Wednesday, May 15, 2013

Flashback #3 - Hospital Stay


(Caution: if you're queasy, there are a couple vivid descriptions of surgery within this post.)

After David woke up from surgery, and I was finally able to go back to be with him, we met with Dr Schwartz who talked us through the surgery, etc. He informed us that he had gone into the brain from the front, the forehead...he had cut right through the sinus cavity and accessed the brain from there. He said there was so much pressure, even with the steroids, etc, that as soon as the bone was removed, the brain/tumor just bubbled right up. He could tell from the bone erosion, etc, that the tumor had been there for a long time, had grown slowly, which was a somewhat good sign. Although he cut out as much of the tumor as he felt was safe, he knew he left behind some of it. At first he told us he got about 50%, but after the post op MRI, he felt it was closer to 80-90%, which we were very pleased with. There were concerns due to it's proximity to the optic nerves. David did lose his sense of smell in one nostril, but he can't even tell. There was a chance of no sense of smell remaining, but that didn't happen. We were so blessed to have an extremely talented brain surgeon just happen to be on call and happen to be assigned to David when we went to the ER the first time (can you tell I think the Lord provided?). The doc warned David that because he went in through the sinus cavity, he had sealed it off, it's basically no longer connected to the rest of the sinuses, but while it was healing he would have to be careful or he could spring a leak. If he had to sneeze, don't try to hold it in, he couldn't use a straw, blow his nose, etc...if the seal was broken, CSF (cerebral spine fluid) would start leaking, and could cause an entry way for infection. They said it was easily patched up, but preferable to not have to deal with it. Of course, saying this to David (who was already a bit of a hypochondriac) just after brain surgery made him super concerned about it. He kept worrying he was tasting the fluid in his mouth...every time we would ask what it was supposed to taste like, we would get different answers. Some nurses would say salty, some tingly, some just weird. It never actually happened, but we had a few false alarms. Also because of the entry point, David got a beauty of a black eye...and his whole face was already swollen...we think from the steroids (which is totally odd because they reduce swelling, but his face majorly puffed up). We called it moon face. ;)

  • david had a bit of a rough night...lots of pain and swelling. His eye is swollen shut and his cheek looks like someone socked him. He is also coughing up some blood from when they cut through his sinus cavity, and he's getting drainage from that. We weren't quite expecting some of these side effects, so it's been eventful to say the least. Some peace of mind and restful sleep would be good prayer requests for him.

Needless to say, we got very little rest that night! Being in the Neuro ICU, the staff would come to check on him every hour or two, and they would have to go through the neuro tests, which consist of checking smiles for weakness on one side of the body or the other, closing eyes and holding (imaginary) pizza box in the air...to see if one arm dips, etc. They were checking for deficits which could indicate bleeding in the brain. David felt like he was in a POW camp...as soon as he'd start to sleep, someone would wake him up...not to mention that it's already super difficult to sleep while on those particular steroids. Our hospital stay really was not a good experience though. The surgery was first rate, but the aftermath was hell!

The first night, the nurse was an older guy from Texas with the biggest hick accent...it was so nice to hear sounds from home! lol...anyways...David was being closely monitored, he had a catheter in his arm that was constantly checking his blood pressure. At one point they gave him some blood pressure medicine because it had started going up, and he immediately felt like he was having a heart attack! The nurse basically said he wasn't sure what was going on, he looked at the monitor, said he knew it wasn't a heart attack, but "I have a theory." David's just about freaking out, his anxiety levels are already through the roof, and the nurse has a theory...rofl. We didn't really care for any of the regular nurses, but the mid-level nurses were awesome!!! I think part of the problem, at least in the ICU, was that they really weren't used to alert, functioning patients. The majority of patients in the Neuro ICU were either severe trauma, or just not in as good shape. David got majorly frustrated trying to talk to the nurses about anything. He hates being interrupted anyways, and they ALL did it. As soon as he'd try to tell them what he was feeling, or what he was concerned about, they would jump in, assume what he was talking about and answer something that he wasn't even trying to ask. It got to the point where he would just wait for them to finish, say no, then finish his question, etc, sometimes a couple of times...it was really bad! And he was already pretty cranky, so that didn't help at all.

He also decided since he hated the side effects of the steroids so much, that he would try to flush it out of his system...so he started drinking tons of water. Such a bad idea! Of course, they were monitoring his blood and his urine, so they noticed that his electrolytes started to drop. He confessed, lol...and they restricted his fluid intake for a couple days. He could only have one small Gatorade per day...plus he had to take these massive, uncoated salt tablets. They were so bad...he tells the story in the vid I'll post below of how he almost choked on them at one point. But he kinda learned his lesson...no more self medicating...well, not as much ;) Because of this, they kept him in the ICU an extra day. Can I just tell you, the human body is unbelievable. David was in the ICU for two nights, then on the regular post op floor for another night, then home...after brain surgery! I couldn't believe it. I mean, he was standing up (for very short periods, but still) the night of surgery...it's just incredible! Although I wasn't technically supposed to spend the night, they brought in a recliner for me, so it was a bit more comfortable. I finally passed out for just a little bit in the wee hours of the morning...David got mad about that! He needed something and I wouldn't wake up at first. haha, he's over it now though ;) But seriously, he had some rough nights...awful nightmares/hallucinations...some of which were some spiritual battles in my opinion. I kept reading the Bible to him, which seemed to help. My father-in-law had gone back to our house to check on his family and the kids...and catch some sleep too, but he was back in the morning. 

