I thanked my driver for finding me, as I was in a large hospital complex with many buildings. He asked why I used a cane and assumed I have a bad back. [I do, but that’s not why I use the cane.] I gave him a brief history about some of my multiple brain surgeries, my interactions with over 116 doctors since 2010 (not all because of the brain surgeries), and how difficult it has been to be a woman seeking help.

My driver then told me about his sister-in-law. She suffered from terrible migraines and slurred speech, and they discovered she had a tumor located on the right side of her neck. After visiting with a few neurosurgeons, one agreed to operate on her. At this point I asked the driver if it was wrapped around her jugular. He said wait, hang on. But he gave me a look. And he told me that the neurosurgeon performed the surgery and said that he had removed everything, but it’s possible they would have to repeat the surgery at some point because sometimes all the cells aren’t removed and they grow back.

My driver’s sister-in-law started to have the same symptoms again in just a few short months. Her face was swelling painfully, her speech was slurring, she was affected by light. She was unable to function and completely miserable. The neurosurgeon suggested she try a hyperbaric chamber, which seemed to relieve the pressure briefly, but it wasn’t a fix. The neurosurgeon claimed that she shouldn’t be having problems because there wasn’t anything showing on her MRI. And then he just refused to “deal with her” anymore. She was fine. Her face swelling was fine. Her pain was made up, just a plea for attention. [As I’m writing this, I’m getting upset; it’s the result of medical PTSD.]

Finally, it became a matter of urgency. The family traveled down to Mexico and consulted with a neurosurgeon there. It turns out that the tumor was NOT removed. It WAS wrapped around the jugular, like a thin little worm, a parasite. It took the neurosurgeon in Mexico 10 hours to remove the tumor. My driver’s sister-in-law is now mostly symptom-free with the exception of some tenderness and stiffness in her neck.

My driver and I talked about a few things: Why do doctors in the U.S. act the way they do when it comes to treatment, of complicated issues, of women? Is it liability insurance? Is it bias? Is it laziness? We also discussed cost. My driver said that his brother paid $17,000 out of pocket for the surgery in the U.S.. When they went to Mexico, the cost was around $2,500, and it saved his sister-in-law’s life. That wasn’t a fluke or a one-off. That neurosurgeon in Mexico was just as skilled (or even more so) than his counterpart in the U.S.. He got the worm.

Please support artists, including my friend who makes wrapped jewelry! Her art includes wire wrapped stones, wire tree pendants and hemp jewelry, and she has been a visual artist for 30 years. Custom orders are welcomed and encouraged, we all love to see how they turn out. Jen And Company Too