Jun 1 2009
Two hours after brain surgery, I was eating fried chicken and pondering the wonders of modern medicine.
I didn’t even have a headache, which seemed miraculous, given the doctors had drilled four screws into my skull to attach a frame that kept my head still during Gamma Knife surgery.
OK. The word “surgery” is a misnomer. The Gamma Knife doesn’t draw blood and isn’t actually a knife. It’s an instrument that delivers 201 extremely focused cobalt radiation beams to treat cancerous tumors and other brain disorders.
The dosage and location are so precise that many patients can avoid the cognitive impairment that can come with invasive brain surgery or whole brain radiation. Those were the options before the Gamma Knife, first used in the U.S. in the late 1980s. (UAB has been home to the state’s only Gamma Knife since the mid-1990s.)
Three weeks before surgery, my oncologist, Dr. Carla Falkson, had delivered bad news. A brain scan showed something I had hoped to avoid in my battle with metastatic breast cancer: Multiple small tumors had formed in my brain and were the likely cause of my recent dizziness and bouts of nausea.
I cried. Then came good news. Falkson had already spoken to Dr. Jim Markert, director of UAB neurosurgery, who agreed I was a Gamma Knife candidate.
Read the remainder of this story here: Brain surgery? No problem and no pain