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Last post of this blog June 20, 2010

Posted by dskillz13 in Uncategorized.
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Today, I’m feeling fantastic. I’ve gotten on with my life and thankfully I have no serious symptoms or side-effects. Call it divine intervention, good fortune, luck, slim probability, or whatever you will, but this whole ordeal for me has happened in the best of possible circumstances. Sometimes I have to remind myself that I had this surgery. But sometimes I easily remember when I get a headache, or if I hear a slight clicking sound in my head, or whenever I cut my hair, and I hear a different sound when the clippers are near my forehead as opposed to when they aren’t.

On May 14 2010, I had my 3-month follow up MRI (I know it was late). I posted a good image from my MRI set aside one of my previous shots – a before and after shot if you will. The void is easily noticeable. I’ll have to have another MRI in November – 6 months later, and then an MRI every year after that to keep track. Lets hope that this damn tumor NEVER comes back, because I do not want my head cut open ever again.

Right: Before, Left: After, with the void highlighted by the arrow. Docs say that the void will fill in eventually.


Which leads me to this question – what biological, environmental or genetic factors actually led to the conditions in my body for this tumor growing here in the first place? This is a question that I plan to find the answer to before I leave this planet.

I hope this blog continues to be helpful to the thousands of people out there going through this struggle. I truly and honestly hope for the best possible outcomes for you.

Lastly, I want to say a deep, heart-felt and humble THANK YOU, to the hundreds of people who paused their extraordinarily busy lives for a moment, who sent me messages, who emailed me, sent chocolates, flowers, chic-fil-a catered dinner, Ethiopian foods, pastas, who helped Ella watch the kids, shovel snow, cover for me at work and sit through painful, ridiculous meetings, who prayed for me to their God, Jesus, Allah, The Guru’s, Jehovah, Yaweh, Vishnu, who got their wives working at the hospital to call in and check on me, who took a big risk and left a hectic day as a lab technician to visit me 10 minutes before I went under surgery, who drove from Chambersburg Pa, Philadelphia, and Greensboro North Carolina just to be with me before surgery day, who set me facebook well-wishes, who got me a Best-Buy gift card, who got me a t-shirt celebrating my recovery by downloading my own processed images I posted, who gave me advice, wisdom and courage to go through with this because he had it much worse – and was kind enough to lend some wisdom, who analyzed my bloodwork literally in 5 minutes over email because she was a tenacious and brilliant researcher and because my primary care physician was too lazy to be as thorough and who couldn’t be there, but I know she was always praying for me because she’s the one who gave me birth………… THANK YOU, Xie Xie, Danke, Gracias, et Merci Beaucoup!!! Much peace love and blessings to each and every one of you.

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Post-surgery pictures added March 21, 2010

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I just added pictures that my wife took of me 1 and 2 days after surgery. There’s also a pic of me about two weeks later with a headache.  I’ve added a link to the page on this site.

Recovered for the most part March 14, 2010

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Its been almost 2 months after the surgery. I’ve been at work for two weeks now, and resuming normal activity with the exception of working out and playing basketball. To be honest, I feel like I never had the surgery! I feel that good. The incision is still slightly tender at spots, but I’ve cut my hair twice already and I can rub my entire head, incision included and not feel pain. There is still slight swelling around the incision, the scabbing is completely gone, and its barely noticeable if I either cut my hair short so that the baldness blends in or if I let my hair grow so its covered. I’ve been to the club twice (I guess that counts as working out :-)). I’m driving everywhere like usual and everything seems normal. Mentally I’m still acute, my memory is fine (maybe minor improvements because my stress level went down since I was away from work).

So my word of advice for anyone about to get this surgery – spend time to find the best surgeon and hospital you can, and when you do, go for it. I’m really happy that my tumor is gone, and I have a lot of life to look forward to without this added stress.

I would like to take a minute to say a very humble and heart felt THANK YOU to the dozens of friends, family, neighbors and strangers that have been model human beings and have poured out their hearts to show that they cared about me. I really appreciate the various meals that were prepared and delivered by friends, the extra help we got with taking care of my girls, the words of encouragement, the mp3’s that were sent, the gift basket of fruits, the omaha steaks, my buddy taking my place at work for me and all of the acts of kindness I’ve experienced. Thank you!

No more staples February 14, 2010

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I’m so happy now that the staples were removed today from my head. The doctor just pulled each one out – one at a time, with a special staple remover. The pain wasn’t really that bad The feeling was like having nappy hair when I was a young boy and having my mom comb it quickly when its nappy.

The only drugs I have to take are anti-seizure meds for the next few weeks, and tylenol if I have to.

