Mark was admitted through the ER last night. Over the weekend, he had developed a sore throat and a cough — the tiniest of Covid symptoms, really — and to his absolute disapproval, I called the pre-op number and told them. “Who brainwashed you?!” he had blurted out after I had called the doctor last week to report the red spot in his forehead dent, leading to this whole surgery. He really, really does not trust my medical judgement. And I had just proven to him again to be unreliable.
It was Sunday at 9:30 am when I got through to pre-op and we were asked to come in for a Covid test and direct admit. Mark agreed to leave our house at 4:30 pm. Okay. I waited. Once we got to the ER, the neurosurgery resident reported that if the test was positive, the surgery would be postponed. “Because it would be harder for him to recover?” I asked. “Because Covid is so complex,” he explained. It lives in your respiratory system, but its effect is systemic. He said if Mark had the flu, or a cold, they’d go ahead. “Last week we had a 47 year old man with no other health conditions who contracted Covid. He had a stroke that wiped out the left side of his brain.” “We need Mark at his best,” he continued, “because this is a serious surgery.”
At 9:30pm, the test came back negative for Covid. The great news was that Mark could have his craniotomy on Monday. I kissed him goodbye after he was admitted. That’s some strange great news, I thought as I drove home.
The surgery took three hours today, which honestly is easy-breezy for what Mark has gone through before. Both the neurosurgeon and ENT surgeon came out to tell me it went well. The ENT surgeon was pleased to see that Mark’s skull base graft, placed in August, is healing slowly but surely. They removed the dead bone and other dead tissue, sent cultures to pathology, and sent Mark to the neuro floor to recover.
Don’t you wonder what someone looks like after brain surgery? Well, today it was like a sleeping baby. It was like this.
Do you remember the little cap they put on newborns? That’s what they do after neurosurgery. They cap them. They snuggle them up with blankets. They bring water. They speak softly. They put important signs on the door to make sure everyone knows what to do.
I mean, Mark does do some aggressive nose blowing. He’s never been a spitter. Thank God.
I can see the hints of what Mark’s head will look like. It’s swollen now, of course. I can see that there is bone above his eyebrows that is the high point. Last summer, my daughter Anya (they/them) and I went camping using French military surplus pup tents that we had each purchased from some website they had found with inexpensive camping gear. Anya is a perfectionist who actually is often perfect, and I am a perfectionist is almost never perfect. Their pup tent was taut. My pup tent looked like….well, it looked like what I think Mark’s forehead will look like. A sag between two high points.
The infectious disease doctor came in this afternoon. She asked lots of questions about the home environment, the health of Mark’s surroundings in people, in animals, in any exposure to bacteria. The pathology will take days to come back. Of all the strange wonders of the medical world, one of them to me is that they still have to wait for bacteria to grow into colonies in order to identify what they are dealing with. I mean, I am teaching 8th graders this right now. And yet, it strikes me as so primitive that we have to wait on bacteria to replicate and tell us who they are.
Once the doctor knows, she will prescribe the next course of action. One potential is that Mark will come home with a pic line, and for six weeks I will administer an antibiotic.
Okay, sure, I can learn how to do that. Right? Right.
Tomorrow, because Mark is a fall risk and a guy without 100% of his skull, they may want him to wear a helmet. To which I say, good luck, Presby staff. May God be with you in trying to get him to comply with THAT.
Mark told me he misses our Pandemic Puppy, Robert. It was a hard thing to listen to Mark say goodbye to each of his boys on Sunday. It was a hard thing to watch him wrap up Robert in a blanket and kiss his little head goodbye. “I’ll see Robert tomorrow,” Mark said this afternoon. I took that as my cue to say goodbye for the night. I mean, hopefully not, as I know they think he needs to stay for three or four days. Also, who knows what will happen when Mark wakes up potentially feeling okay tomorrow.
Tomorrow. Well, I am not there yet. I am at home on the couch, tonight. I am going to drink a glass of wine, watch some dumb TV, avoid the news, and wait for sleep to come.
Tomorrow will come, and when it does, I’ll be there.