I met my husband in the year 2000. He was working as a Real Estate developer in NYC, and had done some major projects, working for Donald Trump. The two of us were living on Central Park South when the Twin Towers were attacked and collapsed. Those attacks were a major reason that we left The City and moved to NE Pennsylvania.
My husband had started working on developing some property that we had bought in NE Pennsylvania. We had completed a small, 12-home subdivision, and had started a much larger subdivision, with large wooded lots on a very beautiful, but challenging, hillside. Dino and a small crew of men cleared the roads, and were well into the project. At one point Toll Brothers entered into a contract to buy the entire 60 lots, but they backed out of the contract, due to the impending collapse of the housing boom.
At the same time, we were raising twin boys. It was nearly unavoidable that we would have twins, as my mother's grandmother was a triplet, and my father's grandfather was a twin. Add to that, my husband had twin daughters with his first wife . . . And the fact that I was 39 . . . and I prayed for twins! (I really did!)
I was a first-time mother at the age of 39 and taking care of my nine-month-old twins. I suddenly started experiencing excrutiating headaches . . . Really blinding, searing headaches. I thought perhaps I was experiencing nervous exhaustion. I also thought perhaps these headaches were migraines, as I had done a little research on the Internet . . . and it seemed like this horrible pain was similar to what I had seen described as migraines. I made an appointment to see my GP.
When I met with my doctor, he was skeptical about my migraine theory, as he said he treated a lot of women with migraines, and that they always got relief from their migraines while the were pregnant or breast feeding . . . it seems that hormones play a big role in migraines . . . I was breast feeding my twins. He wrote an order for a CT scan, and said he would call me when he got the results. I had the CT scan of my brain done, and he called to tell me the results were back, and could my husband and I come to see him.
At the appointment in the doctor's office, my doctor put the "film" of my CT scan up on a light board, and pointed at a dark area in the middle of my brain. He said that dark area is the ventricles, and should be completely dark . . . but mine had a white ball inside the dark area, on what looked like a long thread. My doctor said that should not be there . . . and we need to find out what it is. He said we needed to make an appointment to see a Neurosurgeon.
That is when time sort of stood still . . . It was just not possible that this sort of thing could happen to me . . .
My husband, being a man of action, started making phone calls as soon as we got home. He called a couple of family friends, who are in the medical field, to find out who is the best neurosurgeon in New York City, as we were living about an hour and a half from NYC at the time. We made appointments to see one neurosurgeon with a very swish office on The Upper East Side . . . I don't remember his name . . . but he was all "confidence" in his own abilities, and no real seeming concern for me, the patient . . . His appeal was lost on me . . .
Then we saw Dr. Harold Varmus . . . I believe he was head of Neurosurgery at Memorial Sloane-Kettering. He gave us the name of a different neurosurgeon . . . Dr. Mark Souweidane . . . He said if he had to choose a doctor to do the surgery it would be Dr. Souweidane. Dr. Varmus said that Dr. Souweidane was doing a new type of minimally invasive brain surgery, and that the recovery period and cognitive affects would be much less, if it was possible to do this new type of procedure.
My husband and I made an appointment to see Dr. Souweidane. My insurance did not cover Dr. Souweidane . . . so that was another hurdle we would have to jump, if we decided on him as the surgeon . . . but with my brain on the line, and Dr. Varmus' emphatic recommendation . . . we decided to meet this doctor, and make our own judgement. The new procedure that Dr. Souweidane was one of, if not THE premier pioneers of is endoscopic intracranial surgery.
When my husband and I met with Doctor Souweidane, we were both pleasantly surprised to meet a gracious, and genuinely caring man. Doctor Souweidane had cared for many seriously ill patients, and many of his patients were children. He is, as I understand it, one of the top neurosurgeons in childhood brain tumor treatment. We decided on Dr. Souweidane.
I was diagnosed with a "colloid cyst" in the ventricles of my brain, although It turned out to be a brain tumor. It was discovered due to the fact that it was acting as a "stopper", and preventing my Cerebral Spinal Fluid from flowing, as it should, and causing horrific headaches.
I remember that after the first surgery he told us that he had not been able to remove the entire tumor...But that the part of the tumor he had been able to remove was tested, and found to be "benign" . . . After that . . . my memory gets very shaky . . . even nonexistent . . . My husband and my medical records tell me that I have had two more brain surgeries . . . with the same neurosurgeon . . .
My three brain surgery dates were 6/9/2004, 5/6/2008, and 1/19/2010. I only actually recall that I've had the first surgery, as my short-term memory has been fairly seriously affected by the surgeries. I only know about the second and third surgeries because they are in my medical files, and my family and husband tell me that I've had three surgeries. Otherwise, If it weren't in my medical files, I wouldn't believe it.
I have almost no recollection of the years between 2010 and 2013 . . . I think I remember 2013, in a way . . . due to the oddity of having a 013 in the year . . . and that somehow seeming "lucky" . . . as opposed to "unlucky" . . .