Tuesday, September 29, 2009

You won't guess where I am right now.

I do apologize for not posting so much lately, but when I tell you what's going on, you'll understand.

I'm in Duke Hospital. I'm having another brain surgery tomorrow. That shunt I got put in last month is already malfunctioning.

I've had a headache constantly since Friday morning. Last night, it got progressively worse, and I also got abdominal pains that started and went to excruciating in about 5 minutes. (Those went away, though, so no worries about that.) Well, the two pains last night got to the point where I was sobbing. And let me tell you, with all that I've been through, if I'm crying from pain, it's really bad. I was kind of freaking out and couldn't really think, so I went outside and called my mom. She told me to go to my Resident Director (RD), Brittany, and get her to call an ambulance. She called me back a couple minutes later and told me to get the ambulance to take me to Duke, because as it turns out she called Duke in those couple of minutes, and my neurosurgeon, Dr. F was here and told her that I should go to him.

Well, the ambulance people got to my dorm finally, and my RD and RA were both there with me as they went through all of the typical paramedic duties. I told them that my mom told me I should go to Duke because that's where my doctor is, and they told me I'd have to wait for a transport truck from a town about 20 minutes away. I talked to my mom, she said yes I should do that, so they called the transport people. Here's something ironic: the transport people were on their way back from Duke. Go figure.

The kind of sucky thing in this situation was that my mom was 2.5 hours away. The good thing is that Holly was in Raleigh, much, much closer. My mom called her at the very beginning of all this, and thank God she caught her right before Holly went to bed after a long shift at her restaurant. Holly got to Duke just minutes before I did at about 3 am. She said she didn't feel very good, and I knew she was exhausted, but she didn't seem to mind because she knew I needed her, and she had a blanket and there was a rocking chair in the room. She slept a lot more than I did last night. ;-) But the important thing was that she was there. I get really freaked out and really upset if I'm alone at the hospital.

There was a super nice pediatric doc in the ER, and she was totally understanding about me needing pain meds and fast, and she told me not to worry when I explained to her about how Dr. F and his nurse were so iffy about giving me more meds a week after I got out of the hospital. It was good. So I got a "triple cocktail" (as one nurse called it) of Benadryl, Morphine, and some other drug I didn't recognize and don't remember. I finally got some sleep thanks to that.

8 am or so (I think, remember I was doped up beyond belief), I got an X-ray series on my shunt, and then a CT scan of my head. Those turned out normal, so I was told I had to get a "flow test" to test and make sure that fluid could run through it properly. Have you ever had a needle stuck into the back of your skull? I now have. Trust me; it's not fun. Once the needle was in, they took out some fluid in order to run tests on it, then the tech lady shot some radioactive material into it so they could take pictures to see how things were running. I didn't know the results of it for a while...

Holly left soon after that, and I slept some more until they told me that I was getting admitted. All they told me was that the pressure was too high, and that I would be transported up to the 5th floor, into my regular unit. A doc came in and said it looked like I'd be having surgery, but she wasn't sure, but that Dr. F would be in later. At 3, Mom called and said she was just leaving to come up here and would be here about 6. All right. About 5, Dr. F came into my room and he explained that I would definitely have to have surgery because the shunt was somehow malfunctioning. The "opening pressure" setting (don't ask, I don't know what that is exactly) was supposed to be 14, and the flow test from this morning showed it to be 35. Friends, that's bad.

So tomorrow about 4:30 pm, he is going to go in, unscrew the valve of the shunt that is in my brain ventricle, inject fluid into the tubing that runs down into my abdomen, and see if it flows properly. If it does, it means that the valve is what is malfunctioning and he can just replace that and be done. If it doesn't flow properly, it means that the tubing is the issue and he'll also have to cut back into my abdomen and do a full shunt replacement. So fingers crossed that it's the first, the easier, of the two options, eh?

Because of how bad the first surgery I had last month turned out, I'll admit I'm kind of terrified and frustrated that this is happening now, but I'm trying to be calm. I'm trying to remember that God is doing this for a reason, because He knows every detail of what's going to happen in my life good or bad, and He'll protect me. But it's hard. Satan keeps bringing back the memories of how I got that blood clot, how I lost my short-term memory temporarily, how I threw up for two straight days, and I'm scared.

I really need your prayers, friends. For peace. For comfort. For Dr. F's hands to be guided tomorrow. For no complications. For a successful surgery the first time. For no blowing IVs, let alone five. For fear to go away.

Thanks so much in advance for all prayers on my behalf.


  1. THANK YOU so much, Mal, for letting us know what's happening. I understand how frightened you are feeling, and at the same time, I am so proud of you for knowing that Satan is trying to hold you back with that fear. Our prayers will surround you as you face this, Mal, you're not alone.

    I'm so proud of you... keep your chin up, you're doing great considering everything you're going through.


  2. Dear Heavenly Father,
    I ask tonight for Mallory that you would reach down into that hospital room and take her into YOUR loving arms. That she will find peace and comfort there and that the fear that is overwhelming her would subside. I pray also for the doctors, nurses, rad techs even the hospital staff who push papers and prepare food, Lord, that You would BLESS them. Bless their lives, their families, their work day. Bless their minds with clarity and understanding and allow them to do ONLY your perfect will for Mallory. God we ask that you would be with Mallory as she goes into the OR, has the surgery and comes back out. We ask that YOU will control that OR and that this will be an EASY, SIMPLE, and quick surgery. We ask that YOU would be the ULTIMATE narcotic and help in controlling her pain. We ask that YOU would speed her recovery and allow her body to heal so that she can be back to her life as soon as possible.

    In your name we pray...

  3. I'm going to ditto your other two friends - they said it more eloquently than I could...

    Keep us posted.

  4. Glad the surgery was successful, Mallory. That's a huge answer to prayer... I hope you heal and rest well, and that you'll be back in College sooner than expected :)

  5. Ive been keeping up with you on Twitter and have been praying for you. Praying for a SPEEDY recovery.