04 May 2008

Resuming the festivities

The world of nanotechnology doesn't hold still, but neither does life. Not long after my last post, my wife was diagnosed with a brain tumor. Fortunately we have awesome medical resources here in the U.S., and the neurosurgeon to whom we were referred (Dr. Kenneth Blumenfeld) was not only right in our neighborhood, he was regarded very highly by friends in the medical community whom we deeply trust. "He's the very best," one source advised. "Meet him and see what you think. If you're comfortable, there is no reason for shopping around." Remarkable advice, considering we'd expected to consult with Stanford Medical School and the University of California, San Francisco medical school (by all accounts, the absolute citadel of brain medicine), both of which are a stone's throw from us.

The MRIs showed that the tumor was about the size of a racquetball, and from its conformation we had hope that it would not be malignant. The surgery commenced just five days after first identification of the problem.

The tumor was in a difficult location, under the brain and behind/above her right eye, and the extreme morbidity of conventional surgical techniques would have rendered it inoperable just a few years ago. Now, however, the Stealth Navigation technology from Medtronic allows the surgeon to plan and execute surgery in formerly inaccessible locations with far less invasiveness than was previously the norm. The technology is likened to the global positioning system, and it provides a high-precision 3-D mapping of the tumor, brain and involved structures. The surgeon can strategize and operate blind, yet with sub-millimeter precision. Not quite nanometers, but remarkable nonetheless.

The surgery took eight hours, and she was home on the third post-operative day. The enemy turned out to be a benign meningioma, which is pretty much the kind of tumor you want to have if you're going to have a brain tumor. After a couple of months of recuperation, she's back at work, and gaining strength each week. Through it all, our friends, employers and church community were unbelievably supportive. We feel very blessed.

Much is going on in the field of nanotech, and I look forward to posting more regularly now.

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