You already know that my life has been less than great for quite sometime now. The brain damage and the depression that it has cased has practically been too much to handle at times. Without going into great detail about the negatives, let me go on to the positive that I am sooo excited abot. This is Tuesday morning. On Friday morning, my surgery will finally be done. This is the surgery, VNS, that should be the answer that we've been looking for for the past 31 years. It will go right to work on the damage from past seizures, the depression that it has caused AND will do wonders for my future seizures. In case you're just signing in, allow me to explain. A new surgery was developedd in the past few years that works along the same concept as a heart's pace maker. The pacemaker sends electricity to the heart that keeps the heart muscle beating at a normal speed. (Now don't take my word for granted on that. I've never done research on that topic. I just ASSUME that that is how it works.) In the cse of VNS, a disc that is about the same size as a half dollar is mounted under my skin in the upper left side of my chest. From it is a wire that the doctor will thread up to my Left Vagus Nerve which is located in my neck. Once the wire reaches that point, it will be wrapped tightly around the nerve.
Once there, the disc transmits electricity to the nerve and then on to the brain. The batteries continue to support the disc to send electricity to the brain on a regular basis and provide extra power to the brain in cases of emergency. They will need to be replaced surgically every 3-8 years. Not bad.
This will abort many future seizures or at least minimize them and the necessary recovery time afterwards. The constant rhythem that is produced will help to heal the already damaged brain and prevent more damage from being done. THIS IS NOT A CURE FOR EPILEPSY!!!.. I want you to understand that. But it is probably the best treatment for epileptics since the beginning of time. PLUS, it will work to remove the depression that my seizures have caused over time. Most epileptics will have to continue taking anti-seizure medications for the rest of their lives but might be able to take lesser amounts than before. In my case, my seizures have become so much worse over the past year, that a second drug had to be added to help my other drug that has worked so well for me over the past 8 or 9 years. Even so, I still had two bad seizures on Sunday afternoon. And each of those seizures produced more brain damage. This surgery will help to prevent that from happening from now on. Thank the Good Lord!
So, I had a long list of pre-operative tests that needed to be done this week. Stan and Abigayle took me to the hospital yesterday afternoon. Thats when my embarrassment came to pass. Two of my tests were chest -rays and an EKG. I don't know if all patients having this surgery have to take them or not. I had to for sure because of my heart issues. So I am taken to the X-Ray room and instructed to remove my shirt and bra. Everything else could remain on. Before I took these off, the technician asked me if I wanted the thing that went over me. I ASSUMED that she was referring to a hospital gown. I thought that they must have to go elsewhere in the hospital to get one. Not wanting her to have to do that, I told her I would be fine without it. When I had my heart surgery in 2002, so many tests had to be done on me over and over and over again, I basically lost most, if not all, of my modesty. LOL! Besides that, I would be in a dark room anyway. No big deal.
So anyway, I disrobe and begin walking to the upright x-ray machine. All of a sudden, the technician came running in out of nowhere and told me that I needed a gown because other people in the hospital could see me. I had TOTALLY forgotten the window in the wall that seperates the room from the x-ray lab! Stupid me!!! Thanks to the x-ray tech, I soon donned the ever-stylish hospital gown and prevented anyone else from going blind. LOL!!! I cannot tell you just how embarrassed I was and still am.
After the x-rays were done, I had to go to the emergency room where my EKG would be done. The tech made sure that I had a blanket covering my backside as I made that trek down the hallway. Again, thank goodness! LOL!!! That test was then completed. All I needed to do before I could go home last nght was to have two more shots given to me in my stomach area. (Because of my upcoming surgery, I had to go off of my blood thinnerss on Saturday. I willl now take injections every day until surgery to keep my blood thinned but not too thin for surgery. I sure don't want to bleed to death! LOL!!!
I returned to the hospital this morning for the rest of the tests. Most of these were done with just a few tubes of blood. The last test involved a blood pressure cuff pumped to just 40 pounds, a razor blade, a timer and a round piece of paper. Two technicians are required for this. The razor blade was required to cut a very small incision in my forearm. A timer was used to see how long it took for my blood to clot. The paper was dipped into the blood every 30 seconds. Once the blood no longer appears on the white part of the paper, the blood has clotted and the test is over. The normal range for this completion is approximately 4-11 minutes. In my case, it just took over 5 minutes so all is good. All tests have now been completed and the results will be phoned in to me and faxed to the surgeon very soon. The only test results I am concerned about are my cholesterol and blood sugar. They have not been done for a few years. There were no problems with either of them the last time.
The path should now be clear for me to getting into surgery. I am happy to say that I did not embarrass myself this morning. I was able to keep all of my clothing in place. Ha! Ha!
I would like to ask you for one favor, if I might. Please pray for me. I have complete faith in God that this surgery is exactly what He has had in mind for me since before I was ever born. This epilepsy and it's consequent depression has not only being a tough and long haul for me, it has been the same for my family and friends. Most of my family has endured this with me throughoutt the past 3 decades plus. Unfortunately, some of my friends have not. Those who deserted me couldn't handle the embarrassment that I had caused them. I hate that. I never intended for them to feel like that. As a result of what I've become, I spend most of my time at home where I feel sheltered and safe. I learned recently that the following traits are totally normal for people who have been through what I have:
1. No longer doing most of the shopping that I formerly did and enjoyed, I might add. Stan and the girls do that now.
2. I do very little cooking these days. Stan does the rest of it unless he is too tired. At that point, we order in our meal.
3. Once upon a time, I kept my house about as clean as they come. I am sorry that I cannot say that today. My mind does not track as well which causes me to have problems getting things as simple as housework and laundry done daily. Very rarely do I get both the housework and laundry done on the same day. And by the end of the day, I am totally exhausted even though I probably did not succeed in getting everything done. Totally frustrating, to see the very least.
There is one other common trait that I don't usually have a problem with. I still go to a restaurant to eat with the rest of my family. Most epileptics who have reached the point where I am now, do not.
So, though life is uneasy for me right now, I believe that the uneasiness is coming to an end. Friday will be the beginning of my new life. Soon, I will not be afraid of embarrassing my close family, friends and myself with any public seizure activity. Consequently, I will be able to return to church. (I stopped going to church a couple of years ago after having one seizure in church and another seizure later on in in adult Sunday School.) I will be able to present my house and clean laundry like they should be. I'll also start cooking like I once did. (My family may not always appreciate that though. LOL!!!)
If you or someone you know has epilepsy, I strongly urge you to consult your neurologist to see if you are a candidate for VNS. Not all types of epilepsy respond to this surgery. Your neurologist can tell just by reading your EEG usually. Some health insurance companies do not pay for this treatment as it is very expensive. My insurance company went clear through my history and quickly came to the conclusion that this was the best option for me. I am soooo thankful for that!
In regards to my blog, you can clearly see that I have not deserted it. I've just been ignoring it. My words and other though processes don't always work well with one another right now. I have faith that they will improve over the next 3-6 months as my neurologist and other professionals have told me. Soon, I will be returning to my frequent writing. I've missed you. After my surgery, I promise to update you on my progress.
I want to thank each of you who have taken time out of your busy schedules to call, stop by or email me with your concerns and/or best wishes. Without a doubt, you have NO idea how much that has meant to me and my family. I cannot thank you enough for your support!!!