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Sunday, November 3, 2013

What's that on my MRI?

When you think of going to the doctor for a check-up you think the common things they check for: weight, temperature, and blood pressure. They look in your ears, nose and throat...maybe even check reflexes. And then in the case they can't find something wrong they revert to....the dreaded blood test!! (And yes, I dislike needles if you couldn't gather from my previous sentence).

 My case started off pretty similar, but my symptoms were not and had the doctor a bit puzzled. What were they you ask? Sweating. The strange part of it was my sweating was on one side of my body and not the other. Now if I was engaging in any type of physical activity I would sweat normally. If I was just sitting in a warm room and I would start to perspire....only on one side. Yep, I know it's very strange. Anyhow the doctor referred me to a neurologist who could do further testing to see what was causing this and if there was any treatment.

My first visit to the neurologist was very standard. We went over the same information and tests my regular physician did, but there was one additional part....a MRI. I was a bit nervous to be stuck in a tube where I couldn't move for 45 minutes and then on top of that have dye injected in the middle of the scan.....but I made it through! Now to wait until the radiologist read my scan and reviewed it with my neurologist. A few days later I finally received the call....."Overall everything looks standard and we don't see anything that would cause the perspiration issues." Dang. A dead end, but the words that followed that would change my life forever: "We do see a small blimp on your scan that looks like an enlarged blood vessel. We don't want you to worry, but we recommend following up with additional MRI scans every year or two just to keep an eye on it."

All that was back in 2002. Around the end of 2004 I would have another MRI scan from a different doctor (since I had moved from Cincinnati to Columbus). I have to admit I wasn't a big fan of his and when I got my second scan he basically just repeated everything I was told in 2002. To me that basically meant everything was fine. I went about the next three years like a normal mid-20 year old female and hardly thought about it until March 2007. I can't remember exactly what triggered it, but I went to my new doctor and filled her in on the details and how I was supposed to have follow up MRIs ever couple of years. I had my previous scans to show her and without hesitation the next thing I knew I was being sent to have an MRI with contrast. As usual I was more worried about the injection of the contrast rather than what they scan would show. A couple days later I was sitting in my cube at work and my cell phone rang. It was my doctor, not a doctor. She shared the radiologists results. That small blimp that was presumed to be an enlarged blood vessel had doubled in size. Although it was still small (pea sized) the fact there was growth and it was around the area that controlled my motor function was extremely worrisome. As tears rolled down my cheeks the only question I asked was "What happens now?". Being very calm she replied "I'm referring you to the James Cancer Hospital. I'm going to have a nurse call and get an appointment setup for you."

Two questions came to mind: 1.) Could I have brain cancer? 2.) Was I going to die?

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