The night before the surgery I couldn’t sleep. I read articles from medical journals online about craniotomies and tumors. I felt pretty well versed in what was going to happen to me. We got to the hospital at 5:15 am. A nurse took my information and led me to a large room filled with hospital beds and other people who would have other surgeries that day. It was like a warehouse of sick people. After some struggle they got my IV in. This meant one of the things I was most scared of with this brain surgery was over. Whew. The assistant to my neurosurgeon came in and wrote Dr. Parney’s name in marker on the left side of my head. I was astounded that this was an organization method.
My bed was wheeled into the surgical theater. I was introduced to the handful of people who would be assisting in my operation. One more MRI was done before my head was opened up and loaded into the computer. I was given a bit of sedative while my head was prepared. When I awoke, my hair had been shaved around the site, all the nerves in my head had been numbed, a halo had been screwed to my head, and my skull had been sawed open. I remember hearing the saw while I was sedated. It was kind of like being at the dentist. Nothing hurt, but the noise was jarring. I let the team know that I was lying in a way where I could feel a lot of pressure on the screw in the back of my head. They moved me a fraction of an inch and I felt worlds better. I know I couldn’t really feel the screw in my forehead because I was numb, but I was highly aware of its presence.
The surgery lasted almost 8 hours. Dr. Parney used something to stimulate different areas of my brain and i would feel tingling in different parts of my body. When he tested my language, he would have me read from a PowerPoint and if I could not do it when a certain area was being stimulated he would know to be careful in that area. Most of it was pretty boring for me. There were times that I asked if I could be put asleep more. They kept me awake anyway. Apparently I had a small stroke at one point, so I think they wanted to monitor me closely. Once it was thought that the tumor had been removed, another MRI took place. Unfortunately more was found. Once they got it all out, I asked if I could see it. I expected to see something the size of a pea. It turns out it was the size of a large walnut. It looked like my brain grew a miniature brain, complete with tiny little veins. I was put into a sleep state while they bolted my skull back in place and stapled my skin. I woke back up still in the theater. Dr. Parney said that he kept me awake more than he had kept anyone else awake before but he didn’t say why.
I was wheeled to the ICU where I spent the night. I kept ice packs on my head for days and felt quite a bit of pain but I was able to leave ICU the next day and the hospital the day after that.