December 03, 2018
Reggie Peoples didn't necessarily have moves before his brain surgery, but with Michael Jackson playing on his wife's phone and his kids' hands in his, he found reason to dance in the hospital room after it.
An 8-year journey for Reggie, now 34 years old, culminated with the minimally invasive endoscopic removal of a pituitary tumor that had increasingly obstructed his optic nerve.
Years in Chicago provided exciting opportunities for the Kansas City, Kansas, native. Reggie studied fashion merchandising at the Art Institute of Chicago and lived in a condo on the iconic Lake Shore Drive. He met Jill, who hailed from Michigan and became his wife. The couple welcomed a son, Roman, nicknamed their "Windy City Baby." In 2009, the young family returned to Reggie's roots in Kansas City.
But the Peoples family didn't settle down as easily as Reggie and Jill had envisioned. Instead, Reggie, working in business development for a sign company, began to experience severe vision problems. When tests conducted by his optometrist and 3 different retinal specialists revealed nothing wrong with his eyes, Reggie sought help at The University of Kansas Health System.
An MRI and CT scan quickly revealed the source of Reggie's vision problems: He had a pituitary tumor.
"It was terrifying," Reggie says. "It was an extremely rapid process. I was sent home to pack a bag and was back for surgery the next day."
Neurosurgeon Phillip Hylton, MD, led Reggie's care team and was able to remove about 50% of the tumor.
An ongoing journey
While relieved to learn the tumor was not cancerous and glad to have the surgery behind him, Reggie faced continued health challenges.
The next 6 years included the joy of welcoming daughter Chloé to the family, but also brought continued deterioration in Reggie's eyesight. Eventually, his left eye functioned at just 25% of normal and his right eye at 20%. He could not drive well. He could not do his best work. But he tried to press on.
"I felt that I couldn't put my wife under stress," Reggie says. "If I could not work, the financial stability of our home would be jeopardized. That's what was on my mind, as a husband and a father."
A professional who relied on a computer, Reggie found he had to close his right eye entirely to see anything at all. This created further strain on his left eye, as it worked to compensate for the closed eye. During this time, Reggie was not under a physician's care.
"That was a vital mistake, I know now," Reggie says. "My vision loss became intolerable. My head was cloudy. I was in a constant state of confusion. But, out of ego, I was still driving."
Ultimately, it was Reggie's struggle to drive that sent him back for medical help. While behind the wheel one night, he struck a parked vehicle he could not see.
"It was the last straw," he says. "We were so thankful that I was alone in the car and no one was hurt. It was the wake-up call I needed."