I need that like a hole in the head

When life gives you lemons … what do you do?

This week, I was given a lemon in the shape of a tumor on my brain, which has unfortunately reached the perfect size for harvesting.

I knew I had a “lemon.”

They discovered it about 3 years ago. It was checked for growth, but it never showed the maturity needed for “picking.”

So we waited and checked it two years later. Nope, still not ready.

Well, it’s ready now.

My first visit with the Neurosurgeon was a little disenchanting. He said, “Your tumor … is insignificant.” I lost my breath for a moment and time froze. When I could finally speak, I said, “Well, it’s pretty significant to me!” He looked at me and tilted his head like a puppy distracted by a strange noise. He backpedaled a bit, apologized, and then recovered quite nicely.

There were months when I was still mad. I was angry at his insensitivity. He was cold. Detached. I thought he didn’t have a sympathetic bone in his body, and I repeatedly asked myself, “why am I seeing him?”

Bedside manner is something they try to teach in medical school, so I’ve been told. I worked in the medical field for almost 20 years, and I found many of the doctors I worked for must have skipped over “Bedside Manner 101” every semester it was offered. I would hear how patients were spoken to in the hall, but I always shrugged my shoulders and went about my business.

I was never on the receiving end of insensitivity at a time when I felt utterly helpless.

I had no idea how much it could hurt.

I know now what he said was to reassure me that it wasn’t something to worry about. Had I not been so scared walking into my appointment, I probably would never have felt attacked. I completely misunderstood his good intentions.

When I asked for a phone call to discuss the results this week, I didn’t want to wait until he was back from vacation, and I was sure it was just going to be the usual.

“It looks the same. No growth.”


“Yep, no change.”

“No change! Great! Thank you! I’ll see you in two years.”

That isn’t quite how it all went down. As always, he was so kind and careful with me. But this time he explained how it had grown, he didn’t like it, and he was sorry to have to tell me, it was time to take it out.

When I am looking for a doctor to do the job, the best it can possibly be done, I don’t care about bedside manner. If their skills are exceptional, the last thing I should care about is if they don’t hurt my feelings. When it’s life and death, you look at the facts.

Many of the best doctors have absolutely no people skills.

I have peace in knowing every doctor I’ve ever worked with, who lacked in the sympathy department, were some of the best doctors in their fields.

My Neurosurgeon is one of those doctors.

I am also happy to report that he has an excellent bedside manner. So, I beat the odds.

I won’t lie and say I’m not scared.

I am scared. Actually, I am terrified. And I wish this wasn’t happening to me.

I had been experiencing weakness on my right side. My balance is a little off, and my mood has been more than a little off. I think I knew this was coming. I’m still not entirely sure if I’m awake or if this is some terrible nightmare. But I know I’m in the best hands for what I need.

I know all of the specifics, from shaving 1/4 or more of my head, removing a piece of my skull, to cutting out the tumor. I know about the titanium screws and plates, taking seizure medicines, and possibly staying in the ICU for a night or two. I know about how the brain swells, and how I’ll need more meds like steroids for that and how there could be loss of motor functions or speech.

My fears are losing my ability to communicate, dance, walk, and fish. I know the fishing thing is silly, but fishing has never been silly to me.

But the biggest fear: Seizures. 

I’ve been around to witness three full blown seizures in my life, all unexpected and each one just as equally frightening.

But, I have peace in my doctor’s abilities, and I have faith in my God.

I worry more about what happens here on this earth if there are complications than I am about not waking up.

I know where I am going.

I have lost many friends in the last two years, too many to talk about, and if it’s my time, I know there will be one heck of a welcoming party there to welcome me in.

I have incredible peace with that scenario.

I know I have a date/time stamp on my life, set before I was born, and no matter what I try to do to stay longer or leave sooner, it won’t matter. I don’t have that control. None of us do.

I have no idea what God has in store for my life with this tumor, this surgery, or my time after. I do know, if it’s I’m here or there, it will be a great adventure. God will make sure of that!

When life gives me lemons, I buy a coffee mug to remind myself to keep it light, find the humor and always look for the positive in every situation.

I buy many bright-colored floral items and surround myself with beautiful things.

I stay away from people and things that can steal my peace and joy.

I watch out my window at the birds on the bird feeder, or I watch my cat sleeping.

I hug my children, my family and I hold my husband’s hand a little tighter.

I lean in toward God for the things others can’t give me.

He’s pretty great in times like this.

I hope you’ll look to Him in your times of need.

He’s such a great listener and a patient friend.

-Corinne Noel