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Need a Crutch?

Walking With the Bakers


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How Did It All Happen? My Perspective

Written by Roger Baker.


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Okay, Sue gave you detailed info on what happened from her perspective prior, during, and following my hospitalization. But here's my recollection.

Clearly in the months before January I was slowing down. I realized that I was going to need to give up a lot of my volunteer stuff. I thought my problems were all multiple sclerosis-based (MS). In general I had a lot of pain last year and was losing the ability to concentrate. Simple tasks turned into difficult tasks. Dealing with many people became difficult as I lost patience, something that is entirely out of character for me. In April 2011, I told the abbot of my religious order, the Order of St. Luke, that I needed to lay aside the role as webmaster for the Order. I had already started the process of laying down the webmaster task for several other sites - our swimming pool, our PTA, other places, you get the picture. I simply couldn't focus long enough to keep up with the necessities related to web mastering.

In November 2010 we lost my mother-in-law to heaven, and my father-in-law proceeded to hospitalization. Because we're close to my in-laws, this was quite a rough transition. At the same time, my MS symptoms (so I thought) got worse. Slower gait, less threads of thinking, discouragement. By the time January came, I was discouraged. On the positive side, I was doing pretty well in physical therapy (PT) at my gait was remaining stable, and strength was increasing. But getting much more than PT accomplished each day was becoming difficult. Conducting Bible studies was a rough task, and the last session for men of the church went well only because of the charity of the men and their kindness.

February 2012 is a blur. I remember working to get remaining bills paid automatically (most of them are) and trying to make a few minor financial adjustments. The biggest thing I remember is the weeks I went down. I had a bad headache on Monday. Tuesday I had PT but only did about half the workout, head hurt worse. Wednesday, same headache only magnified. Thursday I called-in and cancelled PT (I think) and then went back to bed. By the time the kids came home, I had them call their mom to take me to the hospital. The rest of the situation until I was in the hospital for the second day is a blur. By then they had put me on steroids for 48 hours and I was feeling better.

I am not sure when I learned I had a tumor. I think it was when they were preparing to place me in the ambulance around midnight Thursday, but I couldn't say.

In hindsight, Sue & I both realize we had several potential clues that might indicate my big problem wasn't MS but something else. But when you've dealt with a disease for years, and the symptoms are the same as what you've dealt with, well, what can you spot? Kudos to the wonderful doctor at Ft. Belvoir who actually spotted the difference between an MS patient and a brain tumor patient. He decided something wasn't right and sent me for a CAT-scan to see if something was wrong. Sue & I have seen him again at Ft. Belvoir and offered congratulations and thanks (that was on Thursday.) We also visited with my neurologist who felt she should have spotted this growth a year ago, then went through years of MRIs to see what could be spotted - nothing. It happened fast and happened quickly. I had a growth the size of a large egg pop-up from a spot undetectable last April. This disease is fast. Sue & I gave the neurologist our thanks and love. This physician is one of those who forms a deep emotional attachment to each patient as they are cared for. It is a privilege to be treated with this sort of physician.

So that's my point of view. Some details about how things are now. First, my pain level is way down. No headaches since surgery, either (a migraine at least every two weeks is usual, and I am now at almost 4 weeks from surgery, no headaches!) Other pain is greatly reduced, too. Second, though hands and legs aren't as functional as I would like, they work. I can't tap dance or play guitar, but I can walk short distances without crutches, I can type and use a mouse, and that's about all I need. Third, my thinking is way, way up. Thanks to my brilliant nephew, I am working on my doctorate in theology again, with hopes of finishing that dissertation by mid-summer. That's my distraction during therapy. I am also reworking mistakes I've made in the last two years, including writing a few corrections, a few apologies, and carefully correcting a few other mistakes as I can.

I may be officially hurting and suffering. In truth, right now I feel better than I have in years. I have more days and more months, probably even more years. I am a happy man.