I’m sitting at a table at a Hyundai dealership with my parents and a car salesman. I’m 19 and about to put a lease on a brand new 2013 Hyundai Veloster that had all the newest features. My parents and the salesman are discussing details of the lease when the three of them turn and look at me. I’m sitting in my seat staring off into the distance, ignoring everything going on around me. Unbeknownst to me, they had just asked me a question and were waiting for my response. In that moment something was triggered in my brain and I mentally was not aware of the world around me. My physical body was there, but when they tried to talk to me it was like talking to a wall.
After several seconds of being in this state, I became aware of what was happening and tried to fix it. I got up from the table and walked away in an attempt to “shake” myself from the state I was in. Finally, I became fully alert and went back to the table to sit and continue the conversation with my parents and the car salesman.
Little did I know that what had just happened was a sign that there was something wrong with my brain….
I remember sitting on the couch one day and telling my Dad that I thought I had a brain tumor. Dad, naturally, didn’t believe it because that’s not something a father ever wants to hear. I had been Googling brain tumor symptoms, and from what the internet told me, I had a brain tumor. I smelled “phantom odors”, and had these episodes where I would zone out for a few seconds at a time. These episodes were triggered by the strangest things, such as hearing a song from my childhood or revisiting an old family vacation spot. I remember standing on the beach while on vacation and having one of these episodes occur as I was watching the waves roll in. Again I was absent from my body mentally and I just stood there like a mindless zombie.
As these episodes started occurring more and more frequently, up to several times a day, I got concerned and had an MRI done. That same day I had my MRI I was rushed in to the hospital for emergency brain surgery. They told me there was something on my brain and they wouldn’t know what it was until they had me on the operating table. At this point I was 20 years old and fearing that my life was over. This was going to be the end of me and it was terrifying.
I was rushed in to the hospital on a Monday and was prepped for surgery the next day, Tuesday. The following day, Wednesday, I had an almost 6 hour brain surgery to remove a tumor the size of a grape from my right temporal lobe. Two days later I was home and beginning the recovery process.
After initially being told the tumor was cancerous, two weeks later we receive the news that it was benign. It was an extremely rare tumor that they didn’t know much about, but it was decided to be benign from the biopsy. It had been growing for about 18 years, since I was a small child, but shouldn’t be anything I have to worry about ever again.
I titled this first official post “An Absence of Seizures” because I found out that the episodes that I was having were officially called “absence seizures”, where you were physically present, but mentally you weren’t. They’d last a few seconds at a time, then I’d pick up where I left off. Now that the tumor is gone, I no longer have these episodes. I’m absent of these seizures that once held me back.
I picked up photography shortly after the surgery. At one point standing on a beach or visiting a familiar landscape would’ve triggered one of these seizures, but now I’m free. Photography is my way of showing myself, and the world, that I overcame the brain tumor. This blog will be one of the ways I share my photography, my passion, with you all, so follow along and feel free to share any comments you may have!