Successful Surgery

Posted: May 23rd, 2009 under health.
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The transsphenoidal surgery to remove my pituitary macroadenoma went well, and I am happy to be home. Dr. Florman anticipated my hospital stay to be at least three to seven days, but I was discharged after only two days.

Dr. Oppenheim, the endocrinologist following me during my hospital stay, wanted to closely monitor my urine output and my salt-water balance. I stayed in the unit for post-operative and head trauma patients. It was a long corridor of beds separated by curtains. A head trauma patient was in a separate room next to me. She had been there a month after having been in a car accident. The nurse said that being young (early 20s), this patient would recover fairly quickly. She was still confused though, and was constantly yelling out which made it difficult for me to read or sleep. The nurse was kind enough to give me earplugs. :-)

Pituitary TumorI believe I benefited from having an ENT surgeon, Dr. Makaretz, assist in the nasal portion of my surgery. I was very apprehensive about his removing the nasal packing the next day because I still remember the painful, drawn-out process it had been when my neurosurgeon had done it a couple years ago. But when Dr. Makaretz removed the packing, it was hardly worse than a sneeze! After my first operation I had a cerebrospinal fluid leak which put me flat in bed for a week. Prior to my operation this time Dr. Makaretz took a fat graft from my abdomen to block my nasal sinus in order to prevent the leak. I don’t know how significant the fat graft was, but I did not have a CSF leak this time. When Brent asked why he left such a big scar on my belly, Dr. Makaretz explained that he had to dig deeper because there wasn’t enough fat. Sure, I bet that’s what he tells all the patients. ;-) I will see him in a week so that he can remove the sutures and shunts from my nose.

It seemed strange to be a patient at the hospital where I normally work as a nursing unit secretary. Amelia, one of the CNAs who took care of me, was in a CNA training course with me last spring. This time when she took my vital signs, she wasn’t just practicing on me…at least I don’t think so. :-) I enjoyed visiting with her. She brought me a delicious strawberry milkshake. I knew the girl who brought me on the stretcher from recovery to the unit, and the man who wheeled me down to the car after being discharged. Normally I am the person calling them to transport patients! They were quite surprised to see me on the “other” side.

As a nursing unit secretary I frequently answer call bells from patients. So while I was there in the hospital this week, I had a strange urge to answer the call bell each time I heard it ring. I am aware that the nurses and CNAs sometimes get overwhelmed with excessive demands from some of the patients, and as a patient I did not want to be needy. I think I rang the call bell twice, only because the nurse wanted me to let her know when I was done washing up.

Brent has taken great care of me and spent a lot of time at the hospital. I was glad to have him there and I enjoyed his company. I had a nice visit with our friend Jason, who came by with a beautiful bouquet of flowers. He’s a great guy with an awesome wife and kids. I appreciate all the support, concern, and well wishes from family and Facebook friends. You know who you are! My sister Sara and my mom sent me an awesome care package filled with tissues, lip and face moisturizers, various Jell-O gelatin and pudding, Ghiradelli chocolates, and magazines. Skye, Jenna, and Hayley have been wonderful; understanding, responsible, helpful, and concerned. They’re such great girls!

My nurse Hannah had instructed me not to do anything that would cause any pressure or strain to my head, such as coughing, sneezing, sniffing, lifting, or drinking from a straw. Brent thought the girls should be aware of my limitations, so he gave them a briefing when I returned home from the hospital. He told them: “Don’t make mom sneeze or cough, don’t tickle her, and don’t scare her.” He added “Don’t punch her in the face.” Hayley looked genuinely offended, and replied “But I never punch Mommy in the face!” When Brent told them not to pour hot lava over my head, the girls relaxed a bit and began laughing.

Before Brent left to pick up my pain medication (hooray for Vicodin!), he told the girls to take care of me, watch me closely, and get me what I needed. He instructed them to make me stay in bed. If I got out of bed, they were to tell him and he would get me in trouble. Hayley seemed concerned and asked if he was going to spank me. :-)

I will see my regular endocrinologist, Dr. Bing-You, in a few weeks. After some testing he’ll determine whether I need to increase or add to my current medications. Dr. Florman said that with each operation the pituitary gland will become more damaged, thus requiring more hormone replacements. Sigh…I certainly hope not.

