The Neurobiological Nature of Mike Stayton

March 2, 2014

Let me just say if you ever have three progressively worse migraines in a week, followed by hot sweats, loss of appetite and a jaundice tint to your skin you may have a baseball size tumor in your head. Seemingly healthy then, BAM!, a giant tumor!

Hospitals, blech...

Hospitals, blech…

It actually must have been sitting around for a while because I don’t have a clue when it started. I did shovel more than my usual number of driveways two-weeks ago. Then a week later right as my back was getting better I, of course, went to a Man Man concert and jumped up and down on a concrete floor … all-night-long. That’s when the migraines started though. I think I just aggravated my brain just enough with all the jumping to where I started to take notice of it via the migraines and eventually the onslaught of symptoms.

I went in to the ER last Monday around 7PM. It was only my third migraine and I was experiencing “halos” (tiny triangles formed in a semi-circular pattern around my upper outside periphery of my vision) and a wee bit of blurry vision. These progressed rapidly (within the hour) to some heat flashes and sweating. Though starting to worry me, this is something I have gone through before since I have allergies and on really bad summer days I get cold sweats. I had since lost my appetite and I went to the bathroom and started splashing cold water on my face. It was at this time I noticed I had a yellow tint to my skin. That was the time I decided to head out of work and go rest.

Tumor kicking ass power is coming in, hard core.

Tumor kicking ass power is coming in, hard core.

Holly is a recruiter for MU and being this is her busiest time she was working hard. So, me being the stubborn bastard that I am just decided to walk around in the nice cool air and find a spot to lay down for a little while. Rest it off.

Holly worked late, because I didn’t complain, mind you. I consider sitting around resting where ever. So I was good enough. By the time she got off work Mikey wasn’t doing so well. I was a bit out of it. We decided to go home and try to get some food in my belly. I tried some split pea soup and that just immediately came right back up. She called one of her friends, a pathologist at Mayo Clinic, and asked what to do. Her buddy said to take me to the hospital ASAP.

Me and Brown.

Me and Brown.

We got to the ER, by this point after throwing up I’m feeling much better and my color has returned but there’s still something wrong.

With all the complex symptoms they sent me for a CT scan to narrow the scope of field and following that an MRI to try to precisely pinpoint what may be going on.

They held me overnight while the MRI scans were being processed and contrasts (dyes) being applied to locate any abnormalities.

They found a cancerous tumor about the size of a baseball pressed up against my noggin’ wall. Due to the large size, location, and the potential seriousness of it, Dr Litofsky (my wonderful doctor) decided to remove the tumor while I was admitted.

Battle scar-Exhibit A

Battle scar-Exhibit A

I was taken to the Operating Room on Wednesday around noon to have it removed starting at 2:30. That’s about all I remember of that but the surgery was over by 5:30! Not to shabby to cut someone’s head open, huh? I was wheeled out to Intensive Care Unit and my family was in by 8:00 that night. I was pretty groggy by that point but I was still able to talk (albeit a bit confusedly, but what do you expect, right?).

Before being released back down to the Neuroscience department on only a day later I was allowed to take a nice hot shower (carefully with my sewn up cranium) and a quick jaunt around the ICU floor (with unaided stair climbing, thank you very much). Take that for athleticism…

Everyone's sleeping but Jim, who's sticking his tongue out, appropriately.

Everyone’s sleeping but Jim, who’s sticking his tongue out, appropriately.

By Thursday night I was back in my old room. The tuberculosis room which I love because it had a self-closing door that kept the noise out. It’s amazing how loud a hospital can be.

On Friday, at 6:30 AM, a day after being sent back down to Neurosurgery, Dr Litofsky & Dr Marshall both came in to ask me if I was ready to go. I really wasn’t having any negative side affects so I had no qualms with heading home. Ok. I did have two problems, first we only have Netflix and I was really hoping to watch the Oscars on Sunday and second “Wonders of the Universe” with Professor Brian Cox was on the Sci Channel and I didn’t get to finish the stupid series. But I guess I can forgive that. The room probably cost $1000 a night anyway. So, I was in for only 3.5 days, which I think is amazing!

How do you guys feel about the single Chinese eye? You like it don't you? You know you do.

How do you guys feel about the single Chinese eye? You like it don’t you? You know you do.

Anyway, that’s my story, but what might be the most difficult part may still be ahead. They sent a tiny little frozen piece for diagnosis during surgery which came back as Stage 2, but it was less that 1% of the total tumor, so we will have to wait for more substantial tests. My brain lesion (the official diagnosis) is a cancerous tumor but it’s different than lung or colon or stomach cancers. Cancer actually just means an abnormal growth within the body, so all cancers have a different range of factors for judging growth rates, effects on health, cognition and mental performance, and about 5-6 other factors of which vary depending on the type.

