Hi. Last time we talked, Wes was in the hospital, recovering from meningitis.
Now, Wes is in the hospital, waiting for the spinal fluid leak to heal and the swelling to go down.
“Really? Three weeks later? A month-and-a-half past surgery??” you ask. Yes, and believe me: I am just as incredulous as you.
And now I shall share with you our timeline:
October 30. Wes has staples removed, develops meningitis, spends a week in the hospital with ridiculous pain and super-mega-antibiotics. My mom, who came to help us on October 13, gets ready to leave on the 5th. Dad drives down from Wisconsin to pick her up.
November 6. We go home with high hopes and a week’s worth of IV meds to kill what’s left of the bug in his brain. Swelling at the incision site seems to be improving.
November 11. Wes’ good friend, Troy, is killed in a car accident. A groomsman in our wedding, he is a young husband and father, loved by all who know him. This tragedy adds to the difficulty and pain of recovery. A very hard day for Wes (not to mention for Troy’s wife, Amy, and their son Tanner, who was in the car with his dad and suffered horrific injuries. We still pray for Amy and Tanner, for strength, peace, and complete healing in Jesus’ name!).
November 14. We finish the antibiotics, Wes is feeling pretty good, life seems to be inching toward ‘normal’.
November 15. Sunday. We go to church for the first time since the surgery–it’s wonderful to be back, albeit with a swollen head, slower gait, and PICC line still in his arm.
We go home for the afternoon, he takes it slow, and we head to Troy’s funeral. It is packed, and we see many good friends from far and near who have been praying for us. Such a sad occasion, but so good to see our friends. As we sit in the sanctuary waiting for the funeral to start, Wes feels a trickle down his neck (still wearing the bandage over his incision). We go outside to find out that it is in fact his incision leaking cerebrospinal fluid, which is not supposed to happen, and we head home immediately and call the doctor.
We are advised to keep it dry and clean and to see doc at 7:30 the following morning (no one would perform surgery on Sunday night, anyway, if we went to the ER). Wes is not in extreme pain, so we lay low for the rest of the evening. We are disappointed that we have to miss the funeral.
November 16. The doctor (Hauge, in Knoxville) determines we need to fix the leak. Wes has to forgo eating and drinking until 5pm, when surgery starts.
A long day of waiting is followed by a short operation (less than half an hour), and a neat little set of sutures now complements his previous incision. During the surgery, the excess fluid that had remained under the incision was released, and our hope was that it would not re-accumulate. A pressure bandage wrapped around his head is added to prevent this. We are excited to see a flat place where the skin had bulged out from the side of his head, and are hopeful that this may be the end of our brain surgery chapter. 🙂
No dice. By the time we arrive home, about two-and-a-half hours past surgery, the swelling has returned in full force.
This is a low point for us. It has now been a month since the tumor was removed, and by now, we had expected life to be a little easier. But recovery seems to drag on and on. It seems like we spent the entire day waiting for an unsuccessful outcome, and things are yet unresolved.
November 17-22. We take meticulous care of the incision, changing the dressing daily, hoping and praying that nothing else goes wrong. The swelling seems to go down a bit here and there (though review of pictures and video during that time now reveals that no change really occurred).
November 22. We go to church Sunday morning, Wes testifies with his head wrap, glad to be in the service. We are so thankful to be in the presence of God. There’s no better therapy! Visiting evangelist, Jordan Stumbo, preaches “The Power of Perspective.”
At the end of service, Wes notices his bandage feels wet. Uh oh. We go home, inspect the incision. Just a little drop appears at the bottom knot of the sutures. It seems to have stopped. We proceed with our day, he naps, I take the kids to the evening service. After church, we find a more significant leak that continues through the night.
November 23. Monday. A call to the (Vandy) doctor directs us to the ER, but since Wes isn’t in serious pain, we decide to see the local neurosurgeon instead and thereafter head to Nashville as planned (have an appointment with our Vandy ENT surgeon early Tuesday morning). We find a lovely room on Priceline for a steal. Praise God. 🙂
November 24. Tuesday, at Vanderbilt. The leak is profuse, the doctors consult with one another and decide to admit Wes and install a drain to take pressure off his head and redirect it out of his body through a little tube in his back into a bag at his side. A nifty contraption controlled by gravity, the drain measures how much CSF is coming out over time. He now sports a higher-octane pressure bandage around his head to provide resistance to the CSF that wants to push out through the incision.
November 25. A boring day in the hospital. Drip, drip, drip goes the drain. Click, click goes the IV pump. The soft, muffled whirr of air circulation systems. And that is all.
November 26. Thanksgiving day! We had the company of dear friends for a few minutes this afternoon, and it was so therapeutic. It’s a bittersweet irony to know NYC is taking place in the same city at the same time; it enables friends to come and see us, like our Knoxville friends, and the Ritcheys, who probably wouldn’t be able to come to Nashville just to see Wes, but who were able to stop by…yet we’d much rather be in the services.
All things considered, things seem to be improving: it’s apparent that under the bandage, the swelling has gone down at least some, if not all (Please, Lord, let it be gone for good!). Tomorrow, we find out if we need further surgery, which will involve a permanent internal drain for excess fluid to leave the brain and the body through the stomach. Hopefully not. Hopefully, we will see that his head is healing, that the fluid has successfully been diverted, and that no more surgery will be needed.
Praying this in Jesus’ name. Thanks to all who are praying with us. Happy Thanksgiving!