Brain surgery alias craniotomy – check. Not the accomplishment I ever wanted to add to my list but here we are. I have never had any surgery in my life and stayed in hospital exactly 3x – for each of my baby deliveries – so to say that this was a new experience is an understatement – and I sure shot for the star surgery to start with, didn’t I?
I was pretty bored and antsy the weekend before the surgery, but calm. Night of the surgery I woke up at 3 am with literally and figuratively just too much on my mind. Lots of doubts, questions, all kind of scenarios, little bit of panic, anxiety – I mean LOTS! At 8 am I put on some Amazon music to get in the spirit – and loved what Alexa picked for me. Spirits in my head by the Strumbellas, Best day of my life by American Authors and It’s time by my favorites Imagine Dragons (hence the title). It was a perfect line up and it made me laugh. I sure hoped this was the time and the best day of my life to take the spirits out! Of course, 2 weeks later I actually checked out the video for the Spirits in my head and it’s a funeral celebration – oh my god, wtf! So glad I don’t have MTV or VH1 as that would have made me a bit paranoid then – still love the song though. I was just grateful Alexa didn’t start with I’m so Sorry or Bleeding out from Imagine Dragons. That would be bad karma.
The surgery kept moving up so Brian and Dave, one of our friends who graciously took turns keeping B company during the surgery, were chatting away on the taxbill and the insanity of our leadership, as usual. What else? Typical day…. very very hungry though.
Rolling out to the prep station, I was in pretty good spirits. I guess it helps that I never had any surgery and this all happened so fast, I don’t think I really understood or imagined – or didn’t want to – what is about to happen. The doctor explained a few times that the whole thing is a computer guided surgery with GPS, they drill a hole in my head, laser suck or evaporate the tumor, close it with some screws, sutures and eureka. Things got a bit more real in the pre-op with 2 super large IVs in my arms with multiple tries as apparently I have spidery veins + arterial cannula which is basically a large needle in your artery that continuously reports your blood pressure vs. just a few minutes. Yes, a poking cushion. I think I answered “why are you here” about 25 times and everytime I said “craniotomy and yes found it 4 days ago by trying to get prescription glasses” I felt as if I am speaking for someone else – especially given the looks and gasps I was getting from the staff. I think B came to see me but anything after that is a blur – I am officially out. Here is what I hear happened:
- 230 pm start, I am in sitting position with my chin down on my chest
- all the stuff doctor said would happen – I actually looked up a video of craniotomy today and thank god I haven’t done it before – hint – don’t watch it
- 645 pm it is over – dr. Chandler calls Brian and Michelle (my friend who kept him sane) to the room where he explained it all went well, they got it out and it is in pathology. No issues through surgery.
- Still waiting for the results 2 weeks later as it was sent to a specialist at MD Anderson in Texas
It’s time to begin, isn’t it?
My first memory is eyes opening up, 4 people around me moving me onto some other bed, talking to me – what’s your name, date of birth, what year is it, where are you and then the dreaded “who is the president”. OK, I am up people and unfortunately it is still Trump! I think I am funny when I wake up from anesthesia because they laughed and I even overheard them asking each other “did she say that?”. I am back and my brain is working – that’s all I am thinking! I know the year, my name, where I am, I am even happy I remember it is Trump era…. the only time you will ever hear me say that.
After that, way less funny. I am sick like a dog from anesthesia as I don’t take any drugs well and this was fentanyl – the Michael Jackson or Prince drug. Strong like hell, my stomach is turning, my head feels in fog, can’t move any part of my body but at least can feel it – so hallelujah. Moving into ICU where I have a room of a size of my living room + my own nurse just for me. Quang – I don’t know if I spelled it right – but that young man was everything to me that night (no jokes, please). Incredible bed side manner, gentle voice, personable, calling me my first name, giving me any IV drug available to make me comfortable, testing me on those 4 questions every hour, doing the neuro muscle tests, taking me to CT in the middle of the night, talking to me throughout and calming me down. He was Vietnamese, immigrated when he was 3 with his parents, lived with his parents and just graduated from UGA + some other school in nursing. He was so humble as he mentioned he is new to nursing as of August but in my eyes, he was born for this and a complete rockstar. Wednesday was still pretty bad – when a therapist showed up to make me walk, I thought they were joking. Now I felt like everyone made me sick – I walked in here healthy and look at me. I didn’t make it out of the bed that day. I was super muscle achy, my neck from the surgery position, me not really moving for 5 days now, my head, my back. At 10 am, the rounds showed up – hello Grey’s anatomy again – where are my interns? It was, well, disappointing really – 10 people, spread out across the room, very low energy, someone reading my chart, no questions, ok, bye. It made me feel a bit like an object in a cage – noone asked any questions of me or of anyone – but I guess maybe that is saved for the serious cases. By the way, this is my before / after picture – see the color difference? I hope that was the light as my color is clearly unhealthy. And my hair – don’t even get me started – they told me they wouldn’t shave it and honestly I wasn’t too concerned about it – way bigger things to worry about. But the vaseline in it, no brush, no touch – well, I had better days. But this was a great day – the longer I think about all this, the more I realize how random circumstances, luck and timing saved my life. 7 cm of mass in your brain just won’t go unnoticed and eventually will start creating havoc in any brain – it was a matter of time and this was my time to take care of it.
Huge thank you to the hundreds of best wishes, prayers, messages, texts, phone calls, Instagram, FB and tweets from all over the world from my friends, family, coworkers, neighbors, old old old friends, classmates, everyone – it helped so much. So many people reached out (30+ countries, 5+ religions) and I truly felt the love and power of the positive thinking. THANK YOU all!
If you are not Imagine Dragons fan, this is the song that guided me through this post.