For months I stared at my calendar full of doctor appointments. Each day that passed brought me closer to the day I wanted so badly. 4/1/19. April Fools is not a typical day that people look forward to. But this was the day I had to wait 3 months to get to. This was the day my cranioplasty (the surgery to reattach my skull bone) was scheduled. For the majority of this time, I felt excitement as I got closer to what I was now comically referring to B(bone) Day. One would think that you would feel excitement to end a horrible chapter of your life and get back to normal. But just as the rollercoaster reached its peak, it started to barrel down towards the ground, flipping upside down. And as the ride got faster, all I could do was shut my eyes, scream and hold on for dear life.
Each pre-op appointment was a slap in the face with the reality that surgery was very close. This day was going to happen. And the excitement I had previously felt started to be replaced with a sense of dread. My body was in a constant state of tension. The only thing that occupied my mind were thoughts of pain and darkness. I was terrified of being trapped in that dark abyss that I remember. And I was scared of what type of pain would be involved with the surgery. I don't remember how it was after the first surgery, but my family has told me that I was in agony despite medications. I was entering another unknown world and would be out of control once again.
My anxiety bled into my subconscious. I started having nightmares constantly revolved around the upcoming surgery. One morning I remember jolting upright in bed trying to take deep breaths. Matt looked at my pale face and asked if I was ok. I promptly said, "no, I don't think I am." I had been in the middle of a nightmare where I was in my cranioplasty. I could feel the anesthesiologist place a mask over my face and I watched the scene around me go fuzzy. Then I watched from above my surgeon drag a scalpel across my scalp, peeling back the thin skin revealing my brain underneath. And then I could feel her glove covered hands touching my brain, pushing it and manipulating it. I watched as she stapled my head closed, and I regained consciousness in a hospital hallway with another tube down my throat. I tried to scream because pain was unbearable but no sound came out. No one could understand me. I felt my brain start to push inside my skull, and pain was blinding. And then I was back in my bedroom, sweating and seeing both Matt and Layla staring at me.
It was a nightmare I can still feel to this day. The sensations were so vivid that I almost felt like it was more of a memory instead of a fragment of my imagination. I would spend the week before surgery prepping not only medically by injecting myself with blood thinners instead of taking pills, but also psychologically. I looked at every item in my apartment a few seconds longer, memorizing it. Because there was always a chance I could be gone and never see it again. The last time I had been brought into an OR, I had been on death's door. And the next time I went in, there would always be the chance of things not going according to plan. This entire journey was filled with unexpected complications. So while I had doctors tell me that this would be a much easier and straightforward surgery, I could not shake the feeling that something probably would go wrong yet again.