1.31.2013

crammed in my cranium

I made my way through the heavy doors right behind the nurse. She was taking me to see Mike as he recovered in the ICU unit at Barrow's hospital. I counted the shiny floor tiles with each step I took. We passed several patients with tubes coming from either a mouth or a neck. Each person we passed looked worse off than the prior. What would my husband look like? How would he be feeling? What can I possibly do to help him? 

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Above is a sample image of where a pituitary tumor it located when it grows in someone's head (that's not Mike btw). His was about the size of a golf ball and nodules have grown from it extending into other sections of his brain. Some of those nodules still remain. It will be determined in 3 months what will be done about them.

The procedure he just had is called transsphenoidal surgery. Fat is grafted from the abdomen and used to close back up the sinus cavity from the brain cavity. There are samples on You Tube that demonstrate how the surgery works.

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I slowly pulled the thin curtain that hung between my concerned being and his lifeless body as it lay on the hospital bed. He no longer had a breathing tube coming from his throat, but his mouth was shaped in an O as if it was still in place. An oxygen mask hung from his neck loosely and the soft mist helping him breath was beautiful. His pillow had greenish/ yellowish stains on it as if someone left an otter pop there to melt. Only it was no color I could identify among the usual otter pop characters, nor could I place what portion of the body created this color of stain near his head. There was a spot of blood protruding from his forehead. His eyes were closed and incredibly swollen. A large rectangle of gauze was taped across his nose. It was saturated with blood that was draining out of his head through his nose. While a logical occurence for this type of surgery, it was easily one of the most disturbing images I have witnessed in my life.

What did they do to you? was the question that kept running through my mind.  I asked the nurse if all the things I saw were normal for a patient like this. His whole face was swollen as though 73 more layers of skin had been added below the top layer. His left shoulder was exposed, so I put my hand on it gently. I just stood there with my hand on his shoulder looking at his puffy eyes feeling incredibly helpless and concerned for how this was going to feel once he woke up.

With his eyes closed he stirred and tried to sit up. I spoke softly, 'It's okay, rest. You are all done." He asked what was all done. I replied, "The surgery, you are done!"

He immediately asked, "Did  they get it all?" With puffy lids still resting heavily over his eyes, he was able to ask an intelligent, logical question sixty minutes after brain surgery. I bet he would have been able to manage quantum physics if we tried. Such an over-achiever, this one, even with trauma.

"We don't know until tomorrow's MRI. You did great! Just rest." I kept my hand on his shoulder. Any time he groaned of his head hurting and feeling nauseous the nurse quickly fed his IV with fluids to comfort each. He told me my touch felt good on his shoulder and asked me to keep it there. He was out of surgery, I would have spun to the moon and back if he asked me to.

As he slept I cleaned the blood off his fingers and forehead. I requested his gauze be changed. I asked the nurse about the forehead. She said it was where they had to screw his head in place so it wouldn't move during surgery. A millimeter of movement in surgery could cause a lot of problems. No one told us about that part. The image of a screw going into his head sent shivers through my arms. She assured me it would only leave a little dot and heal well. Compared to the whole procedure he endured,  I am not sure why I cared so much about that little detail. I supposed because it was most visible.


Mike, I dedicate this Frank Black video to you my love.

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