Rock Star Neurosurgeon

Sometime on Friday morning, I was told two things. First, they were going to find me a private room, so I didn’t have to listen to the moaning roommate any longer. Second, I should expect a visit soon from someone from Dr. G’s team. Ativan, this morning? Why, yes, I think I will. Thank you.

Matt arrived at some point. Eldest son was at school. I have no idea where the other two were, although I assume I knew at the time. Did my 5-year-old go to preschool that day? I know Cheryl took him a couple of times.

A woman about my mom’s age came into my room and introduced herself as Glenna. At least I think her name was Glenna. I’m going to call her Glenna. It kind of sounds like Glenda, the Good Witch of the North and she had that “good witch” presence about her. She told me that Dr. G was at the hospital and would be in to meet me soon, then she said something along the lines of “Now, I need to warn you about Dr. G . . .” Ruh-roh. That doesn’t sound good. She went on to explain to Matt and I that Dr. G. was by far the most talented neurosurgeon she had ever met, but that he is severely lacking in social skills and often comes across as brusque, overbearing and uncaring and that patients are often put off by him. “He’s not really,” she assured us, “it’s just that all of his energy and focus is in his surgical skills, not his people skills.” She left with a promise to return with Dr. G. soon.

Dr. G. burst into the room on a cloud of energy. Well, not really. I wasn’t hallucinating (not yet, anyway), but you’ve met people like that. People who practically burst with energy. My middle son is like that sometimes. He began, as my son often does, in the middle. While I have no problem wildly misquoting most people I met while at the hospital, I won’t do it to a neurosurgeon, but he basically told us that he thought I was far too young for Dr. Z’s plan. If I were in my 60s, placing a shunt and watching the tumor would make sense, but I was only 36. He suggested something more radical. He thought I was young and strong enough that he could operate and remove the tumor. Then, I wouldn’t have to spend the rest of my life waiting for the proverbial other shoe to drop if the tumor began to change and he thought that there was a good chance it could. Surgery was risky. Surgery was aggressive. But he was sure he could do it. I don’t know what I asked him. I don’t know what Matt asked him. I only know that within a couple of minutes we had agreed to the surgery, which couldn’t be scheduled until the 8th due to other surgeries. “Can I go home and come back?” I asked. “Not with hydrocephalus,” he said. Then, Dr. G. shook our hands and burst out the door on the same cloud of energy he burst in on.

Glenna lingered. “He seemed fine,” I said. “Yes, he did,” she agreed. “He’s having a good day.” Then she rushed after him. He was probably already in another wing having traversed the hospital in those 5 seconds she stayed behind. Matt and I started laughing. What was that? We began to discuss other people we had met in our lives who might have benefitted from having an entourage precede them to excuse their poor social skills. It really didn’t bother us. He wasn’t there to be our friend. He was there to cut my skull open and take out a tumor. And I’ll say that, in the days that followed, he actually met our boys a couple of times and was surprisingly good with them.

I wondered, for the first time, whether they would shave my head. I had this thing about my hair. When I was little, I didn’t like to have it combed. Combine that with a mother who was consciously striving to raise an androgynous child (I had the best Star Wars collection on the block), and it’s easy to see why I was forced to keep it short until I was about 11 and finally put my foot down. Except for a quick flirt with “the Rachel” during college, it’s been long ever since. It wasn’t perfect. It was up more than it was down and I had, about a year before, decided to try bangs and didn’t know how to get out of them, but having my head shaved was not the solution I was looking for.

Facebook is a funny place. The night I was admitted, I posted a brief status update explaining the situation and asking for prayers. The following night, after meeting Dr. G., I posted the new plan for surgery. Within a few hours, a friend from high school had sent me a message saying that a friend of hers had undergone pineal gland surgery as well and she put me in contact with her over FB. We exchanged messages. She told me that a portion of her head was shaved, but not all of it and gave me some idea of what to expect after surgery. She was tired. It took several weeks before she felt like herself again, but her recovery was complete. It was a great relief. We’re still FB friends. Amazing world we live in.

Late that afternoon, my grandfather showed up. When my mom had called him from the road, he had decided to hop a plane and head out from New Mexico. Because he flew, he beat my mom and stepdad by a full 24 hours. He rented a car at the airport and somehow found his way to the hospital, then somehow found me. Now my husband was going to be taking care of a wife in the ICU, a house on the market, three boys and a 78-year-old man who is very healthy, but gets confused when he’s not on his home turf. I sent them off to pick up the kids. Ativan? Why, yes, I think I will.


2 thoughts on “Rock Star Neurosurgeon

  1. Pingback: Family Reunion | The Missing Month of May

  2. Pingback: A Hallway in Europe | The Missing Month of May

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