literally. She was as white as a sheet of paper. She said her head was hurting again, a few seconds later the dizziness comes back and then there's that damned urge to laugh maniacally. However, this time, being able to watch, front and center, I realized that this was no sinus issue. Her breathing became very rapid and shallow. This time, it stretched out a bit... instead of 30-60 seconds, this one was 3-5 minutes.

    As it was beginning to fade, my daughters, one by one, just happened to walk by. As they each see my mom, they both comment on how pale she is, and was she ok?

    So it finally passes. But I know this isn't right.

    My family all affectionately (ha ha) refer to me as Nurse Ratched because I'm always on top of everybody about going to doctor's appointments, taking medications, and so on. I'm also the one who researches EVERYTHING health or medicine based.

    At this point, Nurse Ratched came out. At first, my mom again just wanted to wave it off as probably being sinus related. I think my dad was unsure as to what may or may not being going on, but was certainly concerned. At first, neither of them were wanting to think it was any big deal. That's when I start fussing.

    I keep saying that she needs to go to the ER. At the time, she was on several medications, on of which being blood thinners for DVTs, so this was not something to simply brush off. Initially, my dad asked me to call their PCP to see if they were open and if they had any walk-in slots available. At this point, I'm still saying she needs to go to the ER.

    I know they were thinking it was going to be something simple and that seeing her normal doctor was all that was needed. Yet I knew that if she went to her PCP there would be many delays. First, for any kind of CT or MRI scan, it would have to be referred out, scheduled for days, if not weeks later, and then another week or two for results. Add to that the fact that the PCP could draw some blood-work, but they are limited as far as what labs they can run themselves.

    It was only by the grace of God that when I called to see if her PCP would see her, the receptionist told me that only one of their offices was open because of the holidays, it wouldn't be any of the normal providers that she sees at her office, and there would be a very long wait because this one office was covering for 10 different locations, all of which being walk-ins.

    Once I told my dad that, I suggested again that they just go to the ER. Thankfully, they did.

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    Oh No (First Symptom: December 28, 2011): Another normal day at work. Things are a bit more hectic in the office with end-of-year approaching, but nothing out of the ordinary. Until in the early afternoon, again in the normal course of her routine, her head begins to hurt and she gets dizzy. Then here comes that urge to laugh again in such a "maniacal" way. As before, it stops as quickly as it starts. The day goes from there as it should.

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    Oh No (First Symptom: December 28, 2011): On this particular Monday, it was the first day back to work for my mom after taking time off for the Christmas holiday. At one point during the course of her day, she was standing at her office's Xerox machine when her head began to hurt mildly, then a dizzying feeling began. In the course of this moment (which was less than 60 seconds), these physical symptoms were accompanied by, as my mom described, the urge to "laugh in a most maniacal" manner. As suddenly as everything started, it stopped. Her day continued, as usual, from there.