Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Post-op and NICU

I'll continue on my journey through my hospital stay.

When I woke up from surgery I was in post-op care.  And in PAIN!!!  I remember a really great nurse giving me dose after dose of pain killers until they got the pain under control.  I also remember being sick (yech!) The one doctor there said I would be getting fentynol for the pain - a drug I was told I am allergic to by a doctor 4 years ago.  Turns out, not allergic to fentynol!  Hurray!  I remember the pain getting better and asking to roll from my back (ouch! my incision is in the back of my head!) to my left side.  That's it for post-op...

NICU (Neurological ICU) I remember a little, but not much.  I know hubby came to see me a some point.  I remember my blood pressure cuff squeezing my left arm a lot. And my blood pressure was good for me.  I average low - 100/60.  I asked and got to eat ice chips - mmmmm.  I think hubby even fed them to me. And I remember discovering I had a HUGE swollen lip!  Turns out when they intibated me and flipped me to my stomach for the second surgery my lip got pinched.  And got cut inside my mouth.  And it was so swollen that even my left eye was puffed shut.  I couldn't talk because of it - more of a slur that wasn't drug induced!  I know the drugs were good - kept me comfortable at least. I had trouble figuring out what time of day / night it was and probably drove my nurse crazy asking what time it was.  I have a tendency to do that after surgery. I stayed overnight in the wonderful care of the NICU before being transferred to the ward on Wednesday.

Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Pre-Admission and Surgery

It takes a lot to sit up and type for any period of time, so I think I'll break up my surgery experience into a couple of posts...

Pre-Admission was on Monday at 8 am.  The usual - blood work; an hour long interview process about previous surgeries and reactions etc; an ECG (because of past reactions); meet the pharmacist; meet the anesthesiologist... it was a 4.5 hour appointment.  I was tired afterwards, but I still had an MRI scheduled for 6 am on Tuesday. 

Surgery day!!  I was awake by 2... we had to be up at 4:45, but still, 2?  Really?  And it wasn't nerves - I was freezing because our hotel room was an ice box!! (No A/C control in the rooms - wth!)  Anyway...  hubby had a shower and we walked over to the hospital.  The nurses in POCU (Pre-operative care unit) sent me straight to MRI.  Well, MRI didn't have any record of me so back to POCU we went.... Up and down the giant maze of a hospital.  Hubby wasn't allowed in POCU... so he had to wait in the hall.  I waited to have the nurse figure out what was going on with my MRI.  The changed me into a gown, pj pants and a robe all size XL!!  Ummm.... three of me would fit.  It was comical.  My admitting nurse was an absolute hoot.  She has a great sense of humour for dealing with anxious people at 6 in the morning!  She asked everyone if we were naked as the day we were born... she kept the mood light. And finally hubby got to come in.  Turns out there was a problem with the MRI that morning so I was going for an angio CT instead at 7:30.  No worries there.  Equipped with a warm blanket off we went to the waiting area.... for a long day of waiting.  I had my CT, nothing too exciting, but came away with 7 markers on my skull to guide Dr. Gentili during surgery. Then we waited.  My surgery was supposed to be at 11 am.  When no one came out by 11:30 I went back to POCU to see what was going on.  The nurse was really nice and thanked me for being so patient.  (I could tell a lot of the people in there were not being so patient on Tuesday... poor staff) Back to wait.... At least we had a tv in our little area and met a lady from Sault Ste. Marie also have brain surgery.  So time passed, not quickly, but it passed.  Dr. Gentili came out before 1:00.  He didn't know if I was going to be able to have my surgery!  It wasn't staff or OR space, there were no beds in the ICU step down unit!  He knew how far we travelled, how long it took to get my surgery date and he was doing everything he could to get me in.  Then, about half hour later, my name was called :)  I didn't even hear the nurse! Hubby did.  And in we went to the POCU again.  The anesthetist came to see me, a couple of nurses, Dr. Gentili's staff - Dr. Kim, Dr. Andre and at least one more doctor.  Then they had to find another nurse for my surgery - thank you to whoever the lady who said yes she would stay!  My whole surgery could not have gone for that 1 reason!  I got my first of 3 IVs put in, and then it was time to kiss my husband good-bye!! A quick trip across the hall.  The anesthetist started the second IV, and I had an oxygen mask put over my face.  The warm sleepy drug made it's way up my arm and that's the end of my memories for surgery.

