By Alyce Collins
THIS SINGLE MUM was left petrified that she may no longer be able to care for her four-year-old son after experiencing paralysis when putting him to bed one night that left her confined to the floor for THREE HOURS before help came – with scans later revealing the cause to be a GOLF BALL-SIZED tumour on her brain.
Corporate sales coordinator, Lyndsay Whitmore (28) from Tennessee, USA, started experiencing brief moments of paralysis in her right side which she initially believed was her limbs falling asleep as the momentary paralysis would end within a couple of minutes.
The paralysis continued to occur throughout the week, and as the fourth paralysis episode took hold of Lyndsay’s right leg, she was putting her son, Evans (4) to bed, but when she tried to get up her right side was numb and immovable. She was stuck lying on the floor until her friend was able to come and stay with Evans so Lyndsay could head to the hospital. While the paralysis had lasted a matter of minutes the previous times, this time Lyndsay had no sensation on her right side for three and a half hours.
Doctors did an emergency CT scan which located a large, golf ball-sized meningioma on Lyndsay’s brain. An MRI was done shortly after and then Lyndsay was rushed to ICU until a craniotomy could be scheduled.
After receiving her diagnosis, Lyndsay went into shock and feared her life was over and as a single parent she was terrified of leaving her son an orphan. Although she tried to remain optimistic ahead of her brain surgery, Lyndsay was fearful that the slightest surgical error or complication would damage her ability as a mother, as her greatest fear was how her tumour would impact her son and her capability of being his parent.
Lyndsay’s brain surgery took place on February 21, 2019 but surgeons were forced to leave a small trace of the tumour as it had grown on a vein, and if removed it was likely to cause a bleed on the brain.
“My first paralysis episodes in January 2019 were brief and only lasted up to 90 seconds,” said Lyndsay.
“At first, I thought my limb was asleep, but the more it happened I then feared I was having strokes each time.
“I was also having crippling headaches which lasted consistently for six days. I thought they were due to the blue light from my work computer screen.
“When the brief episodes of paralysis took over, it started in my right leg and then spread to my right arm. The episodes were brief at first, so it only really affected me if I was writing or walking at the time.
“The fourth paralysis experience occurred on a Sunday night when I was putting my son to bed. He was very excited for an event at school the following day so we were up later than usual, but when I tried to get out of his bed I realised I had no feeling or strength in my right leg.
“I was confined to the floor until my friend came to sit with Evans and my mum came to take me to the hospital.
“I was so scared. That time I definitely thought I was having a stroke, but my face wasn’t drooping at all. In all the previous episodes of paralysis, my feeling came back quickly, but this time it didn’t return. It was eventually relieved after three and a half hours.
“I had a CT scan almost immediately at the hospital and had to wait an hour for the results which located a meningioma on my brain. Following the discovery of the tumour, I had an MRI and was sent to the Intensive Care Unit straight away.”
The recovery has been slow but now Lyndsay hopes to show others that tumours can be discovered regardless of an individual’s age, although she never would have thought her headaches and bouts of paralysis could have been a tumour.
Since her diagnosis, Lyndsay came to learn that there are more than 130 types of brain tumours and she wants to encourage people to pay attention to symptoms they might be experiencing without realising.
“The tumour was approximately the size of a golf ball and required surgery to be removed. I was terrified, but mostly for my son,” said Lyndsay.
“I’m a single parent, so the thought of leaving him an orphan, essentially, scared me. I was petrified that my life would be altered in a way which would incapacitate me from being a mother.
“I wanted to be able to keep up with him, play ball with him, live to see him drive a car, go to university and get married.
“Going into the surgery, I was confident in my surgical team, but I was scared that the removal would lead to permanent paralysis as the tumour was located on my motor strip. Part of the tumour was attached to the superior sagittal sinus, a vein which takes blood to and from the brain. So, a brain bleed was likely if they didn’t leave that small part.
“My recovery has been slow since. I feel fine, but my endurance and strength are gone. I spent two months lying in bed or sat in a chair, so building muscle memory back has been tough. I still experience mild headaches from time to time, and I battle with severe exhaustion daily.
“We told Evans that his mummy had to get a ‘boo boo fixed’ in her head, so he knew to be gentle with me after, which is extremely hard for a four-year-old boy to understand.
“I want people to know that brain tumours don’t discriminate so this can happen to anyone. You should listen to your body and don’t ignore the signs of illness. Seeking medical advice is always the best option, even when you think it’s nothing.
“The human body is made to function a specific way and it will warn you when something is wrong. Don’t ignore a pestering headache or tingly limbs – in the same way you would report chest pain for a heart problem, people should take brain injuries seriously. You can have a transplant for almost every organ in your body, but you only have one brain, so you need to take care of it.”
To see more, visit www.instagram.com/boymomwithabraintumor