The Brain Surgery Experience

This Is The End

This is as good as it gets baby! Don't hate me because I'm beautiful. This was taken a few months after the second plastic surgery/fat injection to fill the dent.

This is as good as it gets baby! Don't hate me because I'm beautiful. This was taken a few months after the second plastic surgery/fat injection to fill the dent.

Soon I will go for a one-year follow-up MRI. Will the colloid cyst return? With only half of it removed I’ve been told that odds are I may need another surgery in my lifetime, maybe even in the next ten years. I’m hopeful that advances in endoscopic surgery will make another surgery even more successful if it has to be done.

Will I have another plastic surgery to improve the dent? Probably not. As more time goes by I’m slowly adapting to having yet another conversation piece on my body. Most people, doctors especially, notice the scar on my nose right away, and yet after having it for thirty years I almost never notice it. I’m sure thirty years hence the scar, screws, and dents on my head won’t bother me.

Between my shoulder and my head I have more than my share of titanium hardware. Some as the result of dumb luck and some from living an active lifestyle. When I consider these things and my various other injuries it seems that I break easily and often, and the older I get the more high-maintenance I become. That said, I wouldn’t change anything about my life even if I could. Struggling is good, and without it we would have no stories to tell.

G and me (I'm on the right) out for a ride over Christmas 2004, almost one year after my brain surgery. As my brother Grayson put it, "the good news is they did find a brain." Maybe it runs in the family.

G and me (I'm on the right) out for a ride over Christmas 2004, almost one year after my brain surgery. As my brother Grayson put it, "the good news is they did find a brain." Maybe it runs in the family.

Am I heavy duty? I don’t know. Some days are easier than others when it comes to hanging tough and living your life on purpose. No matter what you are made of everyone breaks down eventually. And before the big break down it’s important to keep on trying to do what’s important to you. If you can do that you can tell yourself and everyone else “I’m Heavy Duty.”

Tracy Sigler

20 Comments on “This Is The End”

  1. 1 Bonnie Burgamy said at 3:19 pm on July 21st, 2011:

    Tracy, I enjoyed read about your adventures in brain surgery. I am a RN so none of that grossed me out. If fact enjoyed the videos of the actual surgery. I was certainly interested in your recovery and your appearance post op. From the pics of you post surgery, your head looks great. I’m sure you are more self conscious about but it, but what what you hav endured, you need a little bit of a battle scar. I appreciate you story as I’m sure others will benefit from it. It’s always good to know that you are not alone in a situation like this. Wishing you a happy, healthy life to come. Bonnie Burgamy, RN. Franklin, NC

  2. 2 Tracy Sigler said at 6:48 pm on July 21st, 2011:

    Thanks Bonnie. Yeah, I’m over the cosmetic issues. I have plenty battle scars! Thanks for being a nurse.

  3. 3 Tammy Delbruegge said at 9:51 pm on July 23rd, 2011:

    I was just surfing the net and came across your story. Thank you for sharing your experience and God bless!

  4. 4 Tracy Sigler said at 6:57 am on July 24th, 2011:

    Thanks for your note Tammy!

  5. 5 Paul Fitz said at 1:02 pm on July 26th, 2011:

    Thanks for the story…it made me feel better. I found out yesterday(7/25/11)(by accident) I have a cyst on the brain. I went in for a CT scan of my sinus to prepare for a deviated septum surgery. Within an hour of getting home I got the call from my ENT Dr. I really don’t even know what he said I was so shocked.
    I went for an MRI this morning (yes I have awesome insurance) now i’m playing the waiting game. Hopefully I’ll hear soon, as of right now I just gotta wait. Your story put me at ease some. Hopefully I won’t need surgery but if I do the videos and story tell me I will be ok and just have to relax.

  6. 6 Tracy Sigler said at 6:33 pm on July 26th, 2011:

    Hey Paul,

    Thanks for your comment. I posted this story for people like you and me, so I’m always glad to hear from people. Good luck with everything and let me know if you have any questions about my experience.


  7. 7 Paul Fitz said at 6:14 pm on July 27th, 2011:

    Thanks again I got the news today – colloid cyst. needs to be removed ASAP – like Monday.
    As fate has it my wife works for the president of the best nero. surgery hospital in our city. He set me up with the best team from our universities medical program. as this is all going fast I’m a bit freaked but they will be doing a minimally invasive endoscopic surgery so I think the time in hospital will be short and I can get back to teaching before the semester starts first week of Sept.
    thanks again for the encouraging words and I WILL contact you once I’m home and settled.
    Thanks again

  8. 8 Tracy Sigler said at 6:22 am on July 28th, 2011:

    Paul, Sounds like you’re all set. I’m glad you have those resources available. My doc told me over four years ago that endoscopic had made huge advances just in the couple years after my surgery. So I’m sure they’ll be able to easily take care of the cyst. Yes, your hospital time should be short. I went in on Wed and left Sat morning, and I had two surgeries. Tracy

  9. 9 Paul Fitz said at 5:52 pm on August 4th, 2011:

    I’m home…I had the surgery Monday evening. 4.5 hours. It went very well (except for the vomiting in the recovery room and I bit my lip while they were pulling out the breathing tube).
    I feel pretty good. My doctor was all psyched about the surgery because the cyst was not in the 3rd ventricle but was grown up in the tubes, odd shaped and very unusual. Possibly one of a kind. I worked hard to get up and move around as well as sit in a chair etc.
    Thanks again for the kind encouraging words it certainly helped me with the courage to face this.
    I will check in from time to time. I feel like I can call you a friend – so thanks friend.

