Friday, October 25, 2013

The Secret Lives of the Fischers

There is a lot of information that I have wanted to share with friends in recent months, but haven't had the time or energy to do so.

So I decided I would do it this way.  Get all the information out there at once.

We had been living in Champaign for about 3 weeks when I got the opportunity to take a weekend visit to Ames with some friends while Brandon and the kids stayed in Illinois.  I had a great weekend and returned home Sunday night to a family that seemed just as happy and healthy as when I left them.

Turns out, it was that weekend that Brandon started having headaches.  They would come and go, but never fully be gone.  As the days went on, his headaches got worse and he started having other symptoms too.  He had aches in his neck and shoulders and a tingling sensation that went from the base of his neck up into his forehead.  He got adjusted, but that didn't help.  In fact anything we tried did not help, and the symptoms were becoming harsher and would stick around longer.  They stopped "coming and going" and just stayed.  His symptom list grew and grew and with all these health issues, it really started to affect his mood and ability to be the father and husband he wanted to be.  He felt sick to his stomach, his limbs would tingle and go numb, he would feel dizzy, and the list goes on.  His days were spent sleeping and resting as much as possible.

His boss, who has brain cancer, told him that those were the same symptoms he experienced when he first found out about his illness, which caused a little worry in Brandon's much so that once he started looking into his symptoms, he decided to go to see a doctor about getting a CAT scan.  Insurance actually called for an MRI, which is more "powerful."

He got his MRI on a Friday and we were told the results would be back within 3-5 business days.  That weekend was a challenging one as Brandon battled thoughts of cancer and what that would mean for his growing family.  I did not let myself think the worst as it could have been a number of things causing his symptoms and it would do no good for me to worry about something so unknown.

The following Monday, Brandon got a call that the MRI results were back.  Now, we weren't expecting a call till Wednesday at the EARLIEST, so hearing back from the doctor so quickly made Brandon fear the worst.

Turns out, they did find a mass in his brain called a Cavernous Malformation.  It's a mass of blood vessels that have been formed incorrectly and something that he has most likely had since birth.  These blood vessels can be prone to leaking (bleeding on the brain) or they can go on undected with no problems for an entire lifetime.

Brandon was referred to a neurologist and a neurosurgeon to discuss the details of the diagnosis and the treatment moving forward.

His boss gave him the following week off of work as he started on a medication that would most likely take a week to get adjusted to.  And boy, it sure did.  I'm thankful Brandon got to spend some rest time at home where he was able to sleep and let his body adjust to the medication.  It's actually an anti-anxiety medication.  As Brandon looked into possible causes for his symptoms, it made him stress to the max and create even more sickness.

There is no treatment for the cavernous malformation, other than brain surgery to remove it.  After speaking with the neurosurgeon it was determined that we would wait till next year to have another MRI and if it grows, then we will probably move forward with surgery.  Brandon was told he had to take a few things off his "bucket list"- like skydiving or power lifting (jk!)- anything that would cause lots of extra pressure on those blood vessels.

Now we're on the other side of this whole ordeal, which lasted for about 6 weeks, it's nice to be able to take a deep breath and thank the Lord for bringing us out of that trial.  Brandon is off his medication and we are starting to function as a family again, not a mom taking care of the kids and her sick husband.  I'm so thankful to the ladies in my MOPS group who lovingly brought us meals as a way to ease the burden as we were waiting for answers about all the symptoms that were affecting Brandon's entire body.

So there you have it.  That situation was one that was hard to talk about in the midst of it, especially when we didn't have any answers.  But now I can see how that trial was used to truly deepen Brandon's walk with the Lord, and our relationship to each other.  We are so thankful that the diagnosis was not "worst case" and it's nice to have answers to our questions.  Brandon is doing well now, with a few tough days mixed in.

So for those of you who have been wondering what's up with the Fischers?  That's what has been going on behind the scenes.

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