So I’m at the Epilepsy Center getting a post-surgery checkup with my surgeon- the most amazing doctor I have ever encountered, and I am thrilled repeating that every time I mention him- and he tells me he will begin taking out my staples. I’m a bit on the edge because I have never had staples before, but one of my friends who is a nurse told me that getting staples out is not painful at all, so I can handle this.
Dr. D, the best of the best and genius of all geniuses, first told me, “usually A-name [the main nurse practitioner and Dr. D’s assistant, also an amazing person] takes the staples out but she’s very busy at the hospital today so I am just going to do it this time,” as I recall him digging through the drawers for the “regular pliers.” Clearly, not his usual routine. Has he even removed staples here before? What is going on?!
he comes over with the pliers and I flip my hair to its old natural part instead of how I changed it to hide the scars and Dr. D starts in the spot that has been a sore spot in general and my eyes start tearing up. This isn’t painful at all??? It hurts!!!
Then he asked if I felt pain after I shouted, “OOH! That one hurt!” What do you think my response was with tears forming in my eyes? “Eh, it pinched a bit right there in that spot,” as if I am a champ… I did just have my whole head opened up, my skull removed and put in the freezer for 5 days, my head closed up with a staple gun (that most people use on the wall at work) with wires coming out of my brain, my head opened again with an extra opening this time to put in the iPod sized technology implant, a piece of my brain removed, and then got closed up with about 60 staples to heal well… so no big deal. Just removing 60 tiny staples from my healing head today. I can handle this.
Dr. D said to me, “This spot is a bit sensitive on your head because we had to do the extra cut and all the openings come together at this one point, so it may be a bit more sensitive there.”
Ok, so it’s worse in that one spot, that’s good, so maybe it won’t hurt as much in the others… but a BIT more sensitive with 58 more staples to go?! Jokes, right? As he moves further away, the pain does die down extremely and I let out a few sighs of relief. The last part I have left is the 7 on my left sideburn line by my ear (attractive, I know). Before Dr. D, the brilliant man, begins right there he casually tells me, “just be aware I am doing the side here and the majority of people with this tell me this part is the most painful of the staple removal process.” MORE PAIN THAN BEFORE?! What was my nurse friend talking about this zero pain on staple removal?
I calmly replied, “Alright, let’s just get it over with.” I felt the chilly metal plier-like tools on my sideburn line and began gripping my thighs with my knuckles turning white. He took the pliers off my head and put them back on a bit underneath and repeated again and again.
Dr. D tapped the side of my face 3 more times. “Is this side painful at all with the removal?”
Whoa. Wait a second, “You removed the staples on the side? I didn’t feel a thing! I thought you were just trying to make sure the pliers were in the right spot!”
“Yes, they are all out. That is usually the most painful part. Glad you didn’t feel any pain!” says Dr. D, the neurosurgeon of the century, seeming a bit confused about how I felt nothing. At least he’s the most positive person ever, enthusiastic I didn’t feel it. “Well, let me tell you, you’re healing looks fantastic. There are still some scabs on the lines and they are still raised some, but this is part of the healing process. These scabs will be falling off regularly so make sure you are still washing your hair well and gently. The raising will go down eventually as well. Looking great though, I am very impressed.”
Well could that news be much greater? I look fantastic and impressed the doctor of all doctors! Sticking to the title of the Champ today. So my dad whips out his phone to continue his over the top documentation of everything that goes on during this surgery process. He asks me if I want to see, and of course I do! I can’t ever see the side, top, and back of my head!
He hands me the phone and my jaw dropped. “What?! I’m missing this much hair?!?!” I didn’t know this much got shaved off! I thought I had 3 thin lines missing and that’s why I switched my natural hair part to cover it up. Literally I have a patch about 4 by 4 inches shaved from the top of my head along with the thin shaved lines.
“We unfortunately had to remove more hair than originally planned because we decided to implant the RNS. We kept it as minimal as possible,” Dr. D explained.
I paused with my over the top instinct response once Dr. D said that to me. I remembered coming home from the hospital and the next day removing the gauze-like head wrap I was wearing so I could wash my hair. I remember the first thing I noticed when I took it off was this tiny thin perfectly braided bit of hair on my left side above my ear wrapped up tightly in a bright blue long rubber band. Dr. D had taken that extra time during surgery to care about saving that thin string of hair to help cover up the scars once surgery was over because he knew how much I wanted my hair. Here I am frantic about this glob of hair missing on top of my head, yet that memory of the braid had shortly slipped away. Dr. D would do anything possible during this process to keep me looking as much like myself and healthy after surgery. Reflecting on that little tiny braid and how kind and caring and particular this one of a kind doctor made sure his work was perfection, I immediately became absolutely careless about what my hair now looked like. I couldn’t be happier.
I’m looking forward to the day my hair grows back about an inch just to stick straight up through my long hair. It’ll remind me again of the success of the surgery every day I try to keep that crazy hair under control getting ready to go out during the day with a smile on my face lacking the fear I’ll have my old regular daily seizures.