My Chatter Problem

By Lloyd Graff

Every day I talk to myself. Some days it’s a happy soliloquy of self congratulations for a task accomplished or a relationship strengthened. Other days it’s just wallowing in failure, doubting my talent, feeling old and decrepit.

The monologue in my brain is ever shifting, which is a good thing for somebody whose body chemistry is a bit screwed up.

In a few days I “get to” have brain surgery. Yes, I “get to” because I need it quite badly and there is a very good chance it will make my life a lot better on the other side.

I have a benign tumor of the pituitary gland, which is impairing my peripheral vision. Ultimately, if it continues to get bigger, and it will, it will make me blind because it will crush my optic nerve, which is in its path. My surgeon told me quite forcefully that he must remove the pituitary gland now or my vision will only get worse.

I do have a choice in how I talk to myself. Do I fall into the “why me” mode and rant about my crappy luck, or do I thank God that my retina surgeon sent me to an ophthalmologist for a glaucoma check and he found the textbook symptom of a pituitary adenoma by administering the visual field test that is standard for a glaucoma screening? He was shocked by my lack of peripheral vision when he saw the results.

My doctors tell me I was extremely lucky it was discovered before it became dire.

Do I feel lucky? Depends on the moment.

If the surgery goes as planned I will go home after a few days. Surgery this Friday, a night in Intensive Care. Saturday, somewhat groggy, but walking around a bit. Sunday, eating a little, company for the Super Bowl. And Monday, go home.

I talk that scenario up to myself. My wife Risa and I talk about company and her sleeping arrangements. But the primary dialogue is still in my own head.

Fortunately, the surgeon can reach the pituitary gland by making a small incision in my nose and threading a microscope with a cutting tool attached to it through a sinus to the enlarged gland.

He will check the tumor’s texture visually and by nibbling it with his tiny cutting tool. If it is soft he will be able to remove most of it surgically. If it is tough he will take out less and get the rest of it through a regimen of radiation treatments in a couple months. He has done these surgeries for 20 years and seems very confident, but respectful of the procedure’s delicate nature and possible complications.

So I keep talking to myself when I cannot distract my mind with work or television. The self conversation continues, even if it is muffled by deliberate distraction.

I have to get to Friday and my 6am MRI and 7:30am surgery. I’ll be ok. I don’t have a choice on this. I’ll get my lost vision back. My hormones will get back in sync and I’ll feel better. I’ll watch the Super Bowl on Sunday and have a slice of pizza.

Yes, it’s all going to be ok.

Yes, let the good times roll.

The conversation with myself rarely stops. An occasional Valium subdues the fears for a while, but my psyche has a chatter problem.

I’ll let you know how the procedure at the University of Chicago Hospital comes out, next week. Should make for quite an interesting article.

That’s how I prefer to think about it.

Question: Can someone explain to me how this medical cutting tool works?

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43 thoughts on “My Chatter Problem

  1. Michael Koch

    Good Luck with the surgery Lloyd, Looks like the good Lord has a lot of future plans for you, or you may not have caught the tumor soon enough. As far as chatter goes, one of my machinist wanted to know how to fix boring bar chatter, I told him to go with more interesting people!

  2. Peter

    Good luck with the surgery, and follow their directions afterwards. I have a lot of internal chatter, I think everybody does.

  3. Rod Brower


    A good Friend of mine had the same issue come up.
    First he did the surgery and all was well.
    It reappeared late last year as some times they can not get every last bit removed manually.
    This time they went with the Gamma Knife Process and He was told it should not bother Him for the rest of his life.
    He said the worst part was having His Head clamped into the alignment frame for 2-3 hours.
    No side effects and just a couple days of fogginess.
    Best Wishes with Yours.

  4. Randy

    Lloyd, You might want to check with the surgeon on if the tool was made on a new or “beautiful” used screw machine and if they cleaned it properly (never know if they are using a Durr or the old New Holland spinner and a bucket of solvent.

    I’m sure all will go fine and we will look forward to hearing the report next week,

  5. Terry Donovan

    Lloyd, they have several videos on Youtube, check them out, best of luck and see you after the S.B.

  6. Lloyd Graff

    Thanks Rod on that. Surgeon told Me he same, that is why the radiation (up to 5 sessions) with my head in an uncomfortable position for a half hour will come up later.

  7. Jack

    Good luck Lloyd.
    Don’t worry about it.
    MRI, surgery, recovery, pizza. Sounds like a good plan.
    Looking forward to your next article.

  8. Jeff

    Hi Lloyd
    I’ve had 7 surgeries in the last 6 years. It’s getting to be so routine for me that I take a nap while waiting to be brought into surgery.
    Then after surgery I always try to put the moves on all the hot nurses.
    Try to relax and think of it as an adventure. A new experience.
    Good luck Lloyd

  9. Seth Emerson

    The funny guys will tell you that after the surgery, you will see political things more clearly! Hope it goes great, Lloyd!

  10. jerry


    Nothing quite like facing any kind of surgery. I will light a candle at Mass for you. You are lucky to have so many people praying for you. Not only does it help, it works.