Post-op.... later

Thursday, June 24, 2010

I'm doing alright

It's been a tough couple days but I'm going to make it. The worst is my fat lip from intibation tube. It makes it hard to drink eat and swallow. I'll post more once I have the laptop.

Sunday, June 20, 2010

Into the Wild Blue Yonder

Well, the plane will be anyways! I'm destined for the largest city in Canada!  

I used to love Toronto and thought I would move there after university, get a job, etc.  Then during my last year at school I went to TO for New Years... Spent a week looking into jobs with hours of  travel time, cock roach infested apartments, and how hectic the lifestyle was compared to my little city of 110,000 people.  I decided after a few days to get back on the bus and come home (that's an 18 hour drive straight, but in the winter, more like 24!) I even had a theme-song for the trip - Spirit of the West's Home for a Rest... there's a line in it "I've been drunk for 3 days, been drunk since I left, gotta go home, home for a rest!"  (Remember, it was New Year's)  And since then, I've been there a couple of times - for work, travelling through to see my best friend last summer, and doctor's appointments.  I'm not a fan of the big city.  Big, no, HUGE metropolis where people aren't polite like here.  They don't say thank-you when you open a door or thank their server at Tim Hortons.  It's terrible.  I felt so out of place the last couple times I was there.  I'll be happy that I'm not out wandering around doing the tourist stuff.  I'll be snug in ICU and the neuro ward!!  The hubby will be left to his own devices when he's not visiting me...  I've printed off a few maps from google.

There's not much to say right now.  I think I'm blogging to keep my mind busy while I wait for 3pm and my mum to pick us up for the airport.  My house is relatively clean, laundry is done, bed is changed etc.  Not much to do but watch world cup soccer on tv anything but soccer on tv.  Oh wait, it's Sunday... I get soccer on channel 2 and church or fishing on channel 4.  Time for a DVD methinks!  (no, we don't have cable or satellite.  Not worth it for the amount of tv we watch.)  I suppose I should do the few dishes up as well...  Blah.  I dislike washing dishes, but there's not enough to fill 1/4 of the dishwasher right now.

I guess I'll go and accomplish something before the flight.  The last load of towels will be ready for the dryer anytime.  (sorry environmentalists, I don't have a clothes line - yet)  And I'll go check out the FB groups before we head out.

Thanks to everyone for all your prayers and healing thoughts.  I know that I will come out of this just fine in the end, but getting there will be the challenge.

Take care, catch you all on the zipped side!

Thursday, June 17, 2010

My Deepest Gratitude

Here I am, 1 work day, 1 Saturday and a Sunday morning left in town before we depart for Toronto.  And I'm already being overwhelmed by gracious gifts, cards, flowers, prayers and healing thoughts.  I am truly blessed to have such a wonderful family, fantastic friends and colleagues and even clients!

I try to be a humble person. I don't beg to be the center of attention or be made a fuss over by anyone really except my husband.  He's supposed to spoil me and flatter me.  But the friends and clients and people coming out of the woodwork supporting me before my surgery is overwhelming.

A client who now lives in the US sent me flowers - the most beautiful bouquet imaginable!

My massage therapist and former chiropractor got me a card and a free massage gift certificate.

My yoga instructor gave me a frog candle.  (We have a mutual affection for froggies!)

One of the ladies I work with offered to come do my housework after surgery! (I told her no, but she can come and visit!)

My male boss sent me to another Reiki treatment - so that is 6 treatments in all now!  

The department I work in are all going to lunch tomorrow at one of my favourite restaurants - Caribou.  And I will have my all-time favourite dish - Pad Thai.... yummy!!!

Plus healing thought requests send on my behalf from a number of people.  And prayer groups too.

I haven't even left town yet!  I'm extremely grateful to everyone for everything.  I'm kinda sheepish... I am trying not to make a big deal out of this.  (Yes, I know it is a huge deal. But I'm trying not to get worked up about it at least until Monday.)  

I have confidence that I have made the right decision to have surgery.  I have confidence that Dr. Gentili will do a great job.  I will recover well and I will regain some of my quality of life.  I realize I will have things I can never do again like ride a rollercoaster, but I should be able to do most everything else!

