brain surgery

Surgery After Aphasia

Six months into Lauren Marks’s aphasia recovery following an aneurysm, she learns that she is facing down more surgery. An angiogram to check the coils in her aneurysm found they weren’t working as expected. A craniotomy would be needed to repair the damage. Yet that surgery could create new problems as well as set Lauren back in her aphasia recovery.

Lauren Marks tackles her fears in her new book, A Stitch of Time.

More Aphasia?

Lauren meets with the surgeon feeling confident, but rapidly loses her composure as she learns more information. The surgery will be risky. It will be trickier than the original surgery. More problems may arise while trying to execute this solution.

Lauren asks on page 189 how the surgery impacts her aphasia:

Could I lose my language again? I asked. My voice had gotten so tinny and meek.

Oh sure, he said. It’s the same location, so that’s always a possibility.

My cowboy persona was utterly disarmed at that point, no bullets left in my figurative pistol or spurs on my boots. I simply forced my dry mouth to keep flapping.

The idea of this setback fills her with dread. Yes, she has made great strides with language over the last six months, but that doesn’t mean that she will achieve that again.

When Is it “Too Much” Information?

The surgeon upsets Lauren when he tells her that he would have never treated her aneurysm with coils. Lauren’s aneurysm ruptured in Scotland, and the surgeon overseas performed a different operation. The American surgeon states on page 190:

But they prefer coil embolization over there in Europe, and you shouldn’t have a craniotomy if you don’t have a very experienced surgeon available, that’s for sure. But if you had been here in the US, I would’ve clipped that aneurysm then and there, and you wouldn’t have any of these complications now. Anything we are going to do from this point on is going to be… tricky.

His words, while true, are unhelpful in retrospect. Lauren can’t go back to Scotland and ask for a different procedure. She also couldn’t get to this doctor when she was thousands of miles away. Information, in this case, doesn’t make her feel confident or in control. It makes her feel more helpless with all the unknowns.

Did you need surgery again after experiencing aphasia? How did you make your decision?

Photo by Jesse Orrico on Unsplash

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