29 July 2009

Update 2 on Jennal

See Update #1 for previous information as to Jennal's condition and also read the original post about why Jennal is undergoing this rare surgery (approximately one-hundred hemispherectomies are performed world-wide each year).

OK, so the fever has come down to a normal level now. Jennal's heart rate is still elevated, however; when she's sleeping it's around 120-130 and when awake it's around 140-150. That's about double to 2.5 times what it should be, but it's better than triple and quadruple, which is what it had been running.

So far, she hasn't had any more seizures. The seizure-like activity that I had reported in Update 1 were firings from her brain that caused the muscle contractions throughout her body. I had stated that this was the beginning of her seizure, and that's not entirely accurate. This physical reaction (her muscles jumping all throughout her body) is in response to firings from the neurons in her brain, in response to the first surgery. If she hadn't woken up and the firings continued, it could have led to Jennal having a seizure. So while it wasn't the beginning of a seizure, it is something that's cause for alarm because it can lead to a seizure.

Apparently, Jennal has been having these reactions both while she sleeping and while she's awake. As such, the doctors have scheduled the complete hemispherectomy (removal of the entire left hemisphere of her brain) for tomorrow (Thursday) morning.

To make matters worse, my sister has an OB/GYN appointment tomorrow morning (my sister just discovered that she's pregnant with twins and already is in her second trimester) and Jennal's father has a prior obligation Friday morning. As such, my sister is freaking out about not being able to be there in the 24-48 hours after this second surgery, which is the most important time period.

Additionally, this also means that there will be a third surgery, to remove the electrodes from her brain that are being used to monitor her brain activity.

Here's a picture of my niece before she went into surgery on Monday:

And here's a photo of her after surgery. You can even see the look of anger and pain on her face, even though she's sleeping. I commented to my family and friends that she looked "mightily pissed off" while she slept:

The tube and bottle you see by the side of her head is for drainage of fluids from her brain, which is important. As can be seen, her entire head was wrapped in gauze. When she indicated to me on Tuesday morning that she was in pain, she used her left arm to point to near her hear, near where the drainage bottle is located.

She actually doesn't look as angry and/or in pain in this photograph as she had most of the time I spent with her.

When I'm not in the ICU with my niece and sister, I'm somewhere nearby -- either in the waiting room or in the hotel room that my sister has. I can't leave the region given the circumstances, until my niece makes it out of ICU. As previously stated, she is more at ease when she sees me there, as evidenced by her reduced heart rate and blood pressure, and her ability to actually fall into a deep sleep.