About Angel

Wife, mom, cake artist, Guide Dog puppy raiser, ADHD champion, wedding planner, and tattooed cat slave.

When Brain Surgery Suddenly Seems Like a Good Idea… Part 2

So the knucklehead has had the Chiari Decompression surgery.

He went into theatre at 11h30 on Friday morning, and they wheeled him out of recovery at about 16h30.

The procedure took about 4 hours, and my mommy darling and I spent the day at the hospital to wait.

He was asking for me as soon as he started coming around – very disoriented and scared and in a lot of pain.
It broke my heart to see my baby so afraid and so sore.
He grabbed my hand and refused to let go until we got to ICU, and then I had to wait outside while they hooked him up to everything. We were allowed to spend about 30 minutes with him after that, and then we had to leave and wait for the next visiting “hour” (its only 45 minutes long at night).

I saw the Neurosurgeon after he had checked on him in ICU, and he said he was happy with everything, and that he had been able to remove a smaller piece of the skull than he thought he would have to. This is great.

He is still in ICU, probably moving to a normal ward tomorrow. He’s in a lot of pain, but the BP cuff on his one arm has been removed, the oxygen tubes in his nose are out, one drip has been taken out, and the electronic pressure sock-things have been taken off his legs, so he’s a little more comfortable. When they move him tomorrow the catheter will come out and the arterial line will come out. The central line in his neck will stay in, just in case they need a drip.
Incredibly, he has already regained the feeling in his right arm and chest, in fact his skin is so sensitive he twitches at the slightest touch. Hopefully this will ease in time, and the crazy itch he used to get around his right eye has stopped.

He’ll be in hospital till about Friday, and he has several weeks of recovery ahead of him, but he’s better and stronger every time we see him. He’s arguing with me now, and wishing the ICU staff would just let him sleep! He has been able to sit up straight, and he’s gradually moving his head and neck a little more. 😀

We are exhausted from driving up and down to the hospital several times a day, thankfully I don’t have a lot of orders pending and I am going to keep it that way for a few weeks until he is properly okay on his own.

Thank you all for your love and prayers!

When Brain Surgery Suddenly Seems Like a Good Idea… Part 1

Never one to do things in small measures, is my knucklehead.

For a few weeks he had complained that his fingers were numb, and it quickly spread up his arm all the way to his neck and the side of his face.
We went to our usual doc, and she quickly referred us to a Neurologist. Thursday we saw the Neurologist, and she examined him and found he had lost feeling in his arm and chest, as low as T4. She was concerned so she sent us to book an MRI.

Friday morning he spent a couple of hours in the MRI, and the Neurologist phoned us a few hours later and said it was what she had suspected and she was going to try and get hold of a Neurolosurgeon. We went back on Monday morning for a quick chat with her so she could explain what the MRI showed.

The knucklehead has Chiari 1 Malformation and Syringomyelia.

In the simplest terms, it means that the base of his brain protrudes from his skull, putting pressure on the brain and spine.
He was born this way.
Some people can live with Chiari 1 and never need treatment – the complication for the knucklehead was the formation of a Syrinx inside his spinal column, which extends from the base of his brain to T8. This is a fluid filled cyst caused by the Chiari, and it has been growing in his spinal column for years. It is this cyst that is causing the loss of feeling.

We saw a Neurosurgeon on Tuesday, and he has booked the knucklehead for surgery on Friday afternoon. Its called a Decompression, and this will relieve the pressure on his brain and spine, and the Syrinx should then be reabsorbed over time. This takes months, and its different for everyone.
The important thing is stopping the progression of the nerve damage, and hoping for no further complications.

Its fucking scary. I am battling to keep my brain from spinning out of control because I have been reading up on it. My darling Glugster is my rock, and keeps me sane.

My precious knucklehead is like me. We tend to clam up and want to hide away when we’re dealing with something big and scary.

I am terrified. We are terrified.

Being an “Old Lady”

When my now 26 year old son* was growing up, we had many, MANY conversations about sex and where babies come from and all sorts of things – I decided early in his life that I could either suck it up and be age-appropriately honest with him if he asked me a question, or he’d learn bullshit elsewhere.

One of the conversations we had was about PMS, and as a result of that conversation I have been able to warn him when I am PMSing, give him – and my Glugster – a heads’ up so that we could avoid a “spontaneous confrontation”.

