Friday, July 22, 2011

Follow Ups

I took my wife at her word that it was just stress and also with me not being able to think as clearly as usual, I figured her emotions were what mine would be if roles were reversed. If there had ever been a time where her life had been at risk I would have been a million times more nervous and afraid. With the way the results appeared I was relieved but exhausted and was putting out my nervous energy doing things around the house and was hoping hers would also dissipate.

My mom left after the first week and my friend Susan had come to stay for part of the second week after the surgery. She took me to my doctor’s appointments and I asked my wife if she wanted us to call her after them and she stated that it was okay because Susan was going to be taking notes.

I had an appointment with my neurologist who looked at the MRI’s from Duke post surgery and literally left the room asking to make sure that those were the right ones because it looked like they were much too clean for that invasive of a surgery. He came back and commented on how Dr. Friedman was clearly a very very good surgeon. Then he made a remark “Wow, wow, wow, I can’t believe it, I’m tickled to death.” Apparently part of my sense of humor and wit was still working because I immediately responded with, “Well, I’m tickled to life.”

Susan, a good friend, would notice that I was quieter than usual, had a little less energy and that I did come across as slower. We went back after having lunch to do an EEG where the doctor stated that it was clear that my brain was operating at a slower level than usual. It was still faster than average but had slowed down. Trying to be both realistic and encouraging he was honest about the fact that this could be permanent or it could be a side effect from the steroids, pain medication or the procedure itself but that only time would tell. It was tough to balance the joy of being alive without major complications and accepting that the kid who had been valedictorian and a double degree suma cum laude graduate being had his brain become slower and that it may permanently remain so.

From there we went to see the neuropsychologist’s office for a second appointment. (His office had called me the previous week because they were going to be starting an intense speech rehab for people who had gotten serious speech complications from surgeries like mine but they stated that just from talking on the phone they could tell that I didn’t have that type of setback and that I just needed to come in for a short appointment to figure out the neuropsychological). The doctor picked up that I was making some speech mistakes that people like Susan and other friends had noticed but I had no perception of. Unlike the ones after the surgery where I couldn’t recall that I had already said something, these were ones were I was clearly skipping words or mixing them up for others. He said this may still be because the swelling was still clearly present and so we scheduled the 8 hour redo neuropsychological for almost a month after the surgery. Unlike the first time where we did it all in one sitting, because it was obvious that I had a lower energy level, we divided into 2 AM sessions in order to make it less mentally exhausting and therefore more valid.

Nonetheless, these were considered minor things and the doctor cleared me to return to work part time 3 weeks earlier than was originally expected and back to driving about a month earlier than expected so after the appointments work is where I went to turn in those forms. I also decided to go say hello to a few people but quickly developed a strange vertigo if I stood too long. I could literally not stand up straight for very long without feeling dizzy. So when I would talk to people who I was going to visit with a few minutes I made sure to sit down. When I was only there for a little while I would lean against the door looking nonchalant. I turned in the forms to the appropriate people and the director (whose name was Joe so everytime I looked at anything in his office with his name 20 people came to mind). Anyway, the director stated that he would be recommending to the chief that once I was cleared to drive he would recommend I would be getting my old position back. There was a point in his office where as he was being congratulatory I faded a little but was afraid to show any weakness because I wanted my job back and figured by the time I’d get back it would be gone.

I’d sat here in suspense for a few months and would I be getting my job back, my ability to drive back, a large peace of mind this easily? I just kept thinking it couldn’t be this easy.

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