Tuesday, February 26, 2013

First Car Ride Post Acoustic Neuroma Surgery

It's 3:37 AM... and steroid induced insomnia is at its peak...so why not a little blog post from me?

Last Monday, a day earlier than expected, the nurse handed me a stack of discharge papers. I was nervous to go home. Assured I could stay another night by the nurse, my mom and Jerry had a different message for me---we aren't spending another night with you! ;) So Jerry went down with flowers and bags to summon the crazy Zale Lipshy valet while I waited on a wheelchair escort to the very bright outdoors.

Why was I nervous? I was really not excited about my first car ride after brain surgery. The hospital room had shades to draw and a stationary bed and chair---and food trays delivered 3 x daily! The car meant bright sun, bumps, turns and holding my vomit bucket closely.

Nonetheless, a cheery transport helped me to the wheeled chair and down we went. A nice lady, from our hometown actually, didn't even comment on my rigged sunglasses. Mom removed one bow as to not irritate the swollen incision behind my ear. I didn't care that they sat crooked on my face. They shielded me from the sun monster shining through the bank of lobby windows.

I spotted Jerry standing in the crowd of people trying to valet and others trying to retrieve cars parked no telling where.  We had experienced this same scene exactly a week before when trying to leave my pre-op appointment. 20 minutes.  20 minutes to have them bring the van. And then another 10---just to pull through the mess of cars. Cars abandoned by drivers trying to make it to their doctor on time.

Then Jerry motioned my transport to come quickly! He saw the van coming into the lot and didn't want it to get stuck in the crowded standstill pull through line. I was wheeled through countless cars, bumping many, as we made our way to the van. In a dizzying commotion I was loaded and Jerry reversed out of the chaos before I could tell him, "Wait, I don't even have my seat belt on!"

I longed for the hospital bed with all the buttons. It took a while, but with various combinations of pressing, they assured a comfortable position for at least a while. The van seat was not so. I clenched the vomit bucket, thankful to have taken Zofran just prior to leaving, and we made our way to my parent's home.

Mom, a nurse by profession, welcomed me gladly to my place of respite for the next week. When I sank into her recliner I was finally glad that I had decided to attempt the ride "home".

*   *   *   *   *   *   *   *   *   *   *   *   *   *   *   *

How am I doing now?  In short, very well! We are completely amazed. So thankful the Lord chose to provide such a successful outcome via very gifted surgeons.

Dizzy? Not really. Unless I turn quickly, make a sudden change of direction or have too much sensory input coming my way. Like when today I had my father-in-law take me to the store to pick up some ointment for my suture site---too much to take in. People, moving carts, kids crossing my path, tall shelves loaded with products, etc. Completely wore me out.

Balance? Humbling. I feel pretty balanced until I try to do the physical therapy exercises.  Try putting one foot, heel to toe, right in front of the other one.  Then close your eyes and stand there for 30 seconds.  Easy? Well put the other foot in front and try again.  I can't make it for 5 seconds yet.

Hearing? Deaf in left ear...but it STILL rings.  This is just crazy to me. Tinnitus is like the ear's version of phantom limb. My doctor says this might subside. Good Lord, please.

Looks? I *think* the same. My face, neck and jaw are extremely tight. Irritated muscles and nerves they say. My smile seems symmetric and my eyebrows move normally. Praise HIM! I think the most noticeable thing is that my left eye seems to be a bit hyper...opening wider than normal.  It may relax though, and if not...I am not worried. Eye drops help it stay moist.

Pain? Nope. Sure, the incision sites are tender--both my scalp and abdomen don't feel just peachy, but better every day. The stitches came out today.  It is really remarkable how unimpressive the surgery site is. He barely shaved ANY hair at all.  Freaks me out to realize how far my skin must have been stretched open to remove the mastoid bone and gain access to the tumor. Yuck!

What's next? Tapering off steroids! I am almost done but my previous experience is that they will stay in my system a couple more weeks.  Trying to rest and not "over do it" is hard when hyped up on them. It is amazing how great I feel on 3-4 hours of sleep. But when the fatigue hits, it hits hard, and I crash quickly. Usually not before talking the heads off several people though! ;)

Follow up? I see the surgeons again in about 3 months.  At that time I will have another MRI and undergo more balance testing. Now we get to watch the meningioma.  Fun, fun!

How to pray? I covet your prayers for continued healing and rest...especially now that I am back home with Lily and Jade.  My rock star in-laws are taking charge with their homework, projects (of course a Charlotte's Web diorama would be due this week!), and shuttling them to and from school and all of their activities. Please also pray specifically against spinal fluid leak and meningitis.  Apparently I am not completely out of the woods with those risks yet---but am obviously hopeful and not worried. I think I will be able to drive again within the next 3-4 weeks...we are asking for wisdom to know when my vestibular system is ready to handle it!

Thank you for following along in this journey with us...we appreciate your friendship and prayers!  I plan to blog in the coming weeks about how the tumor was discovered, our treatment options/decision making, and other parts of the recovery that I want to record---it will bore most, but will be good for me to process.  Unsubscribe if you want...I won't know! ;)

Blessings to you!


Kristen said...

Thanks for sharing, Kerry! I can't imagine this "season"--praying it is one of both rest and growth. Can't wait to read your other posts!

Anonymous said...

Hey Kerry! I am trying to keep up with what is going on. I'm praying for you daily as the Lord heals and touches your life in this difficult yet interesting fashion. I thank Him for the way He is using you to encourage others, and how He is bringing you closer to Himself. He has prepared the way already. Much love --Renatta

Danielle Gibbons said...

Hey Kerry,

I was just wondering if I could email you personally to chat about acoustic neuroma surgery and all that comes with it!

I'm 22 and have just recently been told that my tumour has grown and the surgeons recommend that it be taken out.

Feeling slightly anxious about it so I was hoping to speak to someone who has been through it all before.

Hope to hear from you soon, and hope all is well with you.

Kind regards,

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