The third and fourth surgeries…

…are done. I am through the worst of it. And I’m OK.

So, the story: as you may recall, they were only able to implant me on the left side the first time. The week before the third surgery, I went in for a test run with the implant on the left side. The results were not so good–side effects at low voltages. Also Doctor Bakay reviewed the position of the electrode, and felt it was off by a bit, they decided that as long as they were going to be visiting the neighborhood of my brain, why not stop in on the left side?

All fine. Easier done now than later.

So I go in for the third procedure, implanting me on the right side. The first medical doctor who does anything to you in a procedure like this is the anesthesiologist. There’s this guy, a med student (Rush is a teaching hospital). I roll with it: he seems to know what he’s doing. At some point you have to get used to doctors younger than you, right? I mean, he’s fresh-faced, but he’s not a child.

He inserts the IV. He starts some of the anesthesia. I’m feeling pretty easy, but I’m not knocked out yet. He puts me in the halo, which is weird–not painful, but it’s odd feeling your skull pushed out of shape. Presumably they MRI me, again–by then I was under.

I wake up in the OR, with them poking around in my brain, first on the right, then back on the left, Dr. Verhagen manipulating me, more static, yada yada. I was comfortable until the end.

A few things happened around that time:

The familiar pain of the halo points started to come back. Oddly, it was the points in the front that seemed to bother me most this time;

Later they started stapling my scalp back together. Pulling it and stapling it together. While I was awake. Quite painfully. This was not how it went last time. At one point I asked ‘Why do I need to be awake for this?’ As in, give me a damn general already.

They gave me a local at that point, and explained that they couldn’t give me a general anesthetic. I think it was because they were switching to the left side.

At some point, they finished up there, and started stapling my scalp together in earnest. Again, quite painful. They sedated me–which is not the same thing as a general anesthetic. Their words: ‘You’ll feel it but you won’t care.’ Well, I did, quite a lot, in fact.

I made my displeasure apparent, but they kept trying to reassure me it was almost over. I don’t recall how long this went on–it certainly seemed long. It was not unbearable, but it wasn’t fun either. I had been under for this part in the previous surgery.

It was so bad, I did a bit of wrestling with the idea of a lawsuit. It’s a tricky thing–I’m a person who could easily and profitably abuse the legal system in this country. I’ve given it some thought–could be a pretty nice lifestyle. But it just seems wrong.

And this case–well, it’s close, but it really does seem to fall in-no-harm-no-foul territory. As awful as the experience was, I’m fine now. No evident injury… so I’m letting it go.

Anyway, went through that, got the usual excellent care from the nursing staff at Rush, went through the fourth surgery, to implant the battery on the right side. (Actually they went back and reimplanted a new battery on the left, too–something about wires not meeting.)

And I’m back at my parent’s place again. Getting a little stir crazy. Also a little weepy, similar to what I experienced before. Though with an edge of justification–something else to deal with.

I want to go back to my place soon. I want these damn staples out of my scalp! My appointment to get them pulled is next Tuesday. They’re tighter-spaced than they were before, and they stick out more, and more crookedly. And there are more of them… I have a row across the top of my head and a row behind and above each of my ears.

At least it’s still an even job–should heal well, probably better than I had expected from the previous surgery. I’ll have what looks like an incipient horn on the left side. On the right it should be reasonably smooth. Nothing you would notice if I didn’t point it out.
They finally turn the damn things on Friday, the 21st.



  1. John,

    I feel you with not suing the hospital, but I really hope you are going to make a formal complaint. This is not okay that you experienced that kind of care. I talked to several doctors and nurses and they all concured that it is an experience worthy of serious discusion with the hospital. I feel that you were tortured and that is not okay with me. Molly

  2. Hi John,
    Just so you know, you have a total of 65 staples in your skull right now. I counted. There are 36 in the large one across the top of your head and a total of 29 behind your ears. No wonder the neurologist told me, after the last surgery, that you were a “tough guy”.

    Thanks for being so tolerant of the anxious care your Dad and I imposed on you. It was painful to watch you go through all of this. It would have been worse if you weren’t “safe at home” where we could comfort ourselves by expressing our protective instincts. You may be 40 years old but you are still the best birthday gift I ever received.



  3. Your ordeal reminded me of when I was in the hospital and had a stent put in my right leg. They gave me a ‘sedative’ and it wore off frequently while they were reaming out the blood vessel in my leg (a clot or something). At one point it hurt so bad I lifted up on the table and they about freaked! After that they managed to give me plenty of ‘sedative’! I guess a few good screams might have got their attention sooner. Perhaps you could try it next time if they give you the same anesthesiologist. Cheers! Dottie

  4. How much longer before you know if this was all worthwhile? Very soon, I pray.
    Next time yell, scream, cuss a blue streak. You definately need to make the hospital aware of what happened. You may not, and then again, benifit from the disclosure but somebody else down the road very well might.
    Best for you in your recovery.

  5. John, Your attitude is enviable, and your detailed desriptions enthralling. I am left with impressive Frankenstein-like images, though I’m sure that’s not the look you’re after. 😉 Take care and Happy Holidays!

  6. It sounds like you received good care from skilled people, but it was really difficult reading about your stapling experience. That’s just wrong. Hang in there and heal quickly – I hope you’re able to be back in your Chicago home soon. Keep us posted. You’re a really, really strong person. Cathy

  7. Why feed trial lawyers for your pain. I agree with you. Lodge the complaint and move on. The battle is still at hand. By your account tomorrow is the big day, our thoughts and prayers are with you. All our hopes are that you will be the most succesful candidate to date. Some how we know you will be.

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