How It Began: Part 1

From James:

It occurs to me that many people reading  this blog aren’t aware of what happened before the biopsy (when this blog began), so I have decided to record it here for those who are interested.

Some of what is written in this particular post may sound very personal, but please be aware that we write with a purpose in mind. We realize that many people are going through personal and emotional difficulties similar to we have gone through. We want you to know that you are not alone.

So Young was having vision problems for at least two months before she was diagnosed with a brain tumor. The problem was that we assumed — and inadvertently convinced our doctor to assume — that it was a side effect of antidepressants and not anything more serious.

We had been having marital problems for over 5 years. We sought help from four counselors during those years, attended support groups, participated in a marriage conference, and received a great deal of help from our wonderful church family. But so many years passed, and justified hurts seemed to take on a new dimension, as if there was something else going on within So Young beyond our history and circumstances. In hindsight, we realize that the mood changes So Young was going through were at least partially a result of the brain tumor, but at that time everyone assumed it was depression. It may have been both.

On her counselor’s recommendation, So Young began (very reluctantly) taking the antidepressant Lexapro, and it made an enormous, positive difference in her life. She was always concerned about the side effects, however, and when her vision started to deteriorate, we soon became convinced that Lexapro was causing it. After an optomatrist and ophthalmologist confirmed that nothing was wrong with So Young’s eyes, her doctor recommended getting off the drug.

So Young’s counselor, Hailey, became our hero. She recognized So Young’s symptoms as being extreme and atypical for Lexapro, so she insisted that So Young’s doctor take action. The doctor conceded by providing a referral to a neurologist.

The neurologist, a very gentle and intelligent man, asked So Young a battery of questions to identify symptoms of a more serious problem with the brain — peripheral vision loss, loss of balance and motor function, etc. — several of which are indicative of brain tumors. So Young exhibited none of these symptoms. But her vision loss was obvious and acute.

“I don’t think it is anything having to do with the brain,” he said. He ordered an MRI as a precaution. “Severe vision loss” was what he wrote on the order. It was the first time I had seen those words associated to what was happening to her.

“Severe?” I thought. That was the doctor’s assessment. It was true that she couldn’t read pretty large letters close up. She wasn’t driving anymore. Also, she appeared to have lost some ability to identify colors. Had we been taking it seriously enough?

We scheduled an MRI for November 12, 2010.

Part 2 >>


6 Responses

  1. Guys, your honesty and courage are exemplary. You are an example and, no doubt, a help for many.

  2. I appreciate your honesty in sharing all the hard (and encouraging and hopeful) parts of your story. I think that this post is important because as a psychologist I see a lot of people who don’t understand how therapy and medications work and I can see a lot of other people trying to make important decisions about their health in the context of introducing a new medication. The difficult part is that people who can benefit from medication to help manage depression or anxiety are also more susceptible to the side effects of those medications because their bodies are already primed to distress. Also, there are many cases where psychological distress manifests in physiological distress- vision loss, pseudo seizures, GI problems and even partial (or full) paralysis (there are clearly less severe manifestations as well). I am glad that your counselor noticed that the vision loss was atypical and that it was examined further. I guess all this to say that it sure doesn’t sound straight-forward or clear cut and it’s easy to see why, in the context of everything that was going on, it was difficult to pinpoint the cause or severity of what was happening.

    I haven’t yet posted on this blog, but you and So Young have been in my thoughts. I’ve been keeping tabs on what you share here and I am so thankful that you have such incredible sources of support and love in your life. Wishing you and your family nothing but the best.

    Kat (aka DCtoPgh on the MCM forum)

    • Hi Guys!
      This is very brave of you.
      2 passages of scripture come to mind.
      First: that part in Psalms where David, whose own bumpy ride as a believer is there in f ft tall letters for all to read, said to God, “THOU DESIREST TRUTH IN THE INWARD PARTS”…
      We know what we have to do some times, to say what is, so we can be ready for what is next.
      The 2nd scripture is when Jesus walks up to the guy who has been lying ny the pool @ Siloam a long time
      (John 5:6 ff) + ask him a question: “Do you want to get well?” Kinda rude, actually. And the guy does this “yes, but” song + dance about how it is b/c of this + that that it can not happen. I see you guys responding, “Yes! We are ready!” So unlike that guy who went out + did not live a life on a different level (new eyes, new ears, new heart) even afterJesus healed his obvious infirmity, you get the whole magilla. Jesus tells us to ask. He says He will respond.(John 15 is phenomenal)
      Sometimes we do not have any idea what that will be like, because we are so earth-bound + have known such disappointment, but since He is the author of the Good Samaritan story (Luke 10:30), not to mention the whole universe, we know it is going be Good + kind, like Him.

      Much Love,

  3. I’m proud of your honesty and your purpose. Lean on God and stay strong. This to will pass.

    I love you.

  4. I love you both even more for this post.

  5. Your strength and courage amaze and humble me! Our thoughts and prayers are with you.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: