January 26, 2010

Fingers still crossed

For the last couple of weeks, everyone in the family has been thinking about Aunt Calm and Uncle Restless. They live in Camera City, about 90 miles away from here. They used to host a big get-together every summer, an all-day party that included bocce, horseshoes, and large quantities of good food. Their daughter and son-in-law, who own a nearby bakery, always brought all kinds of goodies, including a special box of cream puffs just for my father.

Until 17 days ago, Uncle Restless was in good health, enjoying retirement with a host of activities and friends. Then he was hit with a sudden and severe headache. He was in such pain that Aunt Calm drove him to the hospital, where he was given morphine and a CAT scan. He was then transferred him to a bigger hospital where an MRI showed an abscess in his brain. Unfortunately, the abscess was in deep in the brain, not in place where it could easily be removed by surgery.

Because of the swelling, his thinking was very jumbled and confused. He didn’t know what had happened and didn’t always recognize people. His condition was clearly pretty serious. He was also very restless, trying to get out of the hospital bed all the time, but his daughter explained to the nurses, “Oh, he’s always like that. Even without an abscess.”

In what seems like both a crazy coincidence and a stroke of good luck, Uncle Restless and Aunt Calm have a son who is neurosurgeon. He and his wife flew up from the southern hospital where he works. Friends and family congregated to be supportive, and Baker Cousin set up an internet site so that we could all get updates. The doctors put Uncle Restless on antibiotics and as the infection cleared up, he began to return to his old self, although he was still in the hospital.

As friends and family have visited Uncle Restless, they’ve written entries on the website so that we could all get updates. Baker Cousin has written an update every night and Neurosurgeon Cousin has written several entries to explain to us all exactly what is going on. Friends, family and neighbors have been chiming in from afar with messages of love and support — and an endless stream of corny golf metaphors.

When my parents visited, they reported that Uncle Restless was in good spirits, joking like he always does. The antiobiotics had cleared up the infection. But then another MRI showed that the abscess was still present: a capsule of pus lodged deep in his brain.

Then the abscess leaked. Uncle Restless developed a severe headache and a fever. At some point, the doctors and the family decided that the danger of the fluid leaking into the brain was too high, and that the benefits of brain surgery would outweigh the risks.

So this afternoon, after 17 days of being in the hospital, Uncle Restless underwent the kind of tricky brain surgery that he’s heard his son talk about. A small hole was made in the front part of his skull and brain. Then a fiber optic catheter was advanced through the hole, along with suction and cutting tools, and the contents of the abscess removed.

His siblings drove in to join his wife and daughter at the hospital, and everyone else waited by computers and cell phones for updates. The good news is that the surgery seems to have been a success. Uncle Restless still has recovery and rehab ahead of him — and obviously, he’ll have to be monitored for complications — but for now, everyone is breathing a sigh of relief.

23 comments:

Rana said...

Whew. *thinking good thoughts for your uncle and the rest of you*

liz said...

Sending love and fast healing thoughts.

heidi said...

Wonderful to hear good news. Hope he recovers fast!

Teri said...

phew! holding you all in the light and praying for quick healing.

Sarah Sometimes said...

What story! I'm so glad the surgery was successful and he is doing well so far. Sending you lots of love and good thoughts...

Digger said...

I am glad to hear the surgery seems to have gone well. I hope recovery is speedy!

Paige said...

You write about difficult things so beautifully. And I'm really glad that things seemed to go well, though Uncle Restless will be in my prayers...

RageyOne said...

sending thoughts and prayers to your family in Camera City.

landismom said...

Hope it all turns out well. It's always helpful having medically trained people who can explain these kinds of things in the family!

Michelle said...

Wow, what a scary time. I'm glad that the surgery went well. I hope he makes a speedy recovery.
Keeping you and your family in my thoughts.

Sandy said...

That sounds like good news. I'll keep your uncle in my prayers.

Bardiac said...

Wishing your uncle a speedy recovery and your family many years of happiness at summer gatherings!

AmpersandPrime said...

So happy for the positive outcome. I love the name you gave him, it really gives me such a warm sense of who he is.

lizardek said...

hoping the recovery goes as well as the surgery. Hugs!

jodi said...

Wishing him all the best (and the rest of you also!).

Lilian said...

I'm glad to hear that the surgery seems to have been successful. What a HUGE difference between his situation and my uncle's, though. :-( It would merit a post of its own and it's writing about my uncle is LONG overdue on the blog anyhow. Sigh. It's just hard to muster the energy to do so (more emotional than mental). In any case, I wish your uncle a full recovery, as I do to mine... sigh.

Coasting Anon said...

(o)

Jennifer (ponderosa) said...

What a loving family you all are! Wishing a smooth recovery for Uncle Restless.

Yankee, Transferred said...

Sending my love to you and yours.
(((jo(e))))

Lomagirl said...

Good news! Thinking of you all.

kathy a. said...

oh, how frightening. wishing him a swift and smooth recovery.

jo(e) said...

Thanks for all the prayers and good thoughts. So far, he seems to be doing fine.

philesce said...

Uncle Restless is doing well at home.I was discharge over a week ago!
I've been out to a few Basketball games, sometimes with a hat on so I don't scare too many people. I am getting stronger every day and am still on one IV feed twice a day for a few weeks.

Thanks for the great story, Janine.