I’m not from outer space – I live on planet earth

Richard Elliott
In our latest blog Richard Elliott talks about his experience of discovering as an adult he had been living with a rare brain tumour his whole life.

How did it all begin? Well, unbeknown to me I’d had a brain tumour since birth, but enough of that for now.  Around two years ago, I started developing hot sweats and headaches. These symptoms continued for a period of over two weeks, so I put it down to a minor bout of flu.  But, this was only the start. On a shopping trip to Salisbury with my mum, I parked the car up, we went in and did the weekly shop and upon reaching the checkouts I said to mum that I would meet her outside. However, I walked out of the supermarket, headed straight for a taxi and asked to be taken home. Once there, I picked up the phone, rang the police and told them that my car had been stolen. Unfortunately I hadn’t realised that I had stranded mum in Salisbury, who in turn arrived home four hours later, with the local police and shopping intact. I had no recollection where I had been. The next day an appointment was made with my mum’s local GP and the problems associated with the last few weeks discussed. Within days I was admitted to hospital for a CT scan. The result was a large tumour growing on the brain. The medical term for this tumour is a craniopharyngioma, (thankfully benign) and yes, I’m back to this now, which I’d had since birth. Within a week I was admitted to hospital under the care of a fine neurosurgeon, for an urgent operation. A further two operations followed in 2013 as the tumour decided to have its revenge and re grow! Happily following a course of radiotherapy after the third operation the tumour is in remission. Unfortunately the surgeons couldn’t remove all of it as it was too near vital blood vessels in the brain. Recent tests have shown all is well for now. Now the title, why “from outer space”? Since returning to work my colleagues seem to treat me differently. There are no external scars as such to denote that I’d had three major operations.  Basically my hairs grown back and all traces of surgery are covered up. They find it difficult to comprehend that I have been through so much and yet I look fine. A good neurosurgeon is responsible for that. Time will tell as I only returned to full–time work in July this year and there is still a lot to take on board. Three years ago, I knew nothing about this and believe me I am still getting over the shock. I think I’m back on planet earth, but it will take a while for colleagues and friends in thinking “ET should still be phoning home”.
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