You Can Call Me Frankenstein

BEN STOCKING HAS A HOLE IN HIS HEAD

PART XV, A CHRONICLE OF MY BRAIN SURGERY

I’ve got another hole in my head.

It’s a small one this time. Dr. Gwinn made it with a syringe rather than a drill. It only penetrates my scalp, not my skull.

As we discussed yesterday, Dear Reader, I’ve been leaking brain fluid. It had pooled between my skull and my scalp, forming an egg-sized lump on the back of my head, just in time for Easter.

So Dr. Gwinn stabbed it with the syringe this morning and drew out the 60 milliliters of fluid that had collected there. Then he wrapped my head in an ace bandage.

Let’s hope he kept everything nice and sterile, otherwise I might get meningitis and kick the bucket, just as my little brother did when he was four weeks old.

That’s not likely to happen. But it’s certain that I’ll have to spend the next week sporting this Frankenstein wrap.

The bandage is supposed to keep my scalp pressed down tight against my skull so that no more cerebrospinal fluid oozes in there. If it stays dry, the little hole through which it leaked should seal itself up.

I’ve become an object of fascination here at the Odd Fellows Cafe, where I’m having a cup of coffee. The waitresses seem more interested in me than usual. Perhaps I should wear this thing all the time.

Dear Reader, yesterday’s post was riddled with errors. Allow me to correct them here.

I told you about a membrane called the dura, which forms a protective seal around one’s brain. I said it was outside the skull, but it’s inside.

Dr. Gwinn had to cut through it during surgery in order to get access to my gray matter, my facial nerve and an errant artery that was making my face jump up and down all day and night.

First he carved a hole in my skull, then he snipped through the dura. After that, he rerouted my wiring and put a titanium plate in my head.

Unfortunately, the brain fluid leaked through a tiny hole in my dura, around the edge of the titanium plate and into a comfy little cavity inside my scalp.

If I don’t want it to keep seeping through my skull, Dr. Gwinn warned, I need to follow a few simple pointers:

  • Don’t sneeze too hard.
  • Don’t cough too hard.
  • Don’t be too enthusiastic while going to the bathroom.

Dear Reader, I will try my best to comply with those directives. And I will try not to litter my posts with inaccuracies like these from yesterday’s blog:

I said my chances of springing a leak were 3 percent and my chances of losing hearing in one ear were 3 percent. In fact, they were 10 percent and 7 percent, respectively.

Either way, the numbers say I’m an incredible loser.

Let’s see if I can keep up my lucky streak.

Of the hundreds of patients on whom he has performed surgery, Dr. Gwinn has only had three spring a leak, including me. Both of the others stopped oozing fluid after he wrapped them up.

Perhaps I can be the first to just keep on leaking.

I’ll find out a week from today, when I go back for my next appointment. If I’m still leaking, he’ll wrap me up for another week.

If I’m still leaking after that, he’s going to run a plastic tube along my spine and let the liquid drip out.

Finally, if all else fails, he’s going to crack my skull open again and seal up the hole in my dura. Needless to say, this would be an utter nightmare.

In any case, Dear Reader, I’m not worried about kicking the bucket anymore. One way or another, Dr. Gwinn will make the leaking stop. And one way or another, I’m going to recover.

Right, doc? Right?

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