One-two-three-four-five-six-seven-eight-nine-ten. Breathe. Lifting my right index finger..the left. Wiggle my toes. I CAN WIGGLE MY TOES! ON BOTH FEET! ALL TEN! The pain strikes again… starting over.. one-two-three…counting to ten, breathe, wiggle, repeat.
I can hear a distant voice ”Vanessa…Vanessa…How are you feeling? Do you need more pain relief?”
Dozing on and off. The pain is so severe but the morphine is injected directly into the drip, goes straight into the bloodstream. The relief is not far away but agony like this is hard to take even for just a few short moments.
The surgery took 4.5 hours, I woke up after 6.
I was in intensive care for the week that followed. I had stitches all over my head so I couldn’t move any facial muscles without excruciating pain. I’ve looked it up.. there are 53 different facial muscles and many of those are engaged when you smile and I had many reasons to smile…
The fact that I could fully move my left side was incredible… over exceeded the doctors and my family’s expectations. Every single day I take a moment when I’m thanking my body… one by one I thank my limbs, organs, my senses..out loud I say ”Thank you heart, lungs, liver, kidneys.. ” I keep going thanking my ”tendons, muscles, all my millions of cells that together construct my body. My body, my silent companion that has been serving me so well.
I love, love, love my body and what it is capable of: dance, run, jump, bend and stretch!
Being in intensive care means that every little detail of you is monitored, analysed, checked, reported. You’re soon swept into routines and the nurse rounds. I was very immobilised at first, turning in bed on my own was not an option and I was even being spoon-fed my dinner. You’re too tired to even worry about the lost independency, receiving help is more important than dignity and your own idea of whatpersonal integrity is. You get over that part fast…your body is no longer your own as you’ve been used to. The nurse staff were incredible though, so professional, made the situation as good as it possibly could.
I did have some odd things going on after surgery.. kept repeating the same questions, obsessing over certain things and not remembering the answers to the questions I’ve just asked. The orientation around the room that the surgeon had me warned about was now making sense, It was hard to grasp what was in front and back of me… such as grabbing something and bring it towards me would instead being me pushing it further away from me. The concept of getting dressed was also a bit of a task..tops and pants just have so many holes and where does all the body parts go? It would take me a few attempts to get dressed properly. I also had a few scary nights of nightmares and night terrors and out of body experiences ..and I’m not sure if it was the heavy medication but at times you felt so red-light-low on energy.. you can hear your own heartbeat but you’re not sure if its enough. Do I have enough beats to last me the day?
I did have enough heart beats and eventually I was even allowed going home to my dad’s for weekend breaks and finally I was discharged as an outpatient. It was good to be home, slowly the orientation issue and the memory-loss started to disappear. It’s unbelievable that you can go through such extreme brain trauma with close to none impacts. The one problem I got is my vision, there were many blind spots but my last eye test showed massive improvements. I still have some double-vision but there are glasses that can correct that, it’s a very small price to pay… After all, I can wiggle my toes!
It was good to leave the hospital and come home to safety but now was when the long wait begun
”We removed everything we could see.The tumour behaved well and nothing showed up on the initial biopsy test, it’s been sent for further analysis for microscopic testing. These tests are done in several stages that takes time. We expect a result in the next few weeks.”