It saddens me to write this, but you may not hear from me again until next week.
Due to the size and location of the tumor in my spinal cord, my treatment plan has followed an unconventional path. What would have been treated with injections of chemotherapy into my lumbar spine, had to be addressed with cervical neck (c-spine) injections—which, as I am sure you can imagine, are painful and are accompanied by a whole host of possible complications. So far, I have been blessed with smooth, uncomplicated procedures, but continuing the c-spine injections is not a viable or long-term solution. The placement of an Ommaya Reservoir is.
I am no expert on the Ommaya Reservoir—and the best way for me to describe it to you (and to myself) is to say simply that in some ways, it resembles the port currently imbedded in my chest. It will give my care team safer access to my spinal cord fluid. It can be accessed in an outpatient environment. It will cut down on the number of procedures that I will have to endure. It has a lower risk of infection.
The catch? The Ommaya Reservoir is, for lack of better term, a “head port”. Tomorrow, March 9th, 2017, I will go to the Operating Room where a team of talented neurosurgeons will remove a small piece of bone from my skull. They will place the Ommaya Reservoir in my head and then they will cover it again with my skin. I will be in recovery for a bit, hopefully transferred back to my room on the cancer floor before the day’s conclusion.
The Reservoir, when I lose my hair, will be noticeable. It’ll be a small bump that I will wear for the rest of my life. The Reservoir, once implanted, is usually not removed. It’s permanent. It will become a part of me—for however long I am here on this earth.
Dear Readers, there is so much going through my mind right now! Do I want to undergo brain surgery? Do I want a permanent implant in my head? Am I afraid of complications? Am I terrified that this thing is going to cause changes in my mental function and personality? That it might impact my writing abilities? Absolutely. The fear of it lingers in every blood cell in my body. It darts between my nerves. It is the thought lurking under every other thought I currently have.
I am so f*&king scared.
But this is forward motion. This surgery is a much-needed step toward healing. This implant is the avenue by which I will receive the medications that I need to survive—and, if it means I have to take these chances, that my vanity has to suffer a bit, then I will do it. I will wear that bump for the rest of my life and I when I see it the mirror—even through rivers of tears—I will thank God for it.
I am changing, Dear Readers…in ways I could not have anticipated. This Ommaya Reservoir, as bittersweet as it is, it will be my off-centered unicorn horn. It will be a source of healing and power. I will envision it as gateway for grace and for gratitude to pass through. Eventually, it will usher in the rebirth of beauty. I was, according to my brother, a phoenix the last time this cancer struck. This time, I am the unicorn slowly finding my legs.
If you have a moment over the next few days, Dear Readers, please spare me a kind thought. Pray for a safe and effective surgery. Pray for my care team, for my family, for the incredible man that has been holding my hand since this journey began. Send us love. Send us strength.
Your love makes a difference, Dear Readers. It is felt. Please keep it coming.
With Love, Laura