I’m Ooozing Brain Fluid

BEN STOCKING HAS A HOLE IN HIS HEAD, PART XIV

A CHRONICLE OF MY BRAIN SURGERY

I’ve sprung a leak.

My cerebrospinal fluid — the stuff one’s brain floats in — is oozing into places it’s not supposed to go.

My dura, the protective membrane that seals off the skull and the delicate gray matter inside, has a hole in it.

The dura typically comes with a lifetime warranty. The damn thing isn’t supposed to leak. Ever.

I guess my warranty expired.

Dear Reader, as you know, I’ve been writing this blog retroactively. There’s typically about a five-week gap between each entry and the events it describes. But I’ve decided to write about the leak in the here and now.

It feels kind of urgent. It’s scaring the hell out of me.

The fluid has pooled between my dura and my scalp, forming a large egg-like lump just in time for Easter. I first noticed it about a week ago, and it’s been getting worse ever since.

Now it looks like Big Bird’s Easter offering.

Dr. Ryder Gwinn warned me that people who undergo a cranial decompression — the delightful procedure that I experienced in order to banish my facial twitch — have about a 3 percent chance of leaking spinal fluid.

Three percent sounded like good odds. The chances of losing hearing in one ear were about the same.

Did I mention that I’ve lost most of the hearing in my right ear? They say it should come back. Sometime. Maybe.

Consider me lucky. At least brain fluid isn’t oozing from my ears, eyes and nose, as is often the case in these situations.

The enormous lump on the back of my head feels like it’s full of Jello. I imagine it’s lime green, but I have no idea.

At the moment, it’s dammed into a corner of my skull, just behind my right ear, where it’s not likely to do any harm. If it somehow managed to ooze into my inner ear, however, I’d be at risk of serious brain damage.

Now there’s something to look forward to.

The doctors assure me this is extremely unlikely to happen and, for some reason, I believe them.

Their next task is to get the errant goo back where it belongs.

They’ve got three strategies:

  • A head wrap. They wrap a bandage around my head in an effort to squeeze the goo back through the hole in my dura. When the goo-filled area dries out, the scalp and the dura are pressed together and the hole seals itself up.
  • A spinal drip. They open up the bottom of my spine and let the extra fluid drip out. This requires a three-day hospital stay.
  • More brain surgery. The mad scientists open up my head yet again and seal the hole, and I go through this entire ordeal all over again.

I’m going to visit Dr. Gwinn tomorrow and he’s going to wrap up my head. I really hope this has the desired effect, because options two and three sound ghastly.

I was just starting to feel fully recovered, aside from the hearing loss, when I discovered this Easter surprise.

I’m not sure how long I have to wear the Frankenstein wrap.

At least I’m not twitching.

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