Updated: Apr 6
As I was still grasping my new normal and medication schedule, I naively believed I was on the mend. The cards were not in my favor, however. On March 2nd, I woke up and fell getting out of bed. I moved around the room like Bambi learning to walk trying to find support. I shook the feeling off and prepared to get ready for my doctor appointment to help me navigate my emotions. Before my mom took me, I placed a call to my neurosurgeon to let them know what happened. Promptly after I left my doctor appointment, her nurse told me I needed to head downtown through the ER for a CT scan. So, my mom and I went, back to the hospital that I was beginning to dread. The ER got me in for a CT scan, however waiting for the results took forever. We sat in the ER waiting room full of sick people, moaning in pain. It dawned on me that we were in the middle of a pandemic, and panic raced through me eager to get out. After two or more hours, the results were in and my doctor wanted to do surgery the next day because fluid was building up in my head. She said I needed a drain inserted in my head, which I will have for the rest of my life and changed out every eight years. My mom, who is my babysitter while Brandon works, told me that the past couple of days I was getting slow talking and sleepy. I didn’t realize this now, but these were indicators that something was not right, hence the fall on March 2nd.
The VP shunt is scary to think of. It’s inserted in my brain with a tube that comes down to a clamp toward the mid-section of my head. From the clamp a tube runs behind my ear, down my neck, chest and drains into my abdomen
This surgery was only two hours long and not considered invasive. This didn’t matter to me! I panicked all the way to the operating room. Thank god for the anesthesia, because after a small countdown, I was in sleepy land.
Waking up from the surgery was worse than my first surgery. I couldn’t talk, my throat was raw, my stomach hurt, I felt a painful golf ball on the back of my head (the clamp). The pain was so awful, the night nurse and NP pumped me full of medications to help me. Sadly, this combination of meds made my breathing decrease and BP drop. My mom told me she stayed awake and watched my vitals for the rest of the night because I was struggling. The next morning, another neurosurgeon came in and checked my progress. I informed him how awful I did with all the medication given. He looked at the list and immediately put me back on my regime that I was on the first surgery. This drastically changed everything.
This drain is awful and now a part of me, however, it has helped my speech, memory and balance. My primary neurosurgeon is my super angel. She saved me more than once and her blunt delivery was always coated with compassion. I couldn’t ask for a better person to handle my situation. I also had the best nurses who took care of me the first go around that made me feel safe, loved and cared for. This is the canvas of care.
The recovery process for the VP shunt was long and difficult. I couldn’t get up because of the incision in my abdomen and couldn’t lay on my pillow like I wanted to because of this painful ball on the back of my head. I broke out in small fevers, tears and helplessness.
I will tell you; it gets better. One day I woke up and told myself that I won’t let this work to save my life go to waste. I got into warrior mode and began to crawl my way out of the trenches.