Thursday, October 27, 2011

Titanium Snowflakes

It's pretty cool what they do...maybe not "Spock's Brain" cool...but pretty amazing in its own way. So, yes, they are going to saw through my very thick skull and they are going to take that piece of my skull and let it sit in some kind of solution for the four to eight hours (yes 4-8) that I'm in surgery. However, before they get to that point they are going to take a detailed MRI of my whole brain and send it to a GPS satellite that will somehow have a GPS connection to my surgeon's knife. How cool is that? That image will guide the surgeon via flatscreen HD (3D???) television in through the hole in my head. Just to be more graphic and gross, since it is nearly Halloween, it is the space just above my left ear, about 2 inches in diameter. 

Then they're going to sliced and dice the tumor very slowly and carefully, and pull it out in slices like slices of an egg. Once they get some of it, they immediately send it off to have it tested (but the lab is much slower than the knife - 2 weeks to know if this tumor is actually benign for sure). So, the surgeon must be going super duper slow and careful so as not to knick the brain in anyway. Must have the patience of a Saint! Any of the tumor that is reaching into tough spots to reach is likely going to stay there, but so far it looks like it is going to be easy to remove. 

The tumor is outside of the brain lining, and inside of the skull, taking up space. It is pressing against specifically the region of the brain that controls some of my language skills, my hearing, and my right hand -- otherwise known as the left temporal lobe. They expect that recovery from this surgery will be something like recovering from a mild stroke, so I hope you'll be patient with me. You'll see in the image below that this thing is pressing up against my storytelling and memories and that's kind of disturbing to a writer. It could be anywhere between 3 weeks and 6 months before I'm up and running. It's likely that the space left open will fill up with the fluid that surrounds our brains and runs up and down our spinal cord, and that my brain will stay just as it is. 

So you may wonder, why not just leave be? I did. I hear the risk of seizure has gone up exponentially because of my ten minutes of aphasia at the beginning of the month. And, after surgery for the first month I run the risk of seizure a lot higher so I will have to take it slow and take these medications which are like two margaritas in the system all the time. There may be improvements like: no more headaches, vanished hearing problem, and clarity. That's my hope. However, they are ever cautious and make no gleeful promises. Really wish they were more positive about a number of things besides, "this should be removed," but I suppose this is the result of a litigious society. 

Oh, and then when they're all finished, the titanium snowflakes! They fill the space up with a saline solution that will be absorbed by my body, and replaced by that fluid I wrote about up there, and then they stitch up the lining. Then they put the piece of skull back on, and they go around the edges and put little titanium snowflakes to seal it with titanium screws. Apparently, I will not set off Homeland Security detection devises with these titanium snowflakes but they will be with my bones for all time until I am dust and they will just be a pile of mysterious titanium screws and snowflakes. They could be golden or bluish not than anyone will see them because then they pull the skin back up and staple it together (such a sloppy ending don't you think?). I will have a partially shaved head, and some wicked scars. 

Hopefully, that will be the gist of it. However, if there is some tumor left in there I will have to undergo radiation. Then I will be really pretty. OMG. They couldn't have managed this BEFORE Halloween. I would have been the best Zombie Mom ever!

1 comment:

Lavinia Weissman said...

Wow, this is amazing stuff that will be so valuable to others in similar experience. Thank you.