The Noggin’ Chronicles – Part 1

Surgery 03-30-23 & Post-Op 03-31-23


The Background: I work 4 days a week and the Friday before surgery, it really finally dawned on me that I was going to be “out” for the near future. I love my job and I love the guys I work with. I also “know” the guys I work with and I had really buckled down to get things prepared so I wouldn’t come back to work facing apocalyptic aftermath. Saturday, Sunday and Monday, I was rushing around trying to get errands done and laundry finished. None if it really was as the nerves started kicking in and I spent half my time in an ON flare laying in bed or having my own craptastic time in the loo. Tuesday, I got as much of the stuff at the office buckled down as I could, while still dealing with a nervous stomach, and then left the office knowing good and well there was stuff I was just going to have to let go. Wednesday morning, the stomach was no better and I was on day 6 or 7 of a running migraine. I packed for the trip, ingested medication for my stomach and then prayed. Hubs and I made it to Dallas, got into a small hotel suite and then buckled down for the procedure and recovery to come.

Surgery was scheduled at 0700 CDT on 03-30-23. I had to be at the William P Clements hospital at 0500 CDT. The hotel was less than 15 minutes away so I wasn’t overly worried about “being late.” So we were up before the butt=crack of dawn. Yes. I wore my jammy bottoms and a button down shirt because I was advised that I couldn’t wear anything that went over the head. (It makes sense after the fact.) So, picture me in a pink button down, navy blue pajama bottoms with Eeyore on them, pink socks and tennis shoes. I am sure I made for quite the fashion icon, but it was comfy so there’s that.

From my journal: So. Dr. Amirlak and the entire surgical team at UT Southwestern in Dallas met with me in pre-op. Dr. Amirlak is awesome and we discussed the options for the surgery and we agreed to with the more conservative methods. We can always go back in if we need to. For the next 3 weeks I can’t do a whole heck of a lot. After that, I should be able to do more.

The surgery went longer than expected and was about 3 hours. Hubs briefed me when I was in the recovery room, but I didn’t retain much to be honest. Dr. Amirlak told him there were veins wrapped around a nerve on the right side. I’m assuming it’s the greater occipital nerve. He also told me Dr. Amirlak decompressed and added some “stuff” (can’t remember what it’s called) as a cushion and buffer. Based on what Hubs said, Dr. Amirlak did the same with the lesser occipital nerve. He yanked the lower 3rd nerves on both sides. We agreed not to do the “big” surgery on the left side. I was hoping to go home tomorrow, but I don’t know. There is also a “drain” in the back of my head. I’m apparently now “Borg.”I think it’s time for some rest. My head hurts and I probably shouldn’t be worrying about the Chronicles at the moment. Follow-up visit tomorrow at 1300 CDT. G’Night.

I am Borg.

It’s the middle of the night and I can’t sleep because I can’t get comfy. I did want to write a few things that I remembered. Before surgery I made a Hodgepodge of Tunes playlist on Spotify for surgery. I asked Hubs to play it and the first song in the recovery room is Queen’s “The Show Must Go On.” Talk about irony of ironies. I couldn’t make that up if I tried. Secondarily, because the surgery took longer than expected, it also meant it took me longer coming out of the anesthesia. I do remember they had to keep telling me to breathe. I kept thinking I was breathing, but maybe not? I’m not sure what to make of that. Anyway… going to try to sleep again.

The next day: The follow-up visit was interesting. Two curious tidbits: 1) Dr. Amirlak (or more likely his team) shaved the back of my head while it was up in a very messy bun. So when I took the bun down and attempted to brush out the mop, a crap-ton of hair came with the brush. Needless to say, I freaked the eff out.  2) Apparently I have a birthmark on my neck around the hairline. The doctor said that it leans toward the side with the massive problems and he’s seen kind of similar birthmarks on patients on the sides where the patient has the worst ON. He couldn’t provide a logical reason for any the possible correlation. But I thought that it was kinda nifty. (And NO idea I even had a birthmark there because of my really thick hair … which is no longer there.)

This is a picture Hubs took of my “messy bun” when it was let down. Why does it look like I have dreadlocks? I was afraid to brush it out.
I started brushing my hair and this is what came out with the “Wet” brush. Talk about freaked out!

I was able to ask a few questions and I asked for, and received, a copy of the post-operative notes. I figure this will actually answer some of the things I’m dying to know. Plus having a copy for my “records” is a good thing.

On the downside of things, yes, the surgical pain is still there. Yes, my head is numb in places which feel really weird. No I cannot go home today. Sigh… the output on the drain has to be less than 20 ml in 24 hours. Since today is Friday, I’m going to be stuck here until at least Monday. That’s gonna cause a kink in the plans the entire family has made, let alone my wallet. Ugh.

Additionally, Hubs had to go out and get me some more clothes because I didn’t know we were staying longer and I didn’t bring enough. He hasn’t bought me clothes (other than the Amazon wish list) in years and he did a good job.  2) Icepacks are my new best friend. 3) I bought a travel pillow in Amarillo on the way out of town. Best purchase in a long while. 4) I have zero energy. But I’ve been doing my best to get up and walk a bit. Last thing I need are blood clots or something. 

Next goals are meds, sleep and a shower. Then after two more days I can actually wash my hair. Yay!!!! And last, but most certainly not least, I have to give major props to Hubs who has stood beside me through thick and thin. This is surgery number 9 so we’ve been around the block a few times and I couldn’t ask for a better man to be my my side. I’m richly blessed.


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