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! 

But! I 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. 

Surgery 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. 

The 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. 

Now, a 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. 

Okay, 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. 

Seriously, their attention to me and attention to detail was and is astounding. 

I was 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 and accepting.) 

So I 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 so. 

Then 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. 

I woke 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. 

I 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.) 

And 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. 

Now, I 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). 

Okay. 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, MUCH love to you all. More than I can ever express, but I'm going to at least try: I love you.

No comments:

Post a Comment