The continuing bumpy, lumpy saga of a hobbyist equestrian whose life was turned upside-down and inside-out by rare diagnoses and ultimately, brain surgery. Mmmm...braaaaains. Ooh, and horsies!
Tuesday, February 10, 2015
One Week Post Op: Changes are a-changing
Part 4 of my updates, as C&Ped from my GoFundMe page:
Okay! I think I can do this now. Turns out
recovering from brain surgery is not, you know, all TA DAH! UP AND AT THEM!
am doing remarkably better. Like, in all ways. Like, it's weird. I'm not sure
how to go into the details of the ALL, because I really want to share the ALL,
so I'm just gonna start. Not quite James Joyce stream-of-consciousness
happening here, but it may be a bit rambly.
was a week ago today. That is very difficult for me to grasp for many reasons.
One, it's over. I'm on the other side. *I had brain surgery.* HAD. Not going to
have, not need, not scheduled, HAD. Two, I was discharged from the hospital
after 4 days and am semi-functional right now, 7 days after being admitted. The
days in the hospital are a bit of a blur, albeit for good reason, so the
concept that I *was* there is a bit hazy.
hospital was just...amazing. Afternoon of, I was checked in, undressed, IVed,
wrist-banded, and left waiting patiently in the OR, uh, prep room? Waiting
room? Whatever you called it. This was where Brian and I waited for everyone
associated with my procedure came to introduce themselves and hand me papers to
sign while I was coherent enough to sign them. First, there was Dr. B, who was
far briefer than I'd expected--but, we *had* seen him just the day before in a
sort of presurg meet-and-greet and he'd explained everything then, so I get why
he didn't linger again. Then there was the anesthesiologist, Dr. O'Neill.
Really liked her. Very precise, focused, friendly. But I had to warn her--my
body and general anesthesia do NOT get along. Nope. Not even a tense truce.
"Okay, I'll give you x-y-z to help with nausea." Having had some
success in the past with anesthesiologists outwitting my body's desire to expel
all the things as I recover from being put under, I had hope she would be as
successful. (le sigh) Thing I didn't consider was I've never been under this
long, and never had the whole puke/dizzy/balance center of my body (brain stem)
jostled in those back, sinus, and Cesarian surgeries. But, O'Neill was great.
She explained the fascinating, if rather creepy, process of putting an
"A-line" in my wrist for the procedure. It's sort of like an arterial
IV, except nothing more than a sensor goes in. This was a way for her to monitor
my blood pressure with literally every beat of my heart, rather than the
awkwardness of the blood pressure cuff and its intermittent timing.
parenthetical here--I only remember them using the A-line left in my left wrist
once I was in recovery (easy way to draw blood, among other things), but
judging by the fascinating zombiefication on my arms, they most decidedly put
one in both sides. And now, a week later, they look AWFUL. I mean, in a
creepy-cool, holy-crap-I-could-have-a-walk-on-spot-for-The Walking Dead awful.
So of course, I'll share pics of them later. ;) They do hurt a little,
bruised-like, but nowhere near the drama of their appearance.
back to the cast of characters. Someone else who came along was an
"electro-physiologist." This pleasant guy explained that he was going
to be putting electrodes on my body to monitor the various nerves branching out
from delicate brain-land. Once I was out, he was switching to needles (!)
inserted on top of the nerves (!!!) so that Dr. B and all involved could very
precisely ensure that they weren't damaging/touching/jostling/pestering any of
the affected nerves branching out.
their attention to me and attention to detail was and is astounding.
only delayed an hour or so, so I was wheeled into the OR at around 4pm. The
patient waiting in the--uh, stall?--next to me, I overheard, was having her
surgery delayed at least 2-3 hours because whatever was going on in her
assigned OR had emergency complications. My thought at the time was...well...I'd
rather be the one delayed than the REASON for the delay. That's scary stuff.
(Other Person seemed understandably disappointed, but also reasonably patient
was wheeled into the ice-cold OR and cautiously gave the place a look over.
White boards, clocks, storage cabinets, metal tables...I mean, it looked like a
highly sterile work environment. Which, uh, is exactly what it is. But I found
it oddly disconcerting that in this fairly nondescript room I was going to be
strapped down, semi-upright, and have my head cut into for the next 6 hours or
Dr. O'Neill gave me happy sedative juice and I was fiiiiiine with everything.
More people introduced themselves (love that they do that)--Dr. B's nurse,
assistant, I don't even remember who--and there were lots of grins and warm
faces. Dr. B said hello and, uh, other things I don't recall because then I
heard Dr. O'Neill say "Okay, I'm going to help you sleep now," and
that was IT.
up in that awful haze of post-general anesthesia semi-awareness and general
misery. This is actually what I'd been most nervous about--the immediate
recovery. My body, again, HATES anesthesia and punishes me severely for its
use. But um--I ain't going without it, so deal, body.
don't remember any "OPEN YOUR EYES LAURA. WAKE UP YOU JUST HAD
SURGERY," like I've experienced in my back surgeries (that nurse ranks as
my least fav ever in post op)--just moaning, groaning, and hurting. My head?
No, surprisingly. It was more or less numb. What hurt like crap was my neck
muscles, my left hip, and my left elbow. (Turns out, that has to do with how
I'd been strapped down.)
then, the vomiting came. And returned. And returned. And returned. And...yeah.
I have NO idea how many times it was, but I just have a vague memory of feeling
not barfy for a few minutes, then barfy, then repeat. Over and over and over
and over again, for hours. Sweet nurses gently wiping my mouth and bringing
another little pink barf tub. I heard the anesthesiologist (or...uh...some
female voice off to my right) at one point saying, "Wow. She is REALLY
sensitive to anesthesia." Oh, indeed I am. They fired everything they had
at me--I think it was at least 3 anti-nausea meds, plus something for my crazy
dizziness/lightheadedness--and still the violent and oh so frequent retching
came. It got to where it hurt my throat, and now a week later, I've realized
this is why they prescribed Pepcid for me--I'd burned my esophagus.
do want to share one immediate change in my symptoms that I noticed through the
hazy anguish. Vomiting, like coughing, laughing, sneezing, and the like,
increases intercranial pressure. It has, in the past, greatly magnified my
Chiari headaches and been one of many triggers that make the next few
hours--and frequently, days--a misery of increasing pain and pressure that
leaves me in varying degrees of agony for varying lengths of time. THIS time,
just a few short hours after being sewn up, well yes...it hurt. Of course. A
chunk of my skull was cut out, my dura opened, my brain cut into. BUT. Even
*then*, the sharp pain that came with the retching almost immediately went
away. It was like 5 seconds of OW OW OW MY HEAD and then...oh, okay, better
now. Every time, every convulsion. That was the first sign something Big Was
Different, and it was beautiful (if, uh, ugly).
This is where my head and eyes start to hurt, their way of saying "Yo,
enough. Rest NOW,", but there is more I do wish to tell you. My follow up
with Dr. B yesterday was amazing, and already, I am seeing borderline
miraculous changes--maybe not "borderline." So I shall rest--during a
lovely drive with Bri around Long Island--and be back with more later.
much, MUCH love to you all. More than I can ever express, but I'm going
to at least try: I love you.