Life can change in the blink of an eye.
Ellie Musgrove was left stunned after a routine optometrist appointment ended with her being rushed into emergency surgery the same day — for a deadly brain tumor.
The 21-year-old British woman noticed her vision was impaired with black spots before she visited her eye doc for a checkup back in March. Dr. Aqeel Mahmood discovered swelling of the young woman’s optic nerve and sent her straight to the hospital for an MRI scan.
Sure enough, the scan revealed Musgrove was suffering from a large tumor lodged on her brain. She was rushed into emergency surgery to drain excess fluid that had built up in the area, with medics saying she would have died if it was left for another 24 hours.
“I went from having my eyes tested at 11 a.m. to having emergency brain surgery by 11:30 p.m. on the same day,” Musgrove told South West News Service.
Musgrove — who hails from Manchester, England — started experiencing severe headaches and neck pain after her 21st birthday back in January. She also noticed she was suffering from double vision, as well as the black spots in her eyes.
“My headaches and neck pains seemed to be worse in the mornings and evenings but were still in the background throughout the day,” she explained. “My doctor suspected I had an ear infection and prescribed antibiotics, but my symptoms didn’t improve.”
Thinking she might need glasses, Musgrove booked an appointment with optometrist Mahmood.
“I noted swelling of the optic nerves in both eyes and this, in conjunction with Ellie’s symptoms, indicated that something was seriously wrong,” Mahmood said. “Urgent medical intervention was required, so I immediately referred Ellie to Manchester Royal Eye Hospital.”
After numerous scans and tests that same day, Musgove was transferred by ambulance to the neurology department at Salford Royal Hospital and diagnosed with hydrocephalus — a buildup of fluid deep within the brain, according to the Mayo Clinic.
“The MRI confirmed I had a brain tumor between the pineal and pituitary glands, which was blocking the fluid flow around my brain,” Musgrove stated.
Thankfully, the tumor was benign, and doctors were able to successfully drain the fluid.
However, the Brit was also diagnosed with Addison’s disease — an uncommon disorder that occurs when the body doesn’t produce enough of certain hormones.
“The tumor is affecting my pituitary gland, which is a devastating blow as I will have to take hydrocortisone steroids [to combat Addison’s disease] for the rest of my life,” she explained.
Musgrove will not have to have the slow-growing tumor removed anytime soon, but will need to be monitored to make sure fluid doesn’t begin to build up again.
Still, Musgrove says she feels incredibly lucky that Mahmood sent her straight to the hospital, and that her life was saved in the nick of time.
“My life has been turned upside down, but I, along with my family, will be forever grateful to Aqeel Mahmood,” she declared. “If it weren’t for him, I would not be here today. He saved my life.”
Mahmood says the story shows “the importance of looking after your eye health.”
“Had Ellie ignored her symptoms and put off seeing an optician, it could have been a very different outcome,” he said.