If you’ve been following AGameAWeek for the past few years, you’ll have noticed the occasional blip, where I’ve mentioned having a repeating neck cramp, with accompanying migraines. These have gotten steadily worse, up until early March 2012, when I was curled over the toilet bowl, throwing up a worryingly black goo of sorts.
Enough was enough!
An ambulance was called, and after my blood pressure failed to register (too high!?) I was whizzed off to Bolton general where they continued to test my blood pressure, over and over again. Luckily they also decided to do a CT scan, because that’s where they finally found the tumour, nestled in between my brain and my spine.
Ambulance number two whisked me off to Salford Royal (Hope) Hospital where they’re apparently quite good at sorting that kinda thing. To deal with the high blood pressure, I was loaded up with all manner of pills, then left to sleep it all off. Next day I headed up to surgery where they attempted to insert an IV canular into my hand, only to have my insane blood pressure spray my lovely red contents over most of the room. Plugged up, and back in bed, they added more pills and left me for another day.
With my blood pressure finally under control, I got my first big operation on Day Three. An EV drain, basically a tube and a bag hooked up to my head, which would drain the fluid from around the main lump in my head. The fluid that came out was draining at an (apparently) alarming rate of about 1 litre a day. It’s supposed to be about 200ml per day that your body normally deals with, so the excess fluid was quite worrying to most of the docs. They left me to drain for a week, then pulled out the tube to see if my body could cope.
I seemed fine for a few days, but each day was getting harder and harder, and another CT scan showed the fluid was now gathering in a second pocket, at the top of my head. Another operation, and another drain, meaning another week stuck in a hospital bed waiting… And draining… At the same ominous litre a day. No matter, at least it was draining. Once another week was through, they pulled out the tube and left me to cope. I appeared to be coping much better this time, so they decided to let me go home. After almost a month I was certainly glad to see my own bed!
… for a few days… As the familiar pain grew and grew, I spent less time moving about, and more time in my bed. After just a few days a simple trip to the bathroom resulted in me keeling over, whacking my head, and that caused a leak at the back of my head. Uh oh! Off to the GP, where he suggested it was just an infection, and I shouldn’t worry. Antibiotics were given, and the next few days were spent feeling rather great. My energy was back, my head was clear (but leaking) and all was looking up.
A few days later, we had a visit from the local district nurse, who battled through my soggy wet hair to remove my final few stitches. As she did, she seemed worried about the amount of leaking I was doing, and suggested that it might be a good idea to contact the ward, just incase. Ugh. The very next day, I was back in my hospital bed where they promptly added s new stitch in my head, then shoved a great big needle into my spine, and followed it up with another hose/drain tube. A Lumbar Drain would help them decide whether my insane fluid issues were a case of too much fluid going into my head, or whether it was my head not releasing the fluid rapidly enough.
After another week of draining, it was finally decided that I had an “inny” problem, so another theatre was booked and I headed off for yet another operation. This time, a nice big deep slice, running down the back of my head, where they got inside and played around with some of the valves, to try and redirect most of the fluid. Another drain put in, and another week to wait.
We’re now heading into May. It’s been 2 months since I was hospitalised, and after a whole bunch of brain operations, I was really looking forward to testing my coding skills. The week’s wait showed no obvious issues, and they let me head back home, with a return appointment due in about six weeks time. Hurray! Home Time! I got home, and over the next few days managed to cobble together a simple game using PlayMyCode.com. It isn’t my best game ever, but it is at least a working game, and I’m glad I could still manage it. The hardest part was seeing what it was I was doing. Since the first brain op, my glasses prescription had been completely off, and trying to code was a struggle, as were most other things.. Like walking.. But, well, it’s me, so it didn’t become an issue until I tried coding
I had a good few weeks during May, but there was something a little unsettling. Every morning, bright and early, I was being sick. This odd “morning sickness” had started whilst I was still in hospital, but the docs assumed it would simply resolve itself and fade away. They didn’t seem worried, so neither was I. During the course of May, I had about 5 or 6 home visits from various GPs and emergency doctors, who all looked into my odd daily issue, who all tried different anti-sickness pills to cure it. After nearly a month of trying, one of the GPs got in touch with the hospital, who sent me out a simple appointment, so they could look at me too. I knew where this was leading, and packed accordingly.
Back in my hospital bed, out came the dreaded Lumbar Puncture! Today’s test : Is there too much pressure, and could that be causing the sickness? Yep, far too much pressure, apparently, so off I went for another MRI scan, which showed that all of the operations on the right hand side of my head, had left my left side vulnerable. Time for another operation, and another of those drains that leave me waiting for a week. Except, this one wasn’t draining as much, and over the course of a whole weekend, it’d only managed to drain about 400mls. It seemed as though the left hand issue wasn’t as bad as they’d thought, so out came the drain. As far as my head was concerned, all seemed to be working as it should’ve been, and all appeared to be good. .. Except that sickness thing.
And so began the stupidly lengthy process of having an entire hospital ward trying out various drugs on me, from docs who are taking wild guesses, through to nurses who have seen wonder drugs work on others. Each fantastic new drug would be given a two day trial, and if I was still being sick after that, it was onto the next one. At one point I had an anti-sickness patch and two different daily anti-sickness tablets, whilst still being sick each morning. The random guessing game was obviously not working, and after a second month of me being sick every day, the docs finally bothered to send me to have a camera down my throat. Not a pleasant experience.
About a week later the docs finally seemed to give up. The camera had shown an inflamed stomach, but that wasn’t anything unusual after months of being sick. They didn’t know what the sickness was, and all their guessing wasn’t helping. They reluctantly returned to their “it should go away” stance, and I was allowed to return home.
It’s now two weeks later. Six whole months after I initially went into hospital. I’m still being sick every day, but am hoping that a new pair of glasses might help the motion sickness, and a careful diet will help avoid any extra sickness. (Last nights lemony chicken didn’t go down particularly well!) If all goes well, I should be back up to coding speed shortly, and only heading back to Salford for checkups.. Fingers crossed!