I’m having trouble remembering all the details of my recent brain surgery, so I wanted to write down as much as I can recall. Here we go.
What started out as a Tuesday night fever on April 24th had me in bed trying to cool down. Later that evening, I recall waking up in an ambulance and being informed that I had suffered a seizure. This was especially frightening because time was skipping around for me. Literally, there are holes in my memories at this point. I’m not sure how much of it was caused by the seizure and how much was due to the nature of the situation. I have faint images of being put into machines to be scanned as doctors tried to diagnose the cause of my seizure. I recall people talking to me about wanting to draw spinal fluid (yikes!) to analyze. But nothing is more memorable than when the neurosurgeon came to speak to me.
I was in a room surrounded by dozens of family members and friends. And the neurosurgeon sat on the edge of by bed and told me that I had a tumor growing on the left side of my brain. Luckily, it was only 1 inch in diameter and just 2-3 millimeters deep. I recall my wife crying and a bunch of people hugging me in quick succession. See, the neurosurgeon wanted to operate later that day (Wednesday) because he said the tumor was pushing on the rest of my brain and had caused the seizure.
This is where I remember becoming frightened. Like, legitimately scared. I recall having to sign release papers and talking to various people in the room (but I don’t recall what was said). I was feeling naked and bare with my mortality on display for all to see. I remember being afraid that I only had a few hours before I’d be on the operating table. I was scared that this could be my last moments with my wife, family, and friends. I didn’t know if my mind would be altered by the removal of brain tissue. I even recall being afraid that I might not live to see the new Avengers film (that I’d been dreaming to see for years).
Fortunately, I did wake up several hours later. I hadn’t consumed any food or drink since lunch on Tuesday and it was now Wednesday evening when I woke to ice chips being put into my mouth. I assume they were to help me come back to reality, but they were the greatest thing to experience after coming out of surgery. I believe I was put into another MRI at some point, and the tumor was sent off for biopsy. Other than the ice chips, I faintly remember my wife and other visitors coming to see me in the ICU while I was regaining consciousness. My wife stayed the night with me and I recall having all manor of tubes in my body to introduce and siphon fluids (my arms are still bruised purple from this). You’ll have to forgive me though, because my memories were all over the place. My wife had to help me clear up some of these details.
The next day (Thursday), I was moved out of ICU to a regular room where I would spend the next several days in recovery. My aunt stayed with me that Thursday night to give my wife a break. I recall being checked and given medications every few hours. I was frequently tested for stroke and given lots of drugs through my IVs. Eating food was nice and I know I slept a lot at this phase.
Over the next several days, I recall lots of people dropping by to see me (coworkers and friends). During this time my visual tracking was very limited. It was easy to make myself dizzy if I moved my eyes around the room. When people would visit, I could only focus on them when speaking. This tracking issue continued well beyond my time in the hospital. It was a very strange phenomenon, my mind felt like it was operating at normal speeds, but the world felt slow to me. This made the required walks in the hospital a challenge. It required that I have assistance while traversing both the hospital and the house. For several days now, I’ve been walking unaided, so that’s been exciting!
Another side affect of the brain surgery was that I’ve had trouble with words, specifically recognizing words. I can see a word and not have any recall of its meaning. It’s quite frustrating because it happens with both large words and small words. Luckily, it is getting better each day. Now words like “this” or “create” are no longer foreign to me. (I finally read my first book this week and am slowly making it through writing this blog post!)
I still have loads I want to write (for example, I have many folks to thank), and I want to take a moment to express my excitement because tomorrow I’ll meet with the neurosurgeon to have the staples removed from my skull. I’ve been looking forward to this movement, because it will feel like I’ve made it through the brunt of this ordeal. I’m still wrestling with limited stamina and headaches during my recovery (and probably will for a while longer), but I’ve survived brain surgery, and even though I have a bit more recovery to go, I know I can make it because I’ve come this far.