Gamma knife procedure went ok, but was rougher than I expected mainly because my head was in this very tight vice the whole time.
This is me with the “halo” on. It is attached to my head with 4 screws - 2 on my forehead and 2 in the lower back of my head - that go through to skin to the bone of the skull, but not through the bone. This halo was then attached to different metal contraptions in the MRI machine and the Gamma Knife machine, all very metallic and a lot of clanging sounds as things are fitted.
They gave me the drugs versed and morphine when they put the “halo” on, then took me downstairs for the high contrast MRI. People in the elevator commented on my “headdress”. Having my head in attached to the very heavy thing on the MRI machine made me somewhat panic-y, but the versed helped me to stay calm. Then the verset wore off - it only lasts about 45 minutes.
They take me back up to the gamma knife room and I hear that they have it “planned” - the procedure is all computer guided - and I hear that I’ll be on the table for 1 1/2 hours. I asked for more versed and got it, thank God. I could move everything but my head, which was securely compressed into this metal contraption. About half wa;y through the Gamma Knife thing I knew the versed had worn off, and had to use great mental energy to keep from freaking out. I wiggled my toes, moved my arms, focused on my breath, but it was not an easy thing to do. My brother in law, Joe, called it the “pinnacle of claustrophobia”. A cousin to water torture.
Finally it was over and I was out and the damn thing came off my head.
Dr. Grabel said that he got everything in the surgical bed, and that the other 2 things, deep in the cerebellum were also breast cancer and he got them. For now, my brain is cancer free.
This news is sobering for me. It’s clear that the cancer is no longer confined to my bones and has invaded “soft” tissue. I’m not sure exactly how (or if) it can be controlled. From what I read, radiation and surgery is the best way to keep watch over brain metastasis. The medical drugs are not so effective.
After I got all the stuff off of my head I had a really bad headache. The nurse explained that this was from my skull bones being compressed in those vices and now it was expanding. She said that the pain would peak after a few minutes and then subside. I was offered morphine but declined, and sure enough, after about 1/2 hour the pain went away. They pumped more steroids (10mg) into me to reduce swelling and inflammation and upped my dosage of anti seizure pills for the next few days. They still don’t want me to swim or put my head under water because of these healing wounds on my scalp.
Anyway, it was better than open brain surgery and I should be good to go tomorrow.