Monday, January 25, 2016

Pumphead and Chocolate Pudding

So now there’s a new adverse effect I need to be aware of after this surgery, and it’s frequently known as “pumphead.” (Yes, it makes it sound like I'm some weightlifter on Venice Beach in the 1980's.)
Otherwise known as postperfusion syndrome, this effect is thought to be brought upon by the lengthy stay on the heart-lung machine (bypass machine) during surgery. As my heart will have to be stopped, the machine oxygenates my blood and circulates it much as my heart and lungs do normally. Unfortunately, the brain does not always receive the appropriate pressure and oxygenation during this bypass, leading to cognitive deficits such as memory loss, slower processing, and other issues. Evidently, from my reading of blogs and medical literature, this is quite common and affects each patient differently. I’ll be requesting more thoughts from my medical team as I see them individually. While I can deal with the physical limitations of the surgery, I’m having a hard time imagining trying to remember names or words… and I’m having a hard time imagining what it might do to my mental capacity for my work as a registered nurse. I can only hope that this effect won’t occur, and if it does, it will be minimal. I guess it’s time to look into brain exercises to do afterwards. J 
Petting Larry, my parents cat, should qualify as mental exercise.
I know I mentioned before that I would be posting photos of my visitors and their gifts, however I have changed my mind on that for now. The outpouring of love and support is what keeps me going much of the time, and I wish to contain that, somewhat selfishly, for now. I hold it very close and will share it openly sometime in the future but, at this time, I view these photos at the times that are particularly rough. Especially this one...
My Irish twin asked her brother to bake me an open heart bread. <3
I love her for this.
In my continuous planning for the (unknown) date of surgery, I am on the hunt for a recliner. Since this is a piece of furniture that I will be glued to for weeks at a time, it needs to be a power recliner and very comfortable. I will be limited in my pushing and pulling allowances, so an easy-to-reach mechanism is important, as is fluffiness and ease of repositioning. My folks already have quite the array of medical equipment … I’m already using a shower chair due to the shortness of breath, and I have to tell you that I love that thing. It’s so nice being able to wash my hair without feeling that I’m going to fall over.  

I’m also fighting with my nutrition at the moment. Since my first surgery and subsequent hospitalization in December, my appetite has been diminished. While this is normal since I’m not moving at the speed of light like before, I was still surprised to see that my calorie counts have been well under 1,000 a day for the past few weeks. I am focusing on more nutritious foods now and not worrying (trying not to) about the calorie count; I still ensure some extra good fats such as avocado in order to be sure I don’t go into starvation mode… I am determined to get my body into the best possible health well before this operation. Still, I do have treats… chocolate pudding is a favorite. Dad always brings me some when he goes to the grocery store. He’s rad like that.
Avocados and chocolate pudding. Breakfast of champions.

I’ve asked a friend of my sister’s for a photo session after I recover from the surgery. She’s an incredible photographer, and has agreed to help me celebrate a new life as well as possibly showcasing the scar that goes with it. I’m not concerned about the scar, and think of it as a display of survival and diligence. I celebrate the fact that this surgery has the potential to change my life for the better; after all, if this condition hadn’t been diagnosed, there would have been a good chance I wouldn’t be here much longer. Thank you, Aileen, for helping me with this project down the road. I appreciate you. J  You all can check her Facebook to see her photographic genius here.

Thank you all for reading. I know at times this has been difficult to comprehend as I simply write my thoughts without an edit in sight. xo

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