Lianna Bartlett is a junior studying flute. She transferred to the University this semester. In August 2018, after weeks of almost constant nausea and dizziness, a brain tumor was removed from her cerebellum. The cerebellum, located at the back of the skull, controls balance and coordination.
In May I had a stomach bug, and that started all the dizziness that I had. It was what I thought was a residual vertigo from the stomach bug.
About a month later, it got better. I drove across the country. I went to the beach, hung out with friends. I was a normal 20-year-old girl. And then, at the end of July or the beginning of August, I started getting a little dizzy again. If I turned my head too quickly, the room wouldn't necessarily spin, but I'd feel off balance for a couple of seconds.
A couple weeks before I was about to pack my life up and move to Kansas to start school, it just got horrible. I didn't feel comfortable driving anywhere. I was sleeping all the time because I was just exhausted from being so dizzy.
The Monday morning we were going to drive out, the car was completely packed, and I jumped in the shower to get ready. I had to get out of the shower to throw up. My mom looked at me and said, “We're going to the hospital.”
I told the doctor all of my symptoms and he said, “It's probably vertigo, but we're going to give you a head scan just to make sure.” Like, why not? So they gave me a CT scan and they found something. It was a large something that shouldn't have been there.
It was a four-and-a-half to five-centimeter mass. Basically it was the size of a small Kiwi. It was in my cerebellum, so at the back of my head.
I kind of panicked. The only thing I could get myself to ask was, “Is it operable?” And the surgeon looked at me and he said, “Yes.” And I go, “Great, get this thing out of me.”
The doctor had cleared his whole schedule for me on that Wednesday, so the very next day. It was a 12-hour surgery all day. It started at nine in the morning and went to 9:00 p.m.
When I woke up after surgery, the painkillers had started working and I could kind of tell what was going on around me. The surgeon had told us by then that it was benign.
I had a headache at first because they had just cut into my head, but it was a different headache than I had had previously. It wasn't so sharp. My neck was super sore.
I went into the hospital on that Monday and I was out the next Sunday, so it was seven days. I was in the hospital for brain surgery. Like, what?
My mom drove me home, and I went with her into the pharmacy to pick up my pain meds. I had to cross the street. As soon as I turned my head both ways, I was like, “Mom, that's the first time I’ve done that in months where I haven't felt like I was going to fall over. I feel normal again.” And I was just so happy. I could tell that I could just live my life.