As Willy Wonka said "you have confidence and confidence is key!"

Saturday, June 12, 2010

The New Me!!


I'm really not used to it yet!! And boy is it fly-away without that goop the stylist put in it! I washed it tonight and it was so weird not to have hair!  And no need for a hair dryer!  It'll take some time to get used to not using 2 or 3 conditioners and mousse everyday, but now moulding paste.  I never liked using any product in my hair.  But since I cut it shorter in 2008 it has been necessary.  Now I just have to change products!!

My family all liked it.  They were over for a barbecue tonight - and it didn't rain - HURRAY!!!  My head feels weird tonight - like my muscles are all tight - as though I have my hair in a pony tail - wait, I have no hair!!!

Anyways, off to bed, it's been a long day!

Friday, June 11, 2010

Say Good-bye

Tomorrow I'll say good-bye to my hair... again!  Two years ago I had hair to my butt.  I cut off 16 inches and donated it to wigs for cancer patients.  Now I will cut it short short short tomorrow in preparation for surgery on June 22nd.  I haven't cut it since January and it is about 4 inches longer than I would normally wear it.  I decided to cut it off for ease after surgery.  I have to wash, straighten and style it every day right now or it drives me crazy.  Not going to happen after surgery, especially when it is recommended not to use and hair product or colour.  So au naturel it will be!! Heaven help me!    The new "highlights" will just be my grey hair showing through!

Here's a before pic I took last weekend....
I'm going to measure to see how long my hair is and whether or not I can donate it for wigs again.   I've got a scarf I ordered from  I don't have cancer and I'm not losing my hair because of chemotherapy, but I really liked the scarves this lady makes.  And it is her income since her battle with breast cancer.  

Here's my scarf....  I bought it blue and white to go with a dress I have that I was going to wear to my girl friend's wedding June 26th.  Now I'll miss the wedding because we will likely still be in Toronto.  But I still love it!!  It's pretty!  And it's adjustable for my little head.  Seriously, my skull is small, but overfilled with a big brain!  The lady who makes the scarves also makes hats and other headwear.  I also bought a pink fuzzy pillbox hat for winter.  It'll look great with my all black wool coat!  

Big plan for this weekend, besides the hair cut, is a family barbecue for both sides of the family.  If everyone comes there will be 12 of us tomorrow as my brother and his girlfriend are not in town.  And of course, because I want to have everyone out on the patio it is supposed to rain.  Oh well.... Well shift the living room furniture and eat inside if that is the case.  

Time to go wash my hair for the last time!  I can't lean back in the sink at the salon, for obvious reasons! so I always wash it the night before.  I'll post after pics sometime this weekend!

Wednesday, June 9, 2010

A Chiari Poem - by Dr. John Oro

So I Say 

Another headache 
The third today 
We all have them 
So they say 

I’m getting dizzy 
My vision blurred 
Your getting older 
Don’t be absurd 

I’m staying home 
Too tired to go 
Go see your doctor 
She should know 

Too many symptoms 
You must be stressed 
Take medication 
And get some rest

I cannot think well 
Can’t find the words 
My memory slipping 
My speech gets slurred 

We’ll get a scan 
Since you insist 
If we find nothing 
Please don’t persist 

Don’t make me laugh 
Don’t make me cry 
It hurts to strain 
I don’t know why 

Your scan is fine 
By report today 
Incidental Chiari 
So they say 

What do you mean 
By a doctor 
I have not seen 

It is anxiety 
That makes you so 
The world is stressful 
I think you know 

I pulled away 
Gave up, or such 
Until the pressure 
Became too much 

I waded through 
The Internet 
Fearful of loosing 
What I had left 

It took some time 
To come to know 
My brain is hanging 
Down too low 

With every beat 
The fluid flows 
Deep in the brain 
To the opening below 

The rush of fluid 
Seeking release 
Finds cerebellum
Which makes it cease 

The pressure spikes 
My head explodes 
It makes such sense 
Now that I know 

Working together
We’ll find a way 
To make it better 
So I say

Tuesday, June 8, 2010

14 days to go!

