This week I received copies of my surgery notes, they are fascinating. I wish I knew more so I could understand them better. It’s long, but this is the operative procedure summary:

“BrainLAB neuronavigation, right frontotemporal pterional craniotomy, subtemporal decompression, tumour removal, duraplasty, and ICP monitor.”

My most recent CT scan notes gloriously state, “Resolution of postoperative changes and edema, with no evidence of residual or recurrent mass lesion identified.” ūüôā


So as you may have guessed I had a CT scan today in preparation for my follow-up appointment tomorrow. The CT itself is a doddle, but the contrast IV today was painful!

It took 4, *YES 4*, tries for them to get that needle in! The first 2 veins were “rolling” which the tech said is when the needle pushes the vein out the way rather than penetrating it. Maybe this was an excuse for inexperience, I don’t know. The third vein went ok but the needle slipped out (of the vein not my arm), then the tech burst my vein. ICK. This unsurprisingly left me with an instant and large blue bump of a bruise. It hurts. Fourth vein lucky, and in went that contrast solution.

I was dehydrated which I don’t think helped. MUST remember to drink lots of water before needles!

Before surgery Meningioma, bilateral frontal edema.


Day after surgery Pneumocephalus (air in the cranial cavity), hemorrhage, bilateral frontal edema stable. *Slightly different slice.


Day after surgery Lots of staples, and 3 plates/screws.


Today 3 plates/screws


So my follow-up with my surgeon on April 2nd, over 2 months after my surgery. Hey, lets do a craniotomy, now shoo shoo off into the world! To be honest though, it has all been absolutely fine and I haven’t needed to see a doctor asides from having my staples removed.¬†

I can finally get all my questions answered, GPs really don’t see (m)any brain surgery patients so can’t really answer anything with certainty…

  • How is my brain, my cerebral edema, my skull, my incision?
  • Am I officially 100% tumour free, and was it definitely WHO Grade 1?
  • Is the gaping hole in the middle of my head filled with brain again? Lets see that CT!
  • Give me a time-line on this no-smell thing! Plus, the persistent chemical smell is getting really really boring.¬†
  • When will the large areas on my head that have no feeling, sort out the nerve damage? When my head gets itchy, I can’t feel anything when I scratch. Its driving me bonkers!
  • Do I still have to sleep on a 30 degree angle? Your nurses put the fear of god in me when it comes to head drainage! I’d really like to go back to a single pillow.
  • When can I exercise again? More than walking that is, I’m talking getting back to spinning and running here.¬†
  • When can I ride a bike, or more specifically when is it ‘safe’ for me to fall off a bike?Will it ever be safe? ¬†I love my little Dahon, and hate the TTC.
  • When can I drink tea/caffeine again, and alcohol… when can I have a lovely glass of red again? Mmmmm Cabernet Sauvignon!
  • When can I fly? Life owes me that Parisian honeymoon that we had to cancel.
  • And I know neurosurgeons don’t care about vanity, but I’d like to know if ¬†I will always have a dent in my head, and when I can have a hair cut, and use styling products.¬†
  • When will I be able to go back to work? Right now I can’t even concentrate through a 2hr lecture and be able to function afterwards.

There will be many more questions by April…

I have a Mac both at home and at work, and if it wasn’t for Parallels I wouldn’t be able¬†to look at all those MRI and CT scan CDs that pass through my hands. Unfortunately I don’t like polluting my Macs with a virtual PC!¬†

Luckily I just came across this incredible software called OsiriX that not only allows you to view your MRIs and CTs, but it does a whole lot more than that. It shows you the standard flat slices, but also translates the original images into 3D, 4D, fly-through sequences, and SO much more. 

Even Apple is talking about it saying it can even be used through iChat AV, viewed on your iPod and in iTunes, stored and shared on iDisk, and also uses Quicktime VR.

Here are some examples:



3D Volume Rendering from CT (Quicktime)


You can go see many more examples of what the software can do here.

OsiriX is freeware and you can download it here.

Now I just have to go get copies of those scans again so I can try this out, you can guarantee my surgeon will want to keep the ones I have already given him!

Great link JTed.

Reality hits

December 16, 2008

So today I got to meet my neurosurgeon Dr. Muller. He works out of St. Michaels Hospital on Queen St., Toronto. I like him, he has a nice steady hand, and a gentle way about him… good thing considering he’ll be jiggling around with my brain. He has done 3000 brain surgeries, 1200 of which are meningiomas. I am in good hands.

He immediately sent me elsewhere in the hospital for another CT, this time with contrast solution. I sat around with an IV in my arm attached to a syringe full of saline until the CT machine and IV was ready for me. Having stuff hanging from your arm is quite distracting, looking around and seeing all the post-surgical patients wheeling by is even more so. Then I glanced at the bulky guy in the orange jumpsuit and handcuffs who was accompanied by 2 policemen… staring at the arm with the tubes was a much better option.¬†Once the CT machine was ready, they hooked me up to the contrast solution IV and more pictures of my head were taken. ¬†

Ten minutes later I was back upstairs looking at Dr. Mullers computer screen. There it was, a white blob 3cm across right between my frontal lobes. Up until this point I had daydreams that this was all something that happened while I was asleep last night, and that it wasn’t really happening to ME. Me, Sarah who runs half marathons, spins 3 times a week…

Roger and I finally got to ask all my questions, and he answered every single one. For some of them he laughed, and said I had done too much reading. Roger as usual was amazing and took notes, and asked even MORE questions.

It is benign.

It is a classic case.

It is in the best possible location.

It is treatable by surgery, possibly with radiation after.

If you are going to have a brain tumor, this is the one to have. 

I have it thanks to sheer bad luck.

There is a 7% chance of recurrence, so I will have MRIs for the rest of my life to keep an eye on it.

Surgery day is January 28th 2009. D-Day.

I will be off work for about 8 weeks.

I kinda wish I could go for coffee or something with my surgeon, I feel I should know him a little more. Alas, next time I see him will be in admissions. He has many more people like me to break the news to in the next month or so.

The doughnut

December 1, 2008

So I went for my CT scan. I had never been for one before, but it wasn’t as bad as my imagination led me to believe. You just lie there as the table slides in and out your head gets sliced into multiple pictures. That’s it, 5 minutes and it’s done.

Results in 5 days.