Sunday, December 22, 2013

A Chatty Steroid Induced Recap of My Meningioma Surgery Week (with Pics!)

Hello all! I am so thankful Jerry kept y'all up to date through my surgery and hospital stay.

THANK YOU FOR YOUR PRAYERS...WE WERE (and continue to be) CARRIED by them.

What a week. I will try to keep this in order and throw in a few pics. *Warning*: I am hyped up on 'roids...for real!

Here I am in pre-op. They had already glued nodes of a "GPS mapping system" all over my head and shaved a few spots in the process. That sort of shaving sound is not fun to a woman's ears and I would have really rather already been out for that!

The pre-op CT/Brain GPS mapping scan was uneventful and afterward I got to meet my anesthesiology resident. Residents can be the BEST or the WORST part of a teaching hospital experience.  Thankfully I have had more "Best"' than "Worst" experiences with these young brilliant ones who surely haven't slept in years.  Unfortunately, this guy was going to be chalked up in the "W" column. And that is "W" for Worst, not Winner. Ugh. Rude, short, chip on shoulder, know it all. All I could think was please, oh please, where is my sweet Dr. know, the one who held my hand as I woke up in February. I was concerned about my cold and lung congestion and just wanted to be heard. He informed me that he was already a pediatric anesthesiologist and had just come back for training as a glutton for punishment so he could do adults.  Great. I can't believe I said this, but I told him as long has he gave me the ADULT dose we should get along fine. But then we didn't. I saw Dr. Klein briefly but asked for him again just to discuss the cold I had. The moody resident revisited, loudly, and informed me that Dr. Klein would NOT be coming back in, that he (the resident) had cleared me and it was not to be questioned.  Well. Well. Well. I realize my last surgery was on Valentine's Day, but absolutely no love was in the air this go round. Sheesh.

I said my goodbyes to my family and they wheeled me to the Operating Room. No happy juice! What in the world? I didn't want to see the OR! It looks just like the movies. The lights, the sounds, the scans of your brain plastering the walls, countless machines all with their own noises and nurses counting instruments as the metal clatters. Um, hello? Did y'all forget to put me out?!? Ugh, I am still awake here people!

Mr. "glutton for punishment resident" informed me that I would need to get myself over to the table first before being put out...because that is what Dr. Klein prefers (doubt it!). Well, that isn't how it was last time...I told him...and just then, two of the OR nurses, in cowardly voices, gently suggested to him that since I would be "prone" (laying on my stomach) for the surgery, that maybe they could go ahead and put me out prior to positioning me on the table!?! Praise the Lord for those angels. He muttered something about how he thought I would be "lateral" blah, blah, blah.  I was in panicky tears, but then...Dr. Klein hit the scene. Soft hands, soft voice, sweet smile, happy juice, and mask with gas in hand...the last thing I remembered was him saying, "Are you getting sleepy yet, sweetie?" Praise the Lord for his kindness!!

About 4 hours later I was already recovering in ICU and I just remember being annoyed because my hair was wet. I don't fall asleep with wet hair...EVER. My mom didn't even recognize me because they had washed it in iodine or something red. It was crunchy, wet and orange looking. I can't remember when I saw Dr. Mickey, but he really is my hero, and I was sure to thank him for the bonus hair coloring!

Now I had a new nurse to contend with who was convinced that I needed to eat a hamburger or some pizza...and pronto. I am not kidding. Over and over again I could hear him telling my family that I didn't have any diet restrictions and I needed to eat. Just the mention of food was disgusting to me and I was happy when my sweet sister appeased his requests and let him order me a popsicle. At shift change he ranted to the new nurse that I just didn't have any appetite and had been refusing to eat. She calmly said, "Her surgery was just TODAY, right?!?". Oh the things you remember. Finally a break from the food pushing dude.

I know how well I must have been doing just based on the things I am able to recount!

"resting" in ICU

I had a CT scan around 2 AM to check for bleeding and swelling.  Uneventful!! Dr. Mickey said the 3 cm tumor was completely gone, and the artery was not compromised...even after much "scraping" and cauterizing of it. Ouch!

Tuesday in ICU was a bit rough. The interruptions NEVER ended. The entourage of PT, OT, Techs, Nurses, Docs, Residents, Respiratory Therapists (ugh!..spirometer is a 4 letter word to me), Nurse Practitioners, Patient Care Coordinators, Lab people, etc, and they all say, "rest up!" as they leave. Sure, I will get right to that! Quick, LOCK the door! Put some biohazard tape out or something to scare them away!
Fun with Physical Therapy

I also had the WEIRDEST sound of rain drops falling in my head. My mom thought I was hallucinating, but I was more concerned with reporting the symptom (see, I am a good patient) and was glad to hear from the Dr. that it was completely normal! Apparently after that type of surgery you can hear your CSF (cerebrospinal fluid) circulating around in your head for a while. Drip, drip...plop. Drip, drip, plop. Crazy, huh?

The day was also yucky because one of my IVs infiltrated or extravasated? {mom, the RN?} ( in Feb.) and my arterial catheter was not working which led to more sticks. Fun swelling and bruising for sure. And then tape removal. I know it had to have been "Resident Glutton" that went so tape happy. It was nuts! I mean they shaved all over my head, couldn't they have shaved a little arm hair off prior to taping the length of it!?! I did scream. Yes I did. Childbirth was easier. Both times.

I survived the embarrassing yellow "fall risk" gown and did some walking. I was ready to be out of the ICU...matching yellow socks and all!

