Seeing the Neurosurgeon

First update post doctor. Today I went to see Dr. John Golfinos who is the neurosurgeon at NYU hospital.

I was very happy to have Susan Locke and Antonio by my side for the entire visit. Dr. Golfinos and his nurse practitioner Jessica Schrafickwere amazing. They took all the time needed to explain everything to me including showing me the images of my brain. What I apparently have are 2 tumors, both “glioma” – a general term used to describe any tumor that arises from the supportive (“gluey”) tissue of the brain. This tissue, called “glia,” helps to keep the neurons in place and functioning well.

We looked at the various scans I had done in Spain and Dr. Golfinos showed me exactly where the tumors are and how they are affecting my brain. The good news basically continues. Dr. Golfinos feels that the tumors can easily be removed and that I should have a full recovery. Surgery will be scheduled either later today or tomorrow. I should be in the hospital for about three days and then they will send me home for further recovery.

While they are in my brain they will take out one of the tumors and send it for analysis just to confirm that there is no cancer. While it doesn’t appear that there is cancer from the images, they just won’t know for sure until the pathology lab actually tests them.

As for the cause of the tumors Dr. Golfinos said it’s very difficult to say and that many different reasons could have led to these tumors. Like many tumor types, the exact cause of glioma is not known.

He has years of experience dealing with removing tumors like these and he said that follow up will depend on what he discovers once inside. Hopefully taking the tumors out will be the end of it and no further treatment such as radiation will be needed, but that will only be known for sure once they take the tumors and analyze them. He said that they will be cutting behind my hairline. And that thanks to working with a good plastic surgeon, once my hair grows back, the incision should be virtually invisible. I asked if it would be possible to combine this with a facelift but was told that that is not possible that is a much more complicated surgery that is the brain surgery. ?

As for preparing myself for the surgery there’s not much to do other than to try to stay active between now and then, but no extra exertion that will cause the veins in my neck to pop. .

Post surgery is another story. I probably will have some kind of physical therapy to ensure that my strength returns to where it was. But he assured me that I should be able to be back to full physical activity relatively soon after the treatment. And almost for sure, back to long Fire Island walks before July.

Dr. Golfinos also said that my mood swings right now can be explained easily by the steroids that I’m taking. He has written a new prescription for steroids that are less potent than my current dose. This should help to ensure a stabilizing of my swings.

Part of the mood stuff is also related to where the tumors are located in the frontal lobes of my brain, the area that has a big effect on mood and emotion.

So for now, that’s what I can tell you.

I continue to get your emails, text messages, and the occasional phone call. I’m sorry that I’ve not been more responsive to individual messages, because I am exhausted by all of what has been going on and talking about this also takes energy rather than adding it. Forgive me if I’m not responding to you individually but I do love getting your messages, especially the written ones.

Yesterday afternoon, I had a one-hour consultation with a homeopath, Dr. Edgar Lombeyda who is a colleague and mentor to Miguel’s mom, Dr. Lola Vargas. On the one hand the conversation was interesting; on the other hand, a lot of the focus was on trying to uncover trauma in my life since the doctor said that homeopathy focuses on the connection between the body and the mind and that it is impossible separate one from the other. While I do not disagree with the theory, for right now I don’t want to focus on trauma especially from someone who is beginning to barely scratch the surface in a one-hour session. Susan Locke, who is a very experienced psychologist/therapist agrees that it can be unprofessional to try to delve too deeply into life trauma too soon or deeply without really getting to know the person at a deeper level progressively. And my reality, for those of you who know me well, is that I’m a pretty positive and resilient person and that while I have certainly had my share of trauma both personally and with other people in my life, I am not someone who is unable to deal with many challenging issues. It is possible that these tumors may be related to what’s going on in my past and my psyche, but I’d rather focus on the positive for right now and leave the deeper analysis for another time, if at all. What I can say is that, for now, I am surrounded by so much caring and love that this is what is going to help me get through this situation, not focusing on what is missing.

One last interesting bit: I have shrunk! I was 6 feet 1 inch and today measured only 5 feet 11! Who stole my 2 inches?

By the way, when I returned to New York, I found a few beautiful gifts in the apartment. One was for my dear friend David Schofield, and I’m attaching a photo of what he built. Essentially, it is a 250 to 300-year-old Venetian reliquary. David said that this is a venerated object as a shrine and he placed a Chinese horseman that he had given me several years ago on top of the reliquary and painted all of it to match. David suggested putting something inside the reliquary to bring good energy or luck – either a photo or flowers or a Buddha head, something that will bring good energy into my life and this is exactly what I intend to do with this amazing gift from David.

Gift from David Schofield - April 5

I also got a package from my niece Stefanie with letters and drawings from her children. I’m attaching a few photos of these beautiful drawings. She also included a bracelet from Cambodia with Khmer script saying “Brave.” Antonio tied the bracelet around my right wrist and I will be wearing this at least through my surgery maybe well beyond.

P.S. Have a look here: includes a photo of Antonio and me on the website of Lorena, a sexologist friend in Madrid. She is amazing! Gracias por tu energia, Lorena!!!!!!

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One thought on “Seeing the Neurosurgeon

  1. past is past....especially when one is facing a "foreign"land...glad that your friend told you that old traumas are best left quietly alone. I wondered if you were on steroids when I saw the mood swings. They are not much fun. just reading this now, Alan....so bear with my lagging knowledge. My first thought was that the location of the tumors was approachable. Not encroaching near other neural areas! That is good!

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