Story from Brazil


From: "Roberto"
Sent: June 25, 2004

Late December 2003 I was at work and on the phone. I had my left arm resting at the elbow, left hand up while I talked. Suddenly, my arm got numb and fell to the side. I talked to my parents who are both doctors and they told me to keep an eye on other different things, if any.

About a month later I fell terribly dizzy while standing at a line during lunch, and shortly after that I felt like I had a cramp in my left arm. I was terrified with the feeling. I lost control of my left hand, specially the two smallest fingers while I was typing something on the computer. It was like a freezing feeling. I immediately went to the hospital. The doctors there said I had nothing. I insisted and a neurologist came to see me and told me to do an mri of the spine. Wrong move. She also asked me to do another exam, which I later did and according to this exam I had an occupational disease from typing (I am an attorney and use computers a lot).

I had some more dizziness episodes after that, including while traveling by plane and my parents insisted that I go for a second opinion. I talked to another neurologist who suspected something central (i.e., in my brain, rather than local) was wrong. In the meantime, the crampy feeling got worse and more frequent. I started losing the ability to feel things with my left arm and a pins and needles sensation became constant there.

Shortly after that my neck muscles got all messed up. A muscle strongly pulled my head back towards the back of my right shoulder and as long as did what it “wanted” I got some relief. My girlfriend gave me some back rubbing and that also helped a great deal. In fact, as long as I stayed in bed things were better. Next I started losing motor skills of my left arm and hand. Turning lights on, even eating became a challenge. I was still driving then. One day I simply couldn’t turn the headlights off with my left arm, neither roll the window up or down. That day I started feeling a pins and needles sensation in my left cheek.

I was then scheduled to do an mri on the immediately following week. I did it and was immediately diagnosed with a solitary cavernous angioma. It was located inside my brain, next to the area which controls movements. It was also fairly big – 6 centimeters long (2.3 inches, I guess) and there was already a lot of blood around it. When I learned that that was what I had, I obviously panicked. I was very lucky, though. Location was perfect for a craniotomy.

I was admitted to the hospital the following morning and started taking medication to reduce the swelling of my brain in preparation for surgery. 4 days later I spent five hours in the operating room. Everything went fine the doctors tell me, and the facts make me believe in them. I spent that night and half day in the intensive care and 4 days after surgery I was home. I went out for dinner with my girlfriend the same night and traveled to the beach a week later.

Other than for taking some medication which does not allow me to drink wine or any kind of alcohol, my life three months after surgery is totally normal and definitely better than it was. I have traveled overseas twice since then, spent two weeks at the beach and work even more productively than before. Today was the first day of reduced anti-seizure medication. If things go alright I will be off medication in one month or so.

I have already undergone a new mri and there is only a hole and some blood there. This blood should hopefully go away. In one year’s time I will do a new mri.

I finally woke up. I am enjoying life as much as I can. First shower after surgery was really something. Not to mention kite surfing in the northeast of Brazil. And all happened in the last six months. I am deeply grateful to my parents, Luciana and my doctors in Sao Paulo, Brazil. I hope this message will give some hope to whoever has the same thing I had. Feel free to get in touch.

Sao Paulo, Brazil