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Dec 22, 2017 Latest post:
Jan 19, 2018
Welcome to Rick's CaringBridge website. We are using it to keep family and friends updated in one place. We appreciate your support and words of hope and encouragement. Thank you for visiting.
On Tuesday, December 12th, Rick went in for a craniotomy (brain surgery) to remove a benign tumor, otherwise known as an acoustic neuroma, that was sitting on his vestibulocochlear nerve. This surgery, like most, came with many risks - loss of hearing in the left ear and facial weakness on the left side of the face were the major risk factors involved.
Going into the operation, we expected a 6 day recovery process. 3 days in ICU, and 3 days on a general floor. We expected him home by Monday, December 18th. For this reason, we didn't feel the need to tell too many people about the surgery. Rick was worried about the facial risks involved, and didn't want people seeing him that way.
Overall, the initial surgery went as planned for the most part. The surgeon was able to remove 98-99% of the tumor, however, he was not able to recover the facial nerve. This caused acute facial weakness (or droop) to the left side of his face, which affects his ability open and close his eye, raise his eyebrow, move the left side of his mouth, etc. This was expected to some extent. All of this aside, he was as responsive and alert as one can be after a surgery of this caliber. He maintained strength in his limbs and extremities as well as maintaining his brain function.
Moving forward in recovery, Rick was getting better each day. Wednesday, Thursday, and Friday in the ICU went fairly smoothly. They were watching his blood pressure and heart rate, and working on his swallowing so he could eat and drink normally again. Speech therapy came in on Thursday to do a bedside and video x-ray exam, but due to post-surgery weakness, he didn't pass either exam.
Saturday morning, we noticed a significant decline in his condition. He was much more lethargic than usual, his strength had diminished, and we couldn't understand anything he was saying. They ordered a CT scan, which came back showing swelling on his brain causing intracranial pressure. To relieve this, they inserted an EVD (external ventricular drain) catheter to drain the cerebrospinal fluid from around his brain. They monitored the drain for a few hours, but after seeing that no fluid was draining, they ordered another CT scan.
The scan came back with more swelling than they saw earlier in the day, so they immediately took him back for a second surgery. The surgeon removed the bone plate from the left side of brain where the cerebellum is located to allow his brain to swell outward rather than inward. The surgery went well, and he was already more alert and strong, and his speech returned. They kept the EVD in to assist in draining the CSF throughout his time in ICU. Although he'd become paranoid and aggravated, his brain was functioning, and he was recovering.
Recovery was going well until Monday, December 18th. He became very lethargic again, and his speech started to slip back into mumbles. They ordered another CT scan, and found that the other side (right side) of his brain was swelling. The surgeon decided at that time to go back in a third time, and remove the bone from the right side of his head. This allowed his entire backside of his cerebellum to swell outward.
Since then, recovery is going much better. His speech, strength, and alertness have returned. He remains slightly confused and paranoid about his situation, but that is normal after these kind of surgeries. Right now we are working on the strength in his throat, so he can eat and drink normally. He'll be given another swallow exam tomorrow (Thursday, December 21st).
We cannot thank everyone enough for the support and prayers we have already received. We ask that you continue to keep our family in your thoughts and prayers, as we aren't completely through this yet. We still have quite a long road ahead of us, with at least another week left in ICU and more time after that in a general room. We'll be utilizing this website from here on out to give updates.