Tuesday, March 3, 2015

Five Week Post Op: Surgical Report reports

Five weeks today. Cuh. Ray. Zee. 

And, apparently in honor of that, I received both my surgical report *and* a bill from the anesthesiologist. Honestly, I'm not sure which is harder to interpret. 

From what I gathered from the surgical report, my brain tonsils were thicker and the arachnoid membrane had areas of opacity but not calcified deposits. (Apparently, the brain has 3 layers of membrane: the dura mater is the outer layer, arachnoid mater central, and pia mater final. Between the arachnoid and pia mater is the subarachnoid space, where CSF flows--thus our interest in the area.) Removal of the offending tonsils resulted in "brisk, pulsatile flow of cerebral spinal fluid" going up into and through all the places it's meant to be. Unplugging the CSF dam let the precious fluid flow. :) 

I also kept seeing that he used a #11 blade, so, there's...uh...that, should you want to go shopping for one for yourself. 

The report is obviously dense in medical lingo, but I get the impression that--as Dr. B said the day of my surgery--things went as expected, both with what he found when he went in and then in executing the plan to do with what was found. So, yay, or something. I'm printing up that report and adding it to my Giant Binder O' Medical Stuff as well as sending a copy on to my PCP. 

As for my bill from the anesthesiologist, it was filled with billed amounts and insurance adjustments. Actually, it's fascinating: inserting the arterial line (the one the monitored my blood pressure with every heartbeat and gave my arms a zombiefied look for a few weeks) had a billing amount of $795. Interesting that's separate. Then there's just a charge "anesthesia services," which must be all the etcetera activities involved in keeping Laura unconscious while her skull and brain are cut into. That billed amount is $10,600, but once insurance paid and the amount was adjusted, and we are left with $939. But! What I realized reading this bill while I typed details here is our secondary insurance was not billed--there's only one insurance listed as paying. So, hopefully we can whittle that down a little further. Initially I thought both insurances had paid, but that's two payments for the two different services. Good thing I came here to talk to you guys to realize that detail. ;) Time to roll up the sleeves and start this fun process--one I have a feeling we'll be in for a while--of contacting insurance(s) and medical office(s) ensuring everyone pays what they should before we start writing checks. 

As to how I'm feeling, in hindsight--much better each day! (Though it's sort of like, feel great today! Ooh, do too much. Feel awful next day. Repeat, but with a gradual upward trend.) I say "i hindsight" because in the moment it's still I WANT TO DO ALL THE THINGS AND MY BODY WON'T LET ME. 

Today, for example, I overdid it a tad (who, meeeee?). While according to Fitbit I average about 6000 steps in an entire day, I was just under 6000 steps by 11am. Whoops. (Pre-surgery, my daily goal was 8000.) "Overdoing it" makes me a bit wobbly as my muscles (particularly arms, shoulders, and chest) struggle to keep up with use. My incision area feels swollen and tender--uh, likely because it is--and my eyes ache from the increased pressure. Huh; I just realized I had a headache, but it's such a cute little baby thing compared to what I lived with before I don't call it that. My scalp is tender and my eyes hurt, and I know exactly why. Pffft. That's no headache! ;) I came home and crashed on our new couch, enjoying the built in recliner, and watched a few hours of mindless television, complying with a "Yes ma'am" to my body's demands to STOP IT ALREADY AND REST. NOW. 

I am noticing a few symptoms that are noticeable and annoying, but not devastating, that have lingered. Most aggravating are the short term memory issues. Seriously. Everyone has this sort of experience, as did I in my healthier days, but this is much more frequent than I ever recall it happening before. It's that feeling of walking into a room and forgetting why, but many freakin' times each day in many different ways. I keep my phone handy to type up reminders, and I swear half the time I forget what the reminder was as soon as notepad opens. I've mixed up procedural items (akin to putting the milk in the cabinet and cereal in the fridge) a bit more frequently than before, too, and my word recollection is a bit slower--sometimes the word is just POOF gone--than before. All of this was experienced before surgery, and as all my symptoms ebbed and flowed (except the headaches), I don't know if this is a true increase in that symptom or just its "normal" turn to be more prevalent than others before taking its place in Quiet Symptom Land. 

The feeling of ants crawling up the head and down the arms and legs ("parasthesia" I've learned it's called) still shows up randomly, sometimes even on my tongue, but it's completely harmless and I shrug them off. I do unfortunately still get body aches that feel a bit like my bones are throbbing, and they do still wear me down. 


The skull-crushing headaches are STILL gone. The tremors are STILL gone. The sleep apnea is STILL vastly improved (I think only a repeat sleep study can confirm if it's gone). 

I brought up my other symptoms not to express discouragement, but only to remain as open and honest about how I'm feeling as I am about finances. Again, I feel I owe it to you all--the entire truth, be it financial and physical. I did say going into this if all that went away were the headaches, it would be worth it, and I have absolutely no question *it was* and *it is.* 

Besides, this is only week five. 47 more to go. 

Hugs, love, and gratitude to you all.

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