Overall, I am pleased with the outcome of this surgery. I wasn’t in bed at all today. Considering the operation was four days ago, I think I’m doing pretty well! (I may be cheating by taking Vikodin.) Brent said to the girls the other night, “Now girls, Mommy isn’t going to be as smart as she used to be, because they removed part of her brain.” Oops…I hadn’t considered that.

Related post:

One Down, Many More To Go
Kirsten Uhler, Cogitations, March 29, 2009



12 Comments »

  1. Very well-written post, Kirsten. I’m glad you’re doing well. You sure seem to still be smart.

    My tweet:

    At the library with @kirstenuhler; trying to beat the heat and get smart at the same time. Not bad, two days from brain surgery, eh?
    1:52 PM May 21st from web

    Steven‘s reply:

    I guess the library is a good place to make sure it is still working

    Damn, that guy’s funny!

    Comment by brentdanley — May 23, 2009 @ 11:37 pm

  2. Kirstin, Thanks for the great update. You are a gifted writer. One would think a description of a surgical experience would be a bit boring, but I found your story interesting and relevant. It occurs to me that following your family’s internet postings is similar to watching a reality show, but with a lot of class and charm!

    I’m delighted that you are doing so well. Look forward to seeing you and your family sometime, perhaps later this summer.

    Sue

    Comment by Sue Amero — May 24, 2009 @ 10:02 am

  3. @Brent – I’m glad I at least appear to be smart. Thank you. You’re right, Steven IS funny!

    @Sue – Thank you! I wasn’t sure if people would find my whole surgery story all that interesting. I appreciate your kind and thoughtful compliments. Now I’m trying to picture my life as a reality show. :-) I would love to get together with you and AJ this summer! We had a great time with you last time.

    Comment by Kirsten Uhler — May 24, 2009 @ 5:28 pm

  4. Wow! I am impressed and in awe and not much will do that for me now at my age. I have prayed for this little girl of yours Jr. as you well know and I don’t do much of that either. but I shall continue. It seems like a long time ago in Canada but she still has my admiration.

    Comment by Leon Baker — May 24, 2009 @ 9:49 pm

  5. Hooray for your brain, Kir! Thrilled it all went well. Lets hope that nasty Macarena stays away for a while this time!

    Loved the “hot lava” bit :-)

    I’m funny? Oh, the pressure. Now I feel I need to make some sort of gag. I’m not sure how long I can take this!

    Comment by Steven Pam — May 25, 2009 @ 3:29 pm

  6. @Steven – LOL! Don’t worry, I don’t think you’ll ever run out of “funny.”

    I think I’ll start calling the tumor a “macarena” now. It sounds more catchy–not in a malignant way, but in a positive, peppy way.

    Comment by Kirsten Uhler — May 28, 2009 @ 7:46 am

  7. @Kirsten – You mean, in a “swing your hips to the left, swing your hips to the right, swing your hips to the left, clap your hands and jump-turn 90ยบ to the right” way?

    Comment by brentdanley — May 28, 2009 @ 9:45 am

  8. Glad it went well and you are back with the family although it sounds like they were never far away. Hope you didn’t get spanked to badly for getting out of bed, or were you a good girl and stayed there?

    Comment by Jim Griggs — June 2, 2009 @ 9:26 pm

  9. @brentdanley – Yes, that’s what I was thinking!

    @Jim – Come on, being a “good girl” isn’t any fun. ;-)

    Comment by Kirsten Uhler — June 4, 2009 @ 2:25 pm

  10. Hi, my name is Danielle. I just happened to find this when I was looking up info on nose packing. A month ago I had the same surgery you had in Albany. My ENT doc. gave me self disolving nose packing and it’s all starting to come up now. Gross. In your writing it said you had this surgery multiple times? One of my risks the doc. said was a CSF leak. I hope I don’t have one. He said it could happen 1- even 6 months after surgery though 6 months would be rare. I’ve never talked to any one with this tumor before, or who went through this surgery. Maybe you could email me a little more about how your recovery went and how your doing now?

    Comment by Danielle Monahan — June 15, 2010 @ 9:33 pm

  11. Oh, my email address is dani.monahan@gmail.com

    Comment by Danielle Monahan — June 15, 2010 @ 9:34 pm

  12. Sure, Danielle. It surprises me that there could be such a long delay between surgery and a spinal fluid leak. Fortunately mine wasn’t so serious as to require another hospital visit.

    Comment by Kirsten Uhler — June 16, 2010 @ 11:29 am

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