The first surgery I had was a brain surgery in 2004. I turned 15 that year. The purpose of the surgery was to debulk a brain tumour which sat on my left auditory nerve. The misconception people always have about NF2 is, removing a tumour will solve the problem we have. In this case, tinnitus.
The tinnitus will not go away with surgery as any tumour which is causing problems would already have damaged the nerves. Surgery is usually done to prevent it from pressing on the nerve more and cause further harm.
I was still able to hear at that time. It was a 12-hour long procedure; started at about 9am and ended at almost 9pm. I remember this detail because I had come into consciousness when they wheeled me into the ICU and I happened to glance at the clock nearby. Someone had said “Finished” too.
I spent two weeks in the hospital for my first brain surgery. Not much were damaged except my hearing and I was still able to get on with life as per normal.
I was in Secondary 3 and had spent some time away from school. It was the SARS period therefore my friends were wary to pay a visit and I didn’t mind that, knowing the consequences it would cause.
The rest of the tumours remain stable for a whopping 9-10 years. There was a slight increase in the growth rate for one of the tumours but it wasn’t too bad to warrant a surgery yet so we were told to monitor it. It then started to cause me occassional headaches and vommitting. In 2014 I got married and became pregnant in 2015. I had quite a hard time during my pregnancy but thankfully, managed to have a smooth delivery despite not allowed to take epidural because of the tumours present in my spinal cord. The spinal cord tumours were not serious or causing hurt at the time.
As the headache got more frequent, I decided to resume my MRI which is the scanning of brain as I wasn’t able to do it while pregnant. It was then we found out that one of the tumours in my brain had gotten bigger and needed surgery. So surgery it was. The risks were 5% paralysis and stroke.
It was another 12-hour long operation. I didn’t know what to expect. It started in the morning and ended late at night. A few days later, my brain swelled and I had to go for another surgery to remove a small part of my skull to ease the swelling and to drain the brain fluid. I spent longer days in both ICU and Acute Ward this time round. I found myself being in and out of consciousness and when I was actively conscious, I dread the days and was so very bored. I was dying to be transferred to a normal ward!
After what seemed like an eternity, I was good enough to be transferred out to a normal ward. I was relieved and there’s TV to kill my boredom too! 😄 I still wasn’t able to eat properly; was on a liquid diet and tube-fed. I was so upset but I had to persevere. I met physiotherapists and speech therapists, nutritionists and medical students who made me a part of their case study during my stay. As I laid in bed most times with a tube attached to my head, I had no idea my mobility was wrecked and I couldn’t walk properly. Hence, the need for physiotherapy. 😊
Continuation will be on the second part of “Surgeries”. 😉