It’s weird to say it, but in the past year, I have had more brain surgeries than menstrual cycles. True story, as my hormones are wayyyyyyyy out of whack with this Cushing’s Disease nonsense. My body produces too much cortisol, which is caused by a small tumor on my pituitary gland, which kind of sits behind the eyes, right on top of the optic nerve in the brain. A few days ago, on April 4, 2012, I had my third brain surgery, or transsphenoidal pituitary tumor resection, if you want to get technical. Hopefully this one will have done the trick and will prove to be 100% effective this time around.
Looking at me, you’d have no idea that I just got out of the hospital after having had an operation on my cranium. No head shaving or skull cracking for this girl. My neurosurgeon operates through the nose! Thank some higher being for modern medicine, as this operation used to be done through the upper lip/gum area or through the skull. With the exception of a sore left nostril and a forearm that looks like it belongs to a heroin junkie, I am feeling great. However, I never really can sense when my body is way out of balance (hormonally speaking), so lab tests will have to tell. I have to get lab work done 4 times in the coming 2 weeks – my doctors are wanting to test my cortisol and a bunch of other hormones, to see if my pituitary is still functioning as it should. I go back to Shands for my first post-operative follow up appointment in 2 weeks.
I got good news from my neurosurgeon that the tumor he removed was indeed an ACTH (adrenocorticotropic hormone) – secreting one, which is what they were going for. ACTH is the chemical from the pituitary gland that stimulates the production of cortisol in the body to come from the adrenal glands. Too much ACTH in turn means too much cortisol! Endocrinology 101 for you. Kidding – I don’t know the half of it, but have come to understand a bit about what’s ruining my innards. It is still crazy to me that something the size of a BB or pencil eraser can have such a negatively profound impact on one’s health and general well-being. Before going into this round of surgery, my blood cortisol level was 15, and the day after surgery, it had dropped down to 1.2. Anything under 3 is ideal, so my neurosurgeon and his nurse were rather excited by the extreme drop in my hormone level. Cross your fingers that it stays down and doesn’t spike back up, as it has in the past.
So now it’s back to my old routine – no nose blowing, sneezing, drinking out of a straw, or swimming for two weeks. Don’t want to blow my brains out. Literally! Anywho, I’m really thankful that I came out of surgery alive and [hopefully] better off than before. I’m just really ready at this point to get on with my life and for all of this to be over with. I hope to goodness that this is the last surgery I’ll need and that this past one is the beginning of the end that I have had in sight for awhile now. I genuinely thank everyone for their love and support, calls, texts, emails, cards, etc, etc…You’re all rock stars in my book Especially my family – you guys have been nothing short of amazing throughout this whole ordeal.
With love and a brain tumor no longer in tow (doesn’t that have a nice ring to it?!),