Real Time Reflections from Five Years Ago #8

DSC_1160If you have been following these postings for the last couple of weeks you will know that this is the 8th in a series of postings Karla and I are doing in real time plus five years to the day of my having brain surgery (Five Year Anniversary)  to remove a large  AVM [arteriovenous malformation] from the left frontal lobe of my brain.

Today’s posting includes the events of Feb. 24th and the 25th, 2009. I have included nearly all of the text from Karla’s postings from those two days.  It was God’s mercy and intricate orchestration of all the upcoming events that are the reasons I am still alive today.

Five years ago today was my first blog entry following the brain surgery and blood infection. As you can see this post included 104 words that took me one hour to dictate with Karla patiently bearing with me. Karla tells me it is ok to let you all in on the truth that those who knew Karla (including me) at this time would not have characterized Karla as a patient person. I really do love my wife!

Mike Speaks: Finally! (February 24, 2009)

Where does one even begin to tell the tale?  Let me start by thanking all of you for your tremendous support, encouragement, prayers and blog comments.  Of course, I am only beginning to read those.  My brain is still somewhat foggy.  After expecting to spend 2 nights in ICU, to have spent 11 sleepless nights there is beyond comprehension.  I am grateful to finally have the surgery and blood infection behind me and be heading off to rehab sometime today.  By the way, it took an hour to dictate this with Karla typing, just so you know how far I still have to go.

Karla’s post from February 24th:

Another Rough Evening  

Just when I think we’ve turned the corner, something else happens.  During physical therapy, Mike started to feel funny, then proceeded to have a seizure.  He was standing at the time, and thankfully the therapists told him to sit down just before the seizure started.  He rested for awhile, and then sat up to eat.  After eating, he wanted to sit in a chair for awhile.  Shortly after he sat up, he had another seizure.  They gave him a shot of ativan, so he slept for quite awhile.  They do not have any reason yet, but it may be the new antibiotic he started this morning.

I usually do not read all that drug information they give, but happened to this morning.  One of the possible, but unlikely, side effects is seizures.  This medication may have lowered his seizure threshold even to allow seizures.  I told the attending, who then told our one of our usual doctors.  He came in and told him that the attending had thought of this.  I told him it was actually me, which got a laugh out of everyone.  He is now back on the previous antibiotic.

They have also started him on a second anti-seizure medication.  Hopefully these two changes will take care of the problem.

 His day is scheduled to start at 7:30.  He is very much looking forward to getting dressed in real clothes!

Mike was initially in a room with another man, as there are no private rooms available.  He had a terrible cough and had the t.v. on all the time and Mike was not able to concentrate on what the various therapies.  We were able to get a different room that currently does not have anyone else in it.  It is to be filled last, but he could end up with a roommate.  I told someone today that we needed to pray for all those people who could possibly end up in here, that their progress would be so good that they would not need rehab!…Off to sleep in the lovely foldout chair they brought me!  This will be a new experience.  You’ll be hearing from me tomorrow.

 Finally! A Decent Night’s Sleep (February 25th)

After all that went on last night, Mike was finally able to get a good night’s sleep.  He went to sleep shortly after 10 and didn’t wake up till it was medicine time.  It looks like we have a reasonable idea as to why the seizures occurred yesterday.  Mike’s dilantin levels were very low, probably due to the antibiotics affecting it somehow.  They have put him on a different medication for seizures and a very high dose of dilantin today.  He has had occupational therapy and is at physical therapy right now, and everything appears to be going well.

 Dr. Meyer was in this morning and was very encouraging.  He said that he goes longer between visits at this point so that he can see improvement, and he definitely did this morning.  This was in spite of Mike having seizures last night, followed by lots of medication.  He was also pleased to see the movement in his arm and leg.  Dr. Meyer is now making comments about ending up with excellent function in both limbs, which is really a strong word from him.  He also said that hopefully Mike will be able to be entirely off seizure medication after a year or so.  Mike was also happy about that. A friend of ours posted the following verse on the blog, and this is what was going through my mind last night.

 James 1:2-6 2 Count it all joy, my brothers, when you meet trials of various kinds, 3 for you know that the testing of your faith produces steadfastness. 4 And let steadfastness have its full effect, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing. 5 If any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask God, who gives generously to all without reproach, and it will be given him. 6 But let him ask in faith,

That’s at least part of what this whole ordeal is about, perfecting our faith.  And hopefully the faith of our children and other family members and friends and who knows who else.  So we’ll just keep trying to count it all joy!

Mike’s take on those two days, Feb. 24-25th, 2009:

I remember that it felt very good to finally be in the rehabilitation unit after enduring setbacks and discouragement. I felt weak going into rehabilitation after fighting off the blood infection. I also remember my roommate who had a terrible cough and Karla advocating for me with the nurses that I needed to be able to focus and rest well, none of which would have been possible in that room. She was able to secure another double room just down the hall that was empty. Keep in mind now that if there had been another person needing to enter rehab that day or the next Karla would not have been allowed to stay in the room with me overnight…for the next two nights, which is a crucial component to God’s micro-managing of this entire ordeal. As you will see in tomorrow’s post by Karla the 25th is the last memory I have for a few days. In the rehab units patients are not hooked up to any monitors.

I remember having the two seizures on the 24th of February. I remember thinking to myself “I’m not supposed to have these anymore! That’s what the surgery was for!” I remember going “out” for both of them.  The kind of seizures I had were like an out of body experience. I realized what was occurring but was not fully aware and completely unable to stop. It is the most helpless feeling in the world, next to nurses trying to murder me when I was on the psychotic drug to lower my blood pressure and sleepless nights in the ICU. This led to a phenomenon called ICU psychosis. I think of myself as a fairly stable person psychologically speaking. I assure you that this is a very real phenomenon. I experienced it with great intensity…as real as anything I have ever experienced, or seen, or tasted, or known.

I make this disclaimer about the state of my mental health so that when I share this next memory you will not dismiss me as an outright lunatic. You see, Feb. 24th is also the day I began to experience an overwhelming sense of impending doom. I’m not sure if this began before or after the seizures but I can tell you it was real. I just knew that something awful was going to occur but I didn’t know exactly what or when. I don’t think I shared this with Karla but it was there. And it wouldn’t leave me. I have never experienced this before or since but it was there and rightly so as we will see what happens early tomorrow morning.  My last memory was on the night of the 25th complaining about a pain in my back. The nurse asked if I would like two Tylenol. Karla encouraged me to take two. I said one would be fine. The source of the pain, in retrospect, was not something that could have been helped even by taking two Tylenol.

Karla will be writing the bulk of these next “real time” postings and updates.

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