Monday, July 7, 2014

Nate's Brain: Good Timing and The ICU

Last Wednesday, Nate called me asking if I could pick him up early from work. His week-long headache had progressed to the point of him barely being able to function, and he needed to come home. He had taken the prescribed migraine medication, but it didn't seem to be working. Later that evening (around 3am), when Nate couldn't sleep because of the pain, our doctor (who was thankfully on call) said we needed to go to the ER. 

The doctors in the emergency room immediately performed a CT scan, discovered fluid on his brain (hydrocephalus), and then transferred us to the Neuro ICU. There, an MRI showed that Nate had a colloid cyst on his brain, creating a blockage to the ventricles in his brain. Hence the fluid build up and the pressure causing the headache. 

A few hours later, they did an endoscopic procedure to remove the cyst- aka brain surgery. Basically, they drilled a hole in his skull and stuck a small tube through that would both break down and suck up the cyst. The surgery went well and was successful in removing the entire cyst. 

Since then, he has had a catheter where the surgery took place, draining the excess fluid and blood from his brain. Until the brain can get into the habit of pumping/draining on its own, the catheter acts as a support. Nate's drainage has actually gone really well, and they're to the point of doing what's called "challenging" the brain. This means that the brain cannot rely as much on the catheter, and has to pump on its own. This is a good thing, because we don't want the catheter! Because as long as the catheter is in, we are in the ICU. 

The hope is that the catheter will be removed fairly soon (crossing our fingers for tomorrow), and we will leave the ICU. That will be exciting, but unfortunately it does not mean leaving the hospital. Once the catheter is removed, Nate will still need to be monitored (though less closely than in the ICU) for a period of time.

We're not sure how long this will all take. Though everything is going well and Nate has done great, the timeline is still on a case by case basis and is only revealed a piece at a time. I joke that this is like "Choose Your Own Adventure" from Hell. There are so many factors at play and we never know exactly what's next.  

The good news is this- He is doing very well and progressing quickly. Once he is recovered, he will be totally normal. He is still thinking, eating, talking, sleeping, all of the above- normally. Eventually, things really will be just fine.

We also feel extremely fortunate. Nate's best friend Brock moved up here barely a month ago with his wonderful wife Devynne, and the timing could not be better. We also have wonderful friends from church offering their help. It also helps that we just so happen to live by one of the leading neuroscience institutes- Nate's surgery was performed by one of the top neurologists around. And, my internship ended the day before this all began. Good timing- I say yes. 

It is true that Nate's surgery took place when we were supposed to be flying to a family vacation. But- in my mind, it was one less thing to worry about on the way to the hospital since we already had work off.

I also feel the need to apologize for unanswered phone calls and texts. As you can imagine, this is a very busy and overwhelming time for us, and I can barely keep up with keeping immediate family updated. We are grateful for the prayers and the support, and we have been so helped. Though I am not the best at getting back to everyone, I do promise to ask for help when we need it.

I know things are going to be fine, and it's times like this when you realize how much faith in God really helps. Whatever your spiritual affiliation, we have received great strength by appealing to and relying on a higher power. It is still hard, but we're grateful for the perspective our faith allows.  

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