chapter 47: Pressure

on Monday, April 11th–just one day before i was supposed to leave for Phoenix, Dr. Y told me my tests looked good.  he also reminded me of the third, more accurate test, which he could perform if i was willing to postpone my surgery.  i was torn.  what if i neglected this more conclusive test, and died on the operating table?  what if i had a brain hemorrhage before my belated new surgery date, and was rendered an invalid?  i called people, i got opinions…and more than ever, i was completely overwhelmed.  the emotional weight was TOO MUCH.  i HATED THIS.  ALL I WANTED was a week of peace before i was sliced open.  ALL I WANTED…

the pressure from wondering what decision to make, for benefit of heart and brain, was so physically severe that i felt i would go into cardiac arrest from tension and have an exploding aneurysm from the stress.

PLUS, there was one more element of burden; A BIG ONE:

after deciding to have surgery based on my meeting with Dr. S, i had chosen not to follow up with Dr. M regarding the most recent brain scans i’d had at UCLA Emergency Room, just a few days prior to my consultation in Phoenix.  nevertheless, i’d recently left a message with his nurse, asking if she could tell me his thought regarding the images.  on April 7th–the same day i’d spent 4 hours on the phone searching for a cardiologist–i’d received this email from her:


It does not appear that surgery would be necessary at this point.  The MRI/MRA done here at UCLA does not show any change in size of the mass in your brain.  The symptomatic episodes that you are having can be treated with pain management for headaches.  If you would like to see Dr. M for follow-up, to hear his opinion in person, we can arrange that.  I have CC’d him on this email in case he has any further input.


this REALLY made things more confusing.  i wasn’t sure how much of the no-surgery idea was coming from her regarding “emergency” surgery, versus how much was coming from Dr. M regarding treatment in general.  also, i had never said i had HEADACHES.  as i’d told her in my previous messages, i’d had several episodes of prominent pressure, which had felt like a bomb was about to explode.

in fact,

just a few weeks earlier, on March 13th, while grocery shopping late at night, i’d had significant sensations from my lesion.  that night, my head was flat-out scaring me.  i remember getting in my car, and wishing i could drive straight to the operating room and have it taken out RIGHT THEN.  RIGHT THEN.

and what of the potential for it “bleeding out?”  and what about the fact that they didn’t even know what it WAS????  an aneurysm?  a cavernous malformation?  a malignant tumor?

i honestly felt as if i was going to have a heart attack, lying in my bed, knowing that this day–Monday–i must make a choice.

but i made it.  in both ways.  i survived the ordeal.  and i made my choice.  i called Dr. Y and told him my reasoning, which he said was sound.  my parents cancelled their flight, again.  Phoenix would reschedule me on Wednesday, when the girl was back in the office.  until then, i would wait for my call by Tuesday morning from USC, to set up my new heart test:  a cardiac MRI.

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