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Judy's Story - Neurosurgery at Detroit Medical Center

Judy's hand started to feel numb

When doctors in Grand Rapids outlined a grim prognosis for Judy and the brain tumor at the base of her skull, she turned to the world-class Neurosurgery Department at Harper University Hospital and found new hope.

Her hand started to feel numb. Judy from Grand Rapids stopped raking leaves and looked down to her fingers. Something was wrong, but it would probably pass. She kept on with her yard work until the numbness started up her arm and over her shoulder. When it got to the back of her head, she decided to see a doctor.

At first, everyone thought it was a pinched nerve. Judy’s doctor ordered an MRI and said she’d call her in a week with the results. She called the next day.

“When I got the message that the doctor had called, I knew it probably wasn’t good,” Judy said. “I reached her as soon as I could. It was the next day and I was playing bridge. That’s when she told me I had a brain tumor.”

The doctor referred her to neurosurgeons in the Grand Rapids area. The tumor was large – about the size of a walnut – and at the base of her skull near the brain stem.

“They just kept telling me about all the things that could go wrong,” Judy said. “I might not be able to swallow and might need a feeding tube for life. I might not be able to breathe on my own.”

The physicians referred her to a nationally recognized specialist in skull base surgery: Murali Guthikonda, M.D., at Harper University Hospital in Detroit.

“I met with him and he had all the confidence that I would be fine,” Judy remembers. “The other two doctors just focused on what could go wrong, but Dr. Guthikonda said ‘You’ll be fine.’ He knew he could do it.”

“She had major problems,” Dr. Guthikonda said. “She had a large tumor at the base of her skull affecting her brain stem. But she’s doing exceptionally well now. She’s back to a normal lifestyle. We couldn’t ask for a better outcome.”

Today Judy feels great and is back to all her old activities. She drives her car, eats without a feeding tube and speaks without any difficulty. “I’m pretty much normal,” she said. She’s back to playing bridge with her friends, gardening and knitting.

“When you see a patient like her back in the office with a smile on her face and you’ve restored her lifestyle and day-to-day living to what it was,” Dr. Guthikonda said. “When you see that, you feel really good.”
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