Today marks the 13th day since my surgery, and a day-and-a-half since I stopped taking pain meds. I’m officially onto a simple diet of Advil, plus the regular steroids and anti-seizure meds required for the next few weeks. What a relief to finally begin feeling normal again. All things considered, I think I’ve been pretty busy over the past few weeks. For some reason the steroids make me hungrier than I’ve ever been- which has resulted in some serious over eating (at some good local restaurants, no less).
Sometime in the next day Inga and I will be adopting Tess, an 18 month old Catahoula Leopard Hound, who was surrendered to a shelter by her owner. In preparation for this I’ve been reading all sorts of books on positive reinforcement training and behavioral psychology of dogs, namely The Dog Listener, by Jane Fennell (thanks Sue Palmer); Don’t Shoot the Dog!, by Karen Pryor; and How Dogs Think, by Stanley Cohen (thanks David Ehrenfeld).
During the first week being home we had an explosion of mushrooms around the forest, so with the help of our friend Jay Kelly, I became hooked on the fungus among us. To that end I’ve been trying to key out the local fungal community using the National Audubon guide to North American Mushrooms, The Mushroom Hunter’s Field Guide, and Mushrooms Demystified. This has proven much more difficult than I imagined. Part of the problem, I think, is my lack of smelling ability, making it impossible to use smell (or even taste) as a helpful clue (I know, I shouldn’t be tasting strange mushrooms).
In between reading, sleeping, photographing and keying out mushrooms, I’ve been practicing my Deering Goodtime 2 5-string banjo. So far I’ve only mastered the first bit of Boil Them Cabbage Down, but I’m planning on focusing more of my attention on this in the coming weeks. 🙂 Inga is on her way to becoming the next big fiddle player, so by our wedding this May we hope to be a bonafide bluegrass duo.
I want to send out a special thanks to all the folks who have emailed, called, or commented on this site or my flickr photos. The power of the ‘group’ is often underestimated, but I wholeheartedly believe that the extended support has helped me immensely through my recovery. You’re all wonderful, caring people with so much to offer. I thank you from the bottom of my heart, to the top of my head.
…now I need to call the doctor and see how long before I can drink a beer…I’ve been saving a few special ones since before the surgery.
Wow- what a long strange week it has been. A whole week since the surgery! That still amazes me. The night before last marked the hardest time so far, resulting in yesterday’s return to the Emergency Room. The pain meds only worked for the first two hours (instead of four) and I couldn’t get rid of my headache for the life of me. While in the ER I was treated with a ‘butt shot’ of Dilaudid, a CT scan, some blood work, and several doses of Percocet (since we were there for most of the day!). Dr Shepard showed up to read the CT and give me the photos of my surgery (now in The Alien set of my flickr site Beware! The images are quite graphic!). The increase in pain was most likely due to the lessening of the steroid dosage I was taking over the past few days. The doctor bumped up the steroids and changed my pain meds to see how that would work. After a rough last night, I still think the pain meds need evaluating.
All in all, the recovery seems to be happening slowly but surely.
For those of you who didn’t know, I was diagnosed with a meningioma about 10 months ago. The reason I went to the doctor in the first place was because I had lost my sense of smell (a real bummer). We tried everything from nasal sprays to sending me to an ear nose & throat doctor, on and on. In an attempt to rule out sinus disease, my doctor requested a CT scan of my sinuses and head. Upon reading the scan, the radiologist (and anyone with clear vision) noticed something other than brain on the top left portion of my head. Fortunately for me, we discovered the tumor while it was still relatively small (unfortunately for me, the tumor is no where near the olfactory bulbs which control smell- so I’m coping with the fact that I may never regain it… i.e. I’ll always be a cheap date in the wine cellar, and anything I cook will be extra spicy- so watch out!).
Following my initial diagnosis I obtained a second and third opinion about what I should do, each of which recommended monitoring the tumor for 6-months and in the case that it was growing, have in removed (based on my age, health, etc.). So I waited 8 months, had a re-scan, and low and behold, it had grown a little. I decided to put off the surgery until I completed my field season down in Florida, at the end of June. Two days ago (Thursday) I went into Robert Wood Johnson Medical University Hospital, here in New Brunswick, and had the meningioma removed. Yesterday, only 24 hours after the surgery began, I was heading home to recover in the comfort of my Lazy Boy…24 hours later!. I’m currently restricted from driving for 10 days, after which point I can only drive short distances for about a month, mostly due to the lingering effects of anesthesia (although driving right now would probably be more affected by the Percosets I’ve been popping every 4 hours). I still haven’t seen the scar, as my head has been bandaged since the surgery. Today Inga and I get to ‘unveil’ my head, so expect some new photos on my flickr site by this afternoon. Dr. Shepard (my awesome neurosurgeon) took some digital photos of the procedure, which I will post when I receive them (yes, they’re gross!).
I can’t finish this entry without thanking the many nurses in the recovery room that spent time with me as soon as I came out of the anesthesia fog, until I walked out of the hospital yesterday afternoon. Ana, Claire, and Art, my official nurses, and Pearl, the nurse ‘next door’, were constantly amazing. The compassion that these people show for their patients is truly admirable and should act as an example for every human being towards all living things.