The next day, they actually sent some sort of therapist to go over drinking strategies, how to get up without too much exertion, etc (because of the sinus seal)...we found it a bit silly. Oh man, he was so thirsty for those couple days. Thankfully, although he felt terrible from the lack of sleep, etc, he wasn't in that much actual pain. 

  • Less anxiety more peace would be lovely. Hoping David can just sleep for a couple of hours, it would be so helpful!

David has always had a bit of an anxious streak in him...he used to even get panic attacks...as you can imagine, this did not help. By now, the reality of cancer was starting to slowly sink in also. I mean, it was a big slap in the face. So not only are we dealing with the aftermath of surgery, but now having to start thinking about cancer and what that's gonna mean. It was a really difficult and emotional time. How could it be otherwise. A lot of tears were shed, prayers lifted, fears voiced...it was exhausting emotionally and physically. 

After another mostly sleepless night in ICU, they released him to the floor around noon. The downside of getting out of the ICU was going from a private room to a shared room. We were worried...and we should have been.

  • Leaving the icu, heading to a regular room. Hope there is no roommate or else a quiet one. David is doing much better physically, swelling and pain much abated. Keep praying for peace and trust in the LORD for what lies ahead. The unknowns are hard to process at this point.

Ok, so this prayer was answered, but not right away, lol...He was put in a room with an older gentleman who was recovering from some sort of leg? surgery...not sure, but oh my goodness, it was awful! He was also on steroids and for whatever reason, he couldn't sleep or something without the TV on...and it was on SO loud! David is finally hoping to get some rest without being woken up every hour or two, and his roommate is blaring his TV on full volume it seemed. We finally asked him to turn it down, and he did some, but it was still so bad. 
  • Praise the LORD! David had a way noisy roommate and now he's being moved to a private room that just opened!

Thankfully, that evening a private room opened up and they moved David into it. It was wonderful...for a bit...lol (don't you love my cliffhangers?)
So David, Dad and I are all hanging out in the private room, no it wasn't as fun as that sounds, and I start shivering. I've never shivered so hard in all my life...my feet were up on David's bed at first and he was starting to get irritated at me...I couldn't stop...I was so cold! And starting to feel a little terrible. He finally tells me to leave...if I was getting sick, he didn't want to catch it...so I head home. It was great to see the kids for a bit...and I really needed to nurse Buddy (who was about 7 months at this point). Thankfully, I did supplement some, so he was fine while I was gone...but I wasn't. 

  • Well isn't this dandy? To top off the awesome week I'm having (sarcasm alert!), I believe I'm coming down with mastitis for the first time, and caden is treating me like a chew toy! OUCH!!!!!!! Are 104 temps normal???

Do you not know that I was in so much pain! I felt horrible! Red streaks were appearing, Buddy was being rough...it was seriously awful! But I felt somewhat better after taking some Motrin and nursing, so I headed back...at least mastitis isn't catching, right? I was able to get in to see my doctor that following morning, Saturday, (thank goodness for extended weekend hours) who confirmed my diagnosis...
  • Well, I do have a bad mastitis infection, but since I also have a bit of cold symptoms (cough and congestion) I can't go back to see David until the antibiotics kick in and those symptoms go away. :( I feel so bad about that! But really don't want him to get sick. Hopefully will know in the next 12 hours or so! David had a great night (lots of sleep finally!) and a good morning...pray this doesn't cause any setbacks.

So not only am I feeling terrible, but Rachel (sis-in-law) was sick and throwing up at the house...are you kidding me???? So I'm not at the hospital, then I get a call that they are going to go ahead and release him. I'm running around trying to sanitize everything I can think of...cleaning the bathrooms, stair rail, counters, etc...thankfully we have a bathroom in our bedroom...his plan was to basically lock himself in our room for a while...let the kids say hello, but not much else.

  • David's heading in just a few...now to hurry to get the bedroom/bathroom cleaned and disinfected so he doesn't catch what everyone has! Wish me luck ;)

The saying it never rains but it pours...oh yeah, it's true! I honestly can't remember at this point if I drove him home or if Dad did...I think I did, but not sure. It still blows my mind, even after a couple surgeries, how quickly he's up and moving (slowly, but moving) after BRAIN SURGERY! it's crazy! A bit of a blur, but we made it home...he said hi to everyone, and retreated up to the bedroom. Thank God, he never got sick from the kids or anything...but we probably had about 10 gallons of hand sanitizer stationed around the house! lol

OK, gonna wrap it up...here's David's second vid that he made talking about his hospital experience.



I know, I already used this...but again, we weren't real vigilant about documenting our experiences...what can ya do...she was so tiny then! She had just turned 4, but Red Three has always been itty bitty!