By Rebecca Drew
THIS WOMAN was accused of being rude by her DOCTOR because she wasn’t able to make eye contact with him when talking about her symptoms that he wrote off as stress or PREGNANCY, but when he finally agreed to do a CT scan to PROVE there was nothing wrong with her it turned out she had a BRAIN TUMOUR – he later apologised after realising she probably wasn’t being rude after all.
Physical therapist assistant, Deeanna Carrera (26) from Pomona, California, USA, first suspected something was wrong when she started to experience persistent colds, sore throats and tinnitus in October 2017. When she went to the hospital, she was told she just had a minor cold and was sent home.
Days later, Deeanna’s eye started to twitch and she was suffering with severe headaches and lost her appetite, which she put down to her body changing but in January 2018, her health took another turn. After a night out, Deeanna woke up in pain with severe headaches that didn’t shift for four days, as well as this, she started to confuse her words.
A few weeks later, her headaches were stopping her from sleeping, she experienced behavioural changes and lost 2st 2lb. Going back to the hospital, Deeanna was told she was coming down with the flu and was sent home with anti-sickness medication to prevent her nausea.
Light started to burn her eyes, she couldn’t see and Deeanna was experiencing dizzy spells, falls and was struggling to walk and her nausea got worse, doctors told her she might be pregnant and she went for a test and ultrasound scan which showed she wasn’t and once more Deeanna was told she had the flu.
Deeanna’s mum, Andrea, was looking after her back at home when she couldn’t move for the pain she was in. In despair, Deeanna went to the hospital for a final time on February 5, 2018 where she was told she wasn’t coping well with stress and to prove that there wasn’t anything wrong with her, doctors sent her for a CT scan that showed she had a brain tumour.
Within moments, she was rushed to an alternative hospital where she was treated for a noncancerous acoustic neuroma tumour that was growing on the nerve used for hearing and balance. Deeanna had her tumour removed on February 12, 2018 and was hospitalised for a month and was left with facial paralysis on the right side of her face which she has had surgery for.
“It started off with minor colds and sore throats, then I started to experience tinnitus in one ear. I went to the hospital because I knew it wasn’t normal. They told me that I had tinnitus and a minor cold,” said Deeanna.
“A couple days later, my eye began to twitch and I started to have bad headaches. I was beginning to get a little cautious also because I was losing my appetite and wasn’t able to eat food without wanting to vomit. I thought it was normal and my body was changing, but a couple months later, around January, I went out drinking. The next day, I woke up and felt like I was dying.
“It was a bad hangover, but the weird thing was that it lasted for about four days. I was calling out of work because I was having bad body aches, severe headaches to the point where it felt like I had bricks thrown at me and was starting to confuse words and have a very bad attention span.
“A few weeks after that, my headaches became so bad, on a scale of one to 10, them being 10, that I wasn’t able to sleep for days, I had strange behavioural changes and felt angry and irritated about everything. I had lost 30lb, so I went to the hospital, and again they told me that I was catching the flu and gave me high dosages of medication and stomach medication to decrease the nausea I was experiencing.
“Nothing was helping to the point where I could not see anymore, the light was burning my eyes, I couldn’t hear, I had severe back pain and weakness, lost my memory, started getting dizzy and falling on the floor, could not eat absolutely any food without vomiting it up right after, couldn’t walk, couldn’t sit or talk to anyone without forgetting what I was talking about, and eventually failing all my classes in college.
“I went to the hospital again and they had told me that I might be pregnant and did all the tests and ultrasounds to confirm I wasn’t pregnant so again they told me that It was sinusitis and the end of a flu. I had a panic attack before they suspected that but they insisted I take the pregnancy test. I was mad and irritated because I knew I wasn’t pregnant
“I knew that there was something wrong with me but I did not give up. I was angry and thought I was going crazy because they kept telling me that I was fine. I was mostly scared because I didn’t know what to do and my pain was getting worse.
“I was confused and kept telling myself that I was okay, but as they continued to get worse, I started to notice that there was something seriously wrong with me, but no one believed me. I felt like I was alone and people made me feel like it was all in my mind when I knew it wasn’t.”
Following surgery to remove her brain tumour, Deeanna had to learn how to speak, eat, swallow, walk and talk again. After waking up from her surgery, the right side of her face was paralysed and she had to go through electrotherapy to stimulate her facial nerve muscles, surgery to have an eye weight fitted to help her close her eye, a nasal transplant to help open her nostril so she could breathe again and nerve grafting to help her move her lips.
Throughout her ordeal, Deeanna was labelled as rude by doctors right up until her diagnosis. She spoke about how her symptoms escalated and how it felt when doctors admitted they were wrong.
“I went home to my mum’s house so that she could take care of me and I was at the point where I could not move and had the worst pains anyone could encounter. I went to the hospital one last time and they told me that I had stress and didn’t know how to cope with it and to prove to me that nothing was wrong with me they did a CT scan on me,” she said.
“The doctor who saw me said that I was rude and had bad manners because I could not look at him or talk to him directly. A few moments later, the doctor came back and apologised to me and I was rushed to a different hospital where they handled my brain tumour.
“After they transferred me to another hospital that was going to be able to perform brain surgery on me, they explained to me that all the symptoms I had were all symptoms of the tumour I had. I felt relieved that I was not going crazy.
“After surgery I did not notice my facial paralysis until one of my friends told me that the right side of my face was paralysed. I was scared and crying and didn’t know what to do. Not only that, I didn’t know how to speak correctly, eat or swallow, my thinking cognition was very delayed and had to learn how to walk all over again and balance myself.
“I was scared and confused. Why did this happen to me and why didn’t anyone catch my tumour earlier? I was angry at the world.
“They did electrotherapy on me to stimulate my facial nerve muscles for about a week then I was transferred to a rehab facility where I stayed for a week to help me in my transition so I can live on my own again and do my daily activities again.
“It was irritating not being able to do anything and when I did my speech therapy and facial therapy I would always cry and wasn’t able to sleep because I could not move my face. I had an eye lid weight to help me close my eye, a nasal transplant to help me open my nostril so I can breathe, and nerve grafting done to help me move my lips.”
Deeanna’s family have been by her side throughout her journey and have supported her through being stared at in public due to her facial paralysis, she wants to encourage others not to take their lives for granted.
“The way people stare at me and make me feel like something is wrong with me has been the worst thing about my journey. I wasn’t able to go out in public because people would stare or go out to eat because food would fall out my mouth,” she said.
“My family has been by my side throughout the whole thing. My mum mostly was there for me through everything and my mood changes.
“I don’t have to be monitored, but I go to the doctors weekly or monthly depending on my pain. I am better now than before, but I’m a work in progress. I am working full time now so I can tolerate being out and about much better.
“Don’t take your life for granted because anything can happen to anyone at any moment. Live life and never let anyone make you feel horrible for doing what is best for yourself or what makes you happy.
“I am enough and I am a fighter! Don’t give up!”