Archive for January 11th, 2012

I am reading a book called, I Had Brain Surgery, What’s Your Excuse? My eldest daughter showed it to me on one of our many trips to 2nd and Charles. I didn’t expect much from the book and I didn’t expect the story to be exactly what it is, but I have been enjoying it. It is funny. Just as with many things, we tend to find humor in things we can relate to, and since brain surgery has been a word in my vocabulary for over 40 years, I do relate to this book very well. The woman who wrote this book was a published author and illustrator before this book, but this story is about her life dealing with brain surgery and the luggage that goes along with it.

The topic of brain surgery is not usually realized until someone you know (or you) has to deal with the possibility of going under the knife. Let’s remember that not all head surgery is brain surgery just so we have that straight. I have met many people via the internet who have had brain surgery—sometimes it is a surviving relative. With brain surgery, the first worry is usually, “Am I going to live?” OR “Am I going to die?” depending on your outlook on life. That’s what everyone is worried about—even doctors, but what we should all be concerned about is, “What will my quality of life be afterwards?andWhat are the odds?” Two questions I always ask when a surgeon suggests brain surgery for me. Oh, and, “What can you guarantee?” That always gets to them because I know they can’t guarantee anything.

This book shows how one is faced with reality—after the brain surgery—after things seemed to have gone well through the surgery part only to discover there are deficits afterwards. Doctors, whether they do not like to talk about deficits or face them, do not usually paint a complete picture for the patient and the family. It is so important to understand everything fully before the surgery. Imperative! There is no taking it back. The patient doesn’t understand what to ask and the doctor doesn’t take everything into account, such as… In the book, the doctor says something about how risky it is to expose the brain to air but did not tell the patient (author of said book) all of the consequences. Even if he spelled them out, the patient does not fully understand. And, that is just the patient. Then you have family and friends who have different expectations. Many think, “Oh, this is nothing and she will be back to normal in a week or two.” Truth, the author had a tumor removed on the edge of the brain—not deep like where my AVM is, and she had deficits especially talking. There were other problems, but this was one of the biggest. She was not prepared for what lay ahead and neither were her supporting family and friends.

from Wikipedia

After brain surgery, people don’t just get up the next day and have everything the same. Brain surgery can change one’s ego, alter-ego, how we process information, memories are changed (some are permanently erased), etc. And, then there is that feeling where the patient feels that he or she just isn’t right. I know how that goes when I have what I call “episodes” that I cannot explain. I just wake up feeling strange-stranger than usual.

The brain is a fabulous organ that can heal itself in many ways. Look at me. I am alive because my brain rewired part of itself, but there are limits to everything. I resist the thought of brain surgery just because I know too many people who either did not make it through the surgery or have never been even close to the point before their operation (normal). I already have deficits, so I know a little what to expect. I still believe we have made the right decision for me not to have surgery.

When pregnant with my youngest daughter, the doctors told me that there was a high chance she would be born with a birth defect and that I needed an amniocentesis. This was the worst year of my life. My mom had a massive stroke. I was caregiver for her and my under one year old daughter. My husband was recalled after I became pregnant and was in Saudi Arabia by the time of the test. My health was deteriorating and I did not know what to do—it was a pivotal point in my life. My grandmother was here, but I ended up caring for her, too. What was my choice? A simple question (that did not come easily at the time) answered my question of all questions…”Would I choose to abort my baby if something was wrong with her or if she posed more risk to me?” That answer was assuredly, “No!” In other words, no amnio was needed.

Sometimes choices are difficult and sometimes they aren’t. Many times, we do not get to choose to have brain surgery. Many times someone else is calling the shots. There are times each year that I must revisit the decision we have made through the years. Sometimes I feel guilty for living when I know others who have passed away because they chose to have surgery.

May each of us enjoy the best health possible and may we be careful in our expectations of others. Please take care! Oh, and Happy Gardening!


Read Full Post »

%d bloggers like this: