I wasn’t certain that B would want to see it but he said he was interested.
There was a woman named Joy featured on the show who was diagnosed with a malignant tumour in exactly the same location as B, the left frontal lobe. She underwent an awake craniotomy to remove the tumour, just like B! This was very exciting. We were able to relive B’s surgery, but this time in the comfort of our living room with tea and cake.
The operation was pretty much what we expected to see – the cutting and removal of part of the skull & brain covering, excision of the tumour etc. The part that was surprising was the electrical stimulus of the brain. As Joy’s tumour was very close to the area of the brain responsible for speech, the neurosurgeon asked her to recite the alphabet and stimulated parts of her brain at the same time. When she slurred her words that part was identified as playing a part in speech. B went through exactly the same thing, although he cannot remember it (much to my disappointment – after his surgery I demanded a full account of proceedings but none was forthcoming).
The shocking part was that it looked as if the doctors stuck a tiny post-it note on the areas of the brain to ‘keep’ then hacked away at the rest. I’m sure it was far more precise than it seemed but I’m still glad I didn’t see this before B went under the saw.
Another case featured on the show was a young woman with severe epilepsy who was having several seizures daily. Medication was no longer effective so she had electrodes implanted deep inside her brain to shock the area producing the abnormal activity. It will take 2 years to find out whether the treatment is successful. I don’t know how people manage to live with conditions like that. It makes us feel ‘lucky’ in comparison.