The small apple and where I am now

The small apple

In November 2017 I went to the emergency room of our local hospital for what I thought was just a severe headache. Fortunately the physician assistant who attended me spotted signs of a neurological deficiency that something was going on inside my head worse than a headache. She ordered CAT imaging that revealed a brain hemorrhage and a mass “the size of a small apple”. After being transferred to University Hospital it was determined that there was a 8 CM tumor with hemorrhage having caused my brain to shift off center. I underwent surgery to remove the tumor and have been recovering since some things came back quickly while others are taking longer, somethings I am told will never come back such as vision.

N5YPJ post surgical after being discharged from the hospital with 44 staples. Amazingly most patients go home 2 days after surgery! 🙂
Know the signs of brain tumors  the life you save may be your own

I consider myself being much better off than I deserve after the craniotomy. Del Rio is a very poor and isolated community that struggles to keep many health care providers staffed at our hospital. Many outsiders find the town lacking in the basics, the 150 mile distance to the next largest city, the cultural / language differences, etc. we call it home but to each their own! 🙂  I had heard the “horror” stories of our hospital but I can say the evening we went to the ER for a hospital the size of ours I received first rate treatment during the time it took for me to be stabilized and for the ambulance evac to University Hospital in San Antonio to be set up.

After extensive workup in the San Antonio hospital the neurosurgeons made no promises as to my prognosis such as walking, talking, using my hands, possible serious memory loss, etc. The tumor was also said to be very vascularized which often is a characteristic of a malignant tumor. I woke up in recovery with all my systems working more or less, vision was something else though enough to get by OK. Return to the hospital for follow up with Dr. Izabela Tarasiewicz the neurosurgeon to get biopsy results and the 44 staples removed from my head went awesomely as Doctor dropped an “F” bomb telling me how lucky I was to have had a benign grade 1 tumor that required no additional treatment!

Where I am now

Prior to going to the emergency room at Val Verde Regional Medical Center my vision seemed fine to me for a 53 year old diabetic in fact less than two weeks before I had my annual diabetic eye exam examined by an ophthalmologist who said was vision was good, borderline for needing eyeglasses to drive. Actually I had stopped driving a few months before because my family was concerned that my driving had become dangerous. After arriving at the hospital it was determined that I had no peripheral vision just a very narrow tunnel vision nor could I see down in front of me!

Post surgery I have regained some of my peripheral vision on the right side, central vision remained intact. It blows my mind how in my case one does not know what they are not seeing, it just is not there and you don’t know it until smacking in to it. The PC with the 32″ monitor and Android smart phone with vision assistance apps have become my best friends indispensable tools. Software for ham radio digital modes took some learning and tweaking to make things readily visible to me.

I have sensory over stimulation or flooding because my brain’s filters no longer work properly. It gets to be an exhaustive situation when more pieces of information or stimuli are received than  the brain can handle. It affects me in ham radio activities in that I have trouble picking out things in crowded noisy conditions like a contest or pile up and my stamina is short lived before I become exhausted. I’m essentially limited to short phone operations these days often the noise is just too much. Hopefully I will be able to work digital modes into my main mode of operation since not much actual listening is involved.  I enjoy trips to the grocery store but leave there exhausted from being on high alert to avoid bumping into anyone or anything that I do not see it requires constant scanning around where we are shopping, the back ground sounds, the rush of things. When I get the last bag in the house then it is nap time which seems to refresh everything.

So that is where I am nowadays ham radio wise.