Jul 1, 2010

Brain Surgery, Part III

It’s all over, finally. At least I hope it is. Two days ago I had my third and final surgery for the VP shunt, the second revision in 10 weeks. Of all three surgeries this was by far the easiest, but I just feel beat up and tired.

When I went in for my pre-admit Tuesday morning, my oxygen levels were at 94% just as Dr. Taylor said they would be; so long as I had that catheter behind my lung I would never get above 95%. Brent and I settled in and just relaxed while I waited for my turn in the operating room, it was just the two of us and I enjoyed it that way. He had to go to work while I was in surgery but I knew he’d be back when I got out and it relieved me of the obligations of having to entertain anyone but myself when it was over.

My favorite anesthesiologist Dr. Flewellen was back this time and he was just the sweetest thing. Once he got my IV going we headed back to the OR. That is probably one of the longest rides, from pre-op to the trauma hall. It was a dreary and rainy morning but that operating room was still bright and cheery with him there. I’ve become way too familiar with the surroundings of that room and I almost wish I could wear my glasses in so that I could see better, see all of the high-tech equipment they use and not just the shadows. Dr. Flewellen wasn’t pleased with how my IV was going so he promised that once I was out he would move it so that I wouldn’t be in any discomfort. He gave me oxygen and the nastiest laughing gas and it took me a while to finally fall asleep.

When I woke up from surgery I was sore but not in pain. I could breathe! My oxygen levels were back to 100% as soon as I woke up. All I wanted was water and my glasses but couldn’t have either. The entire surgery took just about an hour and I was up and alert within half an hour of arriving in recovery. They allowed me to call Brent and tell him I was fine, and that I wanted a large sweet tea and my glasses as soon as he could get there. Apparently I mis-communicated to the nurses and they never called him to come, so when I arrived in my room a little after noon I was all alone. Thankfully I knew his work number so I called him then and decided to take a nap with my friend Morphine until Brent arrived a couple hours later.

Every hour I was up. There was no rest for the weary! The new catheter is placed down low in my pelvis, behind my bladder – which means that all that excess spinal fluid is gathering and putting pressure down there. It felt like a strange combination of menstrual cramps and a bladder infection. I can only imagine what will happen when I get pregnant; I can see myself having to pee every five minutes at this rate! Time passed slowly while I read a book, watched some television and played on the computer. My dear friend Rosie came and saw me for a couple of hours which really just made my night. I miss her!

It wasn’t until 3:30am Wednesday morning that I finally fell asleep. I suppose all the painkillers had the opposite effect on me that I wanted them to. And of course, an hour later I need blood drawn and vitals taken so I was awake until 5:15am that time. All I really wanted was to come home and rest in my own bed. Dr. Taylor and Dr. Coimbra said I did amazing and agreed I could go home so I left there at noon. Brent and I came home and enjoyed a Pirates of the Caribbean marathon and I slept like a rock. However the longer the night progressed, the more discomfort I found myself in so ice packs became my new best friend.

It has now been just over 48 hours since my surgery and I feel a lot better. Something interesting I learned while there: I bring a new meaning to “sleeping like death”, because when I’m asleep my heart rate is around 28 beats per minute. It also makes my blood pressure extremely low to the point that I scare the techs and they feel the necessity to call in the nurse. This has happened all three times I’ve had surgery now and I keep telling them it’s normal. It also seems to explain my craving for salt; my blood pressure drops and the salt helps it rise, so despite the fact that I eat way too much salt for a normal person my blood pressure stays around 112/65 when I’m active. Also, I am borderline hypoglycemic so if I haven’t eaten and am active, I shake like a leaf until I get some food. All things I knew but I find it funny to freak out the nursing staff.

Over the next few days I plan on staying in bed, reading a few good books and wasting my time on the internet. I do have grand ambitions for next week though, including making an apron, pies and spending time with my main little man LB who will be back on Monday. I’ve fancied including spots in this blog for the things I love like cooking, so maybe I’ll work on that. Dr. Taylor warned me to take it easy, as he wouldn’t have the time to see me this weekend as he was going to the fixing the idiots who mishandled fireworks (sounds just like a trauma surgeon, huh?)

To my dear friends who offered their prayers for my niece: she was buried today at 10am surrounded by hundreds of family and friends. I wish I could have attended but it would have been too stressful on my body. My memories with her will always be cherished even though they are few. My family and I appreciate all of your kind words.

Sorry for the ramblings; you can blame the Darvocet.

Love, KC

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