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In ICU After Brain Tumor Removal

Posted Aug 26 2008 11:25pm

Then at 1:10 P.M., according to Eleanor’s notes, Dr. Paysinger, having finished the operation, came out to the waiting room to give this report:

7:30 A.M. – 1:10 P.M. Thursday surgery- My daughter Eleanor's notes:
"The tumor (the second meningioma) was much larger than anticipated even from CT Scan or arteriogram studies. Grew through the dura, up into skull bone and almost into brain so it was hard to remove. Thinks he got it all.
Could not put plate in. Surgery took longer than expected so couldn’t get plate in. Mama had been through too much. Will put plate in in 6 months-12 months. (Another operation? The surgeons would need to put a plate in as a substitution for most of the skull on the left side of my head. I was not even awake from this operation and I was already needing another one?) Mama is resting. Could see her 4-5 hrs later when she wakes up."

After the surgeons had sewn my scalp flap back in place, a large bulky dressing consisting of a kind of gauze wrap, about an inch thick was applied to my bald head and a drain, left in the epidural space, drained from the fresh incision and my swollen brain into a sack. The dressing came down over my eyebrows and partially covered my ears making it hard for me to hear.

When I awoke from the surgery I was in the Intensive Care Unit. I was still a little drunk from the anesthesia and kept dozing off… waking up… coming… going. I didn’t much care about anything… I was just so sleepy. There was nothing I needed to ask for; my every need was being anticipated so I was hardly aware of not being able to speak. There was, of course, no problem with the use of my tongue; the problem was with the use of my brain. It was injured and swollen and wouldn’t perform. My mind was blank. I had no thoughts… until I took one look at myself and my mind responded to what I saw.

My right arm lay limply on a pillow, as if dead. My right leg was propped up against a second pillow. The right side of my mouth was numb with my upper right lip drooping down over my teeth, and my throat was raw. I realized then that “I had already had the operation.” It had taken only four hours to turn me from an able-bodied, independent person into a completely dependent, helpless, disabled human being. This tumor had really done me in; I looked as if I had had a stroke. It would be a long, hard road ahead… bringing me back from the depths.

Eleanor and Julie, not even knowing whether I would know them or not, came in the ICU to see me as I was trying to regain consciousness. I immediately recognized them… my precious daughters! I managed a smile. (I didn’t want them to know that I couldn’t think of either of their names, or, in fact, think of anything. My mind was blank.)

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