Happy to report back that the “Post Turkey Day Tumor Takeout” was a success on many levels. I am back at home with my family, after a three night stay at Mass. General Hospital.
The fact that I am writing again is first and foremost something to be grateful for. Brain surgery is a scary and serious thing, so just being on the other side of the process is an amazing weight that has been lifted. Apologies for not posting sooner about the surgical results, but I was a bit preoccupied with getting home. Not to mention that the narcotics the wonderful hospital staff provide you are not conducive to a coherent writing process.
The surgery was approximately 9 hours in duration, and the doctors were able to completely “resect” the tumor. The other amazing outcome is that I woke up with hearing in my left ear. Prior to my surgery the Audiologists indicated that given the amount of interference the tumor was placing on the audio nerve, I had a very high likelihood of being deaf in that ear when I came to. Both of these results are things I reflect upon, and say a prayer of “thanks” for every morning since the surgery.
I am making great strides in recovery, and I am trying to focus solely on the positive results of this process every day (I am still alive, have my hearing, and Arnold is no longer in my head). I am really making an effort to avoid feelings of frustration in my “limitations” right now. I know I will eventually be back to my usual self, and I need to make small improvements each day and be HAPPY about those aspects. My biggest frustration is not being able to lift my 5 month old son. But again, I feel blessed to be here with him so I am not complaining.
I barely remember waking up post-op, but I do remember FAILING to get my “Joke” across. My Surgery Sensei James will be saddened to hear this, but I botched his recommendation of adding humor to the process. We talked prior to surgery about keeping things light by saying something witty or by telling a joke after waking up from anesthesia. My plan was when they asked me “where are you” after surgery, to respond “A long time ago, in a galaxy far-far away” (Disclaimer – I am a Star Wars geek). Unfortunately my wits were not as razor-sharp as usual and all I could keep saying was “Hoth” (Location of the rebel base in “Empire Strikes Back”). The doctors and nurses then were concerned and said “I think he is confused”, but I informed them that they “weren’t getting the joke” before passing out and waking up in the ICU. I plan on writing more about details of the hospital experience for others in the future, but for now I am just happy to be writing again.
Approximately two weeks out from the surgery. There have been ups and downs (more on these later), but ultimately I am so happy to be in recovery mode. I am doing my best to focus exclusively on things that are going to speed up recovery and just be grateful for every day I wake up. The hurdles are ok, because I know they are part of the tradeoff that accompanies major surgery. I am lucky to live in a time and place where we even have a chance to identify these tumors, and then take them out! If I had been born a century earlier, they may have told me the ringing in my ears was due to demonic possession, and the tumor would have continued pushing on my brain stem until it killed me (or they burned me at the stake for witchcraft). Either way, staying positive and grateful!
Thank you to my amazing surgeons Dr. Barker & Dr. McKenna, and all of the nurses and staff at Massachusetts General Hospital. My surgeons gave me new life, great results, and hope to walk on without focusing on a looming craniotomy surgery.