July 2, 2019
Kathy Found Peace in Brain Surgery
Kathy Klim was settling into a new normal after she quit her job to take care of her aging parents who moved into her Muncy home. The changes were a bit stressful, so she was quick to brush off the mild headaches she was experiencing.
“I loved having my parents with me, but I realized that it could be causing some added stress,” said Kathy. “Mild headaches seemed normal, but I couldn’t ignore the tremor in my hand.”
The day she felt the first tremor, a pen flew out of her left hand while writing—something she considered normal. But when Kathy felt the tremor twice that day, she decided to call her doctor.
“To me, it seemed neurological,” said Kathy. “I called my doctor’s office, and the doctor was on vacation. When I explained my symptoms to the nurse, she recommended I go to the Emergency Department.”
Emergency Department Visit
Kathy and her family regularly use UPMC Muncy for care. “Muncy may be a small hospital, but they have always been good with my family—I trust them,” Kathy said.
At the Emergency Department (ED), the team ran several neurological tests that all came back normal. The physician’s assistant in the ED was still concerned, and decided to run some more tests, including blood work and a CT imaging scan. As the physician’s assistant was asking questions, Kathy felt the fluttering in her arm again, but no one else noticed any movement.
“I kept looking at my husband, John, to see if he could see my arm moving,” said Kathy. “I could feel it, but apparently no one could see it.”
As Kathy was waiting for the results of her tests, the team in the ED helped make her more comfortable—first a bed, then a hospital gown. That’s when Kathy realized the doctors may have discovered something.
“Although I knew they were concerned about something, I was at peace,” said Kathy. “My faith was telling me not to be afraid. I don’t think my husband knew yet that something was wrong.”
The team in the ED at UPMC Susquehanna Muncy went into action. They suspected a bleed on her brain, so they prepared Kathy to be transported to UPMC Williamsport.
“John had been focusing on me and my care,” said Kathy. “As soon as we knew I was going to Williamsport, he needed to switch gears and make sure my parents had care too.”
“My husband followed the ambulance,” Kathy said. “When John walked in, Dr. Klironomos was pacing the hall waiting to talk to him. We were impressed with his focus.”
A Diagnosis She Wasn’t Prepared For
After more CT scans, they learned Kathy wasn’t experiencing an active bleed in her brain, but she had a brain tumor. The CT scans also showed the tumor was isolated and not formed from cancer. Kathy’s sons, Philip and Andrew, were in Florida and made plans to get home as quickly as they could to be by their mother’s side.
Kathy explained, “I had a large tumor that had probably been growing slowly for a long time—my brain just compensated for it. I started feeling symptoms because it just started pushing on the right side of my brain.”
Dr. Klironomos ordered an MRI scan to learn more about the size and type of the tumor. He determined it was likely a benign meningioma, a non-cancerous tumor that grows from the membrane that surrounds your brain. The tumor needed to be removed because it was sitting on the fold of the brain that controls the left side of the body. The tumor would then be tested for cancer after it was removed.
Removing the Brain Tumor
“Surgery was scheduled for Monday morning,” says Kathy. “I couldn’t believe the support we were receiving from the hospital staff, the doctor, our church, my family, and people I didn’t even know that were praying for us.”
Kathy remained at peace through the entire hospital stay. After surgery, she woke to her husband standing by her side and her sons leaning over her bed. The doctor warned she may lose some movement on her left side as her brain adjusted to the removal of the tumor.
“I remember my sister-in-law came in and I proclaimed 'look I can move my hand and foot,’” said Kathy. “I believe God gave me a miracle—the tumor was not cancerous, and everything and everyone was there for me at the right time and in the right place.”
Her Full Recovery
The next morning, nurses helped Kathy work on her mobility. At first, she was just sitting up, but before long Kathy was walking around the intensive care unit. She was released from the hospital four days after her brain tumor was removed.
Kathy went home to recover with very few restrictions, and she continues to build her strength every day.
“I never knew how many people cared about us. Not only family and friends, but the medical community, too. We are lucky to have quality healthcare close to home.” Kathy added, “I am so thankful for everyone, from the nurse at my doctor’s office that told me to go to the Emergency Department, to the hospital nurses that work so hard, to Dr. Klironomos and the hospitalists who were attentive, and even the housekeeping and food service staff were polite, considerate, and kind. I was impressed.”
Kathy feels blessed to have made a full recovery, and to have her aging parents back at home with her, too.
Georgios Klironomos, MD, MSc, PhD, is a fellowship-trained neurosurgeon who specializes in cranial and skull base procedures, endoscopic surgery, and treating brain tumors, traumatic brain injuries, and brain aneurysm. He sees patients in Williamsport, Lock Haven, Sunbury, and Lewisburg. To schedule an appointment with Dr. Klironomos, call 570-321-2800.