Home again, jiggety jig.
I can't tell you how happy I am to be home. I'm pretty sure my brother is happy to be home, too! He wrote in his CaringBridge Journal that he had his first real sleep since surgery two weeks ago.
Thank you, all, for all your prayers. So many people have been praying for his recovery----I shouldn't have been surprised to find out that all kinds of people I don't even know at our parish were praying for him! He's doing so well, it is amazing.
One week after his astounding 31-hour brain surgery, he was still very sick and weak. Even the first 5 days I was there were very difficult for us in that he was so weak, scared of his weakness, scared of the long road to recovery, scared that he wouldn't be able to handle it, scared that he would not recover as well as he had hoped and that he would have a lot more damage than expected.
I think it was Monday or Tuesday that he seemed to turn the corner, as they say. His mood and energy level were slightly better. I could see the difference. It must have been Monday because that is the day his barium swallow test was scheduled to see if he could eat food or would have to have a PEG tube inserted into his stomach. Obviously, we were hoping for food, but he was pretty confident that he had no ability to swallow because of the paralysis on one side of his face. Praise be to God, he was wrong and was cleared to eat a diet of pureed foods! Not ideal, but so much better than tube feeding!!
After that, the floodgates seemed to open and he got visibly stronger every day. All the tubes were removed except for the "brain drain", the ventriculostomy tube that drains excess Cerebral Spinal Fluid (CSF) from the brain. That was supposed to come out one evening (Monday, again?) when a neuro resident noticed CSF leakage from his sutures. They had to oversew the stitches to make it tighter and keep draining the CSF while the incision healed to prevent meningitis. They were extremely cautious and gave it plenty of time, so the drain stayed until Friday, which is when I was on my way home.
Since that had been the only thing keeping him in ICU, he was moved to a regular room (which he was able to walk to!) for less than 24 hours and then released!
It has been a long, long couple of weeks, and even though I was emotional as we said our goodbyes, I felt confident that my brother was going to be fine. A very different goodbye from my sister's as she left a still critical patient. For now, my brother has paralysis/weakness on the side of his face, as if he had a stroke, and generalized balance problems. These should resolve themselves with time. He may always have some facial paralysis, but it's already much less than the surgeon anticipated. And it's a little thing to live with, because, after all, he gets to live. There are so many worse things, and I think he spent quite a few days dwelling on those less-favorable options.
God is so good. We are so lucky to have Him to lean on.
And now I have to come up with a Lenten sacrifice! My brother took care of the first week. Now it's up to me. But I'm okay with that----the ones that God picks are H.A.R.D.