Gene Stollman, Doctor of Optometry (O.D.)
I am sending this article to you to bring attention to the signs of a possible brain tumor. It may make others more aware than we were. Last year ESRA MAGAZINE printed an article by my husband, Gene Stollman O.D., who wrote "When is it time to stop driving?" He certainly had no idea that his time would come so soon
It all happened so quickly that we didn't have a chance to identify or absorb the changes. Our emails are full of "How to" identify a stroke, Alzheimer's disease etc. but nothing out there prepared us for a brain tumor. There were no headaches, no double vision, no slurring of speech or dragging of a foot etc.
The noticeable behavior changes were taking place before our eyes and over a period of a few days. One day my husband took the one hour bus ride to work, put in a good day's activity, rode back on the bus and all was as before until...
A couple of days after that, I dropped him off at our local clinic to take a blood test that the doctor had requested. We planned to meet at the lab after I parked the car. When I arrived at the lab he was not there. I looked all over and found him a floor below at the pharmacy waiting his turn to speak to the pharmacist! “Why are you waiting here”? I asked with panic in my voice. "I didn't know how to get to the lab so I was waiting to ask the pharmacist." My heart began to flutter from fear.
During the next few days there were other incidences of not recognizing people, of thinking our children had been in the house when they had not been. I awoke each day not knowing what surprise awaited me. I had begun inquiring about a visit to a neurologist, but before I could do that, my husband went to see his family physician for a referral to a neurologist. This family doctor was not familiar with my husband. We were relatively new to the area and my husband, being very healthy, had little need to visit his doctor other than to renew a prescription. So we were very surprised
when the doctor asked if we had noticed any unusual behavior. We confessed that we had. He immediately told us to make an appointment with the CT clinic near our home to do a CT scan of the head!
The first appointment was for the following week. Because we were due to leave for the States within the next two weeks, I felt that we could not wait and asked for an earlier appointment, which was made for the following morning. We appeared the next morning for the CT, waited our turn and were told that the results would be available within the next four days. We took our seats till we were called in for the test. The first sign that things were not as they should be came as we were called into
the viewing room. The friendly physician who was sitting in front of a console and looking at a picture of my husband's head, said to us calmly and authoritatively, "there is something there. I can't say exactly what it is. Please take this disk and go directly to the emergency room at the hospital of your choice."
We still had not completely absorbed that message, but we decided on Ichilov because our daughter knew the assistant head of the neurosurgery department. She called him and he told us that he would look at the disk and meet us in the emergency room. A malignant brain tumor had invaded my husband's brain. It was filling the space in the right frontal-lobe causing pressure on the nerves and growing with each passing minute. Within a week this SOL (space occupying lesion) was removed. He is undergoing radiation therapy now and we are hopeful.