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Thursday, January 9, 2014

How one surgery turned to five surgeries

What was supposed to be one brain surgery has turned into five over the course of 6 years. This was all due to a bone/surgical infection. Here's a breakout of what was done each surgery:

Surgery #1: Everything went well after my first surgery on 7/11/07. After two weeks I was back in my neurosurgeon's office to have the staples removed, which is very typical. After removing a few staples I felt drainage and a not so pleasant odor. My incision was infected. 

Surgery #2: I had to be admitted back to the hospital the next day to remove the bone flap and get a picc line in my arm so I could be put on IV antibiotics for 6 weeks. I had no skull piece or plate to protect the opening in my head during this time. Similar to a large size baby's soft spot. I had to extremely cautious not to hit my head or do anything rigorous. I was given a helmet that I was suppose to wear while driving. It mostly stayed in the trunk of my car. 

Surgery #3 (December 2007):  Surgery to put the titanium mesh and bone cement to cover the hole in my skull.

*After this surgery I noticed that the ridge from the mesh/cement was pretty thick and I thought it would eventually pierce the skin. It did after about 2 years. It started as a tiny opening and eventually got bigger where you could see part of the titanium mesh. In August of 2013 I woke one morning and noticed fluid draining from the opening. It was clear, but had a slightly thicker consistency than water. I immediately made an appointment with my neurologist and new neurosurgeon. They thought it was cerebral-spinal fluid leaking out, but I wasn't having symptoms like headaches or dizziness. Because the titanium mesh had been exposed to air they knew there would be some type of infection that could continue to get worse. Therefore I would have to go through another two surgeries in order to fix this issue. 

Surgery #4 (October 2013): Remove titanium mesh and bone cement. Culture these to find out what bacteria was growing on them. Another picc line was inserted into my right arm and I was on IV antibiotics for 7 weeks. Similar to surgery #2 I had nothing to protect my skull opening and had to be very cautious not to hit my head or be in a place where my head could accidentally be hit (like large crowds).

*A specific CT scan was done post surgery to get the exact measurement of the hole in my skull. A custom plastic piece was going to be made to fit my skull that had the durability of bone and fit flush into my skull. 

Surgery #5 (December 2013): The new plastic piece was put in and I was on oral antibiotics for 10 days after surgery.

Recent update: After 3 1/2 weeks post surgery I feel pretty much back to normal with no head pains. My energy level is increasing and my appetite is normal. I make sure I do some type of exercise everyday to build my strength. Nothing too rigorous because I am supposed to not sweat, which could cause bacteria to grow around the incision. I focus mainly on walking, yoga and some light strength training. I still have to use baby shampoo everyday for the next 2 weeks or so. As promised I will get some updated pictures too!   

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