The shock of learning that you have a serious illness is a terrible shock. At first you are likely to cry- yes, even men. It is natural to cry as it lets your emotions out and actually helps you to cope.
Next you will probably want to find out as much as possible about your illness. You will speak to doctors and no doubt, search the internet. If your problem is a common one, like breast cancer, you will listen to those who have suffered a similar medical problem or to friends of someone who has.
In my case, I really did none of these things. On discovering that I had had a stroke and a brain tumour was discovered, I simply lay back (in hospital) and waited for the doctors to keep me informed. It may have been because I felt so normal. I could still function and think clearly. I was not in pain, I did not feel sick. It was not until the second day when I went to read a book and realised that I could not read, did I cry. That was the shock of my life.
I was in hospital for 2 weeks and underwent many tests, but I was not told very much by the doctors. Again, I was in a sense of denial of the seriousness of what I was facing. There was a consultant who discussed a medication for the stroke. The difficulty was, I could not take the drug that was needed, as it would compromise me for the brain surgery that was to take place. So I was placed on an alternative medication.
It was not until the second week that my surgeon came and introduced himself to me and discussed my brain tumour surgery. I was not told much about the actual tumour only that by its shape they thought it would be benign. However, the seriousness of the situation was stressed. The tumour was deep within the brain and pressing the brain stem out of alliance.
My Husband and I immediately agreed to have it removed as quickly as possible. The sort of questions I asked “What is your track record for this type of surgery?”
My surgeon told me he had performed around 2,000 brain operations and only 2 were not as successful as he had hoped.
So my next question was “What are the side effects likely to be?”
“The left side of your face may droop and you might lose the use of your right arm and leg” the surgeon told me. He went on to tell me to expect to be in hospital and rehabilitation for at least three months.
I was sent home for a week before surgery. On my way out, I was given a DVD of my MRI, which is what the surgeon needed to see exactly where the tumour was and help him decide on how to approach it.
I did not check out anything. I did not look at the internet, I did not speak to anyone, I did not even look at the DVD until the night before my surgery. I just wanted to feel and act as normal as possible until it was all over. It was much later that I had to accept and decide on how to cope with my disabilities. It seemed a waste of energy for me to worry about something over which I had no control.
Tips and Hints
Everyone responds to discovering they have a serious illness, differently. People can feel stronger if they can find out as much as possible; others (like me) find that information somewhat daunting and unrealistic. It is almost as though you are just reading a book about the condition and it is not really you who is suffering. But, in the end, everyone has to accept the inevitable and acknowledge that they are suffering.