Danielle has suffered cyclical migraines since adolescence, but gradually the pain became more constant and more localized. In 2015, she saw her GP with complaints of right sided headaches, neck pain, ear pain and fullness, eye pain and fullness, and visual changes. She was referred to various specialist doctors and received no answers. Finally, her ENT ordered MRIs and MRAs of the head, neck and soft tissue of the neck, which revealed a left parietal parasaggital meningioma in the brain.
A meningioma is a type of tumor that grows from the meninges, or lining, of the brain. They occur most commonly in women, and are often discovered at older ages. Typically, meningiomas grow slowly over time. Danielle’s tumor does not grow typically.
After interviewing several neurosurgeons, it was the common opinion at first, that the best course of action for Danielle would be to “watch and wait,” as the meningioma was still small (anything under 2cm is considered “small,” over 3cm is “large”), and risks of surgery outweighed any benefits of removal. Danielle continued to have MRIs to monitor the growth of the tumor. Since diagnosis, Danielle’s tumor has doubled in size in 4 years, from its original measurement of 1.5cm to its current measurement of 3.2cm - about the size of a half dollar coin. Her neurosurgeon advices craniotomy to remove the tumor, since it is growing more rapidly than a typical meningioma.
In the years since her her diagnosis Danielle has seen a myriad of specialists who have prescribed a myriad of treatments in search of relief for her chronic pain including: TMJ therapy, chiropractic adjustments, massage therapy, craniosacral therapy, physical therapy, yoga, acupuncture, daily exercise, and strict dietary changes. She now abstains from smoke, alcohol, and inflammatory foods. She has been down the road of pharmaceutical drugs including pain medication, steroid medication, and cortisone injections prescribed by pain management specialists, and nerve blocker medication prescribed by her rheumatologist. She is currently trying different headache medications prescribed by her neurologist. All of these medications come with their own side effects, foremost being moderate to severe stomach irritation pain. None of these medications have provided any sort of relief for her head pain.
Although she is petrified of undergoing a craniotomy, the lack of results from any of these avenues, and the increasing intensity and duration of pain, has led to the decision to follow the advice of her neurosurgeon and undergo craniotomy. Danielle high hopes that removal will alleviate her painful symptoms.
Danielle will be having her craniotomy at Columbia University Hospital in NYC on Tuesday, March 19. Barring any complications, recovery from craniotomy requires at least an overnight stay in the ICU, at least a couple days in the neuro unit, and at least six weeks of rest and sleep at home for her brain to heal. The greatest risk factor, as with any surgery, is that of infection. There is also a risk of acquired brain injury resulting stroke, seizures, and loss of cognitive abilities. The fold of the brain into which the tumor is pressing controls motor function of the right extremities, so loss of function on the right side is also a risk.
Insurance will not cover all of the costs associated with surgery. The family has felt a financial burden over the years with the costs of co-pays, coinsurance, deductibles, prescriptions, tolls, and parking during the numerous trips to NYC for different specialist doctor appointments. Danielle’s husband Gerry has had and will have to take time off of work to accompany her, and also to make this situation as trauma free as possible for her two very young home schooled children.
Danielle asks for prayers, positive thoughts and vibrations that her surgery be a complete success with zero deficits post surgery.
Aside from prayers, any monetary donation would be greatly appreciated to help with the cost of the surgery and the time off of work. There is also a meal train link provided below to aid their family with coordinating meals. This would help keep some sort of normalcy during this challenging time.
Any contribution at all, even if it’s a thought about a good outcome, is so appreciated.
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