Never thought I would write about a partial craniotomy
Updated: Jul 30, 2019
This is Matt's blog. I'm just the technical support and an editor, but now and again it may make more sense for me to tell certain parts of the story, and a day where Matt is asleep (or nearly asleep) for 12+ hours is one of them.
On July 9th, Matt started getting prepped for surgery at 6:30 in the morning. He went for another MRI so that they could place markers on his head, enabling the surgeon to determine the exact location of the tumour. They let me go with him for the MRI, then wait with him in the pre-op area until it was time for him to go in. Once he was in, I checked in with the volunteer in the waiting room and was given a tracking number to be able to follow his progress updates on the screen in the waiting room. Initially the surgeon told us that the surgery would be 4-6 hours, but the volunteer told me that the surgery was scheduled to go until 4:00, so I really shouldn't expect to see any progress changes or speak to anyone before 3:00. I left to find the nearest Starbucks and when I returned a short while later (with the largest possible americano), Matt's mom and brother had arrived to wait with me. My sister came later that morning and one of Matt's friends arrived after lunch. Between a waiting room puzzle, texting updates to friends and chatting with the others who were waiting for Matt, the time seemed to pass fairly quickly. Actually, it passed quickly until the volunteer came to us at 12:30 and said that the surgery was wrapping up and the surgeon would be out to speak to us soon. Her definition of "soon" was not the same as my definition, and the minutes seemed to drag on as we waited for him to appear. I didn't say anything at the time, but I was worried that it was over sooner than expected because they were unable to do what they wanted or had run into some sort of problem.
However, after 30 minutes the surgeon came out and told us that he was very pleased with how things had gone. He explained that he was able to remove most of the tumour - everything except "a small nub" near a ventricle. The ventricles are filled with fluid so they have to be extra careful. If the ventricle is nicked at all, cancer cells can enter the ventricle and the tumour will spread easily because it will have little resistance. He had told us during our initial meeting on Friday that because of the type and location of the tumour it would be impossible to remove all of it, so I thought that everything except "a small nub" sounded pretty fantastic. Matt was gradually waking up but already able to respond to commands to move fingers and toes. Testing his vision would have to wait until the next day, but we would be able to see him once he was awake and moved back upstairs to the neurological floor.
We spent another 2 1/2 hours in the waiting room until Matt's tracking number finally came up on the screen indicating that he had been moved back to the 7th floor. After surgery, patients are moved to an observation room, which is a step between ICU and a regular room. This room has 6 patients and a nurses station with 3 nurses at all times. This is where we first saw Matt. He was tired and sore, but still cracking jokes. When I asked him how he felt he said "OK... but I have this splitting headache... don't know why". We each said a quick hello, then left him to rest. Matt's mom and brother headed to Waterloo for the night and my sister stayed to have dinner with me before heading back to her place in New Dundee.
My mom had connected me with a family friend who lives in London. He and his family were away for the week on vacation and he graciously offered me his home. I had been able to stay with Matt at the hospital until this point, but there were no overnight guests allowed in the observation room, so I gladly accepted his offer. After such a crazy whirlwind of a week, sitting on a quiet couch, in a quiet living room was a welcome chance to think, and pray, and reflect, and of course, to text.