Our Past Doesn't Always Cause Our Medical Future
By Mike Cookman
I used to be afraid to tell people I had a brain tumor and I am not really sure why, but I used to think I could soften the blow by saying I had an illness called Acromegaly. But then the inevitable question comes up---“what is it called again?”
“Acro, uh, never mind. It’s a brain tumor.”
When I tell somebody about this there is another thing that comes up and that is---what’s been done about it. So I mention the surgeries and there’s yet another amusing thing that some people do: they look around your head for scars from the surgery. So now you have to say they go through your nose.
That usually ends it right there.
I was talking with someone recently who I met a year or so ago and who I have not seen but a couple of times since, and this time we actually had a chance to spend some time talking, and she didn’t know about the Acro thing, so I told her.
After a couple of hours of talking about it---and me mentioning that this is all in a book---she said something curious: “Yeah, we’ve all done things in our past.”
What she meant was that she thought brain tumors were caused by things we have done, possibly drugs taken or pot smoked, neither of which I have ever done. This seemed to surprise her, as it has others. I don’t know if I should take offense to this or not. It usually goes like this: “YOU’VE never smoked pot???”
Do I really seem that flaky? Never mind, don’t answer that.
She explained that she didn’t actually mean it that way; it’s just that I grew up in the 70’s and she thought everybody smoked stuff then.
Anyway, it’s an interesting notion that something you did in the past may have instigated such an illness. I told doctors I had bashed my head on the side of a swimming pool at a recreation center a couple times when I was a kid but they said that wouldn’t do it. But how do they know? They don’t know what causes it.
I’ve become better at telling people about this over the years. Maybe it’s all the patient testimonials I’ve done, which has lead me to be more at ease with the whole thing. I’ve also let go of the silly notion that it’s my fault that I have a tumor in my brain.
I still have leg pains sometimes, but I don’t like to focus on that kind of thing, it just makes it worse.
Yes, we’ve all done things in the past, but that was then and this is now. I used to be haunted by the past but I can’t honestly say I am anymore.
And with the Acromegaly Community I’ve met many wonderful people with the same illness and that makes me much more comfortable, not that I’m glad so many people have this illness, but since they do, I’m glad they are there.