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Thursday, March 14, 2013

Medical Progress

I am pleased to report that Gretchen is doing very well.  She came home from the rehab last Friday after 9 days, a very short stay considering the massive brain injury she suffered.  She still has headache and dizziness, along with ancillary problems with ear and shoulder pain, but all things considered, she has made a miraculous recovery.  Her balance is quite good and she is walking fine and climbing stairs (the basement is off limits!) 

Yesterday we went back to the Northeast Rehab Hospital to begin her outpatient therapy.  The OT, PT, and speech therapists were all impressed with her progress.  In fact her new PT, Naomi, told her that it was a real privilege to work with someone who was doing so well considering the severity of her trauma.

Just how bad was it?  While there, I got a copy of her medical record summary from Beth Israel.  Although I thought I knew how serious her injury was, I was taken aback to learn that it was even worse than I thought.  Her initial CT scan showed a "large right side hyperacute frontotemporal epidural hematoma with intraparenchymal involvement and midline shifting".   From my Google research, "intraparenchymal" means that the bleeding was not only between the outer membrane of her brain and her skull (epidural) but also involved hemorrhaging in the brain tissue itself.  Hyperacute?  I didn't need to look that up.

After her extraordinarily successful surgery (thank you to the moon, Dr. Alterman!), her follow-up CT scan showed a residual extra-axial hemorrhage, as well as a parafalcine subdural hematoma.   It also noted "layering along the left tentorium, left temporal lobe intraparenchymal hemorrhage, and a right-sided calvarial fracture extending through the parietal and petrous temporal bone to terminate along the canal for the tensor tympany."  The last of these is the presumed source for her right ear pain and hearing problems.  That fracture is probably why during her craniotomy her skull came off in two pieces.

I don't know what a lot of these terms mean, but from what I have looked up, Gretchen had not one but three hemorrhages occurring in her brain: on the right, middle and left sides!  Holy crap!  I'm not a religious person, nor am I particularly spiritual, but the fact that Gretchen is alive today, not to mention functioning well both physically and mentally and on her way to recovery, is nothing short of miraculous.  It obviously was not her time to go.  Her mission on this planet has not yet been accomplished.  Paraphrasing Robert Frost, she has miles to go before she sleeps.

With my MM to deal with and now Gretchen's accident, one of our friends recently commented that if it weren't for bad luck, we would have no luck at all.  I guess one could look at it that way, but to me, the glass is half full.  I think we are both very lucky people: I am in remission from my MM and my wife is on the rebound from a near-fatal accident.  How lucky can we both be?  We have so much to look forward to.


  1. Thanks for the update, so glad your wife is better. It is miraculous as you say. What an ordeal for both of you, I'm sure the physical therapy will help improve things
    Best wishes to you both,
    Christina in northern ca .