Thrombolysis, craniectomy and cranioplasty

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One of these is something I wished I had received, the other two were what happened instead.

After an ischemic stroke such as my own, the most effective and preferred treatment is thrombolysis. This involves the IV delivery of clot-busting drugs to break up the blood clot and minimise brain tissue damage. However, thrombolysis needs to be administered within 4 hours to be effective and, unfortunately, in my case it was too late. As such, I suffered a massive degree of damage from my stroke and my brain began swelling.

To relieve pressure, neurosurgeons conducted a hemicraniectomy. After 3 weeks in hospital to recover from the surgery, I was transferred to rehab at Hampstead Rehabilitation Centre. During this time, I had to wear a protective blue helmet while mobilising and undergoing rehab. This was a royal pain in the arse. I also had to avoid putting any pressure on the right side of my head when sleeping.

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Several months after the stroke, I underwent an own bone cranioplasty. However, due to an infection during the operation, it had to be removed again the week after. After a 6 month course of antibiotics, I underwent another cranioplasty using an acrylic graft. This last surgery was successful and I now have a structurally sound skull once more.

-Nathan

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