Eileen Murphy

This past January 2017 a work colleague looked at me after our company’s Christmas break and said, “What’s wrong with your eye, its puffy?” I replied I probably ate something that triggered an allergic reaction. In February, after a bout of sinusitis, upon meeting with my doctor she said “Your eye is protruding still, let’s do a CT Scan.” I just laughed and laughed and said “Ok, House let’s not go to an extreme diagnosis just yet.” I come from a family where a CT Scan would be considered an irresponsible expense if there are other possibilities or procedures that could initially rule out other causes. I told her that I would go to my eye doctor as a first step.

My thinking was I am a 53-year-old single woman that is relatively healthy. I work out, eat right, never smoked, seldom drink – this can’t be too serious. And because I didn’t take this too seriously, I put off going to the eye doctor due to work projects. It wasn’t until April that I finally made an appointment with my eye doctor. He couldn’t see anything from general review of my eye but suggested I see his colleague who could order appropriate tests, if needed, as a next step. This second doctor thought it might be thyroid or pituitary-related so he ordered some blood tests. He agreed that perhaps a CT Scan might not be necessary. A week later he called me at work and told me, let’s get that CT Scan done.

The scan showed a tumor directly behind my right eye. It’s now May and an MRI was ordered to obtain more detail. The MRI proved to show right proptosis with right sphenoid wing meningioma involving orbit, which means a tumor in the right front area of the tissue covering the brain which was pressing on my optic nerve. Because these types of tumors tend to be slow growing, the options were to leave it alone and watch it or have surgery. I opted for surgery, but only after I cleared up some work projects and took a much needed vacation I had planned to Iceland and Greenland.

On August 3, 2017, I was admitted to Stanford Hospital. I cannot begin to tell you how strong my frame of mind was/is. I thought of anytime in the history of man, this is the time for something like this to be surgically removed due to all the advances in medicine. I had two amazing surgeons and the support of my partner, friends and colleagues at work. Living in California, I’m all about vibes and positive thinking so there was no room for anything less than positive thoughts going into all this and as I continue to heal.

The tumor was classified post-op as benign, WHO Grade I. There is however, a small piece left that could not be removed as it was too close to my optic nerve. My doctors and I will watch this with periodic MRIs. I experienced double-vision; however, I undertook exercises for my eyes such as rolling them in both directions as well as looking from side-to-side and I have to say that within three weeks my eye has improved. I would say my vision is about 98% with night driving being a bit problematic. I had the foresight to buy a small SUV that has lane assist and eye sight controls so I feel confident driving. I am extremely blessed at how easily this was healed. My quirky humor, positive attitude and loved ones got me through all of this. Please stay positive, stay informed and take wonderful care of yourself and others.