chapter 17: trap her! keep her!

at the end of my tests and near-arrest for banana theft at USC, i got copies of my images and stuffed them into my notebook.  my brain tumor notebook.  i’d become a student again, and this was my school supply.

my notebook…  like in school…  i remember…  i treasured the fun of picking out my trapper keeper.  the excitement of choosing my pens.  back at greenwood jr. high, i loved the first day each year.  my school was a magical place, full of strange characters and wondrous possibilities.  at least, that’s the way i remembered it.  and not just now.  but every night of my childhood.  every night…i lay in bed as if recalling a dream, a day spent in a world much more impossible than the world i saw on the news around dinnertime.  especially the news at my great grandmother’s house.  there, the news didn’t just look a certain way, sound a certain way…it SMELLED…like an onion.  and toasted bread.  and home cooking.  and every time i was there, as the stories rolled off the tongues of the suited, buttoned-up anchors, i was amazed and frightened by the dry, dry world that peered out at me from beyond the television screen.  “i’m so glad the world isn’t like that,” i would think.  “i’m so lucky not to live there.”  in reality, i woke up every day and went to a wonderland.  and every morning, i chose my clothes with precision.  my coolest back to school outfit ever was a pair of grey pants with zipper pockets, and a grey and white striped shirt with a grey Han Solo vest.  i was COOL.  what a way to start the year.  and what a place to spend it.  Greenwood was a resort, an escape, a getaway…and as i rode the bus each day to my vacation destination, i knew that my luggage defined me; that’s why it was so important.  but then, i graduated, and graduated, until there was nothing more to graduate from, no more reason for cool notebooks or awesome organizers.  until now.

honestly, i should put Star Wars stickers on this thing.  and it has pockets.  i could think of something.

but in the meantime…

i took my discs home and prepared for my next doctor’s appointment, this time at UCLA.  a couple days went by, and then, on June 3rd, there i was:

UCLA excited me.  much moreso than USC, UCLA made me think of sunshine and cheerleaders.  i could imagine the short-skirted, vibrant, tanned sophomores tossing each other in the air as i pulled up.  i was at a cool school.

this was my official 2nd opinion, with my 2nd brain expert.  dr g. was at USC; today i was meeting with dr. b.

dr. b. took my discs and loaded the images into the computer.  i had 8 tests’ worth of malleable photos:  3 catscans, 4 MRIs, and a spectroscopy.

looking at the location of my tumor, the doctor told me there were three ways to get to it.  the first was his sole method of expertise:  through the nose.  in order to do that in my case, he would have to drill away some bone, and then move my pituitary gland.  and even then, he may not be able to reach the entire mass.  furthermore, to attempt this procedure could result in what he called “total pituitary failure.”  apparently, not a good thingAT ALL.  so surgery through the nose was a no-go.


there is a sign at the feed store where i buy the piggies’ hay.  it says “there are two theories to arguing with women.  neither one works.”  apparently, a similar thing could be said about the remaining two ways of reaching my abnormal and unwelcome growth.  the doctor continued his explanation of my issues, and what followed was a marathon of bad news, with dr. b. interrupting himself and the subsequent discussion five or six times, to re-remind me that this was “a VERY high-risk procedure.”  he spoke of me possibly losing my sight in my left eye; or being paralyzed.  he talked about seizures and strokes.  that was if i didn’t have the surgery.  and if i did have it!  DANG IT!

i left UCLA in a cloud of gloom.  there were no cheerleaders.

i rented two movies, in the hopes that it would cheer me up.  thinking that one may be too depressing, i opted for the other, called The Road, which i knew nothing about.  here’s a broken-english synopsis:   husband and wife are expecting child.  world is ravaged by grand destruction.  baby is born into planetary sh*ttiness (* = i).  wife is suicidal.  tries to convince husband to commit family self-murder.  wife wanders out into unknown night for desolate death.  father and son roam barren earth, searching for non-existent food.  father and son find dead bodies and cannibals, and discuss proper form of open-mouth gunshot.  everyone = filthy and starving.  sky = colorless.  trees = dead.  grass = dirt.  hope = bleak.  happiness = misery.  father and son reach ocean.  father wraps up in blanket and dies like beached burrito.  son exits with filthy, starving strangers.  …THE END…  …in retrospect, maybe i should’ve rented an Ernest movie.

the tumor was in the dead center of my head, so far inside that jacques cousteau couldn’t get to it.  it was pressing against a main artery.  they were going to find out how many licks it took to get to the center of a tootsie roll pop, and my head was the sucker.  in more ways than one.

UCLA?  SUNSHINE?  …where was my cheerleader?  i waited for a knock at the door.  she wasn’t coming.  not tonight.  not tonight.

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