‘I will go to the doctor later.’ ‘I don’t have time to go to the doctor.’ ‘Something came up so I need to cancel my appointment.’ ‘I need to go to the doctor but I’m not important enough to take care of.’ Okay okay, so the last one wasn’t actually something my husband had said to me. But aren’t we all really saying that when we make the other 2 statements or something to that effect?
On November 9th 2021 our life as we knew it would be forever changed. My lovable, yet stubborn husband finally came to me and told me that he was having trouble closing his left eye completely, having trouble with his ear that he attributed to sinus problems. So I called my primary doctor to see if I could get him in asap, they had me look him over and do a couple of ‘tests’, i.e. having him smile, close his eyes, etc. I immediately became concerned because when he smiled I could tell something was off (I hadn’t noticed before because he doesn’t usually do a huge smile, so it wasn’t that noticeable). Once I told the receptionist this she told me to immediately take him to Urgent Care.
Once at Urgent Care, the doctor looked him over briefly and sent us straight to the Emergency Room. They were afraid he was experiencing stroke symptoms, or possibly Bells Palsy. He immediately had a CT scan done once in a room. And since it usually takes a while to get the results we each thought that would be the best time for me to run home to switch out vehicles and to comfort our girls who were very worried about their daddy. I wasn’t gone very long, but the look on my husband, my comforter, my protector, my rock’s face when I walked back into his room made me instantly wish I’d never left the hospital. In that short time I was gone, they came into the room to give him his CT results, there was a mass on his Temporal Bone. They couldn’t tell what it was and an MRI was needed asap. But because they don’t do them overnight at the hospital and because of his symptoms they wanted to admit him.
In all of our years together, I’ve been in the hospital, each of our kids have had visits to the ER but not him. I couldn’t leave his side, I just couldn’t. He had the MRI the afternoon of 11/10/2021. Fortunately we didn’t have to wait long to get the results, we got them the next morning. November 11th will forever be the day that changed my husband. He is still the same man that I married, but I know that this was one of the hardest days of his life. The MRI confirmed what the ENT Specialist had suspected, the mass was a Glomus Jugulare Tumor. A rare, benign tumor, however, it was affecting his facial nerve and causing his eye to not close.
From November to the end of January we attended more doctor’s visits than he has had our entire marriage. Over those few months the paralysis in his face became a lot worse and more noticeable, and the tumor had increased in size. So surgery was decided upon as the ONLY treatment. But it wasn’t just going to be ONE simple visit.
On February 3rd he went into the hospital for what was supposed to be easiest part of the surgery. This was the Embolization of the tumor, so that he doesn’t bleed as much, given that this is a vascular tumor. What was supposed to be a couple day stay turned into a 4 day stay in the hospital. He spiked a fever and was in a lot of pain. Thankfully there was no sign of infection and he was discharged soon enough to spend some time with the kiddos before his major surgery.
Mark, his mom, and I stayed in a hotel the night before the surgery so that we wouldn’t have to rush to get to the hospital by 6am on February 10th. They started the surgery at 8:40 am. One surgeon had to go in and loop his carotid artery. And then his primary surgeon started his portion of the surgery. Once they opened him up, they saw that the tumor had eaten COMPLETELY through his facial nerve and that is why he has the paralysis. It took them 3 hours to get to the point to where the tumor was exposed and they could see all the damage. Once they removed the tumor they took a portion of a nerve in his ankle and sutured it to replace the nerve that was damaged, only time will tell if this will work. The surgeon then had to place a gold weight in his eyelid so that it would close, because it would not close on it’s own anymore due to the damage to the nerve. The last part of the surgery was to unloop the carotid artery. All in all the surgery took 7 hours. 7 long hours! But what made it bearable is the nurse would call me from the operating room and give me updates constantly.
After 3 days in the hospital… we were able to bust out of the hospital. YES 3 days, after brain surgery! He was determined to get out of there and worked so hard to get up, sit in the chair and walk around the hallways.
He’s had countless doctor’s visits since his surgery. And still not fully recovered, recovery could take 2 years or more. One of the problems with this tumor is it is fast growing and there were pieces that were on his carotid artery so they weren’t able to get that part out without it being fatal, so he has to have scans every few months to see if there is any change.
I will say, through all of this, he is still my comforter, my protector, & my rock. But I also found my strength to be those things for him.
Mark, I will always love you the MOSTEST!