Chip is in

On February 8th, I went into surgery at Stanford Hospital in Palo Alto. A customer allowed me and my husband to stay at his house so that we didn’t have to leave Monterey at 3am in order to be there at my 5am check in time.

When I arrived, they were basically waiting for me. As I was being prepped, the anesthesiologist came in to say hello, and so did my surgeon. They were both enthusiastic about the process and reassured me that all would be well.

I was undressed, in a gown, my head secured in a brace when I was wheeled into the operating room. I was put to sleep. I woke up three hours later, feeling as though it was just a few minutes. My scalp was full of staples where they had opened me up to install the chip. With the chip are two stimulating wires directed at either sides of the brain.

I was so sleepy when the nurse came in to check my vitals, I barely noticed her except to tell her my name and birthdate. She asked if I knew where I was and why. That first time, I had to think about it, but I was able to give the appropriate answers as needed

My surgeon came in to see me and let me know that all went well. I could see by the look on his face that he was pleased. He wished me the best and moved on. Then my husband came to see me. With him was the man who let us stay with him. I was surprised to see him, but very glad to see that he truly supported us, as he had also been a Stanford patient. He knows the routine.

The pain was a bit intense, as the skin of my head was stapled together in a few areas. The largest area was on the right side of my skull, with a few on the left. It felt as though my head was laying inside a bowl smaller than my head. Especially when I laid down. Still does with the staples removed, but the bowl is broken and I’m laying on parts.

Everyday, the pain subsides and my comfort level gets better. Every few days I am in need of the Norco prescribed for the pain, but I only take it when the it is severe. It also helps with the pain I’ve been dealing with in my right hip for a long time.

Right now, the chip is getting to know me and my activities. It can record these activities, and be useful to my doctors at Stanford and research for their students. In late March, I will go back up to Stanford to have the stimulators turned on.

When the stimulators are in action, they will work to detect the seizures. Basically, when the stimulators sense that a seizure is about to start, they will send a message to the chip and a message will go back to stop the seizure.

The hospital gave me a set of items to record and send back to Stanford. In the set, there is a magnet. This is to wave over the chip when something happens, which will draw the information closer toward the chip. There is what’s called a wand. This is connected to the computer that they also provided. As I hold the wand near the chip, it will record the info into the computer. When all is drawn, I will then send what’s recorded to Stanford. The computer is set up to make it all very simple.

It’s a very fascinating system, and all I can hope is that it works well, and that I can feel confident in myself and be seizure free. Be able to do things that I can’t do now without being dependent on others for help.

For a couple of months, I need to take it easy. No lifting of anything over 5 pounds, which in my profession is extremely difficult. Luckily, I have help everyday. I cannot put my head below my heart, which I need to think about when I pick something off the floor. No stress on the body or on the mind.

In other words, take it easy. Those who know me know that will be a challenge.

Surgery’s a comin’

Finally, after a year and a half of tests at Stanford University and Hospital, the surgery has been scheduled for February 8th. A chip will be implanted and will help control the seizure activity. Here is more information about the chip:

Caring Animals

My cats always know when I’m not okay. Just the other day, I was sitting on the couch with my pen and pad, trying to write about something that really hurt. The memories were horrific, and I was having a very difficult time with it. I was stuck back in that world again, oblivious to what was happening around me at the moment, when suddenly one of my cats climbed onto my lap, crawled up my chest, and kissed my cheek with his cold wet nose. I came out of my current state, and looked at him. He had a very solemn look on his face and was purring. He very quietly meowed. Sounded as though there was a question mark at the end of that comment. I wiped away my tears, and told him I was okay. He stepped down off my chest and curled up in my lap. There was no way he was going to leave me alone. He knew I needed him.

Results of the Tests

Last week, I went back up to Stanford to see the original doctor I saw in August 2017.  I didn’t see him during the times that I was going through all the tests, but he was the one who originally ordered them and received the results of the tests.

During the visit, he went through each test with me, explained why each test was taken, and the results of these tests. Overall, they found a scar about the size of a human pinky in the left side of the brain.  They are unsure if it’s the only reason I am having seizures, but it could be a big part of it.

He is afraid to remove it with laser surgery, as it may affect my memory system, which I must admit, I’ve already lost a bit of it.  But, yes, I can understand that.

What he suggested is a chip. He showed me what it looks like and what it does. It’s about the size of a silver dollar, maybe a little smaller. It will be implanted on the left side where my seizures tend to start.  What this chip does, basically, is it watches for seizures to begin, and when they do, that chip activates and stops the seizures from going any further.  If the seizures are starting in other places, wires can be added and directed in the directions needed. Wires can be placed and removed as needed.

We agreed that the scar, if removed can never be replaced, whereas, if a chip is put in, it can always be taken out.

My dosages of medications have been changed. One has been increased, while the other has been decreased. If that works, we may not need the surgery at all. I will be seeing this doctor again in four months to see how I’m doing on the new dosages of the medications.

Time will tell.

Remembering David

David is dearly remembered today on what would have been his 50th birthday. It’s been five years since I’ve had the chance to call him to wish him a great day. The only thing I can do now is go sit at the beach and be with his spirit.

