Odd Side Effects of Surgery

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Brain surgery rarely comes without side effects.  Doctors sometimes touch on the risks of major ones, but there are all sorts of weird little things that often happen as a result of brain surgery which go unmentioned, yet remain forever changed.  One of these ‘weird’ side effects for Ezri is that she sometimes excessively sweats on only the right side of her head.  The first time we noticed this was about a month after her first surgery so it wasn’t something we saw immediately like high sodium (which she had for 5 days post-op), though definitely related to something that changed as a result of that surgery.  The day it started happening, the girls were playing on our bed and I noticed Ezri was getting particularly sweaty.  However, it was only on that right side of her head.  I checked the temperature in our bedroom – it was 72, so not particularly hot.  Sure the girls were playing, but not roughly and 2 year olds (this was right around the time of her 2nd birthday) don’t sweat like this from fairly sedentary play.  This sweating on the right side of Ezri’s head continued to the point that one side of her head was drenched as if she’d been dunked in the pool and the other side was bone dry.  There was a perfectly defined straight line between wet and dry down the back of her head, a bit unreal to see.  At this point I was getting pretty concerned and called the pediatrician.  Off we went across town to the doctor who deemed it nothing to worry too much about.  She mentioned something called Horner’s syndrome: (http://www.mayoclinic.com/health/horner-syndrome/DS01137/) “Horner syndrome is a rare disorder that occurs when certain nerves that travel from your brain to your eyes and face are damaged. Horner syndrome isn’t a disease itself. Rather, it’s a sign of another medical problem — such as a stroke, tumor or spinal cord injury. In some cases, however, no underlying cause can be found. Horner syndrome usually affects only one side of your face. Typical symptoms of Horner syndrome include a drooping eyelid, decreased pupil size and decreased sweating on the affected side of your face.” Even though Ezri did not have ‘textbook’ symptoms of Horner’s syndrom (her droopy eyelid from that surgery was on the opposite, left, side, which didn’t have decreased sweating, but rather normal sweating) it was thought that there was some damage from the recent surgery that caused the excessive sweating effect. After a handful of these sweating episodes, this side effect seemed to subside and we didn’t see if for a number of months.  Then, 8 or so months later and immediately after Ezri’s third surgery (a right sided orbitozygomatic approach) this side effect resumed, but not to the same extent of excessiveness.  Since the third surgery we sometimes notice Ezri is a bit more ‘moist’ on the right side of her head.  Usually it is when the temperature is slightly warm, though not enough to cause one to sweat unless they are being moderately active – maybe 75 degrees or so.  And she definitely still does sweat on the left side – just a more ‘normal’ amount.  So despite freaking out about this at first, we are now thankful it seems to just be a harmless though definitely sort of weird side effect of her brain surgery.   

Ezri and Kes 2009