It has worked well for us, and thankfully I usually only had a couple of really “bitchy days” a month. 😛

Recently we had another conversation, different – but along the same vein – as I am officially peri-menopausal.
Yup.
It intensified about a year ago, and my gyno doesn’t think it will go on too much longer as my ovaries can now only be seen with an ultrasound! :/
My cycle has gone bezonkers, I am battling night sweats (literally waking up with my pillowcase drenched, and sleeping with a frozen 2L bottle of water at my feet), and I am BEYOND emotional!!
Emotional doesn’t begin to cover it… And more emo than moody, though I don’t know which is better.
I was never one to cry. Not in movies, and not in front of other people, and NOW I cry at the drop of a hat. Nature programmes on TV have me crying over the fawn being chased by a wolf. Facebook statuses about animal abuse reduce me to tears. Other people’s sadness makes me cry.
And I cry every day over losing my precious Riddick – although that is real heartache over the loss of my baby boy, not just irrational emotions…

It drives me nuts!

Anyhoodle.

I’m not going to be taking any hormone supplements or going on any kind of treatment unless I drastically need to for my health’s sake – I’ve lived with it so far, and anyone who knows me knows how I LOATHE the heat and have always had a fan with me, so I’ll just stick it out.

Here’s hoping my family can stick it out too…

 

 

*OH MY HOLY FUCK WHEN DID THAT HAPPEN!?!

Being Concerned About Children’s Pictures Becoming Memes

Picture it. You are scrolling through your Facebook or Twitter feed one morning, while you sip your first cup of coffee, and suddenly… there’s a face you recognise.
Its an image that has been shared by a Facebook “friend” you have only a vague memory of meeting or ever speaking to, who found it on their friend’s feed – someone you don’t know at all.
Its been liked, and commented on, and shared numerous times already by this friend’s friend’s friends – never mind the attention it got when it was posted on The Divine Side Of Parenting, or the Dads Who Babysit Badly Facebook page*.

Its your child’s face!

It’s YOUR child!

Its the picture you took before cleaning up the mess he had made, ‘coz it was so typical and funny and you knew your family would get a laugh.
Its the picture you took because your little princess looked so cute all pink and smiling on her tiptoes after her bubble bath and you knew her granny would love it.
Its the picture you took ‘coz they were smiling in an especially cute way, like they had just been mischievous and your timing was perfect.

And now it has a caption on it. In bold white text.

There are quite a few very well known memes on the internet that are made using pictures of children. They have many different captions ‘coz there are some very clever and funny people in this world. Some of those captions are mean and crass and offensive.
And they are on the internet forever.
You’ll know them if you see them (I have deliberately blurred the images so they won’t be shared yet again). Do you think their parents shared them as memes, or in the hopes they would become memes? What about when these children are Googled by prospective employers one day? The internet doesn’t go away. It can’t be deleted.

You’ve seem them before, haven’t you? You may even have commented on them, liked them, and shared them and thought nothing of it.

Think before you post pictures of your children online. It doesn’t matter if your Twitter feed is private, or what your privacy settings on Facebook are – they are changed all the time, nothing is safe.

And remember that pictures of naked and semi-naked children are considered child pornography when posted online in South Africa. Yes – even babies, and yes – even when posted by the child’s parents.

And I don’t give a crap how justified you think your cause is – you may NEVER post pictures of someone else’s naked children without their permission!
It was an incident exactly like this that got me onto this subject today – a woman photographed a naked child, and shared it publicly on Facebook because she didn’t like the circumstances under which the child was naked – she was all “I won’t rest until I find out what was going on…” and “I won’t rest until I find this child’s parents…“.
This is not how you take action, FCOL. How dare you.

*not actual Facebook pages

You may want to read:

Being Mom to an Epileptic Dog

Our dog is epileptic.

This is not news to us.
Our five year old Labrador, Riddick, was diagnosed with Canine Epilepsy a little over a year ago.
This is also not the first time we’ve had an epileptic dog – our mixed breed rescue, Louise, crossed the rainbow bridge just over a year ago due to cancer, but she was medicated for epilepsy for a few years before she died. She was fairly stable, with occasional general seizures, but she picked up weight – a common side effect – and we had to put her on a strict diet.
Thankfully Riddick did not gain weight on the Phenobarbitone medication (AKA Phenobarbital, Pb), but he did experience a few of the other side-effects of the AED – lethargy, sedation, loss of coordination, increased thirst, a bigger appetite, and an increase in urination.
Long-term use of Pb can also affect the liver, and this concerned me as he was only four years old when he started on the meds, but we monitored the levels of Pb in his system with blood tests.
The “fun” part about treating our Riddick (he’s diabetic and epileptic) is that he doesn’t EVER react to meds the way the vet expects him to! He even has professors baffled! This means we have got to know our vets very well, and Riddick loves them.
Riddick hit an especially rough patch this month, where he seemed to develop a rare sensitivity to the AED that severely affected his mobility – it made his hind end completely weak and it was about two weeks before he was strong enough to get up, walk, and busy on his own without assistance – we had to lift him and carry him as he got stronger every day. During that time we weaned him off the Pb tablets (the only way to fix the hind end weakness) and started him on a new AED with fewer side effects, but it was really rough on all of us!
We were exhausted from helping him up and helping him walk, and he was frustrated from being unable to move properly but not knowing why.

