This week brought a new injury on my patch. It’s where I’ve been, and why there’s been a hiatus, as far as writing goes. I could only sit up for about ten minutes at a time. I strained my dura patch. I shall explain.
Decompression surgery for Chiari Malformation involves cutting a hole in the patient’s too small (or malformed) skull, to allow room for the smushed brain to fit where it belongs, alleviating the pressure it’s under. This hole needs some kind of patch, otherwise you have a gaping hole in your skull, which is obviously dangerous.
They generally patch it with either a synthetic mesh, a piece of cow’s heart, or they use a piece of your own dura (lining of your brain sac) harvested from higher up in your head. The first surgeon we say uses cow heart. As a vegetarian, I tried to make a joke about the irony of this to him; he was not amused.
Since my brain is so awesome, and I’m so smart, they used my own dura for my patch. And yes, when they close you up, you do, indeed, have a soft spot, for the rest of your life, like a little baby. As a lifelong scab-picker, pimple-popper, and general boo-boo-poker, it’s definitely hard to not mess with a soft spot. I mean, it’s right there!
My dura patch and my “hole” did not seal properly. My patch has essentially folded on itself, and slipped down into the hole in my skull. This obviously causes some issues. The surgical fix is that I get to have a steel plate put in. This is all exciting news and means that, as well as feeling better soon (hopefully), I will also become bionic. I’ll let you know what superpowers come with it, as soon as I find out.
However, in the meantime, my patch is incredibly fragile, and subject to strain. Last week, my son leaned down from his loft bed for a kiss goodnight, and I hugged him. He put too much of his weight into my arms, and I held him (sort of). I’m not allowed to lift or carry more than 5-10 pounds; but nonetheless, he leaned into my arms. My husband initially said, “why did you decide to hold him?” and then quickly realized what a silly thing that was to say. Obviously a mother doesn’t decide to hold her child.
When I let him go, I felt an immediate tearing sensation in the back of my head. I slipped backward out of the room, and passed out in the hallway. That was pretty much all she wrote for me. I couldn’t sit up for more than a few minutes without getting woozy or without intense pain or ripping in the back of my head. There’s nothing like literally feeling flesh move against your skull. Try it sometime. Or don’t; I can’t say that I recommend it as a good time.
After a round of intense steroids that caused panic, sweating, shaking, insomnia (worse than normal –yay!) and nonstop eating, I feel much better, now.
My favorite part of being sick, during times like this though, is always my son. He always comes rushing in after school, or first thing in the morning, with whatever he can think of to help. Sometimes, he brings me rocks, sometimes it's feathers, sometimes it's useful items like water or crackers. But, he is always trying to help. And, he never, ever lets me do anything myself. I barely have to whisper his name from the back of the house, and he's there in an instant to help me up, to help me pick up something, to just do anything I need. Sometimes, he stops playing, just to hug me. That, I can recommend.