On November 1, I’m having brain bypass surgery at Barrows Neurological Hospital in Phoenix.
Cerebral bypass surgery is a procedure to restore blood flow to the brain by redirecting blood around blocked, narrowed, or damaged arteries.
The surgery is the brain’s equivalent of a coronary bypass in the heart. The surgery connects a blood vessel from outside the brain to a vessel inside the brain to reroute blood flow around a damaged or blocked artery. The goal of the bypass surgery is to restore blood supply to the brain and prevent strokes like the TIA’s I’ve been experiencing over the last year.
The bypass surgery involves joining a “donor” artery from outside my scalp, to a recipient artery inside my brain with sutures so that blood can bypass the blocked area and increase the flow in my head. That pulse that you feel when you place your hands on your temples comes from the superficial temporal artery (STA), and it’s the artery most commonly used.
This is not a procedure I’d prefer. In fact, I’m terrified. But I think it will substantially improve my quality of life.
There are a lot of ‘pluses’ on my side. First, coronary bypass operations are performed half a million times a year with an overall success rate of almost 98%. My surgeon, Dr. Michael Lawton, has already performed 800 such surgeries as head of neurological brain surgery at Barrows, so I feel I’m in good hands. He says the surgery will last 2-4 hours.
I’m continuing to write my Stones of the Ancients draft in October, but make no promises how recovery will progress through the holidays. The doctor says recovery takes time and everyone recovers at slightly different speeds. Generally, I should be able to sit in a chair while I’m in the hospital, walk after 3 days, and walk up and down stairs after 5 or 6 days. They expect full recovery within 6 -12 weeks of the operation.
The brain’s ability to retrain itself and make new connections—its neuroplasticity—is working overtime after brain surgery, so I’ve been instructed to relax and sleep as much as possible, practice good nutrition, and create a relaxing routine, like a warm bath or reading, to prepare for bed.
Please keep me in your thoughts this month, and send your prayers, positive energy and magical vibes to my surgical room at Barrows before you retire on Hallows Eve.