My Second Brain Surgery Experience
Having gone through brain surgery before, I was already mentally prepared for the idea that someone would be invading the contents of my cranium. Granted, the first time I had brain surgery, they poked a hole to create a new pathway for CSF fluid to drain properly. This was because a tumor (Jesus) on my brain stem (tectal glioma) is blocking the original pathway of CSF drainage; this resulted in a condition called Hydrocephalus. This most recent surgery, however, my tumor (Modo) was actually removed from my pituitary gland. That's the part that had me SHOOKETH.
On November 6th, 2020, I had Modo (short for Quasimodo...because Cushing's makes me feel like the hunchback of Notre-dame...) removed from my pituitary gland. The nasty little monster that was overproducing ACTH / Cortisol has been evicted from my temple! Once I stepped foot on hospital grounds, it was kind of like I was walking in a dream. I had my hands in my pockets, and I just observed everything. "Brandy!" They called my name and I left my mother behind in the waiting room. I headed to pre-op and changed into what felt and looked like a cheaply-made purple potato sack. #StillCuteTho. I sat in the back watching the news stations display the unchanging number of electoral votes for Biden and Trump for about three hours (how eventful!) Finally, the anesthesiologist and neurosurgery team trickled their way into my room to give me more rundowns about what was going to happen. I actually found it hilarious that when the anesthesiologist tilted my head back to test how far I could go, she looked at me and said, "That's it?" because the HUMP on my UPPER NECK wouldn't let me bend that far. If you're a cushie, I hope you laugh. My mom was allowed to see me 10 minutes before I headed in for surgery, so it was comforting being able to see her before going under the knife.
Suddenly, it was time. My IV was in my right arm. I had my cute little yellow hospital socks. I had my little blue head-cap thing. I was SET. They rolled me back into the operating room, and that is where my anxiety kicked in. They moved me on to the operating table and put a bunch of stickers on me. They gave me some fresh oxygen while they were hooking me up to everything. They gave me some type of drug that relaxed my whole body, and honestly, all I wanted to do was giggle -- I felt so high (lol). As my body was relaxing, I started a train of grateful thoughts. I was thinking of everyone that I love, and I just allowed gratitude to fill my body. The next thing I remember is the doctor asking me, "Are you ready to go to sleep?" and I was like, "YEP" and it was lights out.
Waking up was brutal. All I remember is squirming around in pain because my throat was burning like it just got back from a stroll through hell. It. Hurt. So. Bad. Not to mention I couldn't breathe through my nose because the surgery was actually performed through my nasal cavities. I woke up with a catheter (fun little pee box), an IV in my right foot, an "A" line (a catheter that goes into an artery to constantly check blood pressure and to draw blood from), and the initial IV that I had in my right arm. I was only supposed to stay one night, but they were really trying to keep me for 3 days. Y'ALL THOUGHT WRONG! After the first night, I was over it. My A line was not working correctly so every time they drew blood, they had to go and stick me with a needle. Needless to say, my whole arm was purple, blue, and swollen. They took blood from me every 2 and 4 hours to measure my cortisol, ACTH, Sodium, blood sugar, and a basic blood panel. You can imagine my veins were fed up, so they decided to try to take blood from the IV in my foot. SWEET BABY JESUS when I tell you a foot IV hurts, it hurts. I was screaming like La Llarona. I had to get two shots in my tummy (an insulin shot, and a shot the next day to prevent blood clotting), I had an MRI to confirm the complete removal of my micro-adenoma. I still do not have confirmed results but I will know after my post-op appointment with my surgeon. My cortisol and ACTH levels have dropped significantly so that is actually a VERY positive sign that the whole tumor was removed. Other than all of the poking and testing that they did, I'd say I'm doing pretty well in this moment.
I didn't have enough energy to take a lot of photos, but here are some photos that I managed to snap during my hospital stay:
Things to consider if you're expecting pituitary surgery:
I couldn't (still can't) breathe through my nose, so my lips were (still are) beetle juice level crusty. BRING LIP BALM. VASELINE LEVEL. I PROMISE CHAPSTICK WON'T WORK.
Bring a charger for your phone. A LONG ONE.
I brought a book to read in case I got bored. You cute, Brandy. You cute. Leave the book at home. Trust me, you aren't going to be reading.
Your nose will leak, but if it looks like the river Justin Timberlake was singing about, you gots a problem. Talk to your doctor if that happens!
Your nose will be stuffy. If your doctor gives you nasal spray, don't be me. Use it.
You'll be put on a steroid replacement. Take them accordingly to prevent your cortisol from dropping dangerously low. This can be fatal.
Take your pain meds as instructed, even if you feel better.
As hard as recovery is, try to stay positive :)
As Porky the Pig would say... That's all folks! Catch ya in my next post.