JP's best friend James was diagnosed with a brain tumor late Monday night. You've heard of James and Alyssa many times before, including one of my most recent posts since we just went camping together a few weekends ago. James went to Bible college with JP and was his roommate when JP and I met. James married my roommate, Alyssa, and JP and I were best man and maid of honor in their wedding. When we got married, they had the same titles.
For a few months now, James had been complaining about dizziness, headaches, and nausea. He went to the Emergency Room once a few months ago and they told him it was just vertigo and that he'd be fine.
Three months later, the symptoms were getting worse. His headaches were crippling, and the dizziness was so intense he couldn't get out of bed in the morning. He started having sharp pains at the top of his neck, too. They decided to go back to the ER on Monday night after James got off of work.
If you know James, you know he is not the type of guy to complain about being sick. He is very tough and works through almost any ailment. For James to be sick enough to go to the emergency room is a big deal. After doing the normal stats and tests, the ER doctor ordered an MRI.
I'll never forget that late-night call: they had found a golf ball sized mass in James' cerebellum, the part of the brain near the base of the scull. Your cerebellum is responsible for balance, coordination and movement. Through hyperventilating tears, Alyssa told me they were transporting James to North Memorial and planned to operate as soon as possible.
Nothing can prepare you for that kind of news. One day you are camping with your friend, the next day he's having neurosurgery. It stops everything.
The good news is that the operation went as well as it could have possibly gone. The surgeon was able to remove the entire tumor with no complications. An MRI the next day showed that there was nothing left behind and that swelling was minimal. James spent one night in the Trauma-Neuro ICU, but he was doing so well that they moved him into a regular room yesterday. Today he began both physical and occupational therapy. Right now he is still a little wobbly and clumsy because of the damage done to his cerebellum. He should be able to regain most if not all of his coordination with time and therapy.
The surgeon said that the tumor was in a very dangerous place. If the tumor had gotten any bigger, it could have caused his spinal fluid to back up and he could have dropped dead with no warning. Obviously it's never good to have a brain tumor, but we are praising God that as far as brain tumors go, James has had a "best case scenario" so far.
There is still one more very big piece of news we are waiting on -- biopsy results. Was the tumor cancerous or not? They may have the results back tomorrow. Our faith is that the tumor was benign and that James will make a full recovery without having to go through any sort of chemo or radiation.
As it is, the Knoblauch family has a long road ahead of them. James may get to go home this weekend, but he won't make a full recovery for about six weeks. Alyssa will have the job of taking care of him and their four young children. They'll have frequent trips to therapy and bills to catch up on once James gets back to work.
I'd encourage anyone who can to help fill in the gaps for James and Alyssa during this challenging time. Right now there is a great need for help with watching the kids (Alyssa's mom is doing this, but is exhausted and could use help). Any amount of time is helpful just to give her a break and relieve some of the burden.
There is also a meal train where you can sign up to bring them a meal, gift card, or groceries: Click here for that.
They could use men who are able and willing to come mow their lawn once a week or so (Alyssa's 85-year-old dad was doing it today). They have an unfinished deck that James was building, and now the wood is just sitting out in the elements, subject to warping. Getting a guy or two out there to help cover those would be great.