What? I have a tumor in my brain !

As with the desire of most Singaporeans, it is my great expectation to have retired after working for almost 40 years. During my working life as an office worker, it was rather common to have come across emotionally ‘headache’ situations from time to time. However, I cannot remember the last time I had a physical headache. Therefore I did not have to take MC during most of my working years. In fact, throughout my entire life I should have consumed less than an average of 1 panadol per year. I therefore have every confidence of the state of health of my brain.

After my retirement, I have signed up various health check programmes from time to time. One of them is the semi-annual eyes test. I still can maintain my perfect 6/6 vision for my right eye though the left eye keep failing in Vision Field test. After an MRI scan on 29 March 2015, it was discovered that there was a lump of tumor of about 18mm diameter. It was classified Pituitary Adenoma. I was told by the doctor that it was pressing on my optic nerve and hence I failed in my vision test. The bad news was that surgery is the most effective way to remove it.

On being informed that surgery is needed, the doctor has cautioned that my eyes could become blind if the tumor grew and totally pressed onto the optic nerve. On the other hand, the side effect of the surgery could mean

(i) blindness could still happen if the optic nerve were damaged during surgery,
(ii) partial stroke can happen due to disturbance to other nerve,
(iii) leakage of brain fluid could happen in the process of removing the tumor,
(iv) infection of the brain lining if damaged and
(v) hormone secretion problem in the pituitary gland.

Faced with so many risk factors, I was quite in a dilemma as to decide whether to proceed with the surgery. The following weeks were all spent on finding out more information regarding the tumor and evaluate the risks and benefit of the surgery.

Finally I decided to proceed with the surgery through the noses (transsphenoidal surgery) in early May 2015. The surgery was successful but it was unfortunate that brain fluid leakage occurred, ‘fat grafting’ from my stomach was necessary. It was also awful to have the noses blocked up and breath through the mouth for the first night after surgery. Luckily, knowing how to swim helps a lot. I was warded for 7 days.

After discharge, I could really experience how a physical headache look like in the second week! I also lost the sense of smell for about a month – so during this period all public toilets are pleasant to use, also eating durians without sensing its smell!

Thank God that the headache has gone and my noses functions have almost recovered. The only outstanding issue now is my hormone level need to be closely monitored as the surgery was done next to the master gland. I will have to consult the Endocrine doctor for the rest of my life.