Continuing MRI’s

I have just taken my 5th MRI, and will be put in again in May. I must say that the more I go up there, the more tired I get. The travel time from Monterey to Stanford can be a two hour drive, depending on traffic.  This last one, we got up there early, earlier than I had expected, so I sat in the waiting room for a considerable amount of time. Luckily, I had thought enough to take my quilting project up with me, just in case.

Of course, all of the MRI’s I’ve taken are different. The last one I had taken in February was a functional MRI, in which I needed to remain awake and identify items on a screen and just what they do and what their functions are in our lives. I almost fell asleep during the ‘breaks’ but they wouldn’t allow it.

This latest one was what they called a PET MRI.  During this one, they wanted me to relax as much as I could. They even allowed me to sleep, stating that it would be great if I could. The first half hour that I was there, they put me in a dark room and told me to relax. I was so tired from the drive, that I closed my eyes and was almost asleep when I was interrupted by the gentleman who was assigned to take care of me.  He came in with an injection of some kind of radiation, then left me for another half hour, hoping I’d go to sleep again.  I was close, but not quite. 

He then took me into the room that included the machine and computers, where I was introduced to another technician.  When they were laying me on the table, I was so groggy, I had a hard time getting myself settled without help. I just about fell asleep before they got me completely into the machine.  I was in there for about an hour, but being that I was sleeping, it didn’t seem like it had been that long when they woke me up.

The ride home was a bit longer than the one up to Stanford. I tried to sleep through it, but for some reason I couldn’t. I just closed my eyes, but there were too many thoughts going through my mind. Mainly what are they going to find, and just how many more tests are they going to put me through before deciding just what they are going to do and where.

I must say that this test exhausted me. Not that the others didn’t but it took me about three days to fully recover, and on the fourth day, I had a seizure at 6:00 in the morning, and when I an writing this 12 hours later, I am still feeling the side affects.  I am pretty sure that this is due to  lack of sleep the last couple of nights.

I am hoping that I will be seizure free by the end of the year, with either a computer chip implant or laser surgery.  I’m tired.

Pier 39 and the California Sea Lions — Incidental Naturalist

A business trip to San Francisco presented me with another classic incidental wildlife spotting opportunity. I had read about the legendary Pier 39 and the California Sea lions that spend their days sunbathing there, so I tagged a weekend on to my trip, and after a great day of photographing hummingbirds in Golden Gate Park, I […]

via Pier 39 and the California Sea Lions — Incidental Naturalist

Functional MRI

On Thursday, January 25th, I went back to Stanford for another test.

It’s what they call a Functional MRI, basically what they told me, to find out just what part of the brain works more to answer the questions they are asking. The questions were very simple. Any five year old could answer them.
First they had me watch a 15 minute video, so that I would understand just what I would be going through, very simple, and of course, very noisy, as an MRI usually is. When I went in, I was greeted by two very nice young men who helped me prepared. Of course I couldn’t wear my own glasses, so they gave me a pair of plastic one as, as many know, I am practically blind without them. Their glasses made me see double, so I had to close one eye to see the screen at some points.
Unlike my past MRI’s, they situated my head into a frame with a small screen above for me to watch during the few tests that they did. The instructions for this test were to not speak the answers, but to think about what I was seeing on the screen.
The ‘questions’ were pretty easy and included drawings to identify. They showed three items, one at a time, with a 15 seconds between. Say, the first sketches were an airplane, an apple, and a boat. Fifteen second of a blank screen, then the next three were a house, a bicycle, and a car, etc. After five of these, they’d start then next group. Where I had to not only define them, but also explain what they do or what they were for. Say, the airplane was to fly in, the apple was to eat, the boat was to ride in or go fishing in. There was not right or wrong answer, they just wanted to know just where these answers were coming from in the brain. The next was for me to identify what the object that they were describing. Say on the screen was ‘something that you drive’. They answer would be a car. “A big pink bird”. Answer being a bird, etc.
In another test, they asked me to move my fingers in a specific way. I had to touch my fingers with my thumb in a particular order. Forefinger, middle, ring, little, then back. Did that a number of times, then the screen told me to rest. Then again. Then rest. After that was done a few times, they went on to the next test.
All this while the machine was going between each of these tests for certain amounts of time. Each time, one of the guys would tell me, ‘you’ll hear the noise for one minute’, or for six minutes. What ever the time was, he would tell me before turning it on.
The entire test took about two hours. I had to lay still in this machine for the whole time, and you all know just how hard it is for me to sit or lie still for even more than 15 minutes. lol Someone will call me soon with a report.
The next scheduled appointment I have is in March, but they may call me to come up beforehand for more. Who knows, I just need to sit here and wait for it. Once they can find out just what side is more active and just where those seizures may be coming from, they’ll know just where to concentrate on during the surgery.
The test was very draining, my body and mind were and still are very tired, and I woke up this morning with a mean headache and ringing in my ears. I took one of my migraine pills and hopefully, that will help me out today.
I am sooooo looking forward to being seizure free, and like the doctor said after my EEG, to be “off the poisons”!!