JULY 10, 2011
Elaine returned home after her seizure, fall and broken arm in early June. She is ecstatic to be home and her lap kitty, Chatty, is even happier. A little background on Elaine’s medical situation may be in order. In the fall of 1998 Elaine begin to experience transient ischemic attacks, or TIA’s. A TIA is caused by temporary disturbance of blood supply to an area of the brain. This results in a sudden, brief decrease in brain function. For several months her Internist prescribed a variety of tests to determine what was causing the problem with the blood supply to her brain.
In the early spring of 1999 I insisted that an MRI be done of her brain. This revealed a golf ball sized tumor located in the left portion of her frontal lobe. Neurosurgeons in Memphis diagnosed this as an inoperable glioblastoma brain tumor and told us that any attempt to remove it would be pointless and leave her a vegetable. Basically, we were told to bring her home, make her as comfortable as possible and enjoy the 60 – 90 days she had left.
We were not ready to accept a death sentence without second opinions and I called a business associate that had been on senior staff at Johns Hopkins for advice. He called Dr. Alan Friedman, Chief of Neurosurgery at The Brain Tumor Center at Duke University. I FedEx’d the MRIs to Dr. Friedman and he called and suggested that I bring Elaine to Durham for a consultation.
After studying the MRI and evaluating Elaine’s overall health he told us that he would surgically remove the tumor, get it all and do a minimum of collateral damage. We then met with Dr. Henry Friedman, Chief of Oncology at the Center and he told us that if Alan got the tumor, he’d supervise the radiation and chemotherapy that would basically leave her tumor free. Two days later Alan Friedman performed eight hours of open brain surgery and did just what he promised; he got the tumor and did a minimum amount of damage.
Elaine started an intense treatment of radiation and subsequent chemo under Henry Friedman’s direction. We were told at the time that assuming the radiation and chemo were successful, we could expect up to ten years of normal life before a gradual deterioration of her mental and physical abilities would begin to manifest themselves. Elaine finished her last dose of chemo on Christmas afternoon in 1999, that night we flew to Paris for a long planned trip to celebrate the millennium.
On the anniversary of her surgery Elaine was declared to be tumor free and began a nine year period of normal life. After we moved to Auburn in 2007 Elaine began to have difficulty finding words and her short- term memory began to fade. Since then she has done just as we were warned by Henry Friedman, she has experienced a gradual, but steady deterioration of her ability to speak, to remember and to move about freely. A little over a year ago she was prescribed anti-seizure medicine and at the end of 2010 we brought in all day in- home care.
At the first of June of this year she had a small seizure and fell at our home. When she regained consciousness she was unable to speak and was unaware of her surroundings. We called 911 and she was transported to the East Alabama Medical Center in Opelika, and it was discovered that she had broken her upper hummers as well. She spent ten days in EAMC and an additional twenty days in a nearby rehabilitation center. We were able to bring her home after making the necessary changes to her bedroom and securing twenty-four hour per day, seven days a week in-home care.
Since coming home, Elaine has made great improvements. She is very aware of what is going on around her, she can’t speak much, but she knows what’s going on. She is still wearing a very bulky and uncomfortable restrainer to immobilize her broken arm. We hope that with additional physical therapy and losing that restrainer she will begin to regain some of her mobility. In the meantime she is learning to be comfortable in her wheel chair.
We have high hopes that she will continue to improve, and she is doing the therapy to help her reach a point that will allow her to have a good quality of life. Thanks again for your inquiries and prayers. She cannot talk on the phone, but she does enjoy visitors. If you can get by the house, be sure to call ahead so her attendant can help her prepare her for a visit.