Jun 15, 2010

Brain Surgery, Part I

I realize I am looooooooooong overdue for this post, but I tend to think for good reason. It’s not for lack of wanting to write it, I just know that it is going to be a long post that will take a lot of energy – something that I am trying to gain back piece by piece. So let’s start at the beginning.

On Tuesday, April 27th at 5:00am I arrived at Baylor Dallas. We had to go early so I could do a blood pregnancy test to *ensure* I wasn’t knocked up (could’ve told you THAT without the needle!) Most of my family came – my husband, my mother and her boyfriend, my mom (grandmother), my dad and stepmom, and my best friend Carly. Surgery was scheduled for 7:15am sharp so I got to spend time with and see everyone beforehand. They all did an excellent job at keeping my spirits up, because although I wasn’t scared it’s still never fun to be under the knife, especially when you’re getting part of your head shaved. We laughed and joked about all sorts of nonsense, talked to the surgeons, got the most horrific IV ever placed in my wrist, and said our good-byes. It was supposed to take about 4-5 hours from start to finish. The anesthetist was amazing; he promised great drugs with no sickness afterwards (and he delivered!). I remember the whole ride to the operating room, talking to the nurses and moving over onto a steel table with an egg-crate cushion for my head. As soon as I lay down, I was out.

When I woke up in recovery, I was cold and thirsty as I usually am, and a kind nurse was putting hospital-grade Blistex on my lips (I should mention that I now have four tubes of the stuff and it is awesome). There was goop all in my eyes much like what they put in newborns eyes and I was not pleased. I really tried to be nice but was mostly pissy because a) they wouldn’t give me anything to drink, b) I couldn’t see and wanted my glasses and c) I wasn’t allowed to see my family. Little did I know at this point that they didn’t even KNOW I was in recovery. The pain wasn’t too bad but they kept it manageable, telling me the entire time that I could only get the good drugs in recovery so they were keeping me until I was comfortable. Come to find out, the nurses couldn’t figure out where I was supposed to go – ICU or a regular room. I’d been told I was to go straight to ICU for 24 hours and then transfer to a regular room for 24 hours before I could go home, but apparently I’d done so well during the surgery that I could skip ICU altogether, YAY! Finally they let Brent come see me, bring me my glasses and give me lovin’s. After that my mom and everyone else got to come say hi before they were rushed away. All total I was in recovery for 5 ½ hours before I was finally moved to HOB 305 at almost 7:00pm.

Never had I been so grateful to be in a room. Brent and Carly were waiting for me, with a huge sweet tea. I was starving because I hadn’t eaten in the last 24 hours so the nurse promised to get me something to eat, but it took her forever so I wound up eating some leftover baked potato that Brent had brought. Finally around 9:00pm the nurse brought me some chicken noodle soup and I thought maybe I’d died and gone to Heaven! LOL After I’d eaten the nurse came by and gave me some Percocet and Morphine and I could finally sleep, which I did in about two hour intervals. I was unable to get out of bed on my own so I’d have to wake Brent to help me to the bathroom but I slowly started gaining strength. Turns out I had 17 staples in my head, about three stitches behind my ear, three stitches in my neck and some Dermabond in my navel. There were NO incisions in my belly and I was thrilled! They had been able to do that part laproscopically so I felt very relieved, not to mention lucky just based on the horror stories I’d heard. Unfortunately when the nurse brought me my pain meds at 4:00am she put them in a little too fast and I became violently ill. The poor tech had to come in and change my entire bedding and my gown at 4:30am and I was miserable.

After what I’d consider a decent night’s rest, we woke up early the next morning when my mother and Christine arrived. They visited for a while until my neurosurgeon came in and gave me the greatest news ever – I could go HOME! All I had to do was have an x-ray to ensure placement of the shunt catheter in my belly and I was a free woman. So about 24 hours after having major brain surgery, I went home! I made a whole bunch of phone calls and wrote a few emails on the way and was ever so glad to be in my very own bed. Getting comfortable was definitely a challenge but with enough pillows I was able to prop myself up and rest. That was on Wednesday, and by Friday I was ready to get out of the house. Somehow I convinced Brent to take me to Target, where I snagged a new comfy robe and some ice cream. Come Sunday I was feeling really great, still hadn’t had a headache and I was recovering very nicely, so we decided to make a short trip over to Home Depot. I picked out some new planters and we got some granules for the yard and came home.

While Brent was fixing dinner Sunday night I was laying on the couch with the computer in my lap playing on Facebook. When I moved the computer from my lap I noticed that my shirt was wet and couldn’t figure out why – I hadn’t been drinking anything super cold that could’ve dripped. From the placement of the wet area of my shirt over my navel it almost appeared the fluid was leaking from the incision in my navel, but I couldn’t be entirely sure because the shirt was dark purple and I couldn’t make anything come out. This was the first time I became nervous since the surgery. Something in my gut told me that it wasn’t right and so I called the neurosurgeon, who suggested I call the general surgeon who’d placed the catheter in my belly. I knew he was Dr. Taylor but for the life of me couldn’t figure out his first name so we just made the decision to travel back to Dallas and visit the emergency room, just to be on the safe side. We arrived sometime after 8:00pm and proceeded to wait for over 3 ½ hours to be seen. In the meantime the nurses on staff were trying to determine what was going on, and I told them that I thought there was spinal fluid leaking out of my belly from the catheter. They were absolutely clueless about the disease I had as well as the shunt, and even though they could see that when I leaned back fluid poured out of the incision, they deemed my case non-emergent and put me at the bottom of the list. This made me incredibly upset and I had a falling-out with the nurse at the front desk, as I couldn’t understand how I was non-emergent when I’d just had major brain surgery five days prior and was leaking a clear fluid out of one of the incisions. I begged them to look at my file and find my surgeon’s name, which they refused to do. Finally I called my neurosurgeon back and his amazing nurse Peggy got in touch with me (keep in mind this is after 11:00pm on a Sunday) and told me to have the nurse contact Dr. Coimbra immediately. Do you think his happened? Nope! I was finally put in a room for about ten minutes, given pain medicine and sent back home to call my doctor in the morning. This would prove to be a big mistake on the part of the emergency room staff.

More to come, KC

1 comment:

  1. I had that same problem with the recovery room. Dr. C had told me that I wouldn't need ICU, but my chart had it listed that I was to go there. I know I was in there a good three hours before they found a bed for me on a non-ICU floor. I kept dozing in and out, but everytime I would wake up I could hear my nurse on the phone, trying to find a place for me.


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