In general, I feel great.. I’m regaining some energy although I think the meds are making me tired. Headaches come and go, and I feel some head pressure usually late at night. I think it will all get better with a lot of sleep. I was cleared today to resume normal activity, and I can get back into exercising and contact sports in about 6 weeks. In the meantime, I’m still going to take it easy.

Getting back to normal February 4, 2010

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So it’s been two weeks after surgery. I can honestly say that I feel a lot better than I thought I would. For the first 1.5 weeks, I had some very uncomfortable, irritating headaches behind my eyes (particularly my right)  that actually kept me up at night. They finally started to diminish a couple of days ago, so I feel great.

So some weird things.. the row of staples still currently in my head do not hurt! My hair has grown back and is actually starting to cover the staples. I can’t wait to get these darn things out so I can just soak my head and shave my hair again.  I’m not expecting any serious scars to remain after the docs remove the staples next Monday.

Another weird thing – whenever I clench my jaws, I can hear a clicking noise in my head! Even Ella can hear it if its quiet and she pays attention. I suspect it’s a combination of a screw/plate assembly I have sitting in my skull right now. Thankfully though, its painless!

My meds are diminishing – Tylenol for whatever little pain I have, steroids to keep my brain swelling down, and anti-seizure meds that will last for a couple of months.

I’ve been getting a lot of rest, listening to a lot of music, and eating a lot of food that my family and friends are gracious enough to  drop off to make my life a bit easier. I’m not experiencing any post-surgical symptoms except very minor headaches, the occasional itchy staple, and just fatigue in the afternoon. But over the last couple of days, I’m even starting to feel my strength come back. I’m really happy and grateful to start feeling normal again.

Recovering @ home January 24, 2010

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My head was sliced, drilled and sawed open on the 20th between 2:30 and 7:30pm on the 20th. I was back at home recovering 48 hours later. Through an amazing combination of fortunate events, luck, divine intervention etc.. I can say that I survived my first (and hopefully only ever) craniotomy for excision of my 4cm meningioma. Dr. Q said that the surgery was a success, and that it’s about 100% resected (about 100% of total removal)

Pretty amazingly, the only painkillers I’m on are Tylenol 650 mg! I’m on steroids also (not the Mark MacGuire kind), to keep my brain swelling down (so my head doesn’t explode).  There’s a lot of swelling near my eyes because of fluid drainage from the surgical site, and just a mild headache behind my eyes.

I can honestly say that I don’t feel half as bad as I thought I would have coming out of this procedure. Would I do it again? HELL TO THE NO! :-), but I can offer some words of confidence to those about to go through this. Just get yourself to a damn good hospital. INTERVIEW your doctors.. the whole damn team. Make sure you’re comfortable and know what to expect when you’re going in. Get lots of rest, and don’t try to do too much soon afterward. I actually came out of surgery making jokes!

Well, time to rest up again.. but I figured I’d I share some appropriate PVD tracks with you that are helping me recover. Enjoy!

Day 0 January 20, 2010

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Time to go. I’ll be back on after I recover! Thanks! Hugs kisses and daps!

‘Twas the night before surgery January 19, 2010

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It’s noisy up in here. Kids are yelling and singing, I have family and friends visiting. I just had my pre-op MRI done today. They just marked up my head. They put these little soft white washers on key locations on my head prior to MRI imaging. Dr. Q is using image-guided surgery tomorrow, so the “life-savers” that are on my head are essentially a coordinate system for the surgeon. He will have my MRI’s available during surgery, and the life savers on my head will serve as reference points. I had gadolinium injected in my bloodstream to provide MRI contrast. I had a mild reaction to it. I produced extra saliva, and I felt some pressure in my throat. It eventually went away though, so I’m cool.

Anyhow, here are the mugshots. Enjoy!

Day -1 January 19, 2010

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I’m just astounded by and humbled at the love and support everyone has shown for me.  Folks have come out of the woodwork and expressed their offers of prayer to help me through this.

Ella just shaved my head.  I get a pre-op MRI today (technically tomorrow) where they check on the tumor and start marking up my head where they plan to make the incisions. The’re doing a bicornial incision and a bifrontal excision – which means they slice my head with a scalpel just behind my hairline to pull my face down and expose my forehead skull. Then they drill bore holes in my skull and use some sort of surgical hacksaw to cut out a bone flap. I’m guessing the flap will be about 4-5 inches across so they can gain access to the thing.

All I know is that those drugs they use to put me out better work!!

Expected recovery time January 17, 2010

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I should be in the ICU for 1 day, recovery for about 3 to 5 days and then it’s rest at home for as long as possible. They say that I can be on my feet again in about a month, but I’m taking off of work and school for two months just to be safe.

Some of the things I should expect after surgery include headaches, seizures (they’ll give me drugs for it), lapses in concentration, and extreme fatigue.