The Two-Year Wait for Results From My Gamma Knife Surgery


63,072,000 seconds later.

Two years, 24 months, 730 days, 17,520 hours, 1,051,200 minutes. However you say it, it seems like a fairly big chunk of time. It has been two years since I had my gamma knife surgery with the hope of getting rid of my AVM (arteriovenous malformation). I don’t yet know if it’s been successful – I’m still waiting for the follow up. According to my consultant there is no point in even checking up until two years have passed. So for two years we’ve been living in a strange state of limbo.

photo of woman after surgery and photo of her giving a thumbs up in the doctor's office

Two years of a series of small disasters. Two years of not knowing if it’s gone. Two years of not knowing if it’ll bleed again. Two years of not having a baby. Two years of other health conditions being the focus. Two years of waiting. Two years of tears, stress and anxiety. But actually it’s been two years of living. These last two years have been full. Full of laughter, tears, friendship, family, a wedding, a new job, more holidays than I’ve ever had in five years let alone two, and strength.

Diary entry – 19th October 2015

I got into bed with Little Britches this morning. I love the way he tucks both his feet between my legs. I know he’s heard everybody around us talking about my health and the gamma knife. We’ve always been open and honest with him but I wanted to reassure him about what was happening today and see how he was feeling about it all.

I’m wondering if I should be more worried or nervous. Everyone seems to think I should be. I’m approaching it like childbirth. You don’t expect it to be pleasant, but you know you have to do it, so by the time it comes round, you’re ready and looking forward to it.

One thing that has surprised me in the lead up to the surgery is how it’s made me consider my mortality. What would the world be like if I died? I have come to realize that actually, the answer is: not that different. I’m sure I’d be missed, but everything carries on pretty much the same. Over time there would only be odd moments that would cause people to be upset. It’s strange to think that you would leave a “trail.” A used mug here, some jewelry there. But once you’d been “cleared up” life would continue. I know I’m unlikely to die today. But if I do, I know the people I love are going to be alright.

I think about the last two years and how far we’ve come. When they first told us “we won’t know if it’s worked for two years,” it seemed like a lifetime. Actually, it has gone incredibly fast. I can’t believe the two years are up already.

While we’ve been “waiting,” we’ve been living. Much like someone dying I guess. “It” (the AVM, the wait, the side effects) is there, but we’ve adapted and changed around it. It has changed me, and I’m sure changed those closest to me too. I’m unsure if I’m different because of the actual physical changes in my brain, or is it down to what we’ve been through, or is it even just part of growing older?! Perhaps it’s a mix of them all. The thing is, I liked who I was before. Sometimes I’m not sure I like who I’ve become.

There was a period where I was waiting though, and I did put life on hold. Waiting to be told if I’d drive again or not. I’ve written about this before in previous blog posts so I won’t go into it again here. I’m delighted I now have my license back. It’s only been a couple of weeks, but I’m hoping I get some of the old me back too. But, there is a part of me that is worried it has gone forever, and that actually, the change is more permanent. Is there a part of me that died, and over time will I feel less upset about that?

During these two years we’ve always assumed the results will be positive and the surgery will have worked. I haven’t even considered the possibility it might not have. Will the AVM live or die? I wonder which outcome will have the most impact on the next two years of our lives. Will life carry on the same? Will “it” be missed? How will we adapt and change? Whatever happens, I know I’m lucky to be here to find out.

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Thinkstock photo via bugega.

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