At various points in my life, I recall my dad saying these words when he thought any of us were over-reacting to anything: “Chill, it’s not brain surgery.” An account of the last 4 weeks of my life has made those words more real than ever before.
Four Saturday’s ago, I went to the optometrist for what I thought would be a routine eye check-up. Five years ago I had Lasik surgery and had been seeing fine (with the exception of the old age need for reading glasses), so I had never thought to go to the eye doctor. Prior to this appointment, I had been having some “weirdness” going on in my eyes. For months, I had dealt with what seemed like eye fatigue and frequent headaches but didn’t think much of it. After an extensive eye exam, the doctor told me that I had pressure on my retina and that I either had a tumor or a pseudo-tumor and, untreated, I was going blind. She wanted me to see an ophthalmologist ASAP. I walked away understanding that this tumor possibility was on my retina so when I did the obligatory Google search, that was what I was researching. There is very little info on retina tumors but they do exist. I gave up the search and decided to just wait.
On the next Wednesday morning, I was seen by the ophthalmologist. He made the diagnosis a wee bit clearer: yes, I was going blind, if untreated, but the tumor or pseudo-tumor was on the brain and not the retina. He wanted me to get in to see a neuro-ophthalmologist within a week.
First thing the next morning, I received a call from the office of the neuro-ophthalmologist. They had received my file and wanted me to come in that morning. Two doctors ran several test – one would check and then the other would immediately confirm with a second opinion. The results: yes, I did have a pseudo-tumor that needed attention but they did not think there was a brain tumor. To be sure, they ordered a CAT scan that day (nothing there, read into this however you’d like) and then an MRI. The MRI did not show a tumor either. A pseudo-tumor acts like a tumor and produces the same symptoms but is because of pressure and fluid – in my case, behind the eyes – and is dangerous if untreated. My symptoms are in both eyes. The first line of treatment is tomorrow - a lumbar puncture (spinal tap). This will relieve some of the pressure. Other treatment will be determined next week.
The most intense part of all of this was the morning I received the call to get to the neuro-opthalmologist - immediately. Cyndi went with me to this appointment so as to have a second set of ears and to write things down – lots of info was flowing fast. As we drove up, she asked me if I was fearful. As a tribute to the peace which passes all understanding as it flows from our Lord Jesus Christ, I could honestly say, “No.”
During this time, I kept thinking of the words of Jesus, “It is better to enter the Kingdom of God with one eye than, having two eyes, to be cast into hell” (Mark 9:47). I particularly dwelt on, “It is better to enter heaven (the Kingdom of God at glorification).” Is this out of context? Perhaps, slightly. Although, a Christian should always use adverse situations to examine herself and this verse is about loving God more than sin. I will not go into what the Lord has shown me here. No matter what, the idea that living for the Kingdom is better resonates throughout scripture. I took great comfort in this. I began to think about what is better:
It is better to enter heaven than to have physical sight.
It is better to enter heaven than to have a “normal” brain.
It is better to enter heaven than to have physical health in general.
It is better to enter heaven than to have a bank account.
It is better to enter heaven than to be entertained.
It is better to enter heaven than to have the approval of man.
For what does it profit a man to gain the whole world, and forfeit his soul? Mark 8:36