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Friday, June 24, 2011

Don't Baste on Me!

10 days after decompression surgery and my stitches are out. Yay!

Dr. Jon Weingart is someone for whom I will always have a fond appreciation, the neurosurgeon who's gifted hands and team set out to return what has eluded me for an untold number of years: normalcy. They got into my head performing several surgical procedures including
  1. a craniectomy - removed a flap of bone from my skull
  2. a laminectomy, removed part of my first vertebrae, and 
  3. a duraplasty - slit, patched and subsequently expanded my dura (brain covering); and
  4. installation of titanium mesh - so my neck muscle would have something to which to fuse.
Finally, they zipped up my head by sewing a very nice blanket stitch with stinging, itchy knots one each end. You know, after the surgery, I was a little confused. I don't remember most of the next day, but rumor has it I told that doctor, "Nobody bastes on me like that! It's gonna be me and you in your office, 10 days from now," or something like that.

So, I got up Thursday morning and went down to the Johns Hopkins Outpatient clinic to take care of my (previously scheduled) business. Dr. Weingart looked at the zipper, declared it ordinary and started snipping (painlessly) with tiny scissors. He then used tweezers to pull all the little threads out (felt like he was repeatedly poking me with a sewing needle). You know what they say: You've gotta rip what you sew. No more sutures in my future, inshaAllah. 

I now have permission to get my scar wet, take a dip in the pool (but not an actual swim), drive and just chill. I can take all my supplements and over the counter meds that were banned before surgery. Work and exercise are still banned for at least a month.  After that, I'll follow-up with the doc again and see if we can extend that work ban for a few more years, hmmmm.
  • Note that this series of fortunate events may just settle a 14 year marital argument - I am such The Brain! Unfortunately, for some, the question still lingers: Who's the genius and who's insane? Well, I do have newly enhanced telepathic mind control powers useful in taking over the world, now with a built-in titanium mesh amplifier, mwu ha ha ha haaaa... I'm just sayin!
Also, I must add that the new drug coctail, which now includes that wonderful analgesic ibuprofen, has my pain levels at a consistent 2-3. For most of my first week home, they had a  range of 4-8 (on a 10 point scale where 10 is the worst pain imaginable and 0 is no pain at all). Woo hoo! Now, I really have to learn some self control. Going forward, I'll have to keep it calm because I know I should, without (hopefully) the threat of head-splitting excruciating pain as an immediate consequence. Here goes.

Until today, wearing a scarf on my head felt like wearing a toddler as a hat! I could tolerate it as long as it took to make salat. Speaking of salat, I was previously doing the qiyam (standing) position only. Even a slight bend was painful, and  the half-way Tasleem I made probably looked more like "slaw layka ratala" But, I'm doing my physical therapy - nodding, head turning, head rocking and shrugging - and my range of motion is increasing. Combine that with the new pain management routine and I'm cookin wit gas. Now, I can do a proper qiyam, ruku (bend), and jalsa (sit). Tasleem (head turning) looks like at least "Slawma Laykum wa Rockmawn to Allah!" Sajda (prostration) is still somewhere down the road. 

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