Things have taken a bit of a soap-opera-like turn in our family.*
Friday, Ed had just arrived to work an evening shift for his part-time job with a grocery-delivery service. (You'll recall that he had to take the job because the economy has messed with the pocketbooks of his potential clients enough that he's getting very few cabinetmaking gigs lately, meaning that we're barely affording our mortgage payments these days.) The truck that he was scheduled to drive that day was different from the ones that he usually drives for the company, so he went to the back of it, while it was being loaded with groceries that he was to take to customers, to check it out.
The mirrors positioned on the back end of the truck were apparently placed lower than what he is used to dealing with, so when he went to pull himself up into the back of the truck, his forehead slammed into one of the mirrors, putting a big gash in his head and knocking him to the ground. He bled profusely and had to go to the local hospital emergency room for stitches.
In the course of making sure that Ed had no internal injuries to his head, the hospital had him undergo computed tomography (CT) scans. The physicians found no internal injuries, so Ed was sent home, having already been stitched up.
The next day, we found a message on our home answering machine for Ed to call a specific nurse at the hospital for follow-up. We thought that she was just checking to see if he'd had any ominous symptoms (you know, dizziness, passing out, etc.) overnight, which is always a concern with any head injury. Ed called back, prepared to say that he was fine but was surprised to see that the blow to his forehead had caused him to have two black eyes. (That was caused by all the blood from his wound dispersing internally.)
The nurse told him that the radiologist, looking at the films from Ed's CT scans, had found a small colloid cyst in Ed's brain and that Ed should call the hospital's neurology department on Monday for an appointment.
We checked out colloid cyst online and found that it's a benign tumor that usually shows up at about the age Ed is—47—if it's going to show up. The part that has us frightened out of our wits is that what we've read seems to say that most of the time, neurologists do brain surgery to remove these cysts because they can grow and block the flow of cerebrospinal fluid, causing swelling and sometimes coma and death.
People with these cysts sometimes have symptoms such as headaches, limb weakness, and loss of consciousness. Ed has had none of these. We've discussed the situation, and Ed says that he'd rather just go in for periodic scans and leave the cyst alone until it absolutely must be removed. I'm not happy about the prospect of brain surgery, because despite the many advances that there have been in the field over the years, messing around in the brain can be tricky and can unintentionally cause neurological damage. Plus, there's recuperation time. Both Ed and I are wondering how in hell we would afford for him not to be working while he recuperates from brain surgery. We'd lose our home for sure.
Of course, all of this worrying may be unwarranted; the neurologist might say that the cyst is very small and in a location where it's unlikely to cause problems, making brain surgery unnecessary. Ed's annual physical exam is Wednesday next week, and while he's there, he'll ask his primary care physician to provide him with a referral to a neurologist. Then we'll have to see how soon he can get an appointment with the neurologist.
All of this waiting and not knowing is paralyzing for Ed and for me.
If you've had any personal experience with colloid cysts or a member of your family has, please tell me about it, especially if you or your family member underwent brain surgery.
*Ed, my husband, gave me his permission to tell you about all of this.
Updated at 11:42 a.m., 2/10/09: Of course! Ed's physician's office calls and leaves a message saying that his 2/18 appointment (originally to be for his annual physical exam) will have to be rescheduled. I promptly get on the phone—because Ed is en route to a client's home where he'll be installing cabinetry—to reschedule the appointment for him. I ask if it's possible to get the required referral to a neurologist before the newly rescheduled 2/27 appointment. Lots of being put on hold while I wait, wait, wait. Finally, the woman gets back on the line and says no, Ed will have to wait until 2/27 to get the referral. I explain that Ed is walking around with a potential time bomb in his brain and that sooner would be best. She puts me on hold again. When she's back on the line once again, still acting as if she really doesn't give a damn, she still says no. More waiting without any information—just what we don't need.
Ed husband colloid cyst brain surgery EditorMom