Today is a good day. Today I found out I don’t have a brain tumor.
Yeah, I know! Great news right?
Luckily for me I wasn’t aware that I might have a brain tumor until right after I found out that I don’t have a brain tumor.
Confused? Let me elucidate.
A few months ago my left thumb began randomly twitching. It would start this really obvious involuntary movement, and then around 5 to 15 minutes later, it would stop. The first time it happened I was shadowing a mentor on a parent’s interview. I was taking notes when the “twitching” started. I remember thinking “what the hell?” and then putting my hand under the table to hide the uncontrollable yet very obvious twitching.
The second time it happened was under similar circumstances, making me think it had something to do with note taking or the way I was sitting. However, this time I was freaked out enough to mention it to my doctor. She was freaked out enough to send me to a neurologist while muttering “MS” under her breath and looking at me in concern and pity. I forced the MS concern out of my mind while I waited for the inevitable months of testing that awaited me (I have been sent to neurologists before).
I really like my neurologist, and I trust her a lot, so I was happy to submit to the c-spine MRI, EKG, EMG, and other testing to tell us what the hell was going on. After all, she actually communicated with me and spoke to me like a fellow professional instead of an inept buffoon with limited language skills. She almost immediately ruled out MS, so I breathed easy and figured it was something closer to Carpal Tunnel. My arms reported a slowed response and nerve damage, so the Doc theorized Carpal Tunnel as well. Then my brain activity showed really odd slowing in one specific area of the brain during my sleep deprived test. Suddenly I had a new potential diagnosis; Epilepsy.
I’m sorry, what??
It turns out that minor focal seizures that do not affect one’s conciousness can be a rare form of epileptic seizure. On the bad side, I would likely have to be medicated, and there is a small chance the seizures would begin to march up my arm, increasing in size and location (called a Jacksonian March, very legal sounding I thought). The good news, I would likely not have any conciousness affecting seizures if I was medicated, so I would likely have no trouble driving. Best of all, I may not even need to be medicated at all. All decisions depended on my MRI of my brain, which she then sent me off to get.
Which is how I learned I don’t have a brain tumor. (It’s not a tumor!)
Now I am normally a huge fan of doctors who inform their patients as to what is going on behind the testing, but I have to thank my Doc for failing to mention that the more common cause of random focal muscle twitching is a brain tumor. It would have really ruined my holidays, I would have heard “tumor, tumor, tumor” between each carol. (Jingle Tumor, Jingle Tumor, Tumor all the way.) Happily I was so thrown by the potential diagnosis of epilepsy that I didn’t even look up my symptom, instead contenting myself with trolling epilepsy websites to learn more. Therefore I never encountered the fact that I was exhibiting brain tumor like symptoms. Thank the Powers that Be.
Granted, there was a moment of shock today before a huge wave of gratitude and relief washed over me, but I will take my moment of shock over 6 weeks of fretting every day, thank you very much.
Best news of all, my brain scan was so normal that it cast doubts on the whole possibility of an epilepsy diagnosis. I have to wait another three months and retest to be sure, but she now thinks the wierd twitching may be caused by damaged nerve bundles in my neck (thank you stress). Therefore the only medication I am on now is yoga, massage, and physical therapy.(Yay, no epilepsy!)
It’s starting out to be a very good year.