A man diagnosed with depression after his personality changed dramatically was actually suffering from a brain tumour the size of a large potato.
Raymond Spalding, 40, was usually articulate and lively, but he started to struggle to find his words and become despondent over just a matter of months.
Dad-of-one Raymond’s GP diagnosed depression and prescribed antidepressants, but his wife Charlotte, also 41, was convinced something else was to blame.
Unconvinced, it was the pandemic taking its toll, Charlotte convinced him to go to A&E where a scan uncovered a 7.8 x 5 cm growth on his brain.
Thankfully, the tumour was benign and Raymond underwent a risky five-hour surgery to remove it.
He has now made a full recovery – and immediately regained his full speech, and the strength he had lost on one side of his body.
IT account manager Raymond is back to his old self, and is speaking out to encourage others to keep an eye on unusual symptoms.
Raymond, from Erskine, Renfrewshire, Scotland, said: “I woke up one morning in mid-September and I found it very hard to get out of bed, and then off the couch too, and ordinarily I’m up and down ten-a-penny.
“Me and my wife usually finish each others sentences but I couldn’t get my words out, and the worst thing I could imagine would be Charlotte not speaking.
“It was just one or two sentences at a push whereas before I had verbal diarrhoea.
“I noticed I was being a lot shorter with customers too, and struggled to send proper emails due to the weakness in my hand.”
Raymond started to have trouble writing and felt weak in his right side at the end of September 2020.
He improved his diet and started to exercise more, but his symptoms got worse, and he struggled to explain himself and missed words out while speaking.
Wife Charlotte, a supply chain executive, said: “We became overly concerned when Raymond had to end a call to a client because he lost the ability to get any words out.
“He is usually extremely articulate and well spoken; his wit being one of the things I love about him the most.”
He visited his GP in November last year and explained he’d been having difficulty writing and speaking, but also that sales had also been drying up in his job after COVID hit and had a shorter temper.
Raymond said: “I knew what I wanted to say but I could only get the basics out- it was frustrating, and when you get frustrated you get angry easily.”
He was diagnosed with depression but soon his speech was so bad he could not explain himself properly over the phone.
Charlotte called the doctor in early December and two days later she phoned NHS 24.
She said: “Raymond was now despondent and seemed like a shell of his former self.”
A few weeks later he started to drag his right leg and his GP told him to go to A&E.
A CAT scan at the Royal Alexandra Hospital, in Paisley, revealed a mass, later confirmed to be a tumour measuring 7.8cm x 5cm – the size of a “baking potato”.
Charlotte said: “You never ever think its going to be that. It came so unexpectedly, I didn’t manage to hold myself together very well.
“I went into panic mode and started crying, and as my son was with me at the time he was also desperately upset to see me like that.”
She said she saw him briefly – when she dropped off food and essentials with their son Cooper, 13, – and he was far from the man she recognised as her husband.
Charlotte said: “The size and location of the tumour meant was pressing on so many different things memory, behaviour, cognitive function, speech, strength so it had a multitude of impacts,”
The mum-of-one said: “He came out, grabbed the McDonalds, said thanks and did a 180. He was just someone else.
“Seeing him so confused and removed was really difficult.”
Raymond was transferred to the Queen Elizabeth Hospital in Glasgow to undergo emergency surgery on December 18, and the family were warned he could be permanently disabled.
“I didn’t have time to take it on board or Google anything,” Raymond said.
“When the surgeon came in to run though the list of things that could possible go wrong; death, speech therapy, rehab, memory loss.
“I’m quite lazy so I wasn’t looking forward to rehab! But it would have been heart-breaking and the worst thing to not recognise my wife or son.
“It hit home when, after I’d travelled to the hospital, I asked it I could have a cigarette before I went inside.
“I got outside the ambulance and just burst into tears, and the driver, who was a big tough-looking guy, put his arm around me.”
After his procedure, Raymond awoke and had immediately regained his speech and the strength on his right side.
He made a full and “remarkable” recovery, and was discharged just two days later.
Charlotte said: “I got a fright when I saw him as I had not expected to see half his head had been opened up from ear to ear, it just made me very aware of how fragile he is.
“Even now I touch his head and it feels so soft, even Raymond says it sometimes feels like his brain is sloshing around!”
Doctors believe the tumour had been slowly growing over a number of years and said it was “unbelievable” Raymond functioned as he did due to its size.
Charlotte said: “We are simply grateful for still having each other, and that the ‘old’ Raymond is with us again.
“The experience has made us thankful for every day, as it makes you realise the things that really matter in life.
“He is the love of my life and I thought I was going to lose him, but we can now look to the future and continue to make our plans for Route 66 when we retire.”