Health, Medical, Brain Tumor, Schwannoma, Resection, CyberKnife, & a U.S.Marine

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Surgey and return visit to the hospital

July 26th, 2007 · No Comments

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So much has happened since I last wrote. I will do my best to recall the important stuff.

Friday, July13, 2007 was surgery day. I had a lot of confidence in Dr. Adler but I was still so scared. Even though I should have thought of positive things all I could think about was losing Travis. His first surgery was 11 hours and I felt so luck for him to pull through it. So back to the 13th, the surgery went really well. It was completed in 4-5 hours which was less than half the time of his first surgery. After surgery Travis was wheeled by us as we waiting in the waiting area and he looked better than I expected him to look. He was not nearly as swollen as his last surgery.

Dr. Adler told us that he was able to remove more of the tumor than he initially expected and that he took out about 90% of the tumor. This was great news.

Travis was in the ICU over night and did great. On July14th Travis was transferred out of ICU and put in a regular room. Travis did so well the next few days. His pain was minimal and his swelling was going down by the day. On Monday July 16th Travis was released from the hospital. Travis was doing well except for a side effect from one of his medications. Decadron was used to help reduce the swelling but it ended up also causing Travis oral thrush. We made a trip back to Dr. Adler on Tuesday July 17th and Travis was prescribed Nystatin to treat the thrush.

As soon as we returned home from the hospital Travis was complaining about his back hurting. I went out and got him a heating pad and he sat on it for the next few days. I suggested making a trip to the emergency room but Travis did not want to.

By Sunday July 22nd Travis could not walk because his back hurt him so bad. At 10:00pm we went to the emergency room at Stanford. They started him on an IV, gave him pain medication, took blood, urine, and did an x-ray of his back. After all of the tests the doctors could not figure out what was wrong. Travis did not have a fever. They wanted Travis to get an MRI but they said the soonest he could have one would be at 7:00am the following morning. Travis and I squeezed together on the gurney and tried to get some rest.

The sun rose and it was now Monday, July 23rd. Travis had his follow up appointment scheduled with Dr. Adler at 9:00am. Around 7:00am Travis went downstairs. While I was waiting in the MRI waiting area I met two other families who were also there because one of each of them also had a brain tumor. I know this may sound wrong but it feels good to meet people who are going through what we are. I would never wish this disease on anyone but at the same time it feels good not to be alone. Friends and family can be very supportive but meeting people who live with what you do offers something else.

After the MRI was done we were taken back to the emergency room to wait for the findings. The neurosurgeon on call came and spoke with us. Something was seen on the MRI. She was not sure what it was but she said that it was large and that it could be another tumor, possibly another Schwannoma. When she explained this to us I did not even want to look at Travis. That was the last thing that I wanted to hear and I hated to imagine the pain and fright that was going through Travis’s mind. That news killed me. After feeling that the second surgery was a success the heavy depression was lifted off of my shoulders. The last year had been so difficult. Everything was day by day. We could never plan for the future because never knew what was already planned for us. When Dr. Adler told us that he removed more of the tumor than he expected, all of my hopes and dreams for the future had been restored. I felt like Travis and I had finally beaten this nasty game. Days later when we were told that there was a large mass of “something” on his lower spine (T-1 and T-2) I felt like our future and our happiness had again been robbed from us. Millions of ideas ran through my head, losing my husband, losing our apartment, many more hospital stays, telling Tori the sad new, the impact that it would have on her, these are just a few of the things that raced through my head after were told the heart breaking news.

The neurosurgeon in the emergency room still wanted Travis to see Dr. Adler for his 9:00am appointment. I hugged Travis and smiled at him. Not because I was happy but because I felt so helpless. I wanted to take all of this away from him but I could not. All I could do for my husband at that time was to be as strong as possible for my husband. At this point I kind of felt like a zombie; I think I was in shock. I felt like crying and I felt empty inside but I held myself together and carefully wheeled Travis to his appointment with Dr. Adler.

When we met with Dr. Adler he advised us that he reviewed the MRI of Travis’s back and discussed the images with the head of Radiology. Together they agreed that what was seen on the MRI was not a tumor. During surgery some blood had leaked down Travis’s spine and collected. The collection of blood was pushing against his spinal cord and this was the cause for the pain Travis was having. Dr. Adler explained that over time the collection of blood would be broken down by the body and Travis would be back to normal. However, he wanted Travis admitted to the hospital to get his pain under control.

Before we left Dr. Adler’s office an assistant removed the staples from Travis’s head. We did not get an exact count but there were about 40. After his staples were removed we were told to go downstairs to “Patient Admitting” and that by the time we got down there orders would be in the system.

We went downstairs to Patient Admitting, the lady behind the desk told us that she did not see anything in the system for Travis; she recommended that we return to the emergency room so that Travis could be admitted that way. It was not a surprise when we arrived back at the emergency room and they did not know what to do with us. They checked their computer system which showed that Travis was still in the emergency room. After we explained to them the entire story they found Travis a bed in the hallway of the emergency room to wait in until they could admit him into the hospital. By this time we had been up for over 24 hours and at the hospital emergency room for over 12 hours with little rest and nothing to eat. I spoke with the nurse about getting Travis some pain medication. Once Travis was comfortable I left to get us some food.

It was a good thing I got us food because Travis did not end up getting put into a room until 5:00pm on Monday July, 23rd. (We got to the hospital at 10:00pm on Sunday July 22nd.)

Once Travis was put in his room he was pumped with lots of pain medication and had frequent visits from doctor’s and nurses. The plan was for him to get his pain under control. This was going to be done with the help of pain management doctors. Travis was hooked up to a pump. The pump had a button that Travis could push when he felt pain. The button would release Dilaudid and he could be administered the medication as frequent as every 10 minutes. Once Travis was hooked up to the pump it took a few button pushes before his pain was relieved. Within an hour Travis was feeling a lot better. The pain management doctor explained that the amount of times that Travis pushed the button on his pain pump would be factored into “recipe” for Travis’s pain medication.

I was relieved to see Travis feeling so much better. Within a few hours he was out of bed, moving around, straightening the room, and even shaving. My Travis was back. We spent a few more days in the hospital while they monitored Travis. Unfortunately the hospital could not get me a bed so I slept with some blankets on the floor next to Travis. One night we tried to share his bed but it was way too uncomfortable.

On Travis’s 4th day in the hospital the pain management team came in and told us that Travis was going to be released. They came up with a combination of medications that they felt would work to take away his back pain. They sent Travis home with the following medications to be taken every six hours: 2 Oxycontin, 800mg Motrin, 975 mg Tylenol, 1000mg Neurontin. He also was to wear a Duragesic patch that was to be changed every 72 hours. The combination of these medications took about 95% of Travis’s pain away.

Tags: back pain · doctor · emergency room · hospital · Stanford · staples · surgery

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