THE brain tumour

In early 2010, my husband Pablo fell ill. At first we thought it was just a flu but it lasted weeks. At least once a week, we would bring him to the Emergency room because of the severity of the symptoms he was having. They kept sending him home with a new prescription. We were frustrated beyond belief. Pablo kept getting sicker. Different tests were done, blood was drawn, he even was seen by an infectious disease specialist. No one could figure out what was wrong. Finally he had an MRI of his head and on April 15, 2010, Pablo called me at work to tell me he had a very large brain tumour and he had to be admitted to the hospital right away.

We were in total disbelief, freaked out that he had something as serious as a brain tumour and would he survive and a bit relieved that after months of wondering what the hell was wrong, we finally had our answers.

We were told that Pablo's tumour was so large that it had spread into the brain and thus was most likely malignant. This was really bad. I vividly remember those days leading up to the surgery (surgery was supposed to be within days of the tumour discovery and ended up taking 11 days before surgery finally happened). At the time, our son was just over 1 year old and our daughter was 3 and a half years old. I wanted to think of the best case scenario but I couldn't help but think about how I was going to raise our kids alone and how was I going to tell the kids the bad news if their daddy didn't make it. Those were the longest 11 days of our lives. Pablo was allowed home during the day a few times so that he could spend time with us outside of the hospital. It was bittersweet. We took lots of family photos, like these ones:

taken 2 days before brain surgery

taken the day before surgery

April 26, 2010 - surgery day. Once surgery was done, the neurosurgeon walked into the waiting room where my sister and I were anxiously waiting and she was smiling. Right then I knew Pablo made it through surgery. She told us that surgery went really well, so well, that she thought she got the whole tumour out (prior to this, we were told that because the tumour looked like it had spread into the brain, surgery would not remove the whole tumour). Prior to surgery we were told that there might be damage to speech and memory and when I asked the neurosurgeon about this after surgery, she was pretty confident that neither was affected. I couldn't have been happier with all this news. Pablo made it through surgery and the whole tumour was removed with no issues at all.

68 hours after surgery
4 days after surgery - Pablo had a mini stroke - a TIA. This meant that he was staying in the hospital a few more days longer than planned.

May 4, 2010 - Pablo came home. The kids and I were sooooo excited to have him back home.

We were finally told that Pablo's tumour was a Grade II atypical BENIGN meningioma (a few neurologists consider it a grade III).

  • dexamethasone - anti-swelling
  • dilaudid - pain med (similar to morphine)
  • dilantin - anti-seizure
  • valproic acid (anti-seizure)
  • rhovane (to help Pablo sleep)
  • melatonine (to help Pablo sleep)
  • ondansetron (anti-nausea)
  • ranitidine (reduces stomach acid)
  • cymbalta (anti-depressant)
  • oxycocet (pain med for headaches)
  • lorazepam (to help Pablo sleep)
  • muscle relaxant
  • lyrica (pain med and anti-seizure)
  • seroquel (anti-psychotic, to help Pablo sleep)

June 11, 2010 - Pablo decided to go ahead with radiation treatments due to some 'abnormal cells' that were still left in his brain.

August 3, 2010 - Pablo began 37 rounds of radiation treatment (tomotherapy).

September 27, 2010 - Pablo's last radiation treatment. And an MRI concluded that his brain looked perfect!

taken May 16, 2010 - 3 weeks post surgery

Unfortunately, this isn't the end to Pablo's medical issues. He's now got major bladder issues that we're still dealing with and the cause of these issues are due to the brain tumour. After extensive testing in March 2012, it was determined that Pablo needs a pacemaker for his bladder.

September 13, 2012 - successful bladder pacemaker surgery.

mid-November, 2012 - unconfirmed mini-stroke. Due to the pacemaker, Pablo can't have MRIs anymore so the stroke couldn't be confirmed. A CT scan showed stroke activity but that could have been from the stroke that he had after brain surgery. His neurologist thought maybe it was a 'confusion migraine'. We're still waiting for more tests...

October 2013 - Pablo had to go back to Toronto to see the pacemaker technician. Turns out some of the wires of the pacemaker have come loose. Pacemakers are generally for people who aren't very active. Pablo is an active guy in his 30's. Unsure as to whether they will just remove the pacemaker or surgery again to fix the loose wires.

February 28, 2014 - The brain tumour has caused quite a bit of damage to Pablo's bladder (and surrounding areas). Pablo underwent surgery to help fix the bladder issue that included Botox. Pablo will have to get Botox injections every 5-7 months.

June 2014 - 2 surgeries to remove large amounts of scar tissue down the urethra

July 10, 2014 - Botox injections in the brain. To be repeated every 3 months. This first round of injections resulted in a seizure. Pablo was brought by ambulance to the hospital. We await test results.

December 16, 2014 - urology surgery to remove scar tissue down the urethra AGAIN. Surgery was supposed to involve a skin graft in that region but the surgeon ran out of time and is hoping that he removed enough scar tissue that the skin graft won't be needed. Another round of Botox in the bladder was included in this surgery although we had to provide the Botox because god forbid it be included as part of the surgery (my insurance only covers 80% and Botox ain't cheap).

(In 2014, Pablo also had surgery to remove a hernia, a pilonidal cyst on his lower back, and a tumour on his colon which I didn't document here but should have...)

April 2, 2015 - Pablo ended up at emergency for what turned out to be a very swollen and enlarged prostate. Further tests determined that he had an abscess on his prostate but at least it was not cancerous.Pablo was hospitalized to await surgery.

April 8, 2015 - surgery to remove the abscess on the prostate.

April 24, 2015 - surgery in Toronto to fix the bladder pacemaker since some of the leads had come loose.

September 2015 - diagnosis of MRSA (Methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus infection is caused by a type of staph bacteria that's become resistant to many of the antibiotics used to treat ordinary staph infections). It is very serious and immediately after diagnosis, Pablo had to go to the hospital every 2nd day for 1.5 hours of IV antibitoic treatments. This continued for a few weeks and then he was able to take oral antibiotics instead of the IVs. Since then, Pablo has had many large abscesses develop on his upper thighs that resulted in many emergency room visits.

November 2015 - surgery to remove one third of the prostate and 16 polyps. At the same time, they did 13 biopsies around that area and there was a worry of colon cancer but more biopsies of the colon came back negative for cancer. Biopsies concluded more issues with remainder of prostate. And final results showed cancer on the prostate.

January 2016 - surgery to remove the cancerous part of the prostate.

December 19, 2017 - surgery to remove a tumour from his non-prosthetic testicle.

Pablo now has a tripod in his brain, a prosthetic testicle and a pacemaker in his upper right buttock.


To see all the brain tumour posts, click here.


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