Surgery Prep – Day 1

Posted by Casey on February 12th, 2007


We met with the neuro-psychologists for cognitive testing. We started by having a very thorough discussion of any symptoms I’ve been experiencing… seizures, memory loss, etc. It was pretty lengthy, and I was actually surprised at how well the doctors asked me questions about symptoms that made me feel as if they already knew what I was going through. They also made me realize that some of my “symptoms” are just part of everyday life for any random person, and that I just make them bigger deals for no real reason (I’m a Virgo, so it all makes sense).

After the interview, my parents and sister were kicked out so that I could do the actual cognitive testing. If you ever have the chance, or maybe you’re just bored, go have this done. It’s like you get to be a kid again. They would read lists of words or numbers to me and have me repeat them. They would give me a little board with holes in it and have me put pegs in all the holes as quickly as I could. They would show me pictures and have me tell them what the picture was (I couldn’t remember what a compass & protractor were… oops). There were even building blocks! But the most interesting of all was when I was given a letter of the alphabet, and 60 seconds to name as many words as I could that started with that letter. Being a Scrabble fanatic, I thought I would shine. Given the letter “C”, I thought I’d REALLY shine. Wrong. I don’t think I even got 15 words. My memory shrunk to nothing and I didn’t even say “cookie”, or “candy”, or… or…

Again, I’m blank.

I’ll get results from that test sometime today, but basically it was just set as a baseline to measure any loss of cognitive skills post-surgery.

Later in the day we met with the anesthesiologist team. First for general screening to make sure I’m qualified for being put to sleep, and later for a very detailed description of the sequences I’ll go through during surgery. It was really intense. And only one visitor was allowed during this appointment. So Jill and I were feeling a little bit overwhelmed when it was done.

I’ll first be put to sleep under general anesthesia while the doctors do the incision and remove part of my skull for surgery. Once this is done, I’ll be awakened by the team with my head pinned in place, ready for the next steps. As a side note, the doctor asked me if I’m a mean drunk or a fun drunk and said it was actually an important question, as mean drunks tend to wake up from surgery and can be more aggressive in wanting to move around… something that can’t happen when you’re head is pinned in place for a major operation. Lucky for me, I’m not a mean drunk.

The doctors will then use an electrode to find where some of my brain function comes from… touching various spots to see if I lose certain functions and using those responses, along with a detailed MRI, to map out exactly where they can remove tumor. Eeek! Once they’ve removed the tumor (or as much as they can), they’ll put me back to sleep and finish up the work, putting me back together, etc. This is the simplest detail I can give without explaining in person, so I’ll leave it at that.

He also explained why it’s important for me to be awake. As they’re doing the electrode mapping, and as they’re making incisions, I’ll be able to quickly tell if something doesn’t feel right. I’ll also be reading cards, naming images (similar to the cognitive testing above) and should anything feel wrong, or if I can’t respond correctly, they’ll be more able to avoid removing necessary parts of my brain. Avoiding these parts means less function I have to re-learn later. And it’s a general rule that no more than 50% of lost function can be re-learned. So it’s their goal (obviously) to minimize this. Again, more detail to share, but too difficult to type it all out right now.

It was a pretty long day. But more brilliant doctors and good information make me feel safe moving forward. For Tuesday, I meet with the surgeon and have my final detailed MRI. I’ll update on those later.

Love you and miss you!

7 Responses to “Surgery Prep – Day 1”

  1. “Hey Casey

    Nice to know y’all got to Houston safely. I drove down to Houston at 1 AM Monday to deliver some product, thought about driving Big Red (what a name for my Texas Truck) over to M.D. after reading about your busy schedule and the fact they probably would not like a Big Red Truck taking up space it was a good decision to drive to S.A. Jan and I will keep you in our thoughts and prayers.”

  2. “Hi Casey
    Just want you to know you and your family are in my prayers. I’ve got Kizzy Bell on the job so know you are in good hands – she seems to have a direct line to the Big Guy.”

  3. “hey casey,
    just catching up on your blog. thanks again for sharing everything about your experience. i’m looking forward to hearing about the surgery, and to seeing where your story goes from here. it’s a good one–keep telling it. Cky”

  4. "Burger and Fries"

    “Hey Casey! I am so glad to read this and know that you have the best possible care. I miss your smiling face around here! I’ve been thinking about our delicious lunch we had on Friday and our nice chat. I’m doing my best to keep it real back at the ranch. Looking forward to seeing you soon. -Josh”

  5. “Hi Casey

    Just want you to know that we love you and are praying for you and your family……… Keep us informed. Also, we need to play cards again at Easter and win all our $$$ back…

    Teresa, Todd, Josh & Niki”

  6. "Chicago kiddo"

    “Hey Case – good luck tomorrow. You’ll be in my thoughts and prayers all day. I hope everything goes well. Just remember to bring it. Go Toros! Lots of love. – Aaron (the one in Chicago).”

  7. “Dear Casey,

    You have made this Valentines Day a very special one. Your spirit and courage makes us look more deeply into our own lives. We feel very blessed to have you as our nephew. We are looking forward to fun times ahead. Our prayers are with you through your surgery tomorrow.”