I was quite annoyed on Sunday.  During my soak in the tub I mentally composed what I thought was a great blog post.  After my bath I grabbed my MacBook and settled in to type it out.  Click publish post.... "blog server is currently performing maintenance.  Please try your post again later!" After I spent 45 minutes typing! And it deleted it.  I couldn't even go to the backup draft!  So, aggravated, I ignored my blog for a couple days and hope the server is up and running properly tonight when I press publish!

I was all set to write about last week.  It was a busy week. I've been more "ditzy" than normal (remember, natural blonde, not dyed) and I think it has a lot to do with the pressure in my head.  I feel like my head is really wobbly and heavy.  I have real balance issues when I bend over to pick up something or tie my shoes.  Even just sitting on the couch I feel like my head will bobble over at any time and I will land on the floor.  Plus my legs are numb lots.  It's unsettling.  Not pins and needles, but uncomfortable.  And with a wobbly head my stomach follows.  Yech.  I feel terrible quite often, but often it only lasts for 5 or 10 minutes.  But it's 5 or 10 times a day.  Like having a 5 minute flash of oh my gosh hot, stomach cramps, nausea followed by icy chills....  Surgery I hope will resolve some of this!! 

Thursday was our 4th wedding anniversary and 12th year together and I spent most of it in bed.  Now, get your mind out of the gutter..... When I woke up and looked at the clock in the kitchen there were 4 sets of numbers.  Not a very good idea to drive to work when you're seeing in quadruple!  But I wasn't in any pain.  So, back to bed, ice and Advil.... Woke up a little while later and it was worse and my head was ready to EXPLODE!! Definitely not going to make it to work in such a state so I call in again to say I wouldn't be in at all.  Often if my eyes go funny there is no pain and an hour or so later I'm fine.  Not this time.  And not the last few times.  Now the visual disturbances are accompanied by mind splitting PAIN!  Easily an 8 / 10 on Thursday.

I also had my pre-op appointment on Thursday.  All is well.  I'm never going to die of high blood pressure with my average of 100/60.  (normal is 120/80).  My doctor signed my health travel grant and my pre-admission forms.  Now once I'm back I will have to see him again to fill in my disability certificate for work.  He said he would remove my staples if I am back in Thunder Bay by that time.  I think I'll go to the walk-in though.  My doctor is in his 80's and doesn't have the steadiest hand!!  Don't want to hear any opp'ses (just how do you spell that?) when he's at the back of my just healing skull!

I could see when I got up on Friday but was still hurting.  But I had obligations I had to meet at work, so off to the office I went.  I had every intention of leaving after the morning meeting was over.... I got home at 5:15.  Yeah, once I'm there, it's hard to leave.

We're all set with travel and accommodations in Toronto.  My wonderful cousin has offered to pick us up from the airport and we'll have dinner together.  She is also giving us keys to their condo (just 4km from the hospital) so we have somewhere to stay once we run out of hotel on Friday morning.  With the G20 summit the week of my surgery it is insane trying to find somewhere to stay near the hospital for under $190 / night!  And my cousin and her husband are leaving the city before the summit to go to the cottage.  We're all set!  Toronto Western here I come!!

So I have 8 days left at work.  I'm not being given any new files.  I'm finishing up training my replacement and tidying up all of my filing, purging files, and making sure nothing is left to do.  Next week the department I work for is all going for lunch to "celebrate" my surgery.  Or mourn my departure!! My female boss is already missing me and I'm not gone yet!

[I just had to go back and remove the word so from the start of 3 out of the 4 paragraphs I used it to start.  Somebody sign me up for a writing class!]

With just 2 weeks until my surgery I have started to pack a little.  Things like my neck pillow, scarfs, baby shampoo and gravol (dramamine) are all ready to go.  Just deciding on what luggage to take.  I think we will pack in 1 suitcase so hubby only has to manage 1 on the trip home.  I'll take a travel bag with me for my stuff I'll need at the hospital.  Won't need much.  I'll barely have any hair so a tiny bottle of shampoo, tooth brush and paste, pyjamas, slippers and a box of peppermint tea.  I'll consult with the admissions clerk about my 101 things I can't eat, so we might have to find a little grocery store for a few snacks on Monday afternoon to bring to the hospital.  I'll probably stash baby cookies and 100 calorie packs in our luggage for the trip down too.

So, I can't remember a thing I was going to write Sunday, but I think I have updated all the same!!