Choosing a Neurosurgeon: A Week of Journal Entries for International Brain Tumour Awareness Week

When I found out I needed brain surgery in December, I asked the consultant in Birmingham to transfer me to London. Although he honoured this, it meant my NHS appointment now wasn’t until April. It felt so long away that in January I began to explore having the surgery privately through my healthcare with work. 

My healthcare sent me a list of names and hospitals that I was expected to choose from. At the time, when I didn’t know what was to come, that felt like the world’s biggest decision. I was faced with the privileged problem of shopping around for a neurosurgeon. Some seemed too academic, some too stern, some too young. Some personally didn’t seem to have had enough time in the “real world” after graduating. I knew I was being ridiculous. They were all skilled in their own right. So I ended up choosing a surgeon who worked at a hospital that shared the same name as my middle school. Surely that was something.

What I didn’t know at the time was the fact that surgeon saw me before having all of my medical notes, and I therefore took his opinion literally. He threw me a curve ball when he told me not to take this decision lightly and to really think about it. He told me he wasn’t sure he even wanted the life of a “well and able 24 year old” on his conscience if it didn’t go well didn’t go well. His exact words “it only takes one slip of the hand.”

Firstly, I inevitably needed the surgery at some stage, whether it was right then or not, so who even says things like that? Secondly, I was grateful for that conflicting appointment as that’s what led me to reach out to Brainstrust, getting a third-opinion. But this entry is from the weeks before I met the private surgeon, when I was currently facing my biggest decision at the time; choosing one.

Knowing I was about to have my last night with the girls before my surgery x

Sunday 20th January 2019:

Unbelievable that there’s just over a week of January left. It hasn’t been a bad month at all, overall, and I’m unsure whether that’s because I’ve fully made an effort to live and enjoy myself at every opportunity because I know I’ll be having surgery soon. It’s a promise I’m going to make to myself from now, applying of course to when I’m better: Live life like there’s a pause on the horizon. Always make an effort to enjoy life, realising that any moment can be our last with people or in situations. 

Currently at Phil’s waiting for him and Mom to wake. I went out with the girls last night and had a lot of fun. But I have a lot of emotions as a result. In fact this whole weekend has been a mix of emotional highs and lows and it’s exhausting..

The Glee [comedy] club was funny and great to have a proper belly laugh. All my fears of picking a neurosurgeon were confirmed when a comedian picked on a woman in the front row, however.

“Where are you from?”

“Lithuania”

To follow were some Brexit jokes about her needing to go soon and only being here for our jobs. He asked what she did and her reply: “Neurosurgeon.” What are the chances?

Everyone was in hysterics when he backtracked saying “oh fuck. A fucking neurosurgeon. Yeah, you can stay… shouldn’t you be working now?”

It was all fairly amusing until I clocked her afterwards SWAYING, swaying (!) at the bar. I know it’s ridiculous. She’s allowed a life and a night off but all I could think was “omg. She is wasted. What if she was my neurosurgeon?”

After Glee we went across to Sobar. Jess got us in for free and got us a round of drinks on the house. We were like the mom squad dancing in jeans, boots and coats, remarking on how old we all are now and feel. Was having a lot of fun dancing with the girls and felt so sad when I looked around seeing that life goes on. I glanced at Jess, serving drinks, dancing and laughing behind the bar and the sadness of no one knowing made it occasionally worse and harder to accept that it was happening. I just gave her the biggest hug and told her I loved her – again knowing it will probably be the last time before surgery. God, I hope they forgive me.

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