Hello again, friends! I hope all has been well with you. I’m picking up where I left off last. If you need to catch up here is my first post and here is my second post on my journey as a teenage girl going through a diagnosis that lead me to brain surgery.
So, my days in the ICU were short. I was recovering quicker than my doctors expected, which is a good thing. I got wheeled down to my new room which was brighter and had a lot less machines and noises. I pretty much watched TV most of the time. I believe there was a Weird Science marathon going on that week because I remember seeing a lot of bras on teenage boys’ heads repeatedly. hahaha
Once I was settled in my room I had visitors! My friends from my swim team came to cheer me up, my cousin (who worked in the hospital) came to see me, it was nice having a bit of my normal come into my hospital room.
I actually was very soothed by my new room. There were florescent lights, that ran at the top of the walls all around. At night, they lit up my room with such a colorful glow. It was such a soothing light to fall asleep to.
It was in this room that I found out about another girl, around my age, that had the same procedure done, as I. She had a different doctor, who was working with my doctor on my surgery. Her outcome was much different than mine. She had many complications, all because her doctor decided to laser brain tissue. This doctor wanted to do the same thing to me, but luckily my doctor said, “No.” All he needed to do was tilt my head in a different angle and had a straight path to the angioma in my brain.
I don’t thank God enough for that small act he did for me. If that other doctor had had her way I might not be here typing this story. I might have had the same outcome as the other girl. I don’t know what ever happened with her. I don’t know the severity of that mistake. I do know that that girl’s life was changed that day.
One of my amazing nurses
It was also in this room that I never ate. My appetite hadn’t returned quite yet and so my diet consisted of cherry popsicles, juice and water. One day my nurse was taking my order, like she always did, and I told her what I always told her but this time my mom stepped in and insisted I eat SOMETHING, ANYTHING. She made me get chicken nuggets and then she had me eat one. I instantly threw it right back up. Don’t ask me why that memory is important, because it really isn’t, it just stuck with me.
Since I was doing so well and my follow up MRI was clear I got discharged from the hospital within a week of my surgery. From there I just had to take it easy as my head continued to heal. No one told me, though, that I wasn’t completely fixed. No one told me I wasn’t going to be the same Andrea as I was, two weeks prior.
Once I got home, I celebrated my 15th birthday. And then when all of the happy go luckiness, for lack of a better word, of being in the hospital and taken care of and not having to do much of anything wore off reality hit me like a ton of bricks.
I was asked to order pizza for delivery. No big deal. I’d done that loads of times……before I had brain surgery. When the guy asked for directions to my house, this was before GPS and smartphones remember, I couldn’t remember. I couldn’t physically tell him how to get to my house, which I had done many times before, because I didn’t know how to get to my house. I had to hand the phone over to my dad in embarrassment. I felt ashamed that I couldn’t do a simple recall task of giving directions to my house.
That wasn’t the only time I forgot something that should have been simple. Another time, I was talking to my parents and was trying to tell the that I had to leave a message on someone recorder, again 1999 there was no such thing as voice mail, I could not remember what the stupid thing was called. I could describe it out the wazoo and explain what it did but I could not think of its name. Hat might not sound like a big deal to some of you but it definitely was out of the norm for me. I had never had that problem before.
Then the major incident happened, I had a seizure. I remember everything about that night so clearly. I can still see the kitchen I grew up in, my mom prepping dinner at the counter with her back to me, my dad in the living room, on the couch, and I was walking into the kitchen to talk to my mom. My head started turning, like literally turning, if I hadn’t made my body turn too my head would have just kept going. My mom was very confused at what I was doing and told me to stop. That’s when she saw the panic in my eyes because I told her I couldn’t. She took my arm, not trying to harm me, but she did. My arm started twisting as she was guiding me to the couch. I must have looked like a crazy person because all I could do was walk in circles just so my neck wasn’t strained. I’m still trying to turn with my head as I’m laid on the couch and my arm is getting twisted up behind my back and all I remember is hearing my mom’s panicked voice talking to my dad to call the doctor. I don’t ever want to hear that voice again because it frightened me to my core to hear my mom so shaken up about what was happening in front of her. The next thing I know I’m waking up on a different couch. To say my parent’s were scared to death is probably pretty accurate. It was narrowed down to being a normal post surgery occurrence, that no one warned us could happen. I was put on anti-seizure medication and had to take it to the school’s nurse in case I had another one at school. Luckily, that never happened.
After that summer, things went back to normal for me. I resumed Irish dancing, swim team and joined the basketball team. Other than regular neurologist appointments every month, you could say I was a normal 15 year old. No one could tell looking at me that I had just had brain surgery. My hair had grown back enough that my scar wasn’t visible and I had figured out different ways to wear my hair to hide it well. As a teenage girl I seemed to be more worried about my hair than anything else that had happened to me. In hindsight, I handled the situation better than most might. It all seemed very surreal to me. I don’t know if I just thought it was all a dream and that I would eventually wake up or maybe I just knew everything would be okay because God had his hands on me the whole time. I had a peace about everything that happened, from beginning to end, and I feel that God was with me and my doctor.
George the Giraffe- Children’s Hospital mascot
I have so much more I could go into about what I experienced, years later, but that will have to wait. I hope that my story can help others out there who might be going through the same struggles. Getting hit with a diagnosis like this is never easy but with amazing doctors and surgeons and a village that supports you you can overcome these obstacles placed in your path.