Wednesday, December 1, 2021

The date for the cranioplasty is finally given by the surgeons

It will happen slightly more than a month from the time of this blog post.

Waiting for something to happen to you in life can be a real drag.  I know because I have been waiting for the surgical date for my cranioplasty to be done.  It was moved twice, most likely because of the COVID situation that our island has been experiencing.  The surgeons were not allowing visitors to any hospitalised patients in their wards.  And so the waiting game evolved.  We were waiting for the visitor rules at hospitals to be eased at least a little, to allow just our family members to come to visit us as we recuperate from the surgery to our bodies.  But that date seemed to keep moving further and further away.  However, some things are worth waiting for, even though the waiting time can be agonising.

My surgeon contacted us to inform us that there is a new date for the surgery to my cranium, and it will happen on Thursday 4 January 2022.  They initially suggested 21 December, but that would mean that I would have to spend Christmas in the confines of a hospital, which isn’t something I would want for anybody.  It was when we asked for a shift of the date to sometime in January that they came back with the suggestion of 4 January.  All things considered, we thought it was a good move, though it doesn’t quite sound like a happy new year.  I’ve never received brain plates as a gift for the New Year, so this will be a first one.

What is a cranioplasty?  It is a surgical repair of a bone defect in the skull resulting from a previous operation or injury.  This injury happened in May this year, and the surgeons decided to remove part of my skull to prevent excessive bleeding in the brain.  In the cranioplasty, they will lift the scalp and restore the contour of the skull with a custom contoured graft made from a solid biomaterial that is manufactured in Switzerland.  I’d know what a Swiss-watch feels like when this is over.  

Apparently, three of the uppermost layers of the scalp will be pulled back, and the implant will be inserted in between the bottom layers of the scalp protecting the brain.  

Of course, I will be given a general anaesthetic prior to the surgery, and once I am asleep, the area of the incision is then shaved and prepared with antiseptic, and I will be protected by drapes, leaving only the surgical area exposed.  During the surgery, the cranial bones will be secured with screws, plates or both.

When the bone is in place, and when bleeding is controlled, the team moves the scalp back to its original position and closes the incision with nylon suture.  There may be a small suction drain left in place to help remove any excess fluid.  This drain will be removed in a few days, hence the scheduled stay in hospital being about 5-6 days post surgery.

Most cranioplasty patients spend two to three days in the hospital after surgery.  But the care team will determine that I can get around, shower and dress myself.  I will also most likely get a repeat CT scan of my head.  And if the surgical site looks okay, I will be released and can go home for prolonged rest.  

Post surgery, it will take some time before I fee completely normal.  I will be tired, and rest will be required in the afternoons.  I need to be ready for intermittent headaches, and will schedule appointments for one week and three to four weeks post surgery to have my sutures removed.  I will also need to be prepared for any rehabilitation at the time post surgery.  One of the things I have been prepared for is the need to retch while I am resting, and if I do get into a comatose state, those looking after me may need to call for an ambulance from the hospital so that I can be taken to see the doctor in that state.

I know that what I have written seems to be rather detailed, but the time given to me (which was prolonged) has given me time to do the necessary research to prepare myself for what is to come.  I don’t think I will be more detailed in my blog post, but I do know that there have been masses of people who have prayed for me as I was waiting for the confirmed date for the surgery.  May I ask that your prayers continue until the surgery time comes?  The surgeons will be needing the grace of God’s help in their work on my skull.  Thank you for your kindness and generosity, and I will be offering prayers for all of you who are praying for me.