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Table of Contents
PATIENT/CAREGIVER CORNER
Year : 2019  |  Volume : 2  |  Issue : 1  |  Page : 34-35

My journey: Hell to well


Date of Web Publication9-Sep-2019

Correspondence Address:
Srisharada Krishnan
67/1521, M. I. G. Colony, Adarsh Nagar, Worli, Mumbai - 400 030, Maharashtra, India

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Source of Support: None, Conflict of Interest: None


DOI: 10.4103/CRST.CRST_28_19

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How to cite this article:
Krishnan S. My journey: Hell to well. Cancer Res Stat Treat 2019;2:34-5

How to cite this URL:
Krishnan S. My journey: Hell to well. Cancer Res Stat Treat [serial online] 2019 [cited 2019 Nov 13];2:34-5. Available from: http://www.crstonline.com/text.asp?2019/2/1/34/266450



They say that life is uncertain. However, this aspect of life became crystal clear to me only when I faced it myself. The roller coaster of emotions and feelings that our mind and head go through when we see a completely unexpected medical imaging report is something that mere words of any language cannot express. Moreover, I too got a whiff of this uncertainty only when I spent an unusually long time inside the gantry of a magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) machine.

I was detected with a tumor called a nerve sheath tumor at the left L3 (the third lumbar vertebra, which is the lower part of the backbone) nerve root in April 2016. After we recovered from the initial shock of this incidental finding (incidental – because it was not what we were looking for), we were reassured that it was benign and there was nothing to worry about. However, uncertainty struck again, and I developed symptoms due to the presence of the tumor at the nerve root which suddenly progressed and I had to undergo a spinal cord surgery for its removal. Postoperatively, when I was recuperating in the intensive care unit (ICU), I heard the most unlikely thing from my surgeon, which pierced through my ears like poison darts. He said that the tumor could be malignant and I had to undergo a positron emission tomography (PET) scan!

The PET scan was done, and I was lucky that it relieved all fears. I recovered quickly and back home with extensive physiotherapy for 3 months and began my normal life again. Two months after the surgery, a routine MRI scan detected a small lesion in the same place of the initial one, but we brushed it away thinking that it must be harmless.

Normal life resumed and we had put this disturbing incident behind us when we received the life-shattering blow. A follow-up scan, 6 months after the first surgery, revealed that the tumor had aggressively spread to form nine new nodules in the muscles adjacent to the spinal nerve where a small remnant of the initial lesion was still present and had slightly grown in size. The magnitude of this news affected our lives like an earthquake and shattered everything that we had slowly built. All expert medical opinions suggested that only one plausible solution was wide and radical surgery. It meant to me that I would probably never dance again in my life. It would probably leave a permanent disability in my left leg. However, the bigger achievement was the gift of life. The surgery was important to save my life.

Twelve hours of deep sleep and another 12 hours of drowsiness, it was the longest I had ever slept. Moreover, before I slept, I was fully aware that when I wake up, I would not be the same as before. However, when I awoke, I dealt with the rude shock that I could not even turn from side to side on my bed without help! This time, the shock sank directly deep into me. No one could understand the extent of my disability except me. I developed a gripping headache, and my round-the-clock companions in my ICU room were the beeping monitors. Every day, I was assuring myself that today onward, I will be fine. However, with every passing minute, my headache increased, and my monitors beeped erratically. While signs of improvement seemed far away, a new complication emerged “pneumocephalus” (air in the cranial cavity).

As I lay in my bed in the ICU, semiconscious and oblivious to everyone and everything else around me, I felt that I was experiencing the lowest ebb of my life. I was on the brink of giving up. However, it was at that lowest point that I could tap my deepest inner instinct to fight this fate that befell me, and it was the source of my motivation to fight stagnancy and improve. Steadily, my monitors stabilized and my health improved. Heavy antibiotics were weaned off, my headache disappeared, wounds began healing, and I was shifted back to the ward from the ICU. What started as incidental tumor in the spinal cord nerve had risen to malignant proportions. I went on immunotherapy and radiation and have received 39 cycles of immunotherapy.

All along this journey, we faced a few more shocks in the form of relapse, progression, etc., However, the source of motivation remains to improve everyday. My treating oncologist, Dr. Jyoti Bajpai, every doctor I have communicated with during the course of my treatment in Tata Memorial, and every nurse who has helped me have all heavily contributed to my source of inspiration and my improvement. Irrespective of the medical reports, I know for a fact that I am absolutely WELL – Will Exuberantly Live Long!

Financial support and sponsorship

Nil.

Conflicts of interest

There are no conflicts of interest.






 

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