Monday, May 21, 2007

Surgical Rotation & Post-Op

As I mentioned previously, Jim went thru two brain surgeries, but not before lots of testing. After having a seizure and running in to two parked cars, having his license pulled in error by the court judge, and suffereing with depression, Jim was referred by Dr. Speckmier to Scott & White Hospital in Temple to a neurologist. Next he was referred for tests at Parkland Hospital in Dallas, where he was confined to the hospital for a week with no drugs, as they tried to induce a seizure to see its origination.

Next he was referred to Dr. Harvey at Medical City, Dallas, a neurologist and Dr. Mickey, a neurosurgeon. After more testing and trying different drugs, Jim was scheduled for surgery to remove scar tissue in the hippacampus(sp?) portion of the brain. The surgery was conducted at Zale-Lipshey in Dallas. I think the surgery lasted for about 7 hours, after having been delayed from early to late morning. Jim's family and Pastor & Mrs. Albers came up for the surgery, only going home after he came out and was awake. Mrs. Dutschmann and I stayed with Aunt Millie & Uncle Lee for a night or two.

Jim came home with a scar and partially shaved head plus an area from which they removed a cyst, not to mention a swollen forearm where an IV infiltrated and blistered. I think that was the worst part. It was really painful for Jim and such a pain to change the dressing/keep it dry/keep it elevated. He was proud, though, to scare the trick or treaters at Halloween, looking like Frankenstein with a black eye. He had to stay on seizure medication, though a lighter dose, following the surgery, plus he tried several different sleep medications. He would revisit with Dr. Harvey on a regular basis, mostly to report documented seizures and other symptoms.

Please forgive me if some of this information runs together, but that's the best I can do. It seems like after about 14 months of not having a seizure, Jim was declared 'seizure free'. Of course he was elated, but I was guardedly happy. Since Jim would not say when he felt a seizure was coming on, it was difficult to determine if he had 'a spell' if I was not around. He was embarrassed to say anything, plus being disheartened that the surgery may have failed. After having further seizures at some point beyond the 14 months, Jim went back for further examinations by Dr. Mickey and Dr. Harvey. It was determined that more surgery could help, that possibly there was more scar tissue. Following a second surgery - with no infiltrations this time - Jim came home to recuperate again. He had to overcome sleep disturbances from the sedation, again with trying different medications, some with side effects. He was tired of taking the seizure medication and asked Dr. Harvey to take him off all together - but Dr. Harvey wanted to leave him on as he was successful with no seizures. He would try to slowly decrease and end the meds eventually.

Jim was such a witness to the power of prayer and the love of God during his surgeries. He never hesitated to share his story, even though he didn't like to talk 'in public'. I was proud that he did so, though, during Bible class one Sunday.

During the time Jim was going through the seizures and the first surgery, Jim's job changed when the gas company merged with the electric company. The gas company had been good to Jim, working him in a less stressful job of being 'on the phones' answering customer calls. He was setting up city inspections and working with folks in Dallas via telephone. I provided Jim's transportation when he could not drive - to and from work - dr. appointments - anywhere he wanted to go. He felt like 'less of a man' because he had to ask for a ride. Sure, I got tired of it, especially when he would keep me waiting - but hey, I was his wife and if he couldn't count on me, what would that be?

Maybe I was too much the 'caregiver', wanting him to be okay. I didn't mind doing things for him, but he was independent, too. Somehow I think we were co-dependent. I needed him to need me, and I wanted him to need me. He depended on me. When he started work for the electric company, he started working overtime and setting 'his money' aside. Each pay period, he would take X amount of dollars and set it aside for: Car tags; Lindsey's wedding fund; and I can't remember what else. Yes, he could save money. I was not the saver, though I was the one who paid the bills. He did not like to do so, because when he saw less than $300 in the checking account, he thought we were poor and he got depressed.

Soon it became more than just the three or four 'envelopes' or 'jars' he was saving for...he took more money from the account - as it "was HIS OVERTIME", to set aside for things I would find out about later. Granted, some of these things were jewelry for me - which I loved, but did not need. I found out later though that he would talk about his purchases at work and the ladies there would say that he 'spoiled me', and gave him the big head for doing so. He would buy them little things, like Christmas treats for them, and they in return, bought him a gift card signed 'from your harem'. He always liked anticipating a reaction from giving a gift, so I imagine he got lots of that at work. I unfortunately tended to think of the 'bank balance' when he bought diamonds and stocked up on so much stuff. I think that money became the root of our problems.

I can't recall exactly when Jim had his 'crisis', but it was before I came to BU. He told me one night that he was going to die, that the angel of death would be passing over the house and bring him to heaven. I tried reasoning with him, trying to calm him down, and at one time I thought he was just kidding - but he was not. He was serious. He had me bring the kids in so he could 'tell them goodbye' which of course sent them to tears. I tried to explain to them that Daddy was depressed and this is how he was expressing it. I called his Mom, his sisters and brother, and they came over - still trying to talk some sense into him. I called Pastor, but he could not come. I remember calling my boss and telling him I would not be in the next day, because I anticipated a long, long night. I remember calling Dr. Harvey and he suggested that I talk to Dr. Speckmiear about getting him some help as Jim seemed suicidal, though he didn't mention taking his own life. So that's what I did the next morning and that was his first trip and stay at DePaul. I think he was there about a week or so.

Some time after I started work at BU, time Jim collapsed during the night when I got up to take care of Lindsey who was throwing up. He appeared to have fainted and almost hit his head on the dresser. It happened twice, him just falling with a 'thud'. I found out the next day that the medication he was on could cause a drop in blood pressure, causing the 'fainting'. He didn't want to change medication again - because then he would have to adjust to it. We made follow up appointments with the doctor at DePaul - which turned out alot like the previous doctor visits. Jim didn't want to listen to the doctor, saying he didn't like him. The doctor told him straight out that he didn't care if he didn't like him, and that it was his choice as to take his advice and change medicine. Jim had a relapse and wanted to 'end it all', landing him back in DePaul for a week or so. Dad went to visit him and noted that when looking thru the visitor's door, Jim was interracting with others and laughing. When Dad went in to visit, however, Jim became very withdrawn and said no one would talk to him. Jim also did not want to participate in the group sessions, including the one that the kids, Steph and Anna came to. I took the kids to visit him a couple of times and we played cards. He did not like being there and didn't think he had a problem.

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