June 21, 2011

Gamma knife

As requested, they did give me both two mg Ativan and some Versed. Here's what I remember about the procedure:

We arrived on time, checked in at the main info area, and went back to the gamma knife office, waited until someone eventually realized we were there. Nurse Beverly took good care of us, brought us to my personal waiting room with a big medical "throne" for me and some chairs for others. There was a nurse from Bellevue assisting Beverly so that she could learn about gamma knife up close and personal. Because I had been told it was okay to wear my own clothes, just no zippers or metal, I didn't have to put on the yucky hospital gown It always makes me feel more in control if I can wear my own clothes.

After conforming my name and birthdate, Beverly walked us through the day, so to speak, and told us what to expect.

Not me but another patient
getting the framework attached
First they gave me two mg Ativan, which hit full relaxation stage in about 30 minutes. Then the nurses helped Dr Foltz, the neurosurgeon, drill holes in my head for the framework, placing the framework on my head, and tightening it to perfection. I remember this clearly. The lidocain used to prevent pain while inserting the framework did not actually prevent pain, although it made it more manageable.

MRI machine
Dr Foltz lefts and I was taken to the MRI area by wheel chair. Mostly I remember getting onto the MRI bed and trying to arrange myself  they way they wanted me. I must have spelt through the entire MRI, since the last thing I remember is the nurse placing a washcloth over my eyes so I wouldn't be able to see in the MRI tube. The narrow, enclosed tube is what gives many people claustrophobia,

After the MRI we went back to my waiting room while Dr Vermeulen, Dr Foltz and a physicist coordinated my treatment plan, based on whether my three brain mets had changed in any way.  (I neglected to ask if they had changed.)

Gamma knife machine
Once all three practitioners agreed on how to treat, it was off to the treatment area. I recall a large white machine with a bed extruding from it on top of a round floor, maybe a round room. They asked me to get up on the bed and wiggle into the proper position, which was surprisingly tough given the three pound framework on my head and my being loaded with Versed and Ativan. Eventally I made it into position, because I don't remember the rest of it at all.

I must have been wheeled back to my waiting area, where Nurse Beverly and her assistant in training successfully removed all the framework. Again, it hurt some but was not overwhelmingly painful. My head was left very numb, kind of like what you experience when going to the dentist and one side of your lip and jaw feel funny when compared to the other. It felt like I was wearing a plastic cap on top of my head. They placed bandaids on each of the front two insertion spots, but just used antibiotic ointment on the back two spots.

I am on a slowly reducing plan of steroids to prevent swelling at the insertion sites and at the spot which got zapped. I go in for a follow up in one month and will get another MRI at that time to really see what's going on.

I'm told to expect some fatigue and sleepiness today and should be fine tomorrow. I've already had one major nap on the hammock Rik set up in the back yard. I will keep you posted as things develop.


  1. Stephanie7:36 PM

    oh, ouch! Will miss seeing you on Thursday!

  2. Betty Johanna1:37 PM

    Absolutely amazing.