A team of very dedicated professionals at Santa Clara Valley Medical Center cared for me through a two month coma and another two months of grueling physical rehab. I am glad to report that those special people helped me relearn to walk, talk and be self sufficient.
I was discharged into the world with a hole in my skull and a brown waffle looking foam helmet. My family physician, Dr. Shirley Uy, referred me to UCLA Neurosurgery for the next stage in my recovery: the reconstruction of my skull by Dr. Bob Shafa, a neurosurgeon extraordinaire!
At every visit, Dr. Shafa knew exactly what to say to make me feel optimistic, as well as realistic. He reassured me and my parents that Claire, his special assistant, would be helping us navigate the bureaucratic phone lines that my mother hated. We never again had to deal with the phone lines; we communicated by email or in person and we always felt special and important. Dr. Shafa said "I know that you and your parents have all been through a lot. We want to make it easier for you. We will take care of you."
Dr. Shafa also knew that as a young man, I cared how I looked to the girls; he reassured me that there would be very little - if any, deformity. Dr. Shafa took time to explain how a little muscle that was close to my brain might have shrunk, and how we would proceed with the procedure for cranioplastic surgery.
My dad liked Dr. Shafa instantly, largely because he was positive and reassuring while helping us understand the many details of a very delicate brain surgery.
Dr. Shafa invited us to call or email if we had any questions, which we did. He promptly answered our emails and returned phone calls to answer my mother's questions. In fact, I remember my mother pulling over while she was driving to catch a call from Dr. Shafa. She was so excited that he called, and after she hung up, she hugged me and said, "I feel we are safe with Dr. Shafa."
My surgery took three hours. My mother and father told me that Dr. Shafa found them in the cafeteria afterwards to tell them the good news: my surgery was a success and I would be waiting to see them in the recovery room.
In the recovery room, the first thing I remember seeing was my hair. It was still there! Dr. Shafa had taken special care to remove only the hair he needed to remove to perform the surgery. After three hours of surgery, I was still a handsome dude! And now I was a dude with a skull!
Age 22 college student