Wednesday, July 9, 2014

Post Surgical Daze

This is my second Blogger post of the series that I wrote way back in 2008. I am reposting my original entries that I posted on the Triond web site. I have had links to these articles here on my blog for awhile now, but Triond's links have been inconsistently and annoyingly hard to open.

I am trying hard to resist the temptation to edit these pieces. Some of them were written under the influence of some pretty serious pharmaceuticals. I kind of regret not keeping a copy of the first original version of this piece - the one that Triond rejected because it was too short and incomprehensible (they had tougher standards back then). So this would be the second version of the original series that I wrote for Triond. It is the second post in this Blogger series, but it is part 1 of the original series, since my last Blogger entry was written four sleeps before the surgery, and was not included in the original series. 

I think I am still feeling some of the effects of those pharmaceuticals. 

Parkinson’s Surgery: Deep Brain Stimulator implant
Part 1: Post-surgical Daze
April 10, 2008
I was admitted to the hospital the evening before the surgery, so that they wouldn't have to depend on me to be on time at 6 am on surgery day. (Someone must have tipped them off about my challenges with punctuality.) First thing in the morning, they started with the standard hospital routine of poking me with sharp things.  Kudos to the IV specialists at the Health Sciences Center in Winnipeg – every IV needle went in on the first try. They took me downstairs for an MRI, then attached a “halo” to my head. I hope that the halos in heaven are nothing like this. This one weighed a ton, and had to be screwed to my head in 4 places. These screws are only skin deep, but skin hurts! This prevented me from nodding my head, which I soon found out is a deeply ingrained instinct when someone asks a question.

Then they wheeled me into the OR, where there must have been at least 15 people. One team was off to my right, where I couldn’t see because I couldn’t turn my head. I’m told that they were examining my MRI results. The surgical team kept leaving, except for Dr. Vivian, a resident anesthesiologist, who never left my side except for one tea break. She was from South Africa, so she had a cool accent to match her colorful surgical hat. She became my lifeline during the surgery.

Vivian kept herself at my beck and call, so I asked her why the surgical team kept leaving me. She said they had to draw a map of my brain, and to write in the details of what they found. I asked if while they were in there, could they keep an eye out for loose wires. They were mapping out just the right spots to place the electrodes in a tiny part of the brain, only millimeters long. But they never did find the loose wire in the part of my brain that used to be able to do math.

They tested several spots on each side of the brain, and needed me to be awake to tell them stuff like “how many fingers am I holding up?” & “Can you feel this electrical jolt that we are shooting through your body?” By the end of the eleven hours, they were having to wake me up to answer these questions. It was frustrating for both me and them that I could feel the electrical jolts, but couldn’t open my eyes or speak – I could only squeeze Vivian’s hand. My apologies for her bruised hand!  Sometime during the last hours of surgery, my legs started to cramp up from dystonia (Parkinson’s unmedicated extreme – painful muscle cramps that I have been waking up with every morning for a long time), so they gave me enough morphine to knock me out. I don’t even remember hubby and the girls being in my room when they wheeled me back in – about 12 hours after my day started. 

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