My first night and post surgery at the hospital was terrifying to say the very least. Having my vital signs checked every hour on the hour throughout the night left little to no time for sleep. To make matters worse, I was in constant pain and felt a an enormous amount of discomfort due to the restraints of being hooked up to tubes and plugged into an intravenous.
I’ve found the doctors and nurses here to be very patient and understanding. Their heartfelt dedication to making the kids here as comfortable as possible can not be overlooked. Although I’m just another scared kid in here. I feel that just about everything has been explained to me in a way I can understand without sounding the least bit condescending. Something I greatly appreciate. Especially considering how scary this has all been.
My second day here had a specialist they flew in from Canada (I feel so important.) perform what he described as “Plumbing on the brain.” Being that the tumor is so large and cannot be removed. They instead inserted a shunt, which would be best described as a giant straw that sucks the juices from the tumor and flushes them through and out of my abdominal cavity. (Swoosh!) They only shaved one side of my head for the operation and though my grandmother suggested a comb over. My mother insisted that the other side be cut or shaved. I look like a fucking bowling ball now.
After some recovery time, I had my intravenous taken out which allowed me to explore the floor, it’s unit and some of the unique characters I’ll be spending my time here with. More about them later, as they each deserve further, detail and description. The food here, as imagined, is awful. If you came here healthy and ate the food. You’d most likely leave on a stretcher. The meals are scheduled and depending on what you’re here for. Are planned and chosen for you. Due to the fact that a brain tumor doesn’t call for any strict diet. I tend to choose the hamburgers that closely resemble and taste like hockey pucks. (Not that I’ve made it a habit to feast on hockey pucks in the past.) Luckily, whenever someone plans to visit and asks if I need anything. I answer convincingly with “Kentucky Fried Chicken, McDonalds” or any other fast food franchise within blocks of the hospital. Whatever medication they’re giving me is making me very hungry.
(Stay tuned for parts IV and V) Coming Soon.
Just for the hell of it. I decided to revisit twelve year old me and rewrite the article I mentioned in my last post “Unfinished Business” What I wrote below was taken from the school newspaper article I mentioned, a journal I kept at the time as well as memories that still remain fresh all these years later.
Several weeks ago, I began experiencing severe headaches. It all started during school hours and became such a distraction that I was often excused to go down to the Principals office to request they call home to have someone pick up and take me home. Being that I’ve built somewhat of a reputation as a trouble maker. I was initially scolded and told to stop slacking off and get my ass back to class. Days passed and as the headaches became more sever, my trips to the principals office increased. Despite all of the warning signs, health concerns took a back seat and I was sent to see a school shrink. I was asked questions like “Is there anything or anyone bothering you?” “Is everything okay at home?” You know, text book questions one would ask. “No, man. I’m just experiencing crippling headaches. Can I go home now?”
Within a couple of days I was in a doctors office. His assertion was I had been experiencing intense migraine headaches. Something that could easily be tamed by medication, which he described. In the days that followed, my condition worsened, I wasn’t making it to school and due to my parents conflicting work schedules. I was staying with my grandmother. By then. I was not capable of eating and could not handle any light, whatsoever. I vividly recall the overpowering light that emanated from my grandmothers 12′ inch B&W TV being more than my eyes could take. Quickly, (I’m talking about a matter of days.) I began hallucinating. (Here was this kid who sucked at fifth grade Math hallucinating ratios most kids don’t know of until grad school,) That’s when I remember being taken to the emergency room.
Upon arrival, I remember being taken in pretty quickly. (No three hour wait to have his temperature taken, given a few aspirin before being sent home with a bill resembling a school loan for this kid.) A CAT scan taken that night revealed a rather large pineal tumor on the middle of my brain. From there I was quickly admitted to the hospital where I had emergency surgery that was meant to keep me alive. Though I was not told at the time, my parents were gently told to make funeral arrangements. The date was October 11th and by all projections, I would be dead before I got to enjoy Thanksgiving dinner….
To be continued…or not.