Roesti still 'moving forward' after brain surgery
Marysville resident Branden Roesti just celebrated 10 years with his wife, Julia.
It was an anniversary they weren't sure they'd get to enjoy together.
Several years ago, Roesti, now 39, started experiencing headaches that ranged from minor to migraines that left a metallic taste in his mouth. Those symptoms eventually gave way to some frequent, random behaviors his wife noticed.
These included going long periods of time -- sometimes as long as a minute -- without responding to his wife's questions. He would make chewing motions with his mouth and roll his fingers together.
One day, while giving a presentation at work, Roesti said he went "on pause."
"For three minutes, I was just blank. When I came to, I picked up where I left off in my presentation," he said.
A co-worker sat him down and told him what had happened. After that, Roesti and his wife immediately went to an urgent care in Marysville, then directly to Ohio State University Medical Center.
"After various testing and scans, they identified that I had a mass on my brain," Roesti said.
He began treatment at OSU, then a family member recommended a visit to the Cleveland Clinic.
Doctors there identified the mass on his brain as a cavernous angioma, a collection of abnormal blood vessels which were leaking blood. This was what was causing the incidents, which were actually seizures, he said.
"I was diagnosed with epilepsy, having complex partial seizures," Roesti said.
For the next year, he tried various kinds of medicines and dosages, but in 2010, decided to have brain surgery in an effort to halt the seizures.
"With each AED (anti-epileptic drug) level and combination, seizures returned. At this point, I was told that surgery was my only option if I wanted the possibility to control and/or prevent seizures," Roesti said.
"I was told that the course of action would be to remove my right temporal lobe," he said.
The functions of the temporal lobes are the retention of visual memories; processing sensory inputs (sight, hearing, taste, smell and touch); language comprehension; storing new memories; and deriving meaning and logic.
After a series of neurological tests, doctors presented him with two options: a lobectomy, which is the removal of the entire right temporal lobe; or a lesionectomy, the removal of the tumor and surrounding tissue from the right temporal lobe.
"I chose option two -- remove the part and not the whole," he said.
On Nov. 2, 2010, he and Julia packed up for the clinic, leaving their two young children behind.
"On the way to the hospital, my wife informed me that she was pregnant," he said. "I went into the surgery heavy-hearted because it was a risky surgery."
The operation on his brain was performed a day later and Roesti settled in for an expected long recovery. His doctors expected him to be in the hospital for one to two weeks.
"However, I 'came to' the same day of the surgery and was walking and talking and fully communicating the next day. My stay in the hospital was very short," he said.
When he went home, he said, his young children were scared.
"They didn't understand what was going on. They didn't understand why daddy couldn't hold them. They knew I had a scar. They knew I had surgery but couldn't comprehend it," Roesti said.
At a follow-up exam six months later, he was cleared to drive and resume all normal activities.
He continues taking a daily dose of medicine, and after nearly three years, he has had only had a handful of incidents.
He now has three children, ages 8, 7 and 2, who understand a little better what happened to their dad.
"Just seeing them and wanting to play with them was a big motivating factor in my recovery," Roesti said.
He said his wife has been supportive the whole time, adjusting to a lot of changes that came about as a result of the tumor and the surgery.
For instance, Roesti said, he speaks three languages, English, Italian and German. Prior to the surgery, he said, "I was processing information (mentally) in all three languages, sometimes all at the same time.
"Since the surgery, that doesn't happen much. I still communicate with my Italian and German friends. Since the surgery, my appetite has significantly changed. I eat less frequently and in smaller portions. My tastes have changed. I no longer drink sodas or juices."
However, Roesti says he doesn't dwell on what happened.
"I move forward. I am thankful for the success of my surgery and do not for one minute regret my decision."