After my last blog at the Princess Alexandria Hospital (PAH), the hospital brought me in the follow workday for my awake-brain surgery (an awake craniotomy), after the May Day public holiday. The PAH was able to schedule me in one week before the hospital in Sydney could. Both hospitals and both neurosurgeons are great, but for me it was about getting this cancer out of my head. There are 4 grades of my type of brain tumour (see this link for details). Grade 1 – 4; Grade 4 being the worse and an average life expectancy of 6-18 months. My tumour was a Grade 3 for the last two years however it has now grown into a Grade 4 brain tumour.
My neurosurgeon, Dr Sarah Olson at the PAH, and her team had me in hospital at 5:30am on Tuesday 3rd May 2016. The team was full of energy, there was a positive vibe and I felt very comfortable!! By 8am the operating team had me sedated. Once in my head they woke me up and off we went resecting the tumour! This time around, the team was happy to take a few photos and videos for me, so exciting!!
After a few hours Dr Sarah Olson was happy at how much brain tumour we able to resect before I started to have speech and strength problems. Sarah estimates we removed 90% of the brain tumour, a lot more than we had originally expected. My tumour was bigger and nastier than last time and now impacts both my cognition (speech, attention, memory, judgment, reasoning, problem solving, decision making, comprehension and language) and motor control for the right side of my body! By wanting to remove as much tumour as possible, we decided to go quite aggressive with surgery. We went very aggressively at the motor control area of the brain (I can’t use my right side of my body yet but with rehab and time the brains neuroplasticity should recover significantly), then a little less aggressive at the cognition area (so that I am not a ‘vegetable’ and can function mentally and as a human).
Dr Olson registrar, Dr Amelia Granger, then patched me up with 17 staples. An odd feeling being patched up with a stapler! I stayed in the PAH for a week, staying in 2 shared rooms in the first 3 days before having a private room where I really recovered. Well, as best a patient can being woken every three hours for tests. Over my week in hospital I notice both physical and cognitive improvements every day. On day one I had no control or feeling of the right side of my body. By the end of the week I could start to feel slight sensations, move my limbs slowly, weakly and could speak like a mouse, slightly louder than a whisper!
It is now 2 weeks after surgery, and 4.5 hours to put together this blog. An indication of how impaired my concentration and cognition is. But no excuses, I’ve been typing, playing ‘brain training’ apps (PEAK is a great app) and physically rehabbing my muscle and skin sensation every day, every hour! The result has been phenomenal. Every day I feel better. More sensation in the right side of my body, more control of movement, more strength, reading a little more and getting the confidence back!
Keep enjoying life