After tests are completed the results will automatically be Stage 2, 3, or 4. Stage 2 being the best, Stage 4 the worst. Stage 2 can be helped with minimal treatments. The seriousness progresses slowly from there (depending on the levels of Stages) and depends on the individual conditions of my little brain tumor. Apparently they’re hard to classify due to the complexity of the human body and the uncountable factors that may come into play.

Tumor removed. Noggin' secure. Humor in place.

Tumor removed. Noggin’ secure. Humor in place.

Now to return to all sincerity, here’s to hoping for the best for Good Old Mikey and for plenty of more years of adventures with my Lady Holly!

Modern neuroscience is an amazingly wondrous thing and has given me more adventure time! After all it’s all we’ve got! At the moment I’m happy that I’m alive another day and that I can walk around, climb stairs, and sleep in my own bed.

Yeah! I made it with my wits, my wonder, and my sense of joy in place!



  1. Mike, the family and I are thinking and praying good thoughts to you, Holly, and your entire family and friends! We hope for a speedy recovery.
    My daughter, Melanie, wants to send silly thoughts to you, she’s 5, πŸ’šβ€οΈπŸ’šβ€οΈπŸ’šβ€οΈπŸ˜€πŸŒ πŸŒœπŸŒžπŸŒ“πŸŒˆβ›„οΈβ„οΈπŸŠπŸŽ¨πŸŽΉπŸŽ»πŸŽ€πŸŽ§πŸŽΌπŸŽ΅πŸ‡ΊπŸ‡ΈπŸ”΄πŸ”΅βš«οΈπŸŒ²πŸ’πŸŒ΅πŸπŸ–πŸ‡πŸπŸ₯! She explained each of these to me as she picked them out but it’s to much to say so enjoy. She just wants to get better fast!

    • Thanks Melanie! Your silly thoughts are much appreciated right now!

  2. Very thankful my 1st born came through this, another Adventure in life.
    That boys sense of humor ! ! I’m sure he got that from me.
    The Docs and hospital staff at U M Hospital were Awesome. Rather you believe in prayer, positive thought and or good vibs they were all very very busy Feb. 24-28 2014 ! !

    Life is an Adventure ! !
    It’s ALL GOOD ! !

    Love you Son ! !

    • Hallelujah!

  3. Mike, I must say, “I told you so…” It’s amazing what doctors can do these days. We live in interesting and amazing times! Stay positive and all will be good. Your pals at 6700 Antioch will always be here for you!

    • Thanks Dave!

  4. I seriously have the toughest, most badass hubbin ever! And he has the scars to prove it!

    • Just trying to keep up with the Joneses… They’re always acting so tough. Keeps me on my toes!

  5. You are The Last Avatar!!! Keep the humor and spirits MIkey!

    • Thanks Ed-mon! With what little I’ve been through, I can’t even imagine experiencing the level of your hardship a few years ago. Your family are veritable Stoics. Like Seneca struggling to live in troubled times. I never said anything for not taking a bigger part in what happened in your life, but sometimes things just seemed to big and too powerful to fully comprehend. My defense mechanism seems to be an escape from those situations, which I now understand and am trying to remedy. I hope that offers you some small degree of consolation for a long time ago and that you’ll forgive me for my ignorance.

  6. Stay strong Mikey! Sending positive vibes your way.

  7. Hey Mikey! Heard the news through the grapevine. Chad and I just wanted you guys to know we are thinking about you and wish you a speedy recovery! Hope the treatment goes as smoothly as your surgery. xoxo. Tiff

    • Thanks guys! I appreciate it!
      You guys were always fun to hang out with!
      If you’re ever in Columbia let me know. We’ll grab a beer or something.

  8. Hey Mike, this is Kristy, your half sister. I know we really don’t know each other but I wanted to let you know that I’m praying for a miracle healing for you!! God is more than able to heal you completely from cancer!! Praying for you and your wife.

    • Thank you, Kristy!
      No one in their right mind would deny additional support!

  9. “Miracle Mike” thats my new name for you ! ! I have no doubt you will kick cancers “sticky butte” cause you have support from all of the world. Prayers, positive thoughts, good vibes, great docs and a whole lot of LUV ! ! It’s all GOOD (who’s words are those)
    πŸ™‚ LOVE ya to the moon and back
    A bushel and a peck
    And a big ole hug around the
    neck ! ! !

  10. Mike, I’m just so happy for you and your family. Recover fast, we’ll get to work soon. πŸ™‚ I will call you one of these days, as soon as I settle back into the routine.

    Best wishes and prayers, from me and Aparna, from India!!

    • Thank you guys! It sounds as though you and yours are doing well!

      Best to you, Aparna, and little Darth (who isn’t so small any more!).

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