My Personal Experience with Brain Trauma – Part 3

Before the surgery, I really had no idea who Dr. P was or what he looked like. (I am not using his full name here as I don’t have permission from him and don’t want to intrude on his privacy). Looking at him when he delivered the good post-surgery news I discovered he was a sixty-year-old or so guy with white hair and a neatly trimmed mustache. He came in a couple more times that day to check on me. When my wife was not there to sign for me he always grabbed the paper and pencil to give me a “normal” conversation and that is very unusual for a doctor to do. Most of the time they almost refuse to write things down for me, let alone chitchat. I don’t know why but doctors are especially bad at that, but not this one. Dr. P went out of his way to treat me like one of his friends.

I also noticed that he was wearing jeans and a regular shirt. I later found out that he was one of the most popular of the 350 doctors with the staff at my hospital. He never wears a tie or suit and drives an old pickup truck! He is unlike any other doctor I have ever had. You would never guess that he was a brain surgeon but instead maybe a farmer! It turns out that he also did the brain surgery of a good friend of mine who helps me around the homestead and like me, he simply loves Dr. P. I look forward to seeing him in the future for follow-up recuperation appointments.

Sam, short for Samatha, was my critical care daytime RN for the two days I was in that part of the hospital. We spent quite a bit of time together and I felt I got to know her pretty well. She is a “traveling RN”, that is she moves around the country working in one hospital then another. Her last stint was in Alaska. She works three twelve hour shifts in the CCU and then has the rest of the week off to explore. She is a millennial who shuns high heels and makeup but has a very natural beauty that quickly shines through. She says she wants to be known for what she does, not what she puts on her body. With people like her in charge of the future of our country, I feel confident that it is in good hands indeed.  I met a kindred spirit in Sam those two days but she was not the only one.

Keli, the night RN was very different from Sam but just as confident in her abilities to take care of herself. Being deaf, I seem to be able to draw out people with their family stories of adversity and her father has his share. He is my age and facing a very difficult time in his life. I tried to give some moral support.

I interacted with perhaps a dozen different people and every one of them was friendly and very good at their jobs  My hospital might not be the biggest one in the area but in my opinion, it is the best. The road ahead for me is not going to be particularly easy but with their support, I will handle whatever comes toward me.

I left out some interesting stories about my stay but I think that is enough for now.  I”m sure in the future I will be filling in some holes in this dramatic experience.

Off To The Operating Room For Brain Surgery

My Personal Experience with  Brain Trauma – Part 2

In the last post, I left off just before my consult with a brain surgeon. When the ER doctor told me I had a chronic brain bleed because of my fall that scared me more than I have been in a long time.  When the surgeon told me he needed to go in and fix it and to relieve the pressure, my life didn’t flash before my eyes but I was thinking this could be the end. After I agreed to the surgery I started thinking about what if these were my last hours?

I told my wife I didn’t want to scare her too much but here is the password for my computer if you need to get into anything financial.  I have paid all the bills and have for some time and since she is seven years older than me it was just assumed that she would go first so she didn’t need to know the details. From this lesson, I learned that we need to be prepared for any circumstance so in the coming days I will be laying out what is where and what needs to be done if I can’t do it.

2017-03-10_18-28-33.pngIt was about 1:30 pm when I signed the consent forms and then a couple of people came in to start IV lines. I soon discovered that one of them was an RN but the other was a  trainee. Long story short, I think they give all us seniors as practice cushions for those who haven’t learned about veins and such as this guy struggled with finding a place to put the needle. When he actually tried to insert it his hands were shaking. After several failed attempt the teacher finally took over and two IVs were in place.

As I was about to go into the operating room at 3:00 pm I told them that I have a prostate problem and my bladder would likely lock up so I suggested they put in a catheter while in the operating room to take care of that. The people taking me in kind of nodded agreement. Then it was off to the cold sterile room to be cut for the first time.  I saw several scrub nurses and the anesthesiologist but didn’t see the surgeon before I was put under. I said a quick prayer and then was out.

Of course, it seemed like I then woke immediately up with several people hovering over me mouthing words which of course I couldn’t understand. At first, I thought, “is this what heaven is like?” but quickly lost that thought and realized I had made it through the surgery. I laid in post-op it seemed like an hour or more and then it was off to a Critical Care room. Dr. P., my hero of the day, was there pretty quickly saying that everything went well and all the bleeding was taken care of and now it was on to a month-long recuperation period.

My Personal Experience with Brain Trauma & The US Healthcare System- Part 1

It started out in the barnyard of my 2.5-acre homestead. The fence there is old and many of the posts were broken. Since the fence is no longer necessary and is only a hindrance to mowing now I decided I would remove it during these winter months. While I was doing that a couple of weeks ago. I as best as I can remember tried to pull done an already broken post. Long story short I ended on the ground with the post on top of me. That was mistake 1, don’t take any fall as nothing of consequence.

2017-03-09_16-43-26.pngSince I was alone I don’t really know if I lost conscience but thinking about it afterward that was likely the case. The first thing I remembered is wondering why I was lying on the ground and what I was doing before? That should have given me a clue that the fall was not typical of my clumsy self but something more serious.  But as ornery as I am I refused to believe it was serious.  I picked myself up and continued to take down the rest of that section of fence. It was not until I got out of bed the next day that I discovered some serious neck pain and a headache. I decided that all I needed was some ibuprofen and everything would be fine.  That was mistake 2, don’t take blood thinner with a brain injury.

The headaches continued for another three days while I was doing some heavy lifting and extreme activity at least for a seventy-year-old guy. I had just gotten a new 50 lb battery for my RV and managed to get it installed. That was mistake 3, don’t lift heavy things when you have a brain injury. It was not until day 5 that I noticed that for some reason my left leg just didn’t want to go where I want it to. It started out with just one short instance but over the course of the next few days became more frequent.  That was mistake 4, I should have realized that this was something more serious but since it was now a weekend I decided to wait until Monday to see my doctor. Since I am deaf my wife called for me and told him what had happened he told me to go immediately to the emergency room in Bloomington which is 20 miles away as they can do all the tests to determine the severity.

2017-03-09_16-45-28.pngWe were taken into the ER doctor pretty quickly but he just didn’t seem to be very interested, he kept looking at his watch while I was describing what happened.  I guess he thought what I was saying was unnecessary since he had already decided to get a cat-scan done.  A few minutes later I was in the donut hole of a scanner for the two minutes it took to do my head scan. It wasn’t long before I returned to my room that he came back and said that I had a subdural hematoma, i.e. a brain bleed and a neurosurgeon would soon be in to see me. Of course, that made me go into a panic mode thinking of all the possibilities.

This seems to be a good place to stop here until the next time…