  10. 10 Tracy Sigler said at 5:59 pm on August 5th, 2011:

    Hey Paul,

    Awesome to hear it went well. Yeah, I’m always sick after anesthesia, no matter what they do. Sounds like a quick recovery. Friend me up on Facebook if you want.


  11. 11 Daniel Yates said at 7:17 pm on December 27th, 2012:

    Hi Tracy

    Thank you for sharing your story – it has been both inspiring and informative. It would appear I am at the beginning of my own story with a CT scan showing some kind of cyst. Just waiting now for the MRI to gather more info on what I am facing.

    As you say no two cases are alike but you have helped shed some light on at least some of the common process :)

  12. 12 Tracy Sigler said at 8:29 am on December 28th, 2012:

    Daniel! Thanks for your note. I’m glad you found some of my story helpful. Keep me posted if you want, and don’t hesitate to ask me any questions about my experience. T

  13. 13 Stephen Shook said at 1:08 pm on April 9th, 2013:

    Thanks for the Site. I actually found it from searching for the Cyst I was found with on YouTube even though I’ve searched on Google and like before.

    Its nice to hear your story. I have a dermoid cyst and getting bounced around doctors. I’m told this will be the last one and they’ll more than likely want to monitor it. Anyways.

    I was wonder if after the surgery if you had any personality changes also I don’t remember seeing you mention if the headaches had fully went away.

    Thanks for blog,


  14. 14 Tracy Sigler said at 2:55 pm on April 9th, 2013:

    Hey Stephen. No personality changes, for better or worse. Headaches are gone completely. My symptoms (headaches) were actually caused by the small but more dangerous colloid cyst, not the dermoid. Thanks for your note!

  15. 15 Chai said at 11:14 am on August 7th, 2014:

    Hey Tracy,

    Thank you for sharing your experience with your brain surgery. I recently had brain surgery two and half weeks ago for an aneurysm and am slowly and steadily recovering. Reading about your experience and how you dealt with it all on a day to day and week to week basis definitely helped ease my concerns. There were a lot of questions I have regarding my recovery process, and you have definitely helped answer some of them – from the headaches, to the swelling, to what I might expect as I continue on this road to recovery. I am glad to hear you are doing well and that you have the support around you. Wishing you all the best!

    Kindest regards,

  16. 16 tracysigler said at 9:17 am on August 11th, 2014:

    Hey Chai!

    Very glad to hear your recovery is going well. I appreciate you letting me know you found the site helpful in some way. Let me know if you have any questions.

    Thanks for your note!


  17. 17 Lisa said at 9:20 pm on October 1st, 2014:

    Hello Tracy, I am so glad I read everything you have to say here. I was recently diagnosed with an Epidermoid that is located at the base of the brain where all the nerves and blood vessels are. I am thinking similar to your Dermoid cyst. I have been having the same kind of headaches you describe. It has been nine years. Sometimes lasting for two and a half months and the neck pain is horrendous. The surgeon says it is unlikely the cyst is the cause of the headache. You mention that the Dermoid cyst was not the cause of your headaches and that makes me wonder if he is right. They do not want to remove this cyst until I have severe side effects that make the risk worth the surgery. I do feel better after reading about your journey. I am a believer that everything we go through only makes us stronger and so will this. I am trying to determine if the cyst is the cause of my headaches and if I should see another surgeon for another opinion. I was referred to this one just to read my MRI results to me. Thanks a ton! Lisa

  18. 18 tracysigler said at 6:34 am on October 2nd, 2014:

    Hey Lisa, Sorry you are dealing with this. Yes, my docs thought it was the colloid cyst in the third ventricle causing the headaches, not the dermoid. Both were removed and the headaches went away so it’s impossible for me to say which was the culprit. I don’t see how getting a second opinion could hurt. Or at the very least, if the current doc says the epidermoid is not the problem, I would think further testing or something is in order to find, or rule out, any other problems that could be the cause. You might have to get a little pushy. ;) I hope you get some answers soon! Tracy

  19. 19 vaunda said at 11:06 pm on January 7th, 2015:

    Hi Tracy; I have enjoyed your story and is helping me keep calm. I got kicked accidently by grandson and eye swelled shut 3 days later=gift. My husband and me went to Redimed then they sent us to ER; had CT scan and they found cyst 6.1 Collide, then called Dr. then to Neurologist, then he wanted MRI, which he said needed a different type of MRI, so going tomorrow. I am being told that 6.1 is to small and would be difficult to remove, it is better when the cyst applies pressure and cuts off the circulation to the spine which then causes swelling and then the cyst is easier to remove. I have had headaches for several months, now my eye sight is getting worse and I have had my glasses changed twice; then the accident so I was feeling like it was a blessing that it was found. The surgeon stating to me that I should not be having that strong of headaches. I read your story and you said it was the size of a pea. So why isn’t there more concern and why do I have to wait to get some relief or have it removed. I asked what sign do I have when it is ready and he said I will have extreme vomiting or my body will start giving out on me. I don’t understand how a person is suppose to wait till their legs drop out from them and then hope I am close to a hospital. I have a 90/10 insurance plan with a max out of pocket so it is not financial…………….scared

  20. 20 tracysigler said at 3:02 pm on January 8th, 2015:

    Hey Vaunda, I’m glad you found out what is causing your headaches. In my case the doctors said my third ventricle, containing the colloid cyst, was also small. It may be that my situation appeared more urgent. It’s my understanding that they often prefer to wait and watch colloid cysts because they don’t grow quickly.

    Sounds like you need a second opinion. I would look for a neurosurgeon who specializes in endoscopy. If you’re in the DC area I can recommend my doctor. Definitely make sure to find a doctor that you feel understands your situation and can clearly explain your options, and even make a recommendation.


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