During my first year of law school in 2007, I suffered from tremendous headaches and double vision. I wrote it off, thinking it was stress and poor vision so I took some Advil and made it through the year. The headaches and double vision worsened and on July 1, 2008, I was diagnosed with a large intraventricular central neurocytoma.
I was immediately admitted to Yale New Haven Hospital for treatment. After 9 hours of surgery, my neurosurgeon was confident he was able to remove the majority of the tumor, which his team estimated was 3-6 years old. My healthy brain tissue had been pushed off to the side and my optic nerves were being strangled. To complicate matters, I was suffering from hydrocephalus. Four days later, I was rushed back into emergency surgery after suffering from an epidural hematoma and a deadly infection. After my release, I received outpatient rehabilitative therapy at Gaylord Hospital. I went from reading hundreds of pages a night and briefing cases just a month before to not being able to speak a coherent sentence or tie my shoes. My mental capability was assessed at that of a second grader.
My neurosurgery team gave me a last option of inserting a VP shunt to relieve the pressure of my hydrocephalus. They believed this would somewhat alleviate my struggles. In what my doctors deemed a "medical miracle", I woke up from the insertion surgery with full speech and strength.
While for the most part I may be recovered, I still struggle with my brain tumor's effects. I have developed periodic seizures, for which I will take medication for indefinitely. I returned to law school and graduated with my J.D., but I have been unable to pass the bar exam due to permanent cognitive impairments. Most recently a regrowth of the tumor was discovered for which I underwent gamma knife surgery, which I hope will lead to the end of my battle forever.
I am committed to helping find the cure to this terrible diagnosis that I have experienced firsthand. I want to do whatever I can to assist the cause and raise awareness.
If you want to find out more about me and my personal experience with a brain tumor, please enjoy my blog at greymattersblog.com.
- Submitted by Chris Cusano