Thursday, September 25, 2008

The Good Problems to Have

Someone out there should be writing the Brain Surgery Diet Book. Both Suzy Becker (author of I Had Brain Surgery, What’s Your Excuse?) and I have found this experience, among other things, to be a great way to drop 5-10 pounds. (Please note that this means I’ve been reading more!) It’s only been two weeks since the surgery but even though I eat everything in sight—and am enjoying my chocolate without restraint—I weigh less than I did when this adventure began. Since that cannot be attributed to my activity level over the two weeks following surgery, diet book authors, heads up.

It was wonderful to find that yesterday’s mood was related to my physical condition and it and the headaches both righted themselves pretty quickly after the great consultation with the neurosurgeon and the administration of the steroids. (Ok, maybe less reading going forward for a little bit longer.) My internal script has a default setting on self-critical and while as a mother, teacher, friend and supervisor, I’ve worked pretty hard not to pass that along, I’ve never much altered how it applies to me. Maybe now is the time to think some more about that, since as L points out, fearing that I was malingering or being a slug two weeks after brain surgery probably isn’t the most rational of responses—and not that helpful, either.

The comment from yesterday that both the steroids and the pain meds are unsung heroes of medicine bears attention and thanks. Also, that suffering is not ennobling. Check. Our consultation yesterday with a different surgeon (our primary was out of town and his co-surgeon occupied with other procedures) was wide-ranging and fascinating on many counts, not least of which the portion about the pain meds and what a reasonable, expected trajectory should/might be. He asked if I get a high from them (no) or if they make me drowsy (no). Given that, he said, when the pain goes away, you’ll stop taking them. Until it does, keep taking them. End of story. I can do that. The headache was knocked down pretty quickly following taking the steroids and a nap—though I’m awake at 5 a.m. again. Since today brings another strength training session and physical therapy, it will also bring nice long naps, so I have a system in place for this. Yesterday’s occupational therapy started us on a regimen we’re working on twice a day; we’ll go back twice a week. The range of motion in my shoulder/arm is already better than it was after surgery and we have a plan for continuing to improve. Yeah. I look forward to regaining full use of my arm and hand.

The surgeon’s response to the size of the tumor (awe) and commentary on how lucky I am were also nice reminders to count our blessings here for an event that’s two weeks old (surgery two weeks ago yesterday) or three weeks old (diagnosis three weeks ago yesterday), depending on where you start counting.

We had an interesting chat about the surgical technique for removing meningiomas: he asked if we knew what approach had been taken, and we supplied what we knew. The surgeon told us he’d had to “pulverize it” to remove it. This stimulated great enthusiasm from the guy we were visiting with: “Great choice. Classic!” In this technique, you suck tissue out of the center, let the tumor collapse in on itself and then go around cutting around the edges, tying off the capillaries and blood vessels. The enthusiasm for the technique was neat and we had a fun conversation all the way around.

It also set several markers for some items we’ll follow-up with our surgeon on our return scan and visit in mid-October, and generally continued our very positive feelings about the quality of care across this whole experience. To keep this from getting too long, I’ve posted separately some of the commentary Kearney and I developed (with review from Michael and Shea) about our experience.

Thanks for being out there caring. Hope your Thursdays are/have been wonderful.

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