Wednesday, January 24, 2007

Hospital Story

Monday, the day the AVM burst (and I didn't yet feel bad) playing at our favorite park.

Then I put babies to sleep. I fell asleep with David and woke up feeling bad. I thought I had some kind of weird migraine. My head hurt and I couldn't see well, and slept, slept, and slept. I begin to lose words. On Wednesday I tried to see a neurologist but the appointment desk made a mistake, and scheduled me for the next day, instead. Thursday morning we decided we shouldn't wait any more. A quick CT scan showed a walnut-sized clot in my brain. In the afternoon a doctor used an angiogram with contrast dye to better plot and measure the size of the AVM. Then they sent me to ICU. That evening we consulted with our neurosurgeon and scheduled our surgery the early next day. Late at night I had two MRI images to help map the brain for the surgery, and the dots on my head helped guide the MRI images. This is what I looked like after the MRI. I am smiling in the picture, but I'm scared out of my wits.

The surgery should have taken a few hours, but it took ten hours to remove the entire malformation. Then I slept in the ICU while doctors made sure I was stable. The next morning my shunt and intubation came out, and I recovered for several days in ICU. Tuesday morning, I was sent to the regular neuro floor. I saw my incision for the first time. Wow!
The next day, Wednesday, I was sent home. I missed my babies. My babies missed me, too.




Tuesday, January 23, 2007

Two. Two.

Two babies turn two today.

Bonus--I'm beginning to remember some songs today, too. Like the helicopter song, and of course, Happy Birthday.

Brain is still so addled. Some days worse than others. After realized I hadn't slept in, oh, two weeks, we decided to try a different medicine (Keppra from Dilantin, if you cared) to see if I could feel a little better. Not sure how well it will work, but I slept last night and most of today, too. We'll see how my body reacts after it's been in my system for a few days. But the rest of it, well, we'll just have to wait, wait, wait and give time to heal, heal, heal.

Tomorrow I see my general practitioner, and then Thursday Dr. Chen removes the sutures. Too bad. I'm beginning to like the Frankenstein look.

Friday, January 19, 2007

A Week

A week ago I slept in an ICU bed at St. Luke's. It was a dreamless sleep.

But today I am at home, and this afternoon even dreamt of beaches and conches and O'Keefe.

Tuesday, January 16, 2007

Some Parents

Some parents a baby book. Some parents have a scrapbook. We have a blog.

And part of the purpose of this blog is to help us remember these first few years of parenthood and perhaps share some of these memories with C&D as they get old enough to understand. For example, if they ever ask "how tough is it really to raise twins", then we'll have some evidence to back up our answer.

And while most of this blog is about them, occasionally something important enough happens to mom or dad that is important enough that it might affect them as well. Like, for example, the last week.

Last week we learned that if you ever see all of these strange things happen to you at once, it's probably something kind of important:
1) Big headache
2) Bigger headache
3) Kinda dizzy
4) Can't see straight
5) Not quite sure if you can talk straight either.

Now, (1) and (2) have lots of explanations that make perfect sense. David's bucket of balls (his aim is getting better!), Carmen's cobbler's bench toy, where you hit some wooden balls, and then someone's head, with a hammer, and lots of other daily events that are of no long-term consequence. Similarly, (3) and (4) are natural results of either baby waking up at 4:00 AM and declaring "All done sleep. Upstairs. Crack eggs. Make Pancakes!" A few nights of that, and you won't see straight, either. And after dealing with babies for two years straight, (5) doesn't surprise anyone either.

But when all those things happen at once, and don't get better after lots of sleep and several days where David's balls and Carmen's hammer are put away, then it means that there is something more serious than that. Last week, it meant that a weak blood vessel (an "AVM") had burst in Joyce's head. It wasn't a big event as these things go, but it was in exactly the wrong place, affecting both language and vision.

Major surgery and five CAT scans later (and some angiograms and MRIs for good measure), Joyce is still with us and recovering well. She has some trouble focusing her vision and sometimes trouble finding the right words, but the doctors claim that even these relatively minor impacts will eventually pass. Importantly, her wit, wisdom, memory, and personality are still intact, and she is looking forward to getting back to her babies - and this blog.

We're still trying to make sense of this whole affair. The day that the AVM burst Joyce and her mother had a wonderful morning together with the babies. From that strange afternoon--during baby nap--to a few days later, Thursday in the ER, wondering if she would be able to talk again, to see again after this was all over. How one seemingly small thing can switch everything in your life - there must be some lesson and perspective to be learned from that, but we're not quite ready yet to think it all through.

And the kindness and humanity of everyone around us, from the family members taking care of our babies to the nurse who sat and cried with us as we understood the situation and our options to the medical student who held Joyce's hand as she fell asleep on the operating table, wondering if she would wake up the same person the next morning, or even at all. Thank you for the smiles, the hugs, the ice packs, laughing at Joyce's jokes (though a little slow on the delivery), and, most importantly, the prayers on wings that remind us that people love Joyce.

Monday, January 01, 2007

Guest Blogger Returns

Well, not for too long. Almost lunchtime, and need to go see if the avocados I bought yesterday really are ready to eat, or if the Ripe Sticker is as false as it usually is.

But C&D finished their lunch, and what a lunch it was. They split a bag of tater tots (after grabbing the last one, David noted "Potatoes all gone!"), along with some salmon and peas. But that last potato was special - David figured out that if he smooshed it the right way, it could come out looking like a choo-choo train. I can't say that it had all that close of resemblance (it looked more like two blobs), but I'm not an expert. David's experienced opinion was that, yes, this really was a choo-choo train, and it could chug all around the table.

Your regular blog author has been busy finishing up some old blog posts, too, but even though they haven't been published before, they're hidden back in the archives because they were started a few months ago. Two from September (here and here), and one from October.