Written in Ink
Written in Ink
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Craniotomy 101

Seven Days to Die

My husband likes to play this computer game (Seven Days to Die) where you can collect things and build safe holds while facing zombies, zombie bears, zombie dogs, and some sort of mutant wasp - possibly zombie wasps, but that’s a little absurd. On the seventh day of the game a large horde of zombies come attack you.


My surgery is a week from today and I have this nagging feeling that my obstacles this week will surpass zombie level.

  • I’ve got a pre op appointment tomorrow.
  • I’m still trying to quit smoking - down to about 5 cigarettes a day.
  • I’ve got to pack all of my hospital stuff (undies, socks, Chapstick, lotion, toothbrush, book, etc.,) and figure out what I am forgetting to pack.
  • I have to pack my clothes for the apartment I will be staying in with my parents for the few months after the surgery.
  • I’ve got to call my neurologist and get him to send to memo to my HR that I asked his office to send a month ago.
  • I’ve got to figure out the other things I’ve got to do.

Home Shit Home

We’ve been living with friends for a few years since we moved to Texas. It has had ups and downs but lately all I see are downs. The eight year old screams every morning. She screams when she doesn’t get her way. She screams when she is playing. She screams.


The husband and wife have turned to huge screaming matches because of infidelity and the resulting paranoia. Several times they have said they were going to go to a counselor but they won’t make the appointment. Instead they each come to me to vent about the other. They even had me mediate a fight once.

I spend most of my days in bed now really doped up, so I don’t clean nearly as much as I used to. When I stopped, the wife stopped. The dishes pile up until I break and do them, then go exhausted back to bed. They play trash jinga in the kitchen and now we have roaches.


So now I am window shopping for a place of our own. My parents want to help us, but I’m 38. I understand that there’s a good reason I have blown through my small savings and am not working now, but I still feel so crappy thinking of my parents paying my rent or helping me buy a house.

A Little Off the Top

I’ve watched a lot of YouTube videos of craniotomies to remove sphenoid wing meningiomas. For some twisted reason, I find them soothing. I’ve also spoken to my surgeon about some of the specifics.

  1. Once I am given the anesthesia they will insert a lumbar drain in my spine (similar location to an epidural) to drain some of my CSF (fluid around the brain) to reduce swelling and help with visibility during surgery.
  2. They will shave and prep the incision site - from ear to ear behind my hairline on my forehead.
  3. They will make the incision and clip the skin back on both sides.
  4. Using a screen with my MRI on it and a tool with a sensor attached, they will mark the area of skull to remove.
  5. They make 4 holes with a special drill and then cut between the holes with a tiny little electric saw. They then remove that portion of the skull.
  6. Meningiomas are tumors in the lining surrounding the brain, so they will not have to go far inside to get to it. They will remove some, mark arteries, remove more tumor, and keep going like this until they get out as much as is safe in relation to major arteries and nerves.
  7. My meningioma has grown outward into the skull. At this point they will assess the skull for invasion. If the tumor has grown more than 50% into the bone, they will have to replace it with titanium mesh or a bone graft from my hip. If this needs to happen they will do it then if safe. If the brain has become too swollen, they will have to close me up and do that part a few weeks later.
  8. If the bone is less than 50% invaded they will remove the portion that has tumor and then place it back where it was removed. They will then put four screws in the holes that were drilled and close it up.
  9. The skin will be either stitched or stapled. I did not ask what he normally does and that depends on the surgeon.
  10. Finally, they will take me to NSICU where they will wake me up every two hours and make me do a variety of circus tricks for them like touching my nose with each hand, wiggling things, smiling, answering questions, etc.


I’ve really been up and down the closer to surgery I’ve gotten and today has been such a symbolic day - one week - that I’ve felt around 23 unique emotions since I woke up at 4 this morning. If gassy is an emotion, I’ve felt 24.


I would have thought I would be more terrified than I am, but I am so ready to stop hurting that I really can’t wait.

The weirdest thing I have felt was when I found out that my mom’s friends collected $3500 for me. I’m mad that they did it. I’m ashamed. I feel like someone else needs it more. I’m grateful but I’m more mad. Of course I will thank them profusely and never utter a word to anyone I know about the anger. I know that any emotional reaction to a major illness is a normal reaction, but this one just seems a little out there.


So, I probably won’t give any more updates until after the surgery. I’m really grateful for having this avenue to share and I hope that maybe I gave some of you a snapshot into something different.

See you on the other side. Not that other side. Just the other side of the surgery. Unless you guys die before then, then yeah, that other side.

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