Brain Fog, Pain, and Surgery

Just over one week ago I had surgery #5 at U.T. M.D. Anderson Cancer Center to remove two painful Neurofibromatosis tumors on my left hand. Unlike my first three surgeries, the two most recent ones have been comparatively minor.

Here are a few before pictures:

And after pictures:

The experience at the hospital was outstanding. U.T. M.D. Anderson Cancer Center truly is the best. I remember shortly before the surgery started the nursing anesthesiologist said, “We’re going to take good care of you.” Going into the surgery I wasn’t worried about anything and had full confidence in my doctors and nurses. 

Overall, this has been the quickest recovery from a surgery, thus far. It’s not over yet, but…Pain has been, comparatively, minor, as have most other post-surgery complications. As always, the areas operated on feel–in what can only be described as–weird. My entire left hand, really, feels weird: numb, tingly, and occasionally like there is something stuck in my hand somewhere, which is all perfectly normal. I also don’t have full use of my left hand right now.

Another very common post-surgery experience that I am all-too-used-to is being in a brain fog. This is caused both my pain medications and the anesthesia. My mind has been numb, making it somewhat hard, sometimes very challenging, to concentrate, to think, to talk, or to write. It’s always somewhat weird and scary when you can’t use your mind, especially when your life really depends on it. The brain fog hasn’t been as bad this time but it’s still there and it comes and goes. The other night I was reading a short passage, and while I didn’t have trouble reading it, per se, it felt like it was a struggle – like I was reading from a foggy distance – not sure how to describe it. 

Typically, it takes at least a month to fully regain all mental abilities.

Now, it’s somewhat a matter of when not if surgery #6 will occur. Dealing with lots of tumors (and pain) is part of having Neurofibromatosis. Hopefully, I’ll still have good insurance at that time. 

Dr. Andrew Joseph Pegoda