July 24, 2010

Craniotomy Part 1: How Krang was Invaded and Diagnosed

My tumor has been named, in a manner that I consider to be quite fitting, after Krang from the Ninja Turtles. I only became familiar with this character as an adult, since I never watched the show as a kid. I was struck by what a disgusting and repulsive cartoon character Krang truly is. He is a wrinkly, pink brain with two angry eyes, a twisted mouth, and two nasty tentacles branching out on either side. When he speaks, it sounds like sheet metal being torn in half. He is always plotting evil schemes to take over our world.
And so Krang is now the name of my tumor, as I can easily imagine it plotting and hissing away up in my head (an inside job of sorts).

A Description by James
On Thursday, Jessica went into Health Sciences Centre for a biopsy. We arrived at the hospital at 5:45 am, when even the worms know they have nothing to fear, because the early birds are still hitting the snooze button.

The procedure began when the surgeon mounted a metal frame on Jessica’s head. It was held in place by four metal pins, each one sharpened to a fine point. At each point, the doctor injected so much freezing that her scalp was bubbling up. As the doctor tightened the pins, the points pressed through her scalp until they connected solidly with her skull beneath.

Sufficed to say, this was neither pleasant for Jessica to endure or for me to watch. However, I was amazed at Jessica’s ability to remained composed, eyes closed, hands folded in her lap. Only once did she draw her breath in sharply, and when she finally spoke, it was just to let the doctor know that some of the freezing was trickling into her eye.

The whole purpose of this contraption being mounted on her skull was to provide the doctors with “frame” of reference (pardon the pun). Because the doctors must insert needles into the brain, they want to have as much accuracy as possible. The frame allows them to pinpoint the location of the insertion to within less than one millimeter.
Once the frame was successfully mounted, Jess went through another MRI scan. She was then wheeled off towards the surgery room, and I went to sit in the waiting room (a place I will become more acquainted with in the future, no doubt).
The surgery went well, and within a few hours, I joined Jess in the step-down room, where she recovered over the next 24 hours. She stayed the night in the hospital so that the hospital staff could monitor her vitals. She also had a EEG test done. This involved hooking up a fistful of wires to her scalp and monitoring the electrical activity in her brain.

The EEG is an interesting test to watch on the screen. It reminds me a bit of watching a seismograph or a polygraph test (neither of which I have actually seen in real life, but abundantly in movies…) Each region of the brain provides a squiggly line with means something to a trained specialist. To me, the untrained un-specialist, it was just interesting to watch all the lines go crazy whenever Jessica did something as simple as move her eyes or blink. This is because the electrical output of the brain spikes during any muscle movement.

The results of this test showed no abnormal signs, other than the obvious presence of a tumour. She was then permitted to go home, where we have been resting up.
And now, without further ado, here is Jessica’s version…

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