Six months ago, a perfectly healthy 39-year-old Lenin Cuevas started struggling to read, and even to walk.
"I felt something odd," Cuevas said. "I never fall, but I fell twice."
Before long, the father of two couldn't drive. Cuevas went to the doctor and discovered he had a tumor pressing on his optic nerve. He was nearly blind in his right eye.
Northwestern neurosurgeon Dr. James Chandler offered him ground-breaking brain surgery. Done entirely through the nose, the tumor would be removed with no visible incisions.
"The only incision is in the back of the nose, and it's not visible to the patient," Chandler said. "The recovery time can be 24 to 36 hours."
Dr. Chandler said the Northwestern Brain Tumor Institute is the first in the world to use a 3-D mini-microscope for the surgery. Video of a surgery similar to the one Cuevas underwent shows the surgeons wearing what looks like sunglasses.
Those glasses are just like the ones you get at an IMAX movie or Universal Studios. In an operating room, Chandler says, they give the surgeon an incredibly clear, 3-D picture inside the patient's head.
"It's a dramatic view in through the nose to the base of the skull," he said. "When you put on glasses just like if you're at a movie, you go from a blurred image to an image where you have a sense of depth perception."
Cuevas says the day after surgery, he was walking around the hospital lobby. A week later he was back at work, amazing even himself.
"He had 3-D glasses! That was kind of cool," Cuevas said. "I didn't know til later on. I was like, 'really? That's cool. I like that.'"
There was just one problem.
"Nobody believes it," Cuevas says. "I told the story at work and everyone looks at me and asks, 'Where's the scar?' [I said,] 'It went through the nose.' Even my own boss is kind of skeptical."