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Monday, August 03, 2009

Gettin' A Head


I mentioned on Friday that I had this possible brain tumor....

It's strange. For years, I've had headaches. Sometimes sort of like a bruise, sometimes like a massive fault line, about ready to drop Tedifornia into the ocean. Just something I had to live with. I've seen doctors about it, and they tut-tutted that it's just a migraine. Just. a. migraine. Often -- but not always -- medication helps, so I didn't worry too too much about it.

Now, for the past few years, I've been smelling this odd smell. Like the smell of burning oil -- sort of organic and oily and icky. The car I was driving -- actually, the last two cars I drove -- were oil burners, and I pretty much chalked it up to that. You know how some kinds of oily smells stick with you, even when you're not around them? I figured it was like that.

Except that I got new wheels (ask me about those sometime!), and the new car doesn't burn oil....but the smell persisted. Odd.

So, I googled one night -- didn't know where to start, so I googled "why do I smell something that isn't there?" I found a medical forum, found that the phenomenon is not unheard of (it's called phantom smell). Googling "phantom smell" found me many forums, and there I learned that phantom smell can be caused by epilepsy (not me) or mental illness (maybe me?) or sinus infection (but not lasting for years). Also on the list -- especially when combined with headaches -- is brain tumor.

Hard words to read. Brain. Tumor. Something growing in the center of what makes me me? Seriously?

So, I set up time with Dr. de Sade, and he said "Yeah, brain tumor is on the list of what can cause that, for sure." He was concerned -- he said he wanted to set up an MRI immediately to check for a tumor.

I was actually pretty convinced it wasn't the case -- but no way to be sure without checking. I wasn't too too freaked out....still, though, it was in my head (no pun intended) constantly.

I didn't really get weirded out about it until the day of -- sitting in the waiting room, waiting to be called in to have my head examined. I felt adrenaline start to build then, electric skin, shallow breathing, all of it.

Anyway. Long story short (if that's even possible at this point): no tumor. No explanation for the headaches and phantom smell (which, by the way, I am smelling right now even as I type this)...but trust me, it's a pretty large-scale relief when you find that you aren't, you know, dying.

Of course, ultimately, we're all dying by degrees anyway, but that's another philosophical cogitation for another day.

The doctor still wants to follow up to look for cancerous polyps in my sinuses, but somehow that just seems infinitely less threatening than being eaten from the inside out, doesn't it?


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