Julie snapped this picture of Lake Union, Queen Anne and the Space Needle from the passenger seat as we headed toward a doctor’s appointment today, southbound I-5. It was a perfect fall afternoon, mid-60s and cloudless.
It occurred to me, taking the dog out tonight, that I’d miscalculated his age the other day. He was born in 1997, making him 13, not 14. He’s still an elder dog, this makes absolutely no difference to him or you or anyone else but me, and only then because it’s one of those simple errors I’ve gotten used to over the past month. It’s been strange.
We went in today, 4 weeks to the day after Julie’s surgery, for a followup appointment with the neurosurgeons. From the first questions from the medical assistant, just updating the chart, I knew it would be interesting.
“Are you still taking the pain medication?” she asked.
“Oh, no,” Julie answered, “not since I came home.”
Aack. For nearly 10 days I sweated out the narcotics, worried that she was taking too many, taking too few, taking them and forgetting and forgetting she forgot. She had somehow picked medication to argue with me about, to swear she was still supposed to be taking the Decadron or was supposed to be done taking the Dilantin, didn’t understand the fiber supplement, didn’t grasp the as-needed nature of narcotics and swore she had to take them every 4 hours on the hour, or every 2, or every 6, something. For nearly 10 days this was my nightmare, as I watched her slide in and out of coherence, sometimes talking nonstop with nonsense words, arguing with me, being silly, taking endless pictures of her incision site with her cellphone and sending them to friends, doing crosswords puzzles and sometimes, for a period, forgetting how to read. Not since I came home
She lost two weeks of her life, more or less, not a bad bargain for a brain tumor. As time goes on, I’m sure we’ll laugh and talk about those days, focus on the goofy things and let the fear fade away, where it belongs. But oh boy. I was there.
And then one day she decided she’d see how long she could go without pain medication, and she never took another pill. That most definitely wasn’t the whole cause of her confusion, etc., and she’s had bad days since, but things began to improve after that. I am witness, then.
So this was a clean bill of health, today. She’s doing remarkably well, rarely has confusion anymore and is slowly returning to work. It will probably be six months, we were told, before she’s 100%, but she will get there.
She can try driving a little even now, with me in the car, but can’t solo for another week or so until she’s weaned off her seizure meds. Washington State doesn’t have a law against driving following a craniotomy, but the medication can mess with you.
She’s had a little return of her lost vision on the left side, and this is probably a sign more will return, all good news.
And we’ll start the radiation process next week with an initial appointment. At some point in a few weeks, she’ll start multiple sessions with the Cyber Knife, pinpoint radiation to nick away the rest of the tumor, 30 minutes a session, probably 5 sessions in a row, no side effects expected, simple and easy.
At some point next year, God willing, our dog will actually turn 14. He’ll still be old. I’ll still be here. We’ll be so far past this, I know, that it will almost never come up. It will just be another adventure we went through, a lot of it chronicled here and other places online, a lot of it stored in what passes for my brain. I’ll still be grateful that it went the way it did, that we were lucky ones, that we survived and stayed, that friends and family kept us strong, that sleep eventually returned and routines came back and life went on.
This was a good day, then, today. Maybe the last time I feel the need or urge to update the situation in this space, or any space. Now we have the mundane stuff, the bills to pay, and so on. What she doesn’t remember will not matter, and what I do won’t really, either. Fall is here, the leaves are changing, it’s getting brisker, and holidays are on their way, along with family, which, in fact, inspired the very last question.
“My daughter wants to know if I can drink wine at Thanksgiving,” Julie asked the surgeon.
“We encourage it,” he said.