Personal Wanderings

2011 Howard Platt May 2011

By Howard Platt from the May 2011 Edition

The brain has always fascinated me; it is what drew me into medical school and to dabble in philosophy over the years. Of course I did not expect any study of brain pathology and dysfunction to get so close and personal.

Since I retired I have been photographing birds, and more recently writing a short article each month for the local Manzanillo Sun E-Zine (electronic magazine). It has been lots of fun, or at least it was up to my 20 March deadline.

In April I was writing about the orange-breasted bunting. They are lovely birds, and only live here on the west coast of Mexico. I have some pretty photos to share and I was working on some notes to add a little interest to our human winter visitors.

By surprise I discovered I could not spell some simple English words. Reading was also suddenly difficult. I could see letter quite clearly, but, for example what I saw as a “T” my brain might interpret as a “W”. Very frustrating! So, time to check things out.

Starting on Tuesday I went through doctors and hospitals in Manzanillo, Colima to Guadalajara. An MRI scan, chest x-ray, CT scan, abdominal ultrasound, bronchoscopy and an internal medicine specialist, neurologist, neurosurgeon, pulmonologist, and a never-ending array of support, trainees and medical students. It was all a blur, until after a week, it suddenly stopped for the Holy Week and Easter break. I have go back for a lung biopsy on April 28, to await the definitive diagnosis and recommendations for treatment.

There was one pause in the blur. On the second day,

Wednesday, was a “dead day” while I waited after the first consultation and before all the rest were scheduled. Yet I already was guessing my future so there would be no more “dead days” for me. Instead we took off around Colima looking for birds. The fates blessed me with my first owl sighting in over four years of searching. The prettiest little ferruginous pygmy-owl, a wonderful day!

Once back from Guadalajara there was time for me to look at the reports they had given me (in Spanish) and access to my internet and the opportunity to work out what is happening.
So, struggling with my ability to read, but normally functioning critical faculties, I explore the information.

My quick summary. Probably Aden Carcinoma of the lung with distant spread to brain, far too advanced, for surgery or radiation. no chance to cure even with chemotherapy. Half such patients die in several weeks: possibly 20% may survive a year. Chemotherapy is miserable and may only extend survival briefly.

Another couple of weeks and the experts will be able to clear all this up for me, so then I may be able to update you… or not. For sure I will still be hunting for just a few more bird photos and I will be sure to share them.

(Thanks to my wife for proof reading)

Howard Platt

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