  11. Jerry Johnson

    Best of luck Lloyd. With all the support that you have from Prayers, Friends and Family, this will be a “cake walk” for you.

    I am certainly no expert, but I believe that if the mass is soft enough, the Surgeon will simply vacuum it out.

    God Speed my friend. Looking forward to your “recovery article”.

  12. Ted Roberts

    Good luck Lloyd. I will send some lapsed Catholic prayers your way. With no scar it looks like your modeling career will still be OK.

  13. Lloyd Graff

    Hi Jerry,

    I like the vacuum idea. It depends on
    Whether it is mushy enough. Hole is a little small for a big Dyson to get in.

  14. Art Santana

    From a Mexican Mormon boy; my best prayers to you. You will be ok; we still need to see your beloved Cubs in the series after all and you need to be there. Go Dodgers! and Cubs of course.Good luck.

  15. Beth

    Keep up the good attitude, Lloyd. The research shows that a positive attitude is strongly linked to the success of the treatment and the speed and quality of your recovery. Chatter away! And good luck.

  16. Sara

    You are our favorite! We look forward to all your chatter. You very intelligently make us all think.
    We need you to continue and after all “this is the year for the Cubs”. They need you there.
    God bless always!!!!

  17. Jeff Nawrot

    Lloyd – Wish that fixing your chatter issue was as simple as a silly spindle liner! Hope things go smoothly and you are back “stirring” things up in TMW soon!
    All the best from Trusty Cook!
    Jeff Nawrot

  18. Jill Sevelow

    Lloyd, your chatter is a lovely part of who you are. Wishing you a successful surgery and complete refuah Shlema- renewal of body and spirit.

  19. Donnie

    Lloyd, Enjoy your writings very much and will be looking forward to many more. One more lucky thing, is that you live in a city where the resources are available to make this a routine and what sounds like a fairly simple procedure. Count those blessings and enjoy that super bowl and pizza.


  20. John Giordano

    Good luck Lloyd.Enjoy your articles very much and look forward to many more.Wish you a speedy recovery.

  21. Jeff Poole

    Best of luck with your surgery. And with your attempts to keep positive. I’ve never had this particular surgery, so I can’t be of much benefit in allaying your fears about it. Sounds like you have an experienced surgeon, and that’s one of the best failsafes you can get, IMHO.
    14 years ago, I did have some pretty serious surgery going on. At 46, I had a stroke. That’s early, considering I was in pretty good shape, no high blood pressure, no cholesteral problems. Turns out, there was a hole in between the atrial chambers in my heart. All babies are born with it, but it usually heals on it’s own in the early stages of toddlerhood. Mine didn’t. It allowed a tiny clot to bypass the bodies natural filters, and go straight to my brain. Eight days in the hospital, and I was back out. They had me on cumadin to prevent another clot doing it all again till the stroke sight healed, then the plan was to go in and close the PFO(acronym for Patent Foramin Ovalie, or the hole I had in my heart). They would have to stop my heart, use a heart lung machine to keep me alive, fix the hole, then jump start the heart again. Which they did, after a few complications. Modern medicine has done some fantastic things in the last few years. I don’t know what your personal faith is, or even if you subscribe to such a thing, but I came through all this ordeal with no deficits what so ever, and looking back at it, I have to believe that there is a reason for all that. I personally believe that my Creator had, or has , something else he wants me to accomplish for him. There have been several other incidents that have occurred that reinforce that idea. I think you might consider the fortuitous diagnosis of your situation just such an incident, or a wake up call. If He has something for you to do, He is going to be there to get you through whatever it takes to get you there. This is the most reassuring part of Faith. Leave it up to Him, and He WILL get you there.
    In your case, they fortunately don’t have to stop your heart or any other part of you to access the area. Anesthesia IS always a concern, but it has been managed millions of times in the past, almost to the point that it is as irrelevant as crossing the street, and just about the same risk. You have to figure, if it’s your time, it’s your time. Better to go while snoozing than screaming in a train wreck!
    So just go with it. Trust that you’ve exercised due diligence in choosing the surgeon, and keep focused on the long term. What would life be WITHOUT the surgery, and what is life likely to be WITH it. All things are relative. Makes life easier to deal with. Good luck, and we’ll see you on the other side.

  22. Jerry Levine

    Best wishes, Lloyd. Our prayers are with you. We will stop by the hospital this weekend.
    Jerry & Sue

  23. ed kays

    Life has dealt you your cards. You can play em or fold em. Folding is not an option. You can look around and find many people who have been dealt a much worse hand than you. Keeping a positive attitude will make all the difference in your recovery.

    Good Luck,


  24. rick

    We had a Gentleman in our shop, a great CNC operator. Was crippled with debilitating headaches. After almost a year, he finally got an MRI. They found TWO tumors, both larger than golf balls. Shortly thereafter he had surgery. The two tumors were fortunately both found to be benign. Two days after the surgery he was released from the hospital and stopped in the shop. He was like a new person with a new lease on life!

    That was over TWENTY years ago. He is still working with us every day.

    We all know that medical advancements have continued exponentially since then.

    Fear not and Godspeed.
    You are in my prayers…


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