Kim, my wife, has had numbness (lack of sensation, but not lack of muscle control) in her face off-and-on for as long as I’ve known her–usually correlated with stress. On December 9th, 2009 it started again. By December 12th, the numbness was constant. She went to our doctor who prescribed a course of steroids. That didn’t help, so they scheduled her for an MRI. The MRI showed a spherical mass about 2.4cm in diameter on the right side of her head near the back, pressing on her cerebellum.
We saw a neurosurgeon, and he said that it was probably a meningioma (which it did turn out to be). He explained that the tumor could cause some symptoms she was experiencing (loss of strength and coordination, problems with balance, etc.), but that it was on the wrong side (and too far back) to be causing the particular numbness she was experiencing (jawline to hairline on the left side of her face).
After another set of MRI scans and an MRA-COW, the neurosurgeon and radiologist agreed that there was no visible cause for the numbness. Their best guess was that it was an intermittent flare-up of a virus in the trigeminal nerve.
Still, there was that pesky tumor causing other problems, and it was only going to get bigger… so we scheduled surgery.
The neurosurgeon said that they would not need to shave her head–that they could shave just a small area on the right side of her head, and that she would be able to wear her hair over the incision/stitches. Unfortunately, the tech that was in charge that morning didn’t get the message. He shaved her bald. The surgeon was not pleased. Kim was a good sport about it, saying she had always wanted to shave her head, but never had an excuse before.
The surgery took about four hours, and the only status updates we got were “everyone still looks very busy in the operating room”. Apparently it is considered bad form to interrupt neurosurgery to ask “are you done yet?” We decided that was better than “everybody is hanging their heads sadly in the operating room” or “everybody is shouting and waving their arms in the operating room.”
The tumor came out in one piece, and was benign. They replaced the removed section of her skull with a wire mesh and the fragments of skull that they removed. Now that she has metal in her head, she can’t get an MRI, so this post-op image is a CT scan.
Here is a photo of the stitched up incision.
We expect her home tomorrow (Monday).