Living with an epileptic dog has proved to be really stressful, even when their epilepsy is relatively under control. And when you are going through a rough patch where their meds needs to be changed or they are having seizures, it can be exhausting. And finding the right meds can be a challenge – especially if your dog is like Riddick! The majority of dogs are successfully treated for epilepsy with Phenobarbitone tablets (about 20c a pill), but as our Riddick has now shown he may have a sensitivity to the Pb, we have to switch to an imported option, Pexion, at R12 a tablet!
With the last month having been so difficult for our Riddick, it has made us reluctant to leave him at home without someone to watch over him. I find myself watching Riddick’s every move to look for his “aura” – the little signs he shows when a seizure is pending. I don’t sleep too deeply because I am listening for him… And as he can’t go everywhere with us, we have become quite home-bound…

Yes, I know – he’s a dog, not a child – but he’s my dog, and I love him very much.

Riddick’s epilepsy is also different to Louise’s. Where she would have a general seizure every other month or so, and be absolutely fine in between, Riddick typically has what is called a focal seizure. He is wobbly and disoriented, his head and front legs twitch, but he is still fairly aware, and this is when he paces and walks into things. These fits can last a few minutes and take him about an hour to recover from, or he can have a few of them in a row and they absolutely exhaust him.
Occasionally Riddick has a general seizure. This is a full grand mal seizure and very scary – he lies on the floor, running and flailing, his jaws pulled wide in a grimace, and he pees himself. This kind of fit will exhaust him for half a day, and immediately after the fit he has no idea where he is, who I am, or how to navigate his house. This can last quite some time. At the same time he is super-hyper-excited, but also unsteady on his feet, and he wants water but he doesn’t know where the bowl is. He can be quite a handful until he is back to normal! And for several hours after this kind fit he is very insecure and will stay as close to me as he can get.
Hopefully his new medication will prevent him getting any fits at all.

With the help of many wonderful friends, we got a Holistic Vet disability harness for Riddick a few months ago, because when he is having a seizure – or recovering from a seizure – he tends to want to pace and walk around (also one of his “aura” signs). The worse he feels, the more he walks into things and falls over his own feet, so the harness helps us help him – we can stop him walking into things and I can keep him from losing his balance.
When he is having a seizure, the harness helps me pull him away from walls or furniture so he doesn’t hurt himself.
When we got the harness, we only needed the front half to steady him during and after a fit, but when we went through the days where he couldn’t walk on his own – the full harness proved invaluable in assisting our 35kg boy to walk and busy until he could stay on his own feet again.
I wish I could give each and every one of those dear people a big hug! I don’t know what we would have done without the harness!

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So here’s my two cents if you have an epileptic dog.

Whether or not they are on medication, keep a careful log of their seizures as this can be invaluable to your vet – or to a new vet. I have found this is a great way for ME to stay calm and focused during a fit, and I guarantee you won’t be able to remember every detail and every date when you get to the vet!

Try to note the time and duration of the seizures, and what your dog does during the fit. Note how long it takes for your dog to recover and how they behave after the fit. Try to note whether your dog was playing or sleeping shortly before the fit, or if something else happened that may have triggered it – maybe they were surprised by a sudden noise or some such.

Also record changes to your dog’s diet or environment (new house, new dog, new baby), as well as vaccination dates, vet trips, whether you missed a medication dose, even weird weather!

Make sure you know your vet’s hours, as well as where your nearest 24-hour emergency vet is. And if you go to the vet, take your log book with you.

If possible, get copies of blood test results from your vet that you can take with you if you have to go to a different vet.

Be aware of your other dogs while your dog is seizing. If you have more than one dog, a seizure may trigger an instinctive “pack” reaction causing the other dogs to try and attack the “weaker” animal.