6 years ago, I had 3 brain operations over a 3 day period. I can’t remember much about that time but last night, (the night before the first operation) I had a flashback. I could literally feel, hear and smell my surroundings. I saw myself lying on the bed and I heard the conversations in the next room. I felt exactly what I felt that night. I was a bit nervous, very anxious and concerned. Being 5 1/2 months pregnant, my unborn baby was the one who I was most worried about. I needed for her to be OK through all of this. She needed to survive and that meant, I HAD to survive.
I was booked to go in the next morning, Monday 30 November 2009, for a shunt revision. As much as I was put at ease that every precaution would be taken to ensure the safety and well-being of myself and my baby, I was still worried. I don’t remember much of the next morning, I know my husband took me to the hospital and I was checked in but that’s also where the memory ends for me.
Reading through my jumbled hospital notes yesterday afternoon, I found that I had an operation on the 30th of November to have the shunt revised (only one part of it was replaced). Thereafter, the 1st of December (My baby brother’s birthday), I had the whole shunt removed and replaced (not too sure why). On the 2nd of December, I had an emergency Endoscopic Third Ventriculostomy (ETV) done…reading this made me cry. Especially when I saw that the consent form to do the ETV had been signed by the surgeon after getting “telephonic consent from husband“.
I cannot even begin to imagine what that must have been like for my husband. I have so many questions about those 3 days specifically and yet…no answers.
I try not to ask him too many questions about that time because he doesn’t like to dwell on things for too long. It’s important to me though, because I need to understand and know (even after questioning him countless times). You can read all about that time in my book Hydrocephalus: Floating faithfully
This memory had me wondering, how much of my old memories will come back with time? What will I eventually remember and how will I react to it? I was a bit surprised by last nights memory because all I did was read through the hospital notes, which I’ve done before and yet, I’ve never experienced a flashback that good before. I suppose it must have triggered it this time. (I read the notes over and over again because I hope to piece some of the puzzle together for myself).
I sometimes think it’s better that I don’t remember and other times, well I don’t think it would be so bad. Especially if it can help fill in some important blanks. I remember misplacing sooo many house keys as my short-term memory started taking a turn for the worse…I think this was a combination of the condition and the operations I’ve had. Eventually, after fighting and arguing about it, my husband and I succumbed and embraced it as “just the way it is and something we can’t do anything about“. Now, we joke about the keys I misplaced…
I feel like I missed out on so much that week, even though I was only discharged from hospital 2 weeks later after being admitted. I had gone with the intention of getting an opinion about my worrying symptoms and suspicion of shunt failure. I did not plan on going for an operation (much less 3 in one week), especially not while knowing that I was that far pregnant. When I was given the news that I needed the operation, nothing made sense and I reacted on autopilot. I feel like I missed out on so many things…a whole week of my life is gone because I cannot remember much or any of it. I missed my baby brother’s wedding in the process, a special day I can never get back…I hope that he understands and doesn’t hold it against me.
Having a condition like Hydrocephalus comes with more sacrifices than we realize. The people around us do not always understand and yet, it’s a time that requires us to be “selfish” because, at that moment in time, all that matters is You. There are so many emotions to deal with and so much uncertainty when faced with the prospect of yet another brain operation.
When I had the memory last night, I laughed at the possibility of my memory triggering in a few years time. I’ll be old and grey and quite possibly just randomly blurt out the location of said keys. I could picture the confusion on my husband’s face as it might be out of context and we might not even remember anymore. I think it would make for a funny ending to the mystery of the lost keys…to finally be able to solve it would be the ultimate end to a situation that once caused me such grief and misery – it was far from funny at the time but it sure will be if it were to happen that way.
I am hopeful that the memories I’ve lost along the way, will return to me one day. They will be like tiny little treasures or deja vu moments, ready for discovery…I look forward to it.