Brave visitors who still wouldn't take a peek at my incision!

Census was high, but providentially we got a room on the floor late that day (Tuesday). We were greeted by one of my sweet nurses from February...Gretel! The sweetest thing...imagine a beautiful Filipino woman named Gretel. Her parents named her brother Hansel. I am not kidding. You don't forget these things. And she gave me a prized blue gown to wear. Best gift ever!

All the patients want the BLUE gown!

That night was not restful with all the interruptions, but mainly due to my own mishap.  My mom was nestled on the guest couch in the room and I think actually asleep. It was midnight and I woke up wondering if they had forgotten my pain meds. Vitals were even past due. I decided to take a sip of my fresh, full, iced to the brim cup of water. You know...the huge coveted insulated hospital cups that don't sweat! Well, I grabbed it by the lid and spilled an entire pint of ice water all over me and my bed. I cussed, my mom jumped up and that led to an hour of clothing and bedding changes and mopping. Memorable!

Despite all that, I felt decent the next day (Wednesday), had help to get showered and even got the incision shampooed. Yikes! 34 staples = not fun to sleep on or wash. I had moved to mostly oral meds and only had one IV placed just in case.

See, I look pretty normal from the front!

Wednesday evening, Dr. Mickey said I could possibly go home the next morning (a day early!). But as my mom passed the baton to Jerry that night (no one likes to sleep at the hospital), the vomiting began. Let's just say that everything I had eaten for days came back up undigested.  It was really fun. And my sweet nurse Gretel had been replaced. After the first episode, the new "not so friendly nurse" said something to the effect of, "well, why did you go and do that?!?". I begged for a bucket, but 2 more episodes occurred before the bucket came. I was not well. So, IV meds recommenced and my hopes of going home seemed far away.

I just needed a bucket!

Free tip: I highly recommend vomiting at the hospital only during maintenance hours. Otherwise it doesn't get cleaned up quickly. And it kind of stinks...which kind of leads to more, know!

The next day (Thursday) was spent with my previous discharge nurse from February, Shelley! Another sweet one. I was feeling so-so, Jerry was antsy and we wondered if I could still go home. Shelley told us that if we weren't discharged before dinner and shift change it probably wouldn't be likely. We waited, and waited and waited and waited some more. Dr. Mickey's resident came by around 6PM and gave us a glimmer of hope! But shift change was about to happen. Dinner had been served. Hmmm...we wondered. Would this resident be remembered as a "W" or a "B"? False hope is not cool. Dr. Mickey came by and gave the green light! He made me promise that I *really* would rest for the next 4 weeks. I told him I would try, you know, with two kids at home, a dog, Christmas, relatives coming in town, etc...I think he might have rolled his eyes! ;)

Thumbs up and a happy dance (Jerry did the dancing)!

Then it was apparent that "not so friendly nurse" was not used to discharging people at this late hour or maybe ever during her shift. She informed us that we would just have to bear with her...oh the sighs. I was just less patient for you tonight, honey! Right? Where is the joy? So, that proved interesting and sure enough none of our RXs made it to the pharmacy even after bearing with her. Thankfully that handy hubby of mine was able to track down a 24 hour pharmacy and got me hooked up with the meds before midnight!

It was an emotional departure around 9PM. I cried just at the thought of all we had been through this year and how the Lord has been kind and faithful. He has kept us. Could I really be done with brain tumors? Will the door of 2013 really close? Will I be used and grown and purposeful to my Lord who has carried me? Will I ever be able to really articulate His faithfulness? Ever be able to thank the body of Christ who has rallied around us in unimaginable ways? I still wonder.

But the tears have stopped and the steroid induced hyperactivity has begun. Thank you for letting me share my story and for journeying along with us!

I will close with my first FaceBook post after surgery:
"Hola! It's me! I cannot believe the Lord's faithfulness. The Lord didn't have to be this kind. I have struggled with his goodness in the oddest of ways. A sweet pastor helped me after surgery to realize just how much He truly delights in His children. I think I am getting it now. I better at least, because I really don't want any more large scale lessons!! Zephaniah 3:17 - "The Lord your God is in your midst, a mighty one who will save, he will rejoice over you with gladness; he will quiet you by his love; he will exult over you with loud singing." --Thank you for your prayers, texts, cards, e-mails, visits, etc! I don't think this room will bind us much longer. Hoping for a discharge late today or early Friday. Not excited about the car ride home, but can't wait to see my girlies and the Duchess! "

And we promptly woke them up and got kisses and licks accordingly.

And now I have a new care team...shown above by the board that Lily replicated from my hospital room. Everyone on this board gets a "B" though...they truly are the Best! And for the care team who left sweet in-laws...we are forever indebted!

*Please know I have the utmost respect for all medical professionals, residents included! Many of our own family members and friends serve in hospitals daily and I am thankful for their tireless work!*


Anonymous said...

Wow Kerry! You have an amazing ability to write! Thank you for sharing. I cannot even imagine the depths of what you have gone through, but what a trooper you have been. (Like you had a choice!). You have given your girls so much strength by exemplifying personal courage and faith in God through it all. My thoughts and prayers will continue to be with you. What a Merry Christmas! Bridget Bell

Tara said...

Applause!! You were on the opposite end of the care spectrum from where I am on a regular basis. You have some very unique perspective!! I'm so happy to hear that all is going well with you, and pray that you'll continue to feel more like your usual self in no time. What a story to share with so many! Thanks for writing this blog!!

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