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With Gratitude and Progress in my Healing

By Jeannine Walston  |   Dec - 18 - 2013  |  


Jeannine Walston post-surgery 2013

I’ve now had my one month anniversary healing from my third awake brain surgery on November 19, 2013 and I am grateful to be alive. The intensive, extensive journey in my route for optimal health and healing carried me through the surgery and recovery.

I’ll begin by sharing the love and light through the left side of my brain. Darkness has been removed to bring me more fully into further light. Many, many thanks to my UCLA neurosurgeon Linda Liau, MD, PhD for her precision, depth, sensitivity, brilliance, and countless other skills in preparing and conducting my third awake brain surgery.

During the eight-hours of my third awake brain surgery, important brain testing and mapping occurred by my UCLA neuropsychologist Patricia Walshaw, PhD and Dr. Liau. My top-notch anesthesiologist Barbara Van de Wiele, MD also gave me a gift during my surgery with the best drugs possible.

A significant role shines out through my third awake brain surgery. After I was put to sleep in the operating room on November 19, I woke up that evening with huge wraps on my head and told the UCLA nurse next to me that I did not have surgery yet. She told me I did. Yet I quickly fell asleep likely from medications. As I woke up several times throughout the night in the ICU unit, I finally realized my third brain surgery was completed.

The next day Dr. Liau visited me. In our conversation, she explained that I was awake during my brain surgery for testing, mapping, and other roles. She told me that many brain tumor patients treated at UCLA with awake brain surgery do not have memory of being awake, and likely due to the anesthesia technique (and somewhat different than that at some other centers). I’ve processed my experience of not remembering being awake during surgery many times. My reality is that I am extremely, profoundly grateful to not have any memory from my third awake brain surgery. Among others, the experience gives me freedom. (And now I also see and feel the trauma from my first awake brain surgery in 1998 and my second awake brain surgery in 2011; I have carried it for a long time and will find ways to release trauma.)

After surgery, I stayed in the hospital for almost five days and felt stronger daily. The post-surgery drugs definitely created some challenges. My steroids and new anti-seizure drugs that I started immediately before and continued for a few weeks after surgery made me wild. I will not tell those stories. Fortunately I did not get too crazy and guide myself into horrific situations. Of course escaping UCLA two days after brain surgery, and walking into Westwood early evening for 45 minutes into stores and restaurants, was foolish. I did not bring any money, but got a free slice of pizza. Finally I returned to UCLA in my hospital gown, hospital pants, hospital socks, no shoes, and two-inch thick of head wraps.

Dr. Liau had various UCLA providers helping me in my hospital recovery. The knowledge, organization, and willingness are remarkable to fully assist brain tumor patients in their healing.

My brother John and I four days after my surgery.

My brother John and I four days after my surgery.

Since leaving the hospital, I achieved movement forward with some rest and relaxation. I needed to sleep more, and especially due to drug side effects.

When I finally ended all surgery drugs last Monday, I started to feel better. Then another priority occurred since I moved to Los Angeles last month. I had to get my new apartment and move within less than two weeks. It was not easy, and thankfully I found a new place!

In moments without drugs, I have gone deeper. Parts of me do not know what I’ve been through. My eyes tear touching into what I’ve endured in this chapter. I need to feel, and eventually move through. As I more fully address my body, mind, and spirit, I know improvements will occur. The last few days I’ve had even a bit more time and energy for introspection. My heart and soul dive into conversations. We are in a dialogue. They listen, and ask me questions too. Angels hold me. Source gives me more light.

Finally, I must express my gratitude. There are many, and I can only share a shorter list here. Of course, I want to thank the genius Dr. Liau once again for successfully performing my third awake brain surgery. My appreciation includes all UCLA doctors and providers who assisted me, including Dr. Walshaw and Dr. Van de Wiele that I already mentioned in this blog. Immense thanks shine out to my parents for being here in my ongoing healing journey, and also loving gratitude to my brother John for giving me so much, as well as to his wife Megan and my precious nephew James plus nieces Anna and Mae. Thanks very much Liesbeth for your wonderful kindness in giving me a place to stay before and after my surgery, and Daniela for our friendship and your connection to my current pad. With thankfulness to visitors, phone calls, cell phone texts, cards, Facebook comments, Facebook messages, emails (sorry, I need to respond to many), other forms of communications and connections, as well as gifts to express support, care, and love to me.

In my gratitude, indeed I truly appreciate and extend humble thankfulness to everyone that has given me financial support. Frankly, the need feels very uncomfortable to me and yet it is important to ask for help when necessary. Thank you so very much for donations.

Wishing you a divine holiday season and New Year!

I send my love to you ∞