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Emergency operation and treatment

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Thusday and Friday, hell and heaven. Depths of despair, and great joy of deliverance, only to fall to a different hell on Friday night. The nurses kept me alive, true angels every one. They saved my life over and over again, surmounted all the difficulties I presented and made all the right decisions.

Purpose: My purpose in making these pages is to help people. My hope is that seeing how brain surgery can go in the year 2009 will ease minds and give some hope and comfort.

This is the personal experience of David Luckenbach, diagnosed with brain and lung cancer in May 2009. A sailing instructor who smoked and drank, and almost died, saved by friends and angels and given another chance. Odd fellow I am, always ready to help other people, and neglected myself.

I stayed in my room, under constant watch. My family and friends were always there, but they all soon lacked sleep. I will be forever grateful to them. Unfortunately, I was so drugged on the steroids I did not really understand, and I got no sleep at all. I went back to work, maintaining the website while in bed, but getting farther behind. I had a CT scan at 12:15 AM of my torso, which found a few more tumors, but no more "emergencies".

What was really happening:
The tumor was swelling and causing inflammation, and causing pressure in my skull, and pressure on the spinal cord. Pressure on the spinal cord was interfering with the nerve connection between my brain and my right arm and leg, and causing the headaches and other symptoms. My brain would function normally, but the signals to my arm and leg were not all getting through. The danger was that this pressure could completely stop fluid flow into my spine, pressure could increase even more, and I would die. I'm glad they didn't tell me then. The proper application of the correct steroid in the proper dose kept me alive, but it had its own dangers. I was closely monitored all Thursday, Thursday night, and Friday. Good people all, but that's an understatement. The steroids worked, I could not sleep, not ever. I began to talk uncontrollably, could not stop, and would repeat myself. I was hungry. I had all the symptoms of near steroid overdose, the perfect dose to keep me alive.

With all this time, I talked and worked on the website, sleep was never there. I ate a little, and started to figure out the hospital food system. They did have real food, and I got some! Jack came to check on me and tell me what was happening, and I fell into despair and cried. We filled out the Directive to Physicians form and had it witnessed. I worked some, it did help pass the time, but I had bouts of depression and crying over and over and over again.

The nurses explained about Dr. Bogaev, how he could not stop, he had other people to save, so I did not complain. They assured me he would come as soon as he could. Thursday was a long trip in hell in my condition, but with the help from nurses and friends and family I survived.

Dr. Bogaev came to see me late Thursday, having done brain surgery about 14 hours. I don't know how he does it. He seemed happy, exactly what I needed. He reassured me, told me that my surgery was scheduled for 11AM Friday, but that honestly his first surgery might take longer and I would not really get in until 2 or 3 pm. His first surgery was a difficult case and much more difficult than mine. This fantastic man has a great bedside manner, and was able to bring me out of hell in a short time, made sure I was "ok", and left to continue to check on his patients.

I don't know how long Dr. Bogaev was up, but I think at 7AM on Friday he was back at work on patient #1, and I was #2. My Friday began at midnight with a "nothing by mouth" order, only the IV. The steroids kept me alive, and awake, and this was a good time. I had many thoughts and hope, and this was a good Friday, even though I was hungry. One of my brothers gave my daughter a ride to the hospital, barely pregnant with her 4th child, the grandchild I almost never got to see. I was so glad to see Sarah, I have such caring brothers.

About 2PM or so, they came to take me to the operating room. I had my small camera and filmed the trip to the operating room.

Video of going to brain surgery, 8 MB file

Click to start video

Video, awake in ICU, 1.5 MB file

Click to start video

Alison didn't want me to use this picture because it shows how worn out she was, she had almost no sleep while I was in the hospital. ICU was not a lot of fun, mainly because I was so hungry. The nurses took good care of me, and slowly let me start eating safely. Interestingly, I took no pain medicine at all, because I had no pain. While I didn't sleep for 20 hours, it gave me time to eat now and then, and even work on Sailing Texas some. Yes, they did have wireless internet in the ICU! Amazing planet we live on, isn't it?
David was not the normal ICU patient, he worked!


Finally, about 4AM, Alison arrived with even more food, and I had two turkey sandwiches and some whole milk. I finally had some sleep, over an hour, and said, "I'M HUNGRY". They took me to the room, and I continued to eat. Never had such good tasting food in my life!

Sometimes the area cut out of the skull is called the "bone flap". In this scan I got June 17, you can see the gaps left by the saw cut, bone will take a while to all grow back. It's not really floating like it looks, but in this slice there's a gap on both sides so you can see how big the hole was.

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Next page, more recovery from operation #1, and a mistake

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