I just spoke to my surgeon, who seemed surprised that I still had questions because he had briefed Mike after the surgery. Not surprised in a condescending or mean way, of course...one of the things I like about him is his willingness to explain what's going on in clear terms. I told Mike that next time I want him to take notes or even better, record his report, so I can get the straight scoop. He did his best to convey what he said, but what spouse can remember details after their loved one has had surgery?
I'm feeling much better about the second surgery, mostly because now I know more about it. In my imagination, it was growing to be something far bigger than it actually will be...even though it will still be brain surgery.
He felt the ear surgery went well, and better since he had ordered the CT scan and follow-up MRI. So apparently when he went in to my ear, he was expecting "complete herniation" of the brain (a little detail that I'm glad he did not share with me beforehand) because he always prepares himself for the worst. The cholesteatoma had worked its way into the middle ear and had eroded the incus bone to the point that it was completely absent; apparently this happens often. Then it moved up toward the malleus, or hammer bone, and that's where he saw what looked like dura (lining of the brain) or bare brain. I think I must have had this thing for a long time (I forgot to ask that question). He removed all of the cholesteatoma and "stayed within the bounds" that he had set for himself in this first surgery.
Now the plan is to let my ear heal so that there will be fewer "land mines" during the next cholesteatoma surgery, when he will rebuild my ear bones in six to nine months. And in the meantime...
The next surgery...
Before 2011, he apparently did this type of surgery on his own, but now he involves a neurosurgeon. (He said, "Our world is changing, and everyone wants to make sure it's safer." What that says to me is...malpractice fears!) He will make an incision just in front of my ear up through my hairline. He'll cut a square of five centimeters to expose the dura (brain lining) and progressively lift that up outward to inward...and pull out the intracranial something or other (I was taking notes...but didn't finish that phrase) and do a craniotomy bone flap. He'll cut a small piece to create the new roof for my ear.
He referred to it as a "speed bump" in my life.
The world looks a little less bleak now. I'd been imagining I'd have to use up all my vacation time recovering from surgery, enduring horrible pain, and facing horrible risks. I also asked about the urgency of having the surgery (knowing that I could get an infection in my brain!). He reassured me that although it's important to have done, I'm actually safer now than I was before the first surgery. He packed my ear with antibiotic gel so that it's unlikely I would get an infection there. He compared it to childbirth...we want women to recover from having a child before they have the next one (so they will forget all the pain). Ha! I don't think I'll be forgetting the pain. We'll schedule the surgery for sometime in October, probably.
I feel better knowing that Mike can pick up another prescription of pain meds tomorrow. I'd been trying to wean myself too quickly and had quite a lot of pain this morning. I discovered that Tylenol 3 is much weaker than Percocet. I think I'm anxious to get myself off of pain meds because of something that happened 16 years ago...
After I had my first c-section (when Chris was born), I was not resting and recuperating, because I was going to the NICU to visit my tiny, fragile child every day. I had been on Percocet longer than most c-section patients because I wasn't lying still recovering, and one pharmacist refused to fill my prescription because she thought I'd been on it too long. (Never mind that the prescription was written by my OB/GYN!!!) My sister, a physician, was livid at the pharmacist!! I went cold turkey then, because the whole experience was so traumatic for me. The pharmacist thought I was selling them on the street, obviously, while instead I had a child in the hospital at death's door! I think this is why I feel so funny about asking for more Percocet--PTSD!!! Lots of things have an ability to put me into NICU PTSD...this is just one of them.