Tanya’s Story

Tanya Goburdhun is 27 and lives in Edinburgh.

Whilst we’re all putting the finishing touches to our Christmas day menus and panic-buying the presents we’ve forgotten, Tanya will be in hospital having craniotomy surgery. The purpose of the surgery is to get to the bottom of  ‘brain abnormalities’.

Her neurologist suspects the symptoms (which range from seizures, migraines and visual disturbances) may be indicative of a brain tumour or some sort of inflammatory brain disease.

The only way that clinicians will be able to decide on the best course of action is to go ahead with the surgery which is naturally a *very* daunting prospect.

“The first time I met my neurologist she believed we wouldn’t be having future meetings… 19 months and 20 MRI scans later, I am now her regular outpatient”.

What led to your diagnosis

What led to my diagnosis, was a grand-mal seizure after which I ended up in A&E and a protocol for this, was the requirement of an MRI scan to ensure nothing was wrong and this seizure was isolated.

The reason why myself, my family or even the Drs initially believed my incident was isolated, was because, at the time, I was excessively exercising and not fuelling my body well, so the assumption was that my body was simply run-down.

However, in the lead up to my first grand-mal seizure, I had been experiencing early morning migraines, regular head-pains and visionary issues but I ignored these warning signs.

The reason for my avoidance, was because these symptoms didn’t feel too severe and I made up excuses such as, ‘I’m not hydrated enough’ to ‘I should make more use of my glasses and have less screen time’!

However, looking back at this now and in agreement with my doctors, this was the beginning of a brain abnormality developing.

The confirmation of my diagnosis was from an MRI scan which evidenced abnormal brain tissue at the edge of my skull which has been slowly growing into my brain.

What’s life like now?

Establishing my ‘new normal’ has been challenging, both mentally and physically.

On a physical level, I can’t remember what it feels like to have no head pains or to not suffer from extreme fatigue. From a mental state, it’s been hard to adapt to a new version of me.

I’m a massive planner and always keen to continuously improve myself, be it from a work perspective to planning holidays. Whilst I still carry these traits of ambition and self-improvement, I’m now on a journey of becoming resilient and more patient with myself.

The biggest impacts my health issues have had is having elements of independency stripped from me, such as not being able to drive to the unpredictability of my health. This has led to me being more reliant on others and I am super grateful to have such supportive network of family and friends.

As cliche as it is, the turbulent times in life are when you find out who your number one fans are, and I feel lucky to have a football team of supporters.

So, what about treatment?

On discovery of my brain abnormality, I underwent every possible test and relevant treatment to avoid needing to do a brain operation with the hope that my brain abnormality would be fixed!

Unfortunately, throughout this waiting period, my health has continued to deteriorate with seizures becoming more regular, and scans showing my abnormality was not leaving my brain.

With these factors and multiple discussions with Drs, the conclusion was made to finally proceed with the craniotomy operation which has been scheduled in for a week before Christmas.

How are you coping in the run-up to your surgery?

Preparing for such a big operation has been unusual. From a work perspective, it feels like I am tying up things before a long holiday… or going on maternity leave, as it mirrors taking a lengthy period off work.

From a personal level, my preparations have been from discussing my post-surgery hair options to mundane factors such as organising my bags for moving back to my parents house and noting down life admin my family will need to handle.

Mentally preparing myself for the operation has been the hardest challenge. I have never undergone any surgery before, so I have no experiences to take guidance from.

However, the pre surgery admission team and my neurologist have been so helpful throughout this whole process which has helped reduce my fears.

It is inevitable to feel scared, but I am trying to maintain a positive perspective about everything and develop an alter ego like Sasha Fierce (aka Beyonce) to get me through this period in life!

I’m sure you’ll be wishing Tanya the best of luck with her recovery and with finding out the next steps.

You can follow Tanya on Instagram here.

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