Return of the Gamma

elf on the shelf shade

Oodle the Elf sends Shade off at 5 a.m.

Shade had his second Gamma Knife surgery yesterday. For those who didn’t experience the first procedure four years ago, here’s the high-tech definition: A weird space helmet is clamped to his head and then zaps him with hundreds of radiation beams that intersect and cause a miniature Death-Star-type explosion that destroys the naughty area in his brain. Okay, not very scientific. Read the blog from the first procedure for a different (not necessarily better) explanation.

At 5 a.m., Aitza took him to Florida Hospital’s Cancer Institute, where they perform the procedure. By 6 a.m., he was prepped and he was under anesthesia by 7 a.m.

Meanwhile, I was in Atlanta, where I was working the College Football Awards for ESPN. I caught a flight back that morning and went straight to the hospital where I joined Aitza, who was wrapped in a fleece blanket and shivering. Why is it so cold in there? I could set a warm six pack in the hospital hallway, and in 30 minutes it would be chilled enough to drink. (Come to think of it, why am I not taking six packs to the hospital?)

Shade came out of anesthesia at 12:40 p.m. He was groggy and his throat hurt from being intubated, but otherwise he was okay. The procedure was minimally invasive. He had a couple Band-aids over his eyebrows where the Gamma Knife helmet had been clamped to his skull. He had gauze taped over his thigh where the doctors had snaked up a catheter to shoot contrast dye in the affected brain area. That way it shows up clearly in a scan and they can feed that info into the computer for the procedure. They also did an MRI with contrast. Between those two images, they could pinpoint the exact location of the anterior-venous malformation that hadn’t been completely destroyed by the first Gamma Knife procedure exactly four years ago (about 10% of the original AVM).

As I mentioned in the last blog post, the remaining area of the AVM was tiny, and we had discussed whether to go through the procedure as there was a chance that a bit of healthy brain tissue could be affected by the Gamma Knife. Obviously Shade wants to keep as much of that good stuff as possible. But I think we made the right choice to go with the surgery. That problem area was being fed by blood vessels and had started getting bigger. After this surgery, there should be none of the malformation left (crossed fingers, toes, and eyes).

The nurse said not to give him a shower for the day so that the wound areas in his head and leg could heal up a bit, so Shade was a bit crusty as he lay supine on the couch napping. By the late afternoon, he was back to making jokes and acting silly. At bed time, he walked upstairs. He was a bit more wobbly than before surgery. We hope that wears off because he’s been doing well with his walking.

Shade got his shower today. Thank goodness, he was a bit ripe. He’s got a couple pinholes above his eyebrows, but otherwise you’d never know he was in the hospital. There will be a bit of swelling in his brain which hopefully will go away in a couple weeks. We’ll keep you informed on his recovery process.


3 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. Keri Gill
    Dec 12, 2015 @ 14:48:37

    Vince and Aitza … What super parents you have been through this unexpected journey. We were so glad to hear that Shade’s procedure went well. Prayers that good results come soon. Have a merry Christmas with your family!!!

    Sent from my iPhone



  2. Jean
    Dec 12, 2015 @ 17:08:33

    Go Shade!!!!!!!!! Love you guys!!


  3. Tami
    Dec 12, 2015 @ 18:23:39

    Awesome news!


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