Wednesday, March 3, 2010

The Wrath of Khan: Last Monday's Tale

Nothin' but cats and kiddos by my bedside this morning! Though I did *almost* miss Dr. Khaled's cheeriness and cologne at his 5am rounds.  I am not sure how many of you all really want to know the chronicle of my hospital stay from the beginning, some of it may be technical and boring, some parts may be fascinating -- but I need to have some sort of record of it to remember, reflect on, and also to acknowledge those who cared for me.  This could go for DAYS -- you've been warned!

Like I said before, last Monday started off in a funny way.  I saw my friend Leah (a rock for me through this) at Hotcakes for coffee (pure torture since I couldn't eat and they have an endless case of pastries right as you walk in!).  I also had 2 focal seizures there with her, which scared me because I had thought my Keppra was preventing them.

Ethan & I then spent, like, an hour in the hospital parking garage going up and up, trying to get a spot, and then of course, the bathroom story.  Finally in Radiology/Fluroscopy I was swept up by Robin, a neuro-nurse for 20 years ("can't do blood and guts, brains are just gray and boring") and an avid member of the local Salsa Club.  She talked to me about dancing, connecting, South America, being a Brooklyn Jew, and sang along with the cubano music at her desk.  I was there for my embolization but waiting on a 90 year old gentlemen to get an angiogram first.  They had to give up on him because of his poor veins and then scramble to find a bed for him.  I felt sad for him going through that at such an age.

So, it was time to get wheeled into this huge room.  There were about 8 people doing all sorts of prep.  I finally felt fear (damn it)! It wasn't like a "theater" type room, but there were 6 huge digital screens all connected and hanging from an arm from the ceiling and to see my name on each screen made me feel a bit ill.  A sweet nurse made the younger guys go away so she could shave near my groin and said "I'm really sorry but I always give people razor burn".  I laughed.  The three docs came in and lined up along my right side.  Dr. DuMont, Dr. Gahghan, and Dr. Khan.  I could not see the screens and was under this white block which would x-ray my head.  Okay -- it was time for the numbing agent Lidocaine.  Dr. Khan opened up, I swear, it was a foot long needle, made some typical comment about "pressure" (we've all heard that!), and stuck it in my groin.  You just try to breathe while it's happening.  It lasted forever, but worked.

I got sedated though I was hoping I would be completely out.  So, the process goes like this, they run a little wire up to the tumor through the femoral artery, inject dye, find the vessels feeding the tumor, and then inject little beads to close the vessels, and the tumor starts to die before surgery the next day.   Dr. Khan says : "Mrs. DeSilvey, hold your breath!" and injects dye.  He maybe did this about 10-15 times.  This hot sensation goes through the side of your head (it's the same feeling for contrast CAT scans too).  It isn't that painful, but I can describe it as a very quick burst of a headache that then fades away.  They decided to do the left side of my head too.  Thank goodness -- because they found four vessels, 2 from the right side and 2 from the left.  They had thought I only had one or two supplying it.  I could hear Dr. DuMont ( a neuroradiologist, have you ever hear of that?) ordering up all sorts of little beads.  But you know, the sedative wore off and I became very aware of the whole thing.  Stuff going on in my head.  Sensations.  Not good! I felt a bit guilty to interrupt, but I asked for more sedation.  It was a moment for sure, not like waking up during surgery or anything, but knowing a bit too, "this doctor is injecting stuff in my head right now".  I'm sorry if this is gross for you all! It certainly is for me.

The procedure ended and I asked 2 of the other guys if I could look at my head on the computer screens.  I saw the tumor and the vessels leading to it, and it was kinda cool really.  Quite amazing they did what they did.


  1. Oh my gosh Cathy! I would not want to be anywhere near that awake to remember what you did. You are like a front line reporter. I am in awe of what has happened in your life during the past week and a half!

  2. I've been called a lot of names...but never a ROCK!! lol... Thank you!! I'd do it all over again...but I doubt you would. heehee

  3. You typed all that with one hand??? Is your left hand any better? And, YES, I feel like I've just read the first part of one of those awesome serials they used to publish back in the day that left you with a cliffhanger! Oh my gosh, what happens next?!! Please DO write lots more! It has everything a good story should have. Oh dear, now I sound like I'm glad you went through this just for the sake of a great story. That's not what I mean. You know what I mean, right?