Tag Archives: Craniotomy

Day Three Post-op

So it’s me again. This is Brad.

I think I’m improving at a pretty steady rate, though the tinnitus is constant, loud, and sometimes I get an oscillopsia effect with it where the walls seem to pulse. Also, there is is some spinning vertigo when I transition to fast. Things seem to be worse in the morning and improve as the day goes on.

Dr. Wiet is going to visit me tomorrow around 1, and hopefully I’ll be released. Dressing is supposed to come off today. He has such an incredible reputation here, and I can tell you, as a guy who has been some kind of sick most of his life, he is the kindest, most gentle and reassuring doctor I’ve ever encountered. I had a pre-craniotomy “moment” in pre-op, and he held his hand on my shoulder the entire time we spoke. If you are suffering from SCDS and can get to Chicago, he should be your man.

My wife, my mom, our friend Kevin — it’s been nonstop work for them keeping life working for the kids and me, and I’m so grateful.

I shaved my face today. I can walk easier. But my muscles are tight and my feet hurt from being in bed so much, which adds a bit to the instability.

I took two tylenol yesterday, but the pain is no real issue at all. Just dealing with finding equilibrium and the noise in my head have been the biggest challenge. Will post pictures later.

It’s all going as well as can be expected. The nurses and PT staff are working me as hard as they can.

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Pre-Op Preamble

In addition to generous colleagues covering my classes and committees, friends and family caring for my kids and bringing us food, and all manner of offers to provide help (including the procurement of a helicopter should the need arise), I got a pep-talk today from my Dad, the Coach —  so I’m all set.

This is but a small note of enormous thanks to you all. I’m humbled, and deeply, deeply grateful for your care and concern. See you on the other side.

The Other Side of Surgery

I met with Dr. Wiet today and signed the forms and asked my final questions. He believes I’ll come through it fine. New and improved. I’m feeling as confident as I think I’ve felt all along, and I’m just ready for this thing to happen. The past week has been like sitting in an airport waiting for a long-delayed, non-stop, twenty-hour flight to Siberia. It’s gonna suck, so can we just get on with it already?

A lot of people fear not waking up from a serious surgery like this. I don’t. I know I’ll wake up. The thing is, what will I wake up to? I’m not worried about pain. I just don’t want to be worse-off than I was before. I want to be better. But what can I do about that? Nothing.

I’m trusting my future to people who have spent long, successful, and highly-regarded careers working every day on problems like this. I’m trusting my fellow human beings who are elite, resourceful, well-equipped experts in a highly specialized field. I’m trusting two months of my own research and thought, and countless hours of soul-searching. I’m trusting my own will to fight, recover and reclaim my life and the way I want to live it. 

In 32.5 hours I will go black and wake up after what will seem to be just a few seconds —  and I will be facing a new reality. 

 

Pre-Op Buzz Cut

For a guy, I’m definitely a hair snob (This pre-cut photo does not indicate as much. I had just shoveled 92 feet of snow off my driveway. Leave me alone.). Clippers haven’t touched my tiny little head in 13 years, but I figured if some pre-op nurse is going to shave an ugly stripe in my skull, or even a whole side of hair off, I’d rather have the lovely Amanda, a true professional shorten the entire batch. No hair-washing for 10 days post-op? Yeah. Let’s whack it.

“Look, we’re not doing this for the money……”

I met with Dr. Kazan today, the neurosurgeon who will accompany Dr. Wiet on my Superior Canal Dehiscence repair, and the title of this post is exactly what he said to me. He continued, “we’ve been doing this for a long time. We don’t need the money. We do this out of pride. Out of giving people a positive result and continuing to get better and better.”

I found that reassuring, which is what I’m sure he meant for me to feel. And I must say, these two surgeons have given me much more time and attention than I think I would have received at a University hospital, where it seems there are far more patients and a premium on seeing as many as they can each day. We visited a prominent university hospital (not Northwestern) in Chicago, and I felt like the doctor there could have spent a little more time with us.

Dr. Kazan mentioned today, in response to one of my concerns, that they monitor the facial nerve closely during surgery by inserting needles attached to equipment into my face. The primary facial nerve runs right through the area in which they will be working.  If facial nerves are triggered during the procedure, they will know immediately and adjust their approach. Facial nerve damage is a potential, albeit uncommon outcome for SCD repair. The other significant neurological risk is a cerebrospinal fluid leak, which is why there is always a neurosurgeon present for the procedure. I found it interesting to hear a neurosurgeon, in a specialty that most people default to as the top of the surgical pecking order, speak of taking a backseat in the OR. These two are old partners, veterans of thousands of surgeries together, and Dr. Kazan spoke very highly of Dr. Wiet, suggesting that in the OR “this will be his show.”

They’ll be using pieces of my own skull to help form the seal over the dehiscence and damaged tegmen. It will be taken from the underside of the bone flap removed during the craniotomy — as I understand it, anyway. Dr. Kazan said to expect two and half to three hours for the surgery,  depending on how much repair the tegmen requires.

The Hinsdale Hospital where I will be having my operation was outfitted for these types of surgeries at the suggestion of my two doctors, who, when the hospital was built, told them “we will lose patients to Mayo and Northwestern if you do not make this investment.” Evidently, they did, and both doctors have told me that there is not a better-suited OR in the country for my procedure.

So, I’m in good hands by all accounts, and I’m also receiving a second opinion (hopefully soon) from another one of the best SCD surgeons in the country. I’m fortunate to have these resources and opportunities, and I know that. And yet, my hang up is still with the unknown. The “what if?” My greatest fear is that I emerge worse than I am now. I fear loss of function as opposed to the restoration of it, and again, that comes from the fact that I really don’t feel all that bad right now; certainly not as bad as I once was.

Below are pre-op and post-op testimonials from a patient of Dr. Wiet’s. I watch these a lot:

Waffling on SCDS Surgery (Again)

superior canal dehiscence surgeryThey say you are what you eat, right? Today, this is what I had for breakfast, and it is also what I’m doing (again). As a writer, I know it makes for a much more compelling dramatic story when a character is conflicted, but in real life it can get tiring and silly for your audience of friends an family, and exhausting for yourself as the protagonist. Sorry, y’all!

What I really need is a Magic 8 Ball to decide superior canal dehiscencethis whole mess for me once and for all. Anyone still have one of those laying around that I can borrow?  I used one to choose which film school to enter, and that seemed to work out okay.  My friend has a talking Yoda, maybe that’s who I should really be consulting instead of an endless slew of doctors!

 

Craniotomy! (The movie) Staring “Honey Badger” Randall

I teach at the DePaul University School of Cinema and Interactive Media. It’s a long, fancy name for what is essentially a film school (a very good one at that, if I do say so myself). And in our school we have some totally AMAZING animators. Emmy-award winners, even! What you will see below is not their work, and it is not totally AMAZING, and there is no sound (who wants to hear a skull saw, anyway), but it does show the process of my coming surgery in a clear, easy to understand and sanitized, unbloody way. Worth a look if you’re interested. Makes it all seem like a no-brainer! (See what I did there?)

I should try to get Randall the “Honey Badger” guy to narrate this. Right?