Friday, November 29, 2013

VNS Surgery

*Surgery pictures below*

Tuesday I had surgery at the University of Utah to repair my Vagus Nerve Stimulator.  We got up there around 12:30pm, but I wasn't wheeled into surgery until around 3:45pm. 

The first thing I was impressed with was how many people were there to help with the surgery.  It's a teaching hospital, so a resident put in my IV.  He was very nice, so it made up for the fact that he had to stick me twice.  I also met the actual anesthesiologist.  I met my surgeon, which I wasn't expecting.  He told me that it would be a little bit of an exploratory surgery, which I knew.  They wouldn't know if the lead on my Vagus Nerve (which talks to the battery and tells it to work)  was broken until they actually opened me up.  The surgeon said it was very rare for a lead to break, and that depending on how bad my vagus nerve is, a side effect could be my voice changing, and becoming hoarse.  This was news to me, and became a  concern since I am a school teacher.  Oh well, hoarse voice or seizures....I'll go with the hoarse voice.

My neurologist was there, the surgeon's assistant, and at one point, inside the little pre op room, there were about 10 people inside, all for me.  I felt special!

If the lead needed to be changed, the surgery would take about 3 hours because they would have to use microscopes and small instruments to get all the scar tissue out from around the lead.  I've had this lead since 2002.  30 minutes into surgery my family received a call that that lead was broken, and they would begin the delicate process of removing all the scar tissue so that they could replace the lead. 

Below is a picture I found on the internet of what the surgery looks like, along with a description.  It would've been awesome to actually see my surgery, but I think it's cool anyway!

The images show the microsurgical pattern of electrode removal and reimplant around vagal nerve. (a) Old electrodes (a conductor through which electricity enters or leaves something such as a battery or a piece of electrical equipment) enveloped in fibrotic tissue, (b) piecemeal removal of electrodes and silicon spiral tether, (c) vagus nerve anatomical preservation, (d) new electrode (lead)implantation.

When I woke up, I was VERY aware of the fear of my voice sounding different, so I began talking and didn't stop!  The first thing I said was that I had was dreaming about grading a Shurley Grammar test!  They all thought it was funny that I was dreaming about work.  I noticed right away that my voice sounded nromal, so I was very grateful for that.

The doctor said that surgery went very well.  My vagus nerve is very strong.  My magnet hasn't been turned on yet, because my vagus nerve needs time to heal.  It will be turned on in about two weeks.  I've also been told that I'll be able to be taken off of some of my medications and have them switched out with safer medications.  That's always a happy thing to hear.  I can't say enough wonderful things about the team I had at the U of U.  They were so kind, accomodating, and the survery I receive in the mail is one that I can't wait to fill out!

Sleeping the first night at home was rough.  Wednesday, the 1st day after surgery, was also rough.  My body didn't like the pain medications, so I wasn't able to keep anything down.  Luckily Wednesday night I slept on my favorite chair in our living room, so I was able to get up by myself, and actually sleep!  And Thursday I was able to enjoy Thanksgiving dinner, and look forward to leftovers the whole weekend!!

Nick has been awesome during this whole thing.  While busting his butt getting Thanksgiving dinner ready on Wednesday and Thursday, he was also taking care of me.  And so many people from church have been sweet, bringing meals and offering to help with Brandon.

My scars as of Wednesday morning.  They're now covered with gauze because let's face it, it looks scary!

Now I'm focusing on moving my arm more, and standing up straight.  I've been walking around like The Hunchback of Notre Dame!  I'm left handed, and this was done on the left side of my body, so that's been fun.  Last night when I started typing this post, my left side began to hurt.  But I need to practice lifting my arm up because I really want to be able to go back to work on Monday!

I'm grateful the surgery went well, and that it's over.  The past 3 months have been rough.  Pregnant in September, miscarriage in October, surgery in November.  I'm done now!  The scars will take a long time to completely heal, but the seizures will stop, so I'm thrilled for that! 

Thanks to EVERYONE who has helped in any way; food, child care, prayers, emails, everything!

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