Tuesday, October 11, 2016

What Brain Surgery Looks Like, Seven Months Later

Left to Right: 1 day after surgery, 1 week, 1 month, 7 months

Last March I went through the most difficult, frightening and painful process I’d ever experienced: a craniotomy to remove a 2.6-cm tumor hiding in the right side of my brain. After surgery I awoke in overwhelming darkness, every part of my body strangled by wires, tubes and compression sleeves. Nurses kept telling me not to touch my stitches. “What stitches?” I had no comprehension of the 54 new stitches that now framed my face, let alone the parade of physicians assistants, doctors, and nurses that came in and out of my room at all hours. I only knew that I was in pain. I had reoccurring hallucinations of iron giants crushing my head with their solid metal boots, or of being trapped in a nighttime car crash, waiting at the bottom of a canyon for help that would never arrive. The pain—paired with a complete and total confusion caused by both the anesthesiology and someone mucking around in my brain—led to a rough time in the hospital.

By day seven I was discharged. I remember being driven home—on a road I must have been on 100 times before—and not recognizing a thing. I had no sense of context. I could see a tree, or a human face, and recognize it as a tree or human, and yet have no understanding that the tree was on the corner of my street, or that the face was a friend I’d known for years. The best way I can describe it is that my brain was like a computer hard drive that had been completely wiped clean and was now slowly trying to rebuild itself.

I’d also developed superpowers (yes, seriously). My eyesight was incredible. I could see the texture of the wallpaper from across the room, and yet had no ability to focus on one thing, which meant I could take everything in all at once with absolute clarity. “Were those photos always up there on the top shelf? Do you see how the light streams in from the window like crystals?” Oh, and the hallucinations continued. This time I had no sense of perspective or sizes, so the door to my room appeared 14 feet wide. It was a trippy, trippy ride, and in the times where I felt well enough to sit and take it all in, I appreciated the amazing wonder that is our world. Weeks later (when I once again needed glasses), the physician’s assistant said I wasn’t the only one to have experienced these odd side effects.

Some day I’d love to write down all the good experiences I had that came along with the bad. There was the incredible support of friends and family, and especially my husband, who was with me every step of the way. About 10 days in I also had an absolute sense of clarity of everything important in life: why we’re here, what’s important, what really matters. I’ll have to save that for another time.

For now though, I’m focusing on my joy of living life seven months later. The recent post-op scan came back thankfully clean (knock on wood). And only now in the past week am I finally feeling well enough to routinely work and make art again (despite the big numb spot on the side of my head). Feeling normal has never felt better, and I am appreciating every moment.

28 comments:

Crickets Creations: Handcrafted Fashion Accessory Scarves and Fringies Professional Photo Portrait Props said...

You are always acting so tough, I had no idea that you were suffering through this. xoxo much love.

Unknown said...

Wow you went through so much and still do but I cherish our friendship and love our talks we have when you come by. You are one strong woman! ☺

Josh said...

Why we're here, what's important, what really matters ... don't save it for another time! For God's sake: tell us now!! You're qualified like no other (living) person I know, so please do share. I can't stand the suspense!

piddix said...

I know, right Josh? I have to write it all down, too, before it forget it. I have a feeling any notes from that time are utter gibberish.

Eleanor said...

Wow, what a...amazing/terrifying/difficult/life-changing experience. Thanks so much for sharing and really glad to hear that you came through and are returning to normal. I second wanting to hear about what's important and what really matters. All the best.

Susan said...

I am so glad that you are still here! I will keep you in my thoughts and prayers! You are amazing!

craftyd said...

Wow, I'm so glad you made it through all of that. I had a BIL that had surgery with terrible hallucinations afterwards but they were gone when he got off the pain meds. I can't imagine what you must have gone through those first weeks. I hope you continue to do good, will keep you in my prayers.
Dolores

Anita said...

Oh, my! I'm so glad you are better. And glad you are still able to delight us with your work. I look forward seeing more from you. Take care!

Anonymous said...

So glad you are well on your road to recovery. How scary that must have been for you and your family. You are stronger than you know. Yes, it is important that we all know how blessed we are to have another day. Keeping you and your family in my thoughts and prayers. Hugs and Angels Wings your way

darlene said...

