10-Week Update

It’s been about 10 weeks since my brain aneurysm clipping surgery. Overall, I’m doing very well and I have to keep reminded myself that it HAS only been 10 weeks. Granted, it wasn’t an emergency event, but I still had my skin flayed open like the skin of a fish, my skull was cut open and bolted back together and, oh yeah, I had a tiny titanium clip put into my brain that for all intents and purposes, saved my life.

It’s worth reminding MYSELF every once in awhile, the significance of the procedure and that the brain takes some time to heal.

I’m a tad depressed at the fatigue. I knew the fatigue would be there, but now that I have started working full time again, the level of fatigue at the end of the work day and when I get home is still dragging me down. I know I need to move more…I have written instructions from my regular Dr. to move more, but I don’t. I’m just so sleepy and run down. I know it WILL get better, but for right now, I’d much rather sit and rest.

I’ve been driving myself to work this week. The mornings are not bad, but I need to make sure I stay alert to other vehicles around me and pay attention…which requires brain work. Which, in turn, tires me out. It’s a viscous circle right now.

I think I’m also starting to feel the death of my other sister creeping back in to my life. I’m finding myself remembering something and where I used to have at least one of my two sisters to contact and confirm something I’m remembering…I now have none of them. It’s just very sad. I have started to write down some “tales” that I’m calling Sister Stories before I forget them because I’ll never have them around again to confirm these stories or to retell them.

However, I digress. My incision has healed nicely, but my hair regrowth is not coming along as quickly as I had hoped. Where they shaved my bangs there is a nice little spike of hair about 1/2 inch high and I have an odd side burn on that side. My scalp is still sensitive and those shooting zinger pains will happen at any time, any where, and in any location. Thankfully they don’t last long, but when I get overly tired I do tend to notice that pain more frequently. I can’t wait for the nerves on my scalp to settle down a bit more so I can get a hair cut & color. Right now the thought of someone else combing my scalp or touching it just doesn’t seem like a good idea.

I have also noticed when I get overly tired I have a sleepy eyelid. I think it’s just swelling a bit, but it gives me an appearance that something is wrong with that eye. Thankfully, it doesn’t last long once i get some rest. I am also able to sleep a bit more on my left side, which is very nice. I don’t seem to be paying for it with swelling and pain the next morning as I used to. My jaw muscle is still painful at times as well.

A few folks at work have asked me about specific things, but for the most part it’s just the standard “how are you doing?” question. Some of the people who work on the same floor haven’t even said a word. I shouldn’t expect any more than that though. They’re just the people I work with. No one came to visit during my recovery except a FORMER co-worker, which was very, very nice and meant a great deal to me.

Yes, my hair may now cover my incision in my head where 53 stitches once lay blood-laden, but I’m still recovering. I have a dent in my forehead, hair that’s barely growing back, a numb scalp, and regular fatigue, but I’m alive to tell my tale to the few people who might care.

This horribly, long winter isn’t helping either. Where we would traditionally have one or two days of really nice and warm weather and some major snow melting, it has been very cold this year and the snow has remained a stagnant reminder of the last few months.

We can only hope for a slow melt this spring so flooding isn’t any issue. I specifically planted several hundred tulips last fall knowing I’d be in recovery this spring. But they are LATE-blooming tulips and at this rate, they may not be able to poke out of the ground until July! Keep hoping!

Back At Work Full Time

It’s only Wednesday, but I’ve worked for 8 hours every day this week so far. Monday and Tuesday in the office and today from home. So far, so good. Haven’t fallen asleep or fallen down the stairs, so that’s a positive sign.

Monday I had a pretty good headache by the time I got home and was very tired. Tuesday was VERY tired all day, but no headache. Today I had a headache all day. Almost called it a half a day, but stuck it out after two Tylenol after lunch and even made a pretty good dinner. EXTREMELY exhausted right now. Forgot to call my mom today…hope she forgives me! I’ll do it tomorrow.

As I start to develop fatigue during the day, I get this zinging pain around the bone plate area. They don’t last long, thank God, but they’re very sudden. Almost like a little electric shock being sent through a pointer. Very sudden, sharp pain, then it’s gone.

