Subject: Tracy's tumor
Date: Wed, 23 Jan 2008 21:24:34 +0000
Below is fairly detailed summary of our visit with the doctors today and the situations we will be in for the next few months. For my ADD buddies and buddettes, the short of it is that Tracy's tumor must be removed by surgery and there will permanent losses to hearing in the right ear and possibly some facial nerves. Rehabilitation and recovery will take 4 to 6 weeks in a rehabilitation hospital. For more info read below and we'll see you on Sunday. Love you guys. Really glad you're there.
We went to the doctor today – the Bobby Alford Neurosensory Center of Houston. We first saw Dr. Alford. He is the chancellor of the Baylor College of Medicine. Look him up on the Internet and you can find his bio. He has been doing this for 52 years, really nice man. Then we went to Dr. Oghalai. He is a neurotologist specializing in otology (of course) and skull base surgery. Next week sometime we will see Dr. Yosher. He is the neurosurgeon. We spent about 3 hours with Dr. Alford and Dr. Oghalai today. Somehow we have kind of ended up with some of the best of the best.
So what’s the skinny?
The tumor is believed to be a meningoma. It is very large, though not the largest anyone has seen (but “getting close”). It is inside the skull, but not attached to the brain. It is pressing against the brain. Tracy has not suffered any motor or neurological losses to this point. The tumor is aggressive, but slow growing. Aggressive because it branches out like tentacles and takes up whatever space it finds. As a result, as it will have originated in the meninges (sp?), but it found spaces to invade through the hypoglossal and jugular foramen canals. These are holes in the sk! ull where these nerves pass through. The tumor found these holes and squeezed through them to begin growing on the other side of them. That is how it got to the eardrum and made doctors think it would be a glomas jugular or glomas tympanicum.
Well, we must have the thing taken out. Radiation is out of the question because it is too big. Waiting to see what happens means death in about 5 to 10 years because the growth would eventually squish the brain stem and essentially suffocate it, so to speak. Thus, surgery in 4 to 6 weeks, or as soon as Dr. Oghalai and Dr. Yosher can get a day together. The surgery will take between 12 and 16 or so hours. She will be kept asleep for a day, or so. She will be in ICU for a week, or so. Then she will be in a rehabilitation hospital for 4 to 6 weeks, or so. All the “or so’s” beca! use recovery and rehabilitation depends on lots of factors that no one can predict.
She will lose the mechanisms for hearing in her right ear and they will close it off. Can’t be avoided. She will likely have facial nerve damage on the right side permanently. She could have trouble with her right shoulder temporarily as well as her right arm and leg. She may need a walker for some time, even as long as a year, depending on recovery and rehabilitation progress. She will lose the ability to swallow for a while and must have a feeding tube, either in her stomach or up her nose. She will likely have a tracheotomy until she can learn to swallow so that her saliva does not leak into her windpipe and cause her to have pneumonia.
The surgeons cannot get the entire tumor out. It is impossible. So, there will be remnants left. MRI’s to follow in the months, and years after will direct other treatments, which may include radiation. Though the tumor will still be in there, it is not expected to grow to a dangerous level again in her lifetime.
There may be more info, but it’s late, I’m tired and my brain is begging me to stop. Tell you more when it becomes significant.