Finding Out

About a year and a half ago, my eyes started behaving strangely. Several times a day, I would suddenly start to see double, and it took from a few seconds to a few minutes to force my eyes to focus again. I thought it was odd, and when my optometry appointment came around again and it was still happening, I asked about it. The optometrist said I’ve probably always had some strabismus, and my eye muscles have always forced my eyes to focus, but now that I’m older than 40, the muscles have become “tired”. He prescribed “prism” lenses to correct the misalignment. It seemed to help a little.

A year later, though, the double vision was still happening, making it difficult to see presentations and documents at work. I discovered that an opthamologist at my doctor’s office specializes in adult strabismus. I decided to meet with her for this year’s eye appointment to validate the optometrist’s findings from last year and get a prescription that might be more effective.

I met with the excellent Dr. Park on March 5, 2015. She performed a thorough and careful examination. At the end, she said she was worried because my eyes weren’t moving the way you’d expect for standard adult strabismus. She scheduled an MRI.

The MRI was the morning of March 9th, and that afternoon Dr. Park called to let me know they’d found a 3 centimeter (1.18″) brain tumor pressing against my brain stem and 6th cranial nerve.

I wasn’t immediately upset so much as astounded and uncertain. Everything felt surreal. My memory of the conversation is imperfect, so this may not be completely accurate:  I remember Dr. Park was very kind, and I felt badly for her because it can’t have been a fun call to make. I wanted clarification about whether a tumor could be benign. I had an informal feel for what a tumor is, of course, but wanted to be sure my casual understanding matched up with the specific medical thing she was describing.  I believe she said that theoretically it could be benign, but given it’s location, it was in a bad place and would require removal either way. She said she’d contacted a neurosurgeon and neuro-oncologist and they’d be reaching out to me in the next day or two.

And that was the beginning.

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