Tuesday, October 30, 2012

If I Only Had a (Better) Brain

No, dear readers, Atomic Auntie has not abandoned you.  I'm alive and semi-well and ready to once again regale you with tales from my vintage-obsessed, retro-lovin' life.  But first, you deserve an explanation for my absence lo, these many weeks.  Bear with me.  I promise it's a good one.

 Mere days after my last blog post, things in my life went ... wacky.  It all started with a simple ear infection.  (I promise this gets better.)  Made an appointment for after work on a Wednesday, had it looked at, picked up antibiotics at the pharmacy downstairs.  Stopped on the way home for a smoothie (not to get off topic here, but if you haven't experienced a Citrus Squeeze smoothie, get thee to a Jamba Juice post-haste).  Felt flu-like while waiting for my beverage to be made (have I mentioned that the Citrus Squeeze is totally freaking delicious?) but attributed it to the ear infection.  Picked up my (amazingly yummy) drink.

And that's the last thing I remember for the next two weeks.

When I didn't show up at work the next morning, my boss called my family, who found me in my house, positively delirious.  I have no memory of this, nor can I recall the ambulance ride to the hospital, or having emergency brain surgery the next day.

See, that pesky little ear infection had turned into ever so much more.  It had probably been a chronic, mostly asymptomatic thing. And it had broken through my ear and taken up residence in my brain.

I had what's known in medical terms as a subdural empyema, basically a big old infected pocket of pus between my brain and the membrane that surrounds the brain.  Yay!

The neurosurgeon had to do a craniotomy to remove and flush out the infection.  Removed a rather large piece of my skull in the process, which a nurse later told me I was "lucky" he was able to reattach.  Shudder.

I was still in a coma post-surgery, but things went from bad to just plain awful.  I now had bacterial meningitis.  And sepsis.  And I was in organ failure.  I was on a respirator, and I'm told there were more than 10 bags o' stuff on my IV pole.

My vital signs crashed more than a few times.  One nurse told my mom that she should get to a church if she was the praying type.  Things were grim.  I was oblivious to all of it.

My beloved family and friends kicked things into high gear.  They took turns visiting and talking to me for hours on end.  Someone noticed that my vital signs stabilized when my loved ones were around.  They called in the pastor of my sister's church to pray over me, and had a raucous family gathering in the process (that's just how we roll).  Turns out they were having a moment of personal prayer and silence for me at work at that exact moment.

And I woke up the very next day.

I wish I could say that then I lived happily ever after, but it just didn't work out that way.  My muscles had atrophied during my coma, and I had trouble controlling them due to the brain injury.  My short-term memory was shot.  I was transferred to a fantastic rehab facility where I had five different therapies a day, from physical to occupational to speech to mat exercises and walking.  I worked hard, but the results I saw were beyond rewarding.

Now I'm home, staying with my mom for the foreseeable future.  I can't drive (although I heart my disabled parking placard when someone takes me out!) or stand up in the shower or go shopping for more than an hour or two without being totally wiped out.  And I've started having seizures and they're driving me bonkers tinkering with the dosages of the anti-seizure meds.  Oh, and the sepsis made a lot of my hair fall out and what's left is an inch long, because they shaved my head for the craniotomy, and gray because they won't let me dye my hair.  I'll be off work on disability until after the new year.

But you know what?  I'm alive.  And happy.  And totally overwhelmed by the outpouring of love and support from my family and loved ones.  It's going to be a long road to full(er) recovery, but I'm working hard.

Life is GOOD.


  1. Oh my GOSH, hon! I was gasping for air during that whole post. That sounds like the biggest medical nightmare in the history of the world and I'm so sad that you still are having to deal with so much. Know that someone (me!) in Tennessee is sending lots and lots of prayers and good thoughts your way. I too am glad that you're alive. Please keep us posted as you feel like it.

  2. Thanks, Eartha! All good thoughts and prayers greatly appreciated. Things get better every day. Never thought I'd be one to get bored staying home, but I'm positively eager to get back to work. Happily crafting away with my off time, though!