Friday, April 23, 2010

Left Awake Craniotomy. That's me!

My brother is convinced that our first meeting in Wenatchee at the Medical Center was with the head janitor, not the neurosurgeon. That should be a serious clue as to our meeting at U of W.

We're all in shock right now, and I don't even know how to begin this post. Our meeting was vastly different from the meeting in Wenatchee.

I guess I'll just start putting this all down on "paper" and you guys can help sift through the details. Sorry for the disorganization.

On this coming Tuesday morning at 5:15am I will be admitted to the U of W surgical unit. They will take me in and put electrodes on my head and put the exact locations where the laser will cut through my skull. From there they will run me through an MRI and check to see the exact brain waves so they can measure where they need to be careful during the surgical process. Once I'm put under anesthetic they will cut open my head and remove a portion of my skull. Once my brain is exposed they will wake me back up and start removing parts of my tumor. As they are removing areas of the tumor they will periodically place electrodes and conduct shocks, in areas of my brain in and near the tumor. During which time I will be staring at a computer screen answering questions about the visual stimulus, so that they know exactly what they're cutting/removing. They're trying to make sure that they don't remove any of the areas of my brain that I need to function. After they remove every possible piece of the tumor that won't incapacitate me, they will put me back under anesthesia and sew me back up. The process should last approximately 4.5 hours.

My tumor is in brain matter. They will be removing approximately a tennis ball sized area of my brain. There is a 10% chance that there will be complications that could be as mild as no feeling in the tips of my fingers ranging all the way to loss of movement on the entire right side of my body, inability to communicate, inability to read, and inability to form thoughts, and of course death.

I will be in the hospital for a minimum of three days, longer if there are complications. One week from the surgery I will have a follow up appointment where they will have results from the pathologist about the severity of my tumor. The doctors at U of W said that without the pathologist's findings from the biopsy (which we will have one week after surgery) they have absolutely no idea if I'm going to need further treatment (chemo or radiation). They have seen so many tumors, and have seen so many incorrect conjectures, that they don't even guess or assume in any way. If we find out I need adjunct therapy during that first week appointment, they will immediately during that appointment introduce me to the right people, wheel in the machinery and start my chemo/radiation.

The surgeon is removing areas from three sections of my brain, the language cortex, the sensory cortex, and the motor cortex. So, if anything bad happens during this surgery and too much gets removed, I'm going to apologize ahead of time for any anger, frustration, confusion, inability to communicate, inability to read, inability to watch TV, inability to form my own thoughts, or express myself, inability to control my movements, and inability to control drooling. No big deal.

News of record - my Chief does over 290 crainiotomies a year.


  1. ooh my gosh Jess I am in awe that you can even keep the communication open right now and it speaks volumes to who you are as a person. I really really think that you are gonna be ok! Just breathe and go out in the woods and scream at the top of your lungs! YOU deserve to be ok and you will just keep thinking that....we are here for you.

  2. WOW! I am in awe that you can articulate this. It must be hard to realize that so much is in the hands of this surgeon. But you have no real option, and the outcomes are encouraging. You will be in my thoughts and prayers constantly. You are young, strong and have a good attitude! I could learn a lot from you!

  3. Jess, you are amazing. I don't know anyone else who could handle and articulate what is happening to you with such grace and humor. Your positive attitude and strength will get you through this! Your medical team sounds amazing, and I'm sure they are among the best. We love you, and can't wait to welcome you home!
    Love, Sarah & Joey

  4. Jess, nothing has EVER stopped you before and nothing EVER will. Yours will be the most successful craniotomy the Chief and his team have ever performed and will be boasting a 100% recovery. They don't know your determination like we do! xoxo Gene too

  5. You are an amazing person with fantastic courage and an impressive attitude Jessica! You have been in our thoughts and prayers ever since we heard about your condition and we look forward to your speedy recovery. We send our love and support to you and your family. Reid and Susan

  6. Hi Jessica. You are so strong and brave. I hope you feel the love and support we all are sending your way. WE love you and can't wait to read about your recovery :) WE will be thinking of you and your family on Tuesday morning.
    Love, The Redelsperger Family

  7. All I can say is you are one strong woman Jess!!!!! Your in our thoughts constantly!!!
    Love, Michelle

  8. Keep the humor Jess!!! You're such a strong person and we know you'll do great during surgery and afterward. Try not to play with the surgeons too much though. For example, during the procedure, if you are looking at a picture of a dog and they ask you to say what it is and you reply "bitch" or if it's a cat and you reply.......well you get the gist. ;)

    Big hugs to you and Danny. See you soon.

    All our love,

    ~Erin and Pete

  9. Jess~

    I know how hard and overwhelming this must feel for you and the family....and I know that there are'nt many things that I can say that have'nt already been said. Mainly, I wanted to say that I will be praying for you....for strength, faith, peace and love....and also for the doctors and surgeons, for steady hands, wisdom, and their healing touch. As I have said before, I really would love to come down and see you afterwards (I still have LOADS of Nerf guns from when my son and I were in Isolation at Childrens...he was sick with a very very rare infection) I would love to see you and help pass the recovery time by. I will send you my cell number and if you are up for the company, shoot me the details of your hospital stay. :) Sending LOVE LOVE LOVE and positive thoughts your way angel....

  10. Jess ~

    WOW! Thank you for the update! You and your family are in my thoughts! My best to all!

    Sun Puppy Kristin


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