Maria McCutchen, a stay-at-home mother with two young children and a tight schedule, couldn’t find the dairy section of her local supermarket one day. After the usual questions women ask themselves, about stress, being over tired, or I’m imagining this, she asked her husband one night, “Squeeze my head,” and he does.
Her head ached, and her head also felt like a water balloon pumped full of water, a sense of building pressure. He wrapped his hands around her head, and he squeezed. Her thoughts became more clear, and she felt better. He stopped and a feeling of flood water filled her skull, and her brain fog returned.
She consulted a mild, quiet and pleasant doctor. He will be the first of many. She answered the questions, and then follows a routine she will learn by heart: “Stick your tongue out, smile, hold your hands out in front of you like you’re carrying a pizza and close your eyes.” Ah, and she also walked across the floor of his miniscule office. Long story short, after an MRI, and a call the very next day, “We see something,” the doctor’s voice matter-of-fact, offering no more or no less says, “I need you to come in.”
She had a cisterna magna, a posterior fossa arachnoid cyst. But the doctor was not concerned, words such as “benign” and “unremarkable” floated over her head. Moments later, a handshake, and a “You’re fine,” because you see most people are born with type of cyst and they don’t cause problems. She returned home wondering, what if I’m the exception? No time for that. Her husband lost his job. Their insurance will run out.
Fast forward to a harrowing pain-filled drive to live in New Mexico, episodic endurance of brain tests done incorrectly, dismissal of her symptoms, suspicion by doctors and blatant repudiation of her illness. Lace that in with family concern, trying to raise 2 kids, keep a family together, and obliterating pain, agony, nausea, you name it, but then, she finally finds a doctor in Arizona. He will recommend brain surgery. the tests before, during and after are trauma filled and painful, and there will be trouble in River City after her brain surgery. But still she reassured herself that she’s in the hands of a good neurosurgeon specialist in neurology in Arizona. She must, however, return to New Mexico. More happened.
I sat down after 7 o’clock last night to read this book. I got up at 12.30 noting, “I’m up too late again,” but I had finished the book. I didn’t move. I sat on my black leather couch in our small pool house turning page after page.
The unsaid around her struggles reveals a very courageous, loving, gutsy woman in extreme pain, with great times of hopeless and yet a warrior spirit. That makes a noble being in my book.
Her account is well written. I think this book should go viral. Yeah, I just broadened my blog base, and here I am using trendy terms, go viral, but the bloggers and FBers out there will know.
It’s All in Your Head – Maria McCutchen. Copyright (c), Tate Publishing, LLC.