Thursday, April 25, 2013

Brain surgery ... been there done that! (Part 4)

So today is ANZAC day, instead of attending a service I can be found on the couch as is a challenging day and recovery comes first. Waking with head pain has been a common occurrence since surgery, but today it has come with the feeling of sorrow for those who lost their lives in the war and sadness to hear of a friend who has passed away last night, and sobering realisation is how lucky I am and have been during this chapter of my life.

Today also marks 3 months since I had a tumour removed from my brain, although I can recall it like it was yesterday .....

This is my MRI of the tumour:

Let me introduce you - it is the white area, commonly known as an acoustic neuroma - excuse the images they are photos of the screen, i'll make them better one day.  
Looking at these still stops my thoughts and stars me counting my lucky stars, to be shown this is your head sure is enough to do that.

A nice slow trip up to Hamilton for the night before to break the trip, after coffee with a beautiful friend at the local cafe - a nerve calmer and emotion filler.  But saying bye to the girls was the hardest - not knowing what I would be like when we saw them next.  
We arrived, settled into the motel, then walked down to a restaurant for dinner, kid free when I felt like all I wanted was my kids and family the most - it was an rare feeling as normally this type of opportunity would be jumped upon.  Mark started his addiction to the discovery channel and before I knew it was Thursday, time to head to Auckland got some last minute shopping then checked Mark into his hotel and me into hospital.

The only time I had been in hospital was when Emma was born, so this was quite a different experience, admitted began the start of observations and a catch up with my reassuring surgeon and anesthetist talking through what is to happen in the morning and how surgery is expected to go.  They left us with a 4 page detailed FYI handout with what to expect after surgery etc.  I felt like I was studying for an exam and could have told you anyone of the facts on it. Before they left I was also 'marked' ... no mistaking where the pesky tumour was now all mapped out.

That night we skyped the girls, got used to hospital food and watched more discovery, after I fell asleep Mark left but when I woke alone all the anxiety of what as to come completely over flooded my emotions and I was a mess - thankful to caring nurses and sleeping tablets! next thing I know its 6 am and I'm woken for a shower, stockings on, pre-op meds given tucked back into bed then wheeled down to pre-op it all happened in a flash.

I remember thinking it sure does take a team of people to run this place - no sooner are you introduced to one person and three more walk in, they all know their jobs and before I know it there are two iv's are in my right arm and I can hardly remember going to theatre and moving myself onto the operating table.

Between 7 & 8 hours later and I'm hearing lots of sounds in recovery, people calling my name, telling me to let go of their hand so they can give me more nausea and pain drugs, being in & out of conciousness then moved to ICU with numerous lines and cables attached.  They wouldn't let Mark in until I settled down and become stable, but man it was a relief when he walked in :)  It was an odd time, when I could have swan that there was plastic in my mouth as half my feeling was gone, machines were beeping and buzzing made the nurses come running, I had a splint attached to stop me moving my arterial  my finger went numb with the attached 'clothes peg' and the next 12 hours we full of being woken for observations, tears, tiredness - all part of major recovery.  I've never been completely helpless like I was during that time and I will never be able to thank the nurses enough for their support and help to get me through.  Its amazing just what the body can handle and it wasn't until the next day when the surgeon came in and lines started to be removed that started to feel I could get through this,  however the look on his face when he gave a brief description of a very tricky operation was a new one and I did manage to get breakfast yoghurt everywhere bar my mouth man I was hungry! - its the simple things you really do take for granted at times.

Mark arrived looking clean and fresh - my knight in a bright red Holden top :) ... sure was great to see him, I was wheeled back to the ward - assisted to have a shower then it was back to bed.  The day seemed to be going slowly, then there was a big parcel delivered from the amazing people at Okato Playcentre - what a surprise! I was a very spoilt lady and full of tears, missing home, everyone and everything but reassured that I was in the best place.  Mark unwrapped and showed me the special items - it was magic.

 I wasn't able to do much only the odd assisted walk around the ward as the world was spinning & Mark would seldom change sky channel, but basically the day was spent just waiting for my next lot of pain medications, observations and sleeping.  When I closed my eyes it was like I was back in the operation, I could hear machines and the drill - lucky this didn't last all that long.  Next few days were spent the same - surgeon and anesthetist popping in to check on progress and now full of positivity, nurses checking ob's and meal times arriving with the odd skype call to the girls and one set of visitors.   Swelling got really bad at one point it really did look like I had taken a hit to the side of my face but at least the drugs took the edge off the pain with emotions running very high and the depth of just what I was dealing with beginning to hit me.  Then came the day when the bandage was removed and the nurse washed my hair - I felt half human again and finally could see the incision via a photo. 

Now I was beginning to become aware just how much single side deafness was affecting me, its an odd moment when you realise you can't hear a thing when your 'good' ear is against the pillow.  Or when you cry and tears only flow from one eye, I was so fortunate that my facial nerve was speared - there is definite weakness but all signs point to it improving.  I'm so lucky to have Mark beside me through all of this although not many words were spoken I knew just how strong the bond was of being there for each other. Little did I know how the challenge had really just begun.

The surgeon warned me that although I had come so far life back on the outside would be a challenge and boy oh boy was he right! but I'll save that for part 5 ...

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