I had a tumor in my head

Last Friday morning I had an MRI scan of my head done at the Bangkok Hospital in Thailand. That same day I had surgery. A 4mm wide benign tumor on my pineal gland was removed through so-called Endoscopic Endonasal Surgery (EES) at 3.30pm in the afternoon.

I had been having explosive headaches for over a month and they wouldn’t stop with regular pain killers, so I ran off to the clinic asking to test me for dengue. Out of experience I knew the symptoms I was experiencing (headaches, fatigue and even vomiting). But blood works turned out all negative and there seemed nothing wrong.

So the doctor gave me some really heavy pain killers, to see if things stop with them. But suggested I should have an MRI scan taken of my head.

I had a two-weeks vacation to Lombok already planned out and when I came back my doctor reminded me of her suggestion. Pain killers were still running my day and I did actually freak out one time coming out of the surf and find an empty strip of pills.

So off I went to Bangkok on Thursday night for an MRI scan, which can also be done in Phnom Penh. But my doctor said to have it done there: if something is up, they can immediately take action. And my health insurance pays all anyway, so why not.

On Friday morning I had the scan and the results were shocking to me at that time.

According to the medical report “the MRI revealed a large neoplasm situated in the posterior part of the III ventricle and in the pineal region.

This cyst did clearly not look like a pineoblastoma, pineocytoma nor a pineal germinoma, and the classical protocol doesn’t suggest surgery.

However the patient has developed hydrocephalus and symptoms like headache, fatigue nausea and vomiting have developed. Blockage of the cerebrospinal fluid flow and compression of the cerebral aqueduct point towards craniopharyngioma or choriocarcinoma.”

There you go: the doctor told me I had a tumor in my head. It had to be taken out. That same day at 3pm.

But first I got lunch served.

While put in a hospital bed I called and texted family and friends and was seriously pretty much in a state of shock. Unreal. I have something and they are taking it out immediately. It should all be fine they say.

EES meant I would be totally out myself and an entire toolkit with camera and all would go through my nose and into my head to remove something the size of a finger nail that shouldn’t be there.

On Friday evening I woke up again with a chatty nurse by my side. Surgery had gone very well and they’d have the biopsy results ready the next morning. And back to sleep I went.

On Saturday morning the biopsy gave the diagnoses of “benign lumps of a noncancerous tumor, calcification and tissue fluids”. So something stressing but non-life-threatening was removed from my head.

This fortunately meant that “immunochemistry or radiation therapy would not required follow-ups for the patient as no pineoblastoma was present in the removed cyst”.

That same day I was already let go. A follow up will be planned for in 2 or 3 weeks, but that might be able to be done in Phnom Penh.

This experience didn’t exactly leave me cold. Going for a simple scan on a Friday and then having something removed from inside my head that same day was something I had never expected to happen.

And also, anywhere else in the world I would have been on a 3-months waiting list! This is an example of really good Asian medical efficiency.

The cashier’s desk at the hospital (where you are supposed to pay for all your expenses in advance, including a deposit for the unknown) was immediately in contact with my expat health insurance and they took it over straight from there.

I am still amazed by the speed everything went. From the initial advises to actually being in Bangkok and get surgery the same day.

I want to thank the friends that I frantically messaged with the latest updates and who send me thoughts and prayers, because I was pretty shit scared in that hospital bed.

You know who you are and I am thankful for your support!!

I am back in Phnom Penh now and life goes on but in a weird other way. The headaches are gone, the medication is gone and I have the sense that my vision has improved somehow.

Let’s improve everything else in life too. Starting with myself. Because I don’t like those hospital experience anymore.


Let’s live life!

Do the things that make me happy and really do them.

All of them.

There is only one life.

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