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So I actually have to have brain surgery.....

     So I had to come to grips with the fact that I was going to have brain surgery.  My decompression surgery was July 10, 2002 at Children's Memorial Hospital in Chicago, by Dr. Tomita.  He's  highly renowned in the pediatric neurosurgery field, mainly in the treatment of tumors.

     I had a craniectomy and a laminectomy.  The craniectomy part means that I had portions of the base of my skull completely removed, in order to open up the foramen magnum, to make more room for the passage of CSF (cerebro-spinal fluid).  I also had a laminectomy of the C-1 vertebrae, meaning they removed the arch of that vertebrae, also to open up that space, and decrease crowding in the hindbrain area.

     Often, this surgery also includes a duraplasty, which is removal of part of the dura, and replacement with a patch.  My surgeon opted not to have this done.

     I went into the hospital at 6 am that Wednesday.  I waited in the neurosurgery area with my family.  I've never been as scared as I was on that day.  When they wheeled me away to the operating room, and I was waving goodbye to my family, I really wasn't sure if I'd ever see them again.  It was very emotional.  But once I got into the operating room, they gave me some laughing gas, so I calmed down pretty fast.  I even flirted with the guy who was placing my IV!!!I woke up in the recovery room.  The first thing I remember is the breathing tube in my nose coming out, because I know it hurt, and it was really bloody, and the nurses kept bringing towels over and sticking them on my face.  Then I remember asking for a pillow over and over again.  The next thing I remember is being in the ICU much later that day.  But apparently, when I was still waking up from anesthesia, I was attempting to sing a song ("Drive" by Alan Jackson), so I must have been doing okay.  But I know my throat hurt from the other breathing tube.  That's probably why I was singing...cause I was so hoarse and it sounded funny.  LOL

     Anyways, I spent the next couple days in the hospital.  I had to deal with the digestive problems that come along with anesthesia, but it was still an incredibly fast recovery.  I was sent home on Saturday.  I had a 4 1/2 inch incision and almost 20 stitches.  I was very proud of it!!!  But I was able to go home and take a shower, and even go out to Steak 'N Shake that night!  (Although I wouldn't recommend this.  Rest is very, very important.)  It was interesting walking around with a zipper on the back of my head.  I mostly needed to rest for the month of July, but I had great support from friends and family, so it wasn't that bad.

     I was very lucky, and was able to move to Elmhurst for college in the middle of August, just 6 weeks after surgery!!!  It was a very traumatic, but exciting time of my life.  School was great; I made lots of new friends.  Life was looking up.  It felt like a new beginning...