A Very Uncommon Cold: I Sprung A Leak!

So, a common thing you can expect, when you have a common head cold, is clear liquid dripping out of your face.  Usually your nose.  When you’ve got the Uncommon Cold™, however (as I do), you might be surprised to find yourself with similarly clear (but slightly less viscous) liquid dripping (nay, running) out of the side of your head.  As in, your temple.  From which things normally do not drip.  Or run.

This is what I found happening to me two days ago.  So, to review:

Side effects from The Uncommon Cold may include:
• Curing Brain Cancer.
• The Most Excruciating Headache Of Your Life (TMEHOYL).
• Leaky, running temple.  (LRT)

Before I freak you out (no, it’s OK to be freaked out.  This was a weird one.) let me pre-assure you that this ends well.  I’m OK today.  The deluge has been stopped.  So here’s what happened:

Earlier in the week, TMEHOYL had been slowed down quite a bit.  I was on pain meds and steroids (a common post-craniotomy prescription, to keep swelling down), which seemed to be controlling the pain well enough that it was tolerable.

Then, mid-week, when I was prescribed to reduce the dose of steroids per day (also normal), the headache came back.  Big Time.  And it came with some vomiting (also normal when you have swelling / inflammation in the brain).  So, on Thursday, I vomited.  Pretty hard, in fact.  Hard enough, in fact, that as I was barfing I noticed something running down the side of my head, and dripping onto the floor.

We all know how much pressure a good vomit can put on your skull, and it turns out that in my case, said vomit (followed by several more throughout the day) actually caused enough pressure to spring a fucking leak in my head, right in the middle of the incision from my brain surgery.

But what was leaking out?  Oh, just CSF.  That’s Cerebral Spinal Fluid, between me and you.  That’s the stuff that your brain floats in, inside your skull.  Brain juice!  The good stuff!  And man did I have a full-on piss of it coming out of the side of my head for a bit.  I actually soaked through a pillow or two when I was sleeping later that night.  A pillow full of brain juice– how cool is that?  (If you define “cool” as “things that pretty much never happen,” it was pretty damn cool.)

But how could this happen??  It’s actually pretty logical, and not that big of a deal in the context, and it does happen.  You see, I’ve had four brain surgeries.  And (this time) I mention this not to brag, but to point out that once you’ve had your head cut open (or any other part of your body, for that matter) a whole bunch of times, it gets a little slower to heal.  The bones on that side of my head have been cut enough times that they just hadn’t fully healed back together.  So when I put 800 megabarftons of pressure into my skull, it caused some CSF to find a tiny hole in my skull, and then my muscle, and then the stitches in my skin that still had not completely healed together.

Hence the leak.

So yesterday, I was speaking with my doctors on the phone, and while the Brain Leak was slowing down, we thought it’d be best to have a good look at it before the weekend (“Duh,” you say.  Well yeah smarty-pants, I’m telling you that’s what we wanted to do, so shut up with your duhs!)

So Friday afternoon I took myself to the ER, to get my leak looked at.  (The ER being the best way to see a neuro-surgeon quickly, without an appointment.)

It was odd going from the pomp-and-circumstance of jogging to the hospital for brain surgery with a full professional film crew, to just running myself to the ER for a head-leak, but I like getting my head fixes.  And no, this time I didn’t actually run.  Despite all these holes in my head, I am not an imbecile.

So the docs checked me out, I gave them a little drip-demonstration by forcing some pressure in my head, and the diagnosis was this:

You have a hole in your head.  A highly uncommon, but eminently curable, hole.  In the side of your head.

So they sewed up the hole!  This time, to be safe, they used some nice industrial-gauge steel cable.

(I’m kidding.  They used sailing rope.  Kidding again.  They used stitches.  But the good ones.)

And since then, no more leaky Chad-face!  Here’s what my temple looks like right now, all nice and tight…

head hole


Nuthin’ gettin’ outta there!  (Although I haven’t actually sneezed yet, so you never know…)

Other than this hilarious and (only slightly) disconcerting episode, I am feeling a lot better, thank you.  Not quite the holy-shit-you-just-had-brain-surgery-two-days-ago-and-you’re-pulling-abandoned-babies-from-a-raging-river-Chad that I was last year after surgery (I didn’t really do that, but I got a LOT of “I can’t believe you just had brain surgery!”s), but I am doing well.  The headache is under control again, and the barfing was only that one day.

I’m recovering.  And I am very happy to (still) be here!

And not leaking anymore.

13 thoughts on “A Very Uncommon Cold: I Sprung A Leak!

  1. Sounds dramatic but then again so is brain cancer😉. You are amazing to go through all of this and I wish you the best. My family has been praying for you. I know that God is with you and your doctors so I wish you the best.
    Blessings from Oklahoma

  2. Oh no!!! How awful for you! So glad you saw the MD…. And hope no more of that headache… Hang in there!!! Good thoughts/prayers coming your way!

  3. I love that you can laugh at your leak. Hang in there with the head ache. Better yet, hang it out to dry! Looking forward to future follow-ups.

  4. Thank you for your update. You really are an inspiration to everyone, especially to those, like me, who recently had a brain tumor removed (also in St.Teresa’s Hospital!). I’ll be thinking of you and look forward to your next update.

  5. You could probably just wear a Depends on your head if this happens again so you won’t leak brain juice on your pillow. Stick your face in the leg hole and you’ll even look like an astronaut!*

    *I couldn’t help it…

  6. Whew! Glad to find out that a diminished volume of CSF in no way compromises your sense of humor or ability to tell a story; also glad you’ve taken steps to keep the rest of yours safely in your head. I hope the headaches are diminishing daily, and that you’ll be ready to pull a baby from a raging river any day now. Sending good wishes and recuperative powers,

  7. First heard about you through the blog the Everywheriest. 4 brain surgeries?! Holy crap you seem to be handling it rather well. I think I’d be curled up in a corner somewhere if I had to go through all that.

    Have you thought of calling The Guinness Book of World Records? Loved reading it as a kid. If there isn’t already an entry for most brain surgeries gone through and survived then I think you should petition for one. I mean you should get some sort of recognition for all this bs you have to go through, right?

  8. hello young man, well you really a hero in my book, this has been the worst I have heard you talk about your brain, just proves you have 1 right! I guess up to now we have been really been getting the good news. keep on it fella we are right behind you with our very best wishes and will keep on looking for your news.

  9. I hope you are feeling well post brain surgery and post brain leak.

    You have an indomitable spirit and I say a prayer regularly for you, your brain, Dutch, of course, she is a big part of the cheerleading team, your friends, doctors and family. Stay strong my friend and keep the sense of humor intact. You make me laugh so much. You also have the best grammar of anyone I know.
    Best wishes,

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