Information on brain lessions and vegan raw food recipes needed.
August 6, 2011 1:41 PM   Subscribe

What does it mean if someone has a "brain lesion"? And how can we be supportive of our friend? Also vegan/raw food recipes needed (yes I know this question is kind of all over the place!).

I just got a text from a good friend - his partner D is in hospital with a brain lesion and is getting an MRI.

D had been having strange symptoms for a few weeks, mostly confusion and difficulty speaking in complete sentences. He was also sleeping a lot, sometimes up to 20 hours a day. He kept going to his primary care GP who had no clue what was wrong and last week gave him a questionnaire to fill out to determine whether it was caused by depression. Now next thing I know I get this text so he must have finally gotten the referral he needed.

I guess I have three questions. 1. What is this likely to be exactly and what it the prognosis? 2. What can I do to help him and his partner? D is in hospital about a 5 hours drive away but they live near us normally. I'm not sure where the partner is - I've texted back to find out. 3. The only idea I have to help is that I could cook some meals for them and drop them off at their house. Both are vegan and into raw foods so any recipes I could make for them would be great.
posted by hazyjane to Health & Fitness (8 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
1. A brain lesion is a general term for localized brain damage. Prognosis depends very heavily on extent and location. There could be permanent or semi-permanent loss of cognitive function. The loss of function could be general (likely) or quite specific (less likely). General loss of function is things like ability to concentrate, memory, problem-solving, clear speech, etc. Common causes are inflammatory processes, like encephalitis, meningitis, and so on.

2. In many ways, damage from brain lesions is very similar to damage from a stroke, both in terms of unpredictable effects and unpredictable likelihood and extent of recovery. I imagine the support the individual might need is very similar.
posted by Nomyte at 1:56 PM on August 6, 2011 [1 favorite]

With brain injuries and tumors, the details of location matter a LOT. So you can't tell from "brain lesion" how bad it will be. They will have a much more accurate idea of the prognosis after doing the MRI and whatever other tests they're going to do. It's good he is finally getting this taken seriously.

The best thing you can do is, if it turns out to be something bad, don't disappear - keep checking in, gently, and be understanding if your friend doesn't want to talk today - he may want to talk tomorrow. Don't be pushy but be present; don't be scared off.

Lots of vegan raw food websites out there. I had a great mango-red cabbage slaw and a massaged kale salad that were great a few days ago; search up "vegan raw" and you'll get lots of recipes. One issue is what will keep - do they use frozen ingredients? Dropping off bags of frozen veggie soups and pre-chopped smoothie ingredients might be very helpful too.
posted by LobsterMitten at 2:01 PM on August 6, 2011 [1 favorite]

Something else helpful, depending how close you are:
You could offer to be a volunteer coordinator (for grocery shopping, cleaning, respite care, etc), if they end up coming home and having lots of friends wanting to help. You could offer to be the point person who writes up generalized medical updates and send them around to your friend's circle, if they want that. You could pick up visiting relatives at the airport and take them to their house.
posted by LobsterMitten at 2:05 PM on August 6, 2011 [1 favorite]

Oh wow. Cleaning! I was just laid up for two months. Finally got me a cleaning service. My husband I feel so much better about our lives now. I can't believe we ever hesitated.

Organize regular cleaning, especially if they don't already have a service.

You will be doing them a great kindness.
posted by jbenben at 2:19 PM on August 6, 2011 [1 favorite]

The blog Oh She Glows has a ton of great vegan recipes, many that skew to the raw side. Lots of casserole-y/hearty salad ideas for make-ahead dinners, as well as crazy delicious comfort desserts.
posted by telegraph at 3:30 PM on August 6, 2011 [1 favorite]

Your friend would probably appreciate someone that he can talk to honestly. He may have some complicated feelings that he can't share with his partner or others directly involved. Also, many people say "How are you?" but they don't really want to hear the truth. So, give him an opening to talk about what is really going on for him (and be OK if he just wants to talk about normal, nonhealth related things instead)
posted by metahawk at 11:47 PM on August 6, 2011

Based on this information, all it means is that someone is taking his puzzling symptoms seriously enough to attempt a real diagnosis. That's good. The word "lesion" has a different meaning to a doctor than it does to the rest of us: "any pathological or traumatic discontinuity of tissue or loss of function of a part. Lesion is a broad term, including wounds, sores, ulcers, tumors, cataracts, and any other tissue damage."

Any abnormality in form or function is a lesion. Technically, a hangnail is a lesion. A headache is a lesion. (IANAD, but my D told me those exact words as he dismissed a "lesion" on my CT scan, which was indeed, happily, a nothing.) "Lesion" is the word doctors use when they think they see something, maybe, but they don't yet know enough about it to give it a real name, or maybe it's really nothing at all but it's enough of a nothing that they want to look at it better.

It's a very odd use of the word from a layperson's point of view, because hearing it causes an awful feeling in the pit of your stomach and makes the situation, whatever it is, even harder to deal with.
posted by Corvid at 12:21 PM on August 7, 2011

Any abnormality in form or function is a lesion. Technically, a hangnail is a lesion. A headache is a lesion.

In my experience it has been used almost exclusively to refer to radiographic findings and skin lumps and bumps by non-radiologists and non-dermatologists (who both hate the term). It's always something that's not normal, but that doesn't mean that it is necessarily dangerous.

That said, when you're talking about the brain, a "lesion" would usually represent some kind of mass, rather than evidence of infarction/stroke/bleed.
posted by robstercraw at 8:22 AM on August 10, 2011

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