I'm so sorry to hear of the difficulties that you faced. Wishing you good health, happiness and many art making (healing) sessions.

Sandy_in_MD said...

I am so happy to hear that your scan was clear - and that you are improving each day. You are just amazing!

Denise J. Phillips said...

You brave girl!!!!
Congrats on the clear scan, and your clarity of writing and your
description is stunning. So sorry that you've had to deal with
such a horrid diagnosis, but your grace and bravery in dealing
with it truly is an example of your strength! And bravo to your
husband too for facing it all.
Good health ahead!!

Kate said...

Bless your heart! I can sympathize, though. I ended up with Stage IV Breast cancer right out of the gate. It's gone to my bones and liver. Just recently lost my hair, but I'm having a ball buying neat Headcovers! I figure hair us the least of my worries!

Julie G said...

thank you so much for sharing your updates. Keep plugging along, tell your loved ones how much you appreciate them. Take care of yourself, create when you want, .... we will be waiting.:)

Cindy Marlow said...

Sending you thoughts of strength and healing as you take this journey. My DIL successfully negotiated it 6 years ago. What a trip!

Sara Dee said...

Oh my goodness, I had no idea you were suffering through such a horrifying and frightening experience! You are so brave. I'm so glad your scans are clear now, and better times are here for you and your family.

P.S. I, too, really want to read about your revelation, and what life is all about. It sounds fascinating!

Wishing you all the best. <3

Debbie Arthur said...

Oh precious Corinne. I am so happy to know you have come through the tunnel and back to finding light and life clarity. What a difficult road. Your emails are ones I always open quickly. Even though we haven't met in person, I feel a lovely connection to you. I remember following your rejection journey. Then one day I was thumbing through a fire mountain gems catalogue and I felt like a proud big sister when I saw your art being sold through them. When you get time and feel led, do share your life thoughts. They are what connects us all. If typing is hard, get you a speech software. Be kind to you and be patient. So much gratitude from my heart to yours for your health. Love to you and your family. Debbie Arthur

Anonymous said...

Thank you for sharing your journey with us, dear Corinne, Wonderful to know that you have come through such a life changing medical crisis. The light in your eyes tells a story! it is so apparent that you have a beautiful joyful sense of life. Thank you for being You!

Ann said...

Such a frightening event to face,yet it seems like the joy you feel in life,your passion for life,your drive to accomplish everything you find important in life...gave you the strength to get through it all. To say I admire you doesn't seem enough. Your courage and spirit will speak to everyone who reads or hears this journey you went through.Thank you for sharing from your heart.

PinkWaterFairy said...

Amazing account of such a difficult and frightening time, so glad you have come through it !

Inger de Wild said...

I'm glad you're feeling well again and I wish all the best for you in the future!

Carol said...

So glad you are on the mend. My son has a severe traumatic brain injury from a car accident. I'm sure he experienced a lot of weird stuff too when he was finally waking up from a 6-month coma. Things like that certainly do make us appreciate what is really important in life. Take care of yourself!

Linda said...

Wow - amazing what you have gone through - art therapy is the best too! My sister had a pituitary tumor removed 40 plus years ago - and she is amazing! I just lost my Dad - so each and every day is precious! Laughter, love and kindness are my mantra! Oh - and eat dessert first - :)!!! Peace and continued healing! LOVE, LOVE, LOVE all your work! Your art is the first place I go to for my resin pieces!!!!!

piddix said...

Thank you thank you thank you. SO many kind, thoughtful, caring messages. I really appreciate them all.

And for so many of you who have experienced, or are living with, similar worries, you are in my thoughts. Especially Kate and Carol and others who have emailed directly, my heart is going out to you all.

Jacki said...

Wow. You are an incredibly strong woman! Thank you for inspiring all of us to live life to the fullest because tomorrow isn't promised. Bless you and your family. <3

Maggie G said...

I'm stunned! I can't imagine what you've gone through. And I'm totally amazed that you're back and working again.

piddix said...

Thank you so much ladies! You're awesome!

asay715 said...

I'm so thankful you have made it through this, this....experience...with flying colors. it sounds horrible and terrifying, but like there were good parts as well. You are one tough woman!!