I Had Brain Surgery, What's Your Excuse? by Suzy Becker
My rating: 3 of 5 stars
I found the earlier parts of the book somewhat irksome and it took me a little while to identify with the author, who I initially viewed as a bit melodramatic. However, it is likely that each of us experience health concerns in our own unique ways, and I am one who prefers to remain positive instead of thinking that I’m going to drop down dead at any instant, despite the severity of a disorder.
Another irritation was her lack of knowledge of pituitary disease, which resulted in her flippant rejection of pituitary tumors as being “real tumors” (page 67), simply because some of them can now be removed through the nose due to their location via improved technologies. Within the same calendar year, I underwent a transsphenoidal resection for a pituitary tumor AND a craniotomy for another separate lesion in my temporal lobe. Although neither operation is without risk, I admit that the latter surgery was more challenging in terms of both hospital recovery and surgical risk. Nevertheless, my pituitary disease has proved to be far more problematic and debilitating than the TL lesion, which merely necessitates anti-seizure medication at the present time. I understand that Becker was trying to affiliate with someone who has a tumor “with some odds of being malignant” but her dismissive attitude can be viewed as offensive to those with pituitary tumors. Another point to note is that all tumors have the potential to grow and to cause damage in the brain, and malignancy isn’t the only fact to consider. The location and type of tumor is also important due to the fact that different parts of the brain are used for higher cognitive functioning. Also, some pituitary tumors can grow as large as a plum before a diagnosis has been made, and some may secrete too much or too little of a critical hormone, which can cause a myriad of physical and psychological problems or even death (e.g. cortisol).
That being said, as a whole, the book is very readable and the author deserves credit for portraying such a distressing personal journey with a great deal of frankness and entertainment value. I also appreciate the fact that Becker included a few useful tidbits throughout the narrative, such as information about a clinical paper (page 242) regarding mild brain damage. It is also good to know that by the end of the book she is recovering well and is able to resume her career and many of her other life passions.
I’m not sure if I would recommend the book to anyone I know in particular, but I will certainly find a place on my bookshelf on which to keep it, if not only to remind me of the hilarious title!
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