Friday, April 19, 2013

Acoustic Neuroma - 9 Weeks Post Op (including craniotomy scar pics)

Yesterday marked nine weeks since my acoustic neuroma surgery. Jerry had a particularly humbling and encouraging conversation with a neurosurgeon at our church Wednesday that I wanted to share. I am taking a break from the recap posts as number 5 wasn't very fun to write. I sort of got stuck at "we found two abnormalities on your brain". Still gives me the shivers.

So, on to happy news! I am not sure how I missed running into Dr. Moody at our church's midweek dinner the other night. I must have been chasing kids or maybe I had already left to meet up with my small group girls for the evening. So Jerry had to fill me in when I got home later.

Dr. Moody is a long time neurosurgeon in the community and had come up to introduce himself to me after worship service the first Sunday in February. That was an interesting morning, as Jerry was being ushered into a new role in our church and being prayed for, but they also had me come forward as Jerry shared a bit about what was going on with my health. I was thankful for the prayers but also didn't like taking away from Jerry's moment of introduction either.

One of the positives of making my struggle public though was getting to meet Dr. Moody. Our church is just big enough that we hadn't crossed paths before. He asked me some of the specifics of the tumor and I could tell he was not thrilled that it was 3cm in size. He also asked if I knew about "the facial nerve". Jerry was talking to some other people, but standing near enough to hear Dr. Moody's question.  He later told me that he was hoping I wasn't in a puddle of tears over it. Somehow I wasn't, but I assured Dr. Moody that, yes, I was definitely aware of the possible damage to my facial nerve. Ugh. I hated it. Somehow being reminded of that risk again from a neurosurgeon in an non-medical setting was very sobering. At that point I hadn't yet become totally at peace with the probable complications. It wasn't my own vanity I was worried about. I kept thinking of my girls. Our oldest especially, who is at the age where the word "embarrassing" seems to be coming up a bit more often. The thought of being embarrassing to her pained me when it came to mind.

Okay...there really is happy news. So back to Wednesday night. Dr. Moody approached Jerry and asked how I was doing. Jerry told him how well things were going and how thankful we were for that. Dr. Moody told him that he had talked to Dr. Mickey (the neurosurgeon who removed my tumor) and they had recounted how amazingly well the surgery had gone.  That it was "easy" in fact.

Screech. Halt. Wait a minute!

That is when I wish I had been there as this conversation was taking place. My immediate question, how do they know one another? Where did they run into each other? The Tom Thumb produce section? Neurosurgeons anonymous? How did they get talking about my case?

That is where men and women could not be more different. Jerry looked puzzled at my questions. Not one of them had crossed his mind, that is for sure! ;)

Bottom line was that these two men --- top of their field, cream of the crop type guys --- who also happen to be neurosurgeons, were discussing how easily my tumor was removed. Apparently Dr. Mickey couldn't believe how it just "peeled right off". Acoustic neuromas are usually very stuck to everything and it is in the process of getting them "unstuck" that the nerve damage occurs. Dr. Moody commented to Jerry that especially with the size of mine (very large according to him) it was really miraculous how it came out without damage to the facial nerve. He said that even small ones are usually very hard to remove.

I could listen to these types of conversations endlessly. Especially as I get farther and farther away from those initial post op moments of feeling the Lord's hand continually upon me---upon me in ways that it is hard to wrap words around. It is just so good to be reminded of His care and kindness towards me. It also is good to remember there were very real and serious risks...and that the Lord answered our prayers delivering me from them. Coming out virtually unscathed was no accident!

Dr. Moody also told Dr. Mickey of the many, many...countless actually...prayers that were going heavenward on behalf of me and my medical team that day. I wonder what Dr. Mickey's response was to that. Also not inquired of by my sweet hubby.  Ah...can't wait to run into Dr. Moody!

So, what is life like 9 weeks later?

No facial weakness or paralysis..not now, not ever.  Not even temporarily after surgery. No doubt amazing. So thankful!

No dizziness or vertigo issues.

Really other than the healing scars, dry eye and being deaf on my left side--I don't even feel like I had surgery 9 weeks ago.

My abdominal scar (where they removed fat to pack in the tumor site) is completely healed, though it was more tender than the craniotomy site for sure. Here is a progression of pics showing the healing of the craniotomy site.

Pic 1: 5 days post op-still in hospital.  Can you say edema?!?
When Jerry got to the hospital that morning he said, 
"Honey, you might not want to look in the mirror today!"
It was too late. I wish we had gotten a pic from the front.

When Dr. Kutz (neurotologist-the doc who did the craniotomy to provide access for Dr. Mickey to remove tumor) got there that morning he said, "You have a bit of the 'shrek effect' going on."
Somehow we all laughed! I think secretly he was just glad my stitches hadn't busted open.

Pic 2: 12 days post op-right before stitches were removed.

Pic 3: 6 weeks post op - you can see hair growing back.

Pic 4: 9 weeks post op - you can see my sunburned ear! ;)
Oh the tan lines of a soccer mom.

I think everyone (including me!) is surprised about how little hair they shaved. I was pretty much a basket case when I initially met my surgeons back in December. There were so many questions I forgot to ask, including how much hair would be shaved.  When questions like that would come to mind I would call and ask the docs. My doctors were SO RESPONSIVE. My mom and sister, who both work in healthcare, could NOT believe that the surgeons actually called me back themselves 9 times out of 10.

When I called Dr. Kutz about the hair shaving question he said he usually took about 3 finger breadths. That didn't sound too bad to me, but then I was left wondering how big his hands were! ;) What do you always pray for before a surgery? For the Lord to guide the surgeon's HANDS. And shoot, I hadn't even looked at mine!

I think he only ended up taking 1/2 of a pinkie finger! No complaints here. I guess it was enough to do the job. I also had to ask him how big the actual hole in my head was...about the size of a silver dollar coin.

9 weeks out and life is really good. You can continue to lift up my "dry eye" when you get a chance. I went back to the ophthalmologist this week and it wasn't a super encouraging appointment.  She ended up putiting a punctal plug on my top lid as well.  We shall see. I am also continuing the steroid drops and other eye meds too.

I am also still adjusting to being deaf on that side.  It is weird but not overly disabling.  Usually just lends to some funny stories and my kids shouting, "Mooooommmmmiiiiiieeeeeee!"

Wait, they did that before surgery!

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