It’s been a while since the last post and I have been completely avoiding airing any of my dirty laundry in public, but it’s now time.
First, the good news. My irrigation infection brain surgery went fine. I have been out of the hospital for a couple of weeks and am hooked up to a PICC line that pumps Nafcillin into me every four hours. I can unhook myself after the hour-long infusion and I am free for three hours, so it’s really not that bad. The side effects of this industrial strength antibiotic are annoying: Nausea, anemia, elevated stomach acid. Overall, the effects are all tolerable and this thing is helping kill any remaining infection in my head, so I can deal.
My surgery was on Friday, August 28th and I think the whole thing lasted about 2 hours or so from start to finish. It was no big deal really. I woke up and they brought me to a private room in the neurosurgery floor. Everything went well until the following day during lunchtime. Melissa had left to go pick up the kids from Connecticut, where my sister met her halfway to NYC to drop them off. My nurse, this young professional woman named Vanessa came in to help me go for a walk around the floor before I got my food. I told her my left foot felt really tight, like I had some serious nerve pain all over it. She thought it might have been a simple vascular issue and we would just watch it.
I got back to my room and I sat down to have lunch in the easy chair. Vanessa left and I was fine. A few minutes later I could no longer feel my left leg or the left side of my torso. I stood up quickly and stumbled out my door to the nurses’ station. I said “I think I’m having a stroke.” They were all busy running around. I yelled “I’m having a stroke!!” They all turned around. Vanessa had a serious look on her face and told me to turn around and go into the room and lay on my bed.
The left side of my body was completely numb and I began flopping on the bed uncontrollably. Vanessa called some emergency code into a microphone and about 8 people flew into the room with equipment and cables and needles. Two resident physicians also came in who were on the floor, both of whom I had gotten to know while they made their rounds daily. I asked one of them, a young guy named Xavier, what was going on with me. He very calmly said “You could be having a seizure or a stroke, we don’t know for sure but we’ll find out.”
As the team assembled around me and started working on me the left side of my body flopped tremendously. I was out of control and started to panic. “I can’t feel the side of my face!!” I yelled. Vanessa stood over me and told me that I would be OK as long as they were there. I asked her if I was dying and she answered “We’re all here for you. We’ll take care of you.” And I really did think this was it. I remember thinking “This is it, really? Dying on the 10th floor of this place, no family around me?”
Then one of the residents came in and looked at me and said “I don’t think this is a stroke, look at the way he is moving. This is a seizure.” They gave me a shot of Ativan to break the seizure and whisked me down to radiology to do an emergency CT scan of my brain. All came back negative, even though I still could not stop moving spastically. The team was happy and calm.
It was a seizure, I was just unlucky enough to be awake and alert for this one. I calmed down after the third shot of Ativan and they gave me IV Keppra (yes, my old enemy is back) and I was fine after that. I had a few small left side twitches while in the hospital, but nothing major. I could just sit and let it pass after a couple of minutes.
I came home that following Monday and had a few twitching episodes while my brain swelling went down and I have not really had any since. They seem to be under control. I can’t drive or ride my bike once again (fuck!) until Neurology gives me the green light at my next appointment.
I had my stitches removed this week and my wound is healing nicely.
Posted in Beating cancer, Brain surgery, Healing, Recovery and recuperation, Scans Tagged: Brain