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How an MRI to Confirm I Have MS May Have Saved My Life

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“Wait, what? Can you spell that?” I asked. 

“M-E-N-I-N-G-I-O-M-A,” the doctor replied. 

“What is that?” I asked him, quite confused.


It started one winter day back in 1996. We all got up for school — my kids for a regular day and me to help at the school’s “Be Into Geography” program. I loved helping at school. This day was different though. I felt funny. My fingers were numb. And when I was walking, I couldn’t feel my feet hitting the ground. Kinda like walking on pillows. Such a strange sensation. At school, the other parents said, “Maybe you’re coming down with something… maybe the cold temperature has something to do with it…” Who knows?

After a few days with no relief, I went to my doctor, who referred me to a neurologist. In the waiting room, my husband and I picked up a bunch of pamphlets. Dementia? ALS? Alzheimer’s? Then my husband handed me one that said “multiple sclerosis.” We read that MS causes numbness, balance issues and a bunch of other things. Could this be it? Well, if that’s it, I’ll take some medicine and be done with it. Or so I thought!

The doctor also suspected MS but said I’d need an MRI to confirm. They’d look for lesions on my brain and spinal cord. Lesions? What?   

Several days later I had that MRI. The doctor called me. “Yes,” he said, “there are lesions on your brain. But there is something else more concerning. You have a meningioma.”

He explained that it was a tumor about the size of a grape on my brain. Most likely not cancerous but it needed to be removed. He said if not removed it will continue to grow, continue pressing on my brain and eventually kill me. It was an easy removal, he said, as it was located on the top of my brain. “We’ll cut the top of your skull, remove the tumor, and staple your skull back on.” Are you kidding me? I could not believe what I was hearing. Brain surgery?   

So… I don’t have MS? 

“There are lesions, but there’s a chance the tumor is causing some symptoms,” he said. “We’ll make a full evaluation when the surgery is over.”

The surgery went well, and my skull healed. Although now I carry the most attractive dent on the top of my head. Quite a conversation starter with any new hairdresser. And my husband is curious to see how much water it can hold. Funny man, right?

Turns out, the tumor wasn’t the cause of any of my symptoms, and I do have MS. It’s a horrible disease, and although it has taken my mobility and independence and a host of other things, I’m still here. So much to be thankful for.

My husband says, “We’re lucky you have MS. If they weren’t testing you for that, the meningioma wouldn’t have been found when it was, and you wouldn’t be here now.” 

Funny man, right?

Originally published: November 20, 2019
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