A Long Week – A Heavy Read

On Tuesday 4 October, it was just over two weeks since Tinas first seizure.
At about nine in the morning we were sitting at the table in the kitchen. She’d been rubbing my back as I leant in my chair. Tina had put noodles on for breakfast. She hopped up and checked the noodles, then picked up an avocado and sat down. I looked at her as she placed the fruit gently on the table. She looked at me and something caught her attention in her right peripheral vision. Something imaginary. She turned her head slowly in that direction, and then I heard that sound she made as her first seizure took hold. An urgent intake of air, accompanied by a moan of fear and dread. Sucking in pain. Tinas eyes roll and her entire body tenses. Small but intense spasms occur for about 3 to 5 minutes, then her body slowly starts to relax. The muscle contractions are so intense that she produces an excess of saliva. As Tina relaxes, the exhaustion becomes apparent. She takes gasping breaths, forcing oxygen back into her body. Later she sleeps. The seizure is completely draining. I let her rest, planning to see our GP later in the day when Tina recovers.  Just before 11 Tina stirs. I walk her to the toilet and wait for her. Then we walk into the kitchen with me following. As we enter, she stops and reaches for ‘something’ on the table, then turns and looks at me. Her look goes vacant and her eyes roll. I’m close and take her into my arms and lay her gently on the rug. Her spasms aren’t severe but the seizure lasts about 3 minutes again. The boys are out so it’s just me. I leave her for a few seconds and find her a pillow to make comfortable. At the same time I phone the ambulance. Two seizures in two hours is not good.
The ambulance arrived after about 20 minutes. They were on another job out of town but came asap.

We arrived at the hospital and Tina was administered an IV solution of anti seizure medication. Tina was really tired, so the Doctor and I agreed it would be best for her to have a quiet night in hospital. We had a hospital dinner together and then I stayed until Tina dozed off again.

I headed up early Wednesday morning to see how Tina was, and to see the Doctor. It wasn’t until late Wednesday arvo that we eventually left, along with a prescription for phenytoin, an anti seizure drug that may or may not work. There really are no anti seizure drugs specifically for glioblastoma multiforme. Brain cancers are not predictable. Phenytoin works really well for most epyleptics, and that is its primary use.

Thursday 6 October 2011

We stayed indoors and veged out in front of a few DVDs. Tina has very little energy and doesn’t feel like going outdoors much.
It has been less than two months since Tina was first diagnosed with a grade 4 glioblastoma multiforme. For those uninitiated, it is the severest, most aggressive form of brain cancer that one could be unlucky enough to have manifest. Tinas not only covered most of the front right section of her brain, but was also encroaching on the left side. The neurologist also said the cancer was deep in the centre of her brain.
So, it’s been around five or six weeks since she had a six hour operation that, as the neurosurgeon warned, would only remove some of the tumor.

Tina was discharged from Townsville hospital on Monday 19th August. I wrote in an earlier post that all the doctors, nurses and other staff in the neurology ward were amazed at the speed of her recovery. I had expected to be with Tina in Townsville for at least a month, and here we were, a week after surgery, getting ready to come home to Cooktown.

On the 19th of September, a Monday, Tina had her first seizure. We’d been warned about the possibility and I thought I was prepared. But you know,in the first few seconds of the seizure taking hold,I thought my baby was having a heart attack. After 30 seconds or so,Tina had gone rigid and wasn’t in spasms.
You know the rest.

I need to clear up some things in my head and help you understand how Tina is now. But I need to also remind you of the talented, creative and strong woman that is also Tina. Before the GBM took control.

Tina is a writer:


An artist


A photographer (and grandmother) 🙂


An online environmentalist


Nobody knows whether my baby will once again write or paint, or even enjoy a long walk on the beach. Tina just hasn’t the energy she once had. A full day rock hopping and caving. A walk on the beach that might last four or five hours. Just four months ago Tina walked in and out of Cedar Bay. A 6 to 8 hour walk through wait-a-while infested rainforest, over a steep saddle, and across sometimes oyster covered rocks.
Today, a walk outside is draining. Tina no longer writes or sketches or makes art. She finds it hard to express her emotions. She said one day a while back, “I wish I could cry.”

I guess I should post this. We’re heading for Rockhampton tomorrow and I have lots to do.