My scalp is still numb. Maybe a LITTLE bit more feeling back. Hard to tell just yet. At least taking showers doesn’t wipe me out as much. My jaw is still hurting through. Sometimes it’ll get a longer, aching pain and other times it’s a zinger pain like the head pain is.

I now have one side burn. ONE. LOL The hair around my ear has grown back, but it’s not long enough to go behind my ear with my glasses, so it has a tendency to stick out straight. Thankfully the rest of my hair can cover it for a bit.

The few people who know I’m back at work have been very welcoming. I didn’t see any of them while I was out these two months. Thankfully, I didn’t have a huge pile of jobs waiting for me when I got back and I have a good project to work on that will keep me busy, but isn’t terribly pressing so I can take my time with it. I know the fatigue will be with me for a while, so I’m extremely thankful to work for a company that allows me to work from home so I don’t have to get up as early and worry about the drive. Dave has been driving me this week.

Hopefully tomorrow and Friday won’t be too tough and I can catch up on my rest this weekend. But, it’s another milestone I’m getting through getting back to the real world. I’m one of the lucky ones.

Learning to Embrace My Dent

I am learning to embrace my dent…dip, depression, hollow, or indent. I’m sure there’s a proper medical term for it, but that’s what I’m calling it.

Since the swelling around my incision and jaw line near my ear has finally gone down, it has exposed a small “dent” in my head off to the left of my forehead. Well, obviously, that’s where it is because that’s where the surgery was performed.

I have met several survivors of craniotomies and knew the possibility of getting one of these dents in my skull, but was hoping it wouldn’t occur with me. I’m not sure why I assumed I’d be some kind of special case! Truthfully, it’s not that big of a deal and probably no one would even notice it if I didn’t point it out…or write a blog entry all about it, but I am seriously noticing it now.

Of course I have an indent. The skin on my skull was cut open and splayed out for all the world to see and my skull was cut open. Um…yeah, that’ll happen with a craniotomy and brain aneurysm clipping. And I’m certain anyone else reading this who has had a craniotomy, (or several) know what I’m talking about. The one-inch strip of hair they shaved is not a big deal for me…it’s just hair. I’ll grow back and if it didn’t, there are extensions and wigs out there to mask that damage. Bucky Dent there in my forehead won’t grow back (I don’t think!) and with my thinning hair, I may or may not be able to get what’s left of my bangs to continuously cover it.

Oh, well…I’m alive. I have sight, hearing, speech, motor skills, and a man and two kitties who love me. Yes, I’m learning to embrace my dent. Doesn’t mean I have to like it, but there is nothing I can do about it at this point. It is what it is, right?

Film At 11

I’ve seen many videos and demonstrations online showing graphics of brain aneurysm operations and medical personnel discussing procedures, treatments and causes of brain aneurysms, but the video below is by far the most educational one I’ve seen to date.

All of the doctors speak clearly and in a language the typical lay person can understand, but it’s the questions the moderator asks (some from viewers) that are probably THE most asked questions. When we’re at brain aneurysm events, many of those types of questions are asked of us. It was reassuring to know we’re speaking the same language as medical professionals.

It’s an hour long, but well worth it. The main focus of the video is coiling an un-ruptured brain aneurysm and the “what, why, and how” of that procedure, but they go into very good details on other treatments and causes of brain aneurysms. I think anyone out there who is newly diagnosed would find this very useful. It’s produced by Baptist Health hospital in South Florida and their staff members are obviously touting their own facility, which looks very good by the way, so if you’re from Florida…you’re lucky to have such a great team!

Brain Aneurysm Video

I have been through two coilings and now a clipping at Maine Medical Center from 2006, and I believe the Neuroscience Institute staff that MMC has acquired is now one of the top crews on the east coast. They’re highly skilled, diverse surgeons and interventional radiologists who can handle cases that were always sent to Boston. People should no longer question having their brain aneurysm operated on at Maine Med. We are very lucky to have this talented group of individuals and nurses helping our local community.