Plate Removal

It's really pretty!

The titanium plate and one of the screws.


Several months after my surgery, once the swelling had gone down, I noticed a bump under the skin on my forehead. When you lose weight you lose weight everywhere, even my face was thinner, so I wrote it off as characteristics of my face that were now exposed due to weight loss. However, the bump was more sensitive to touch than the rest of my face and it was a bit uncomfortable.

A couple years later during a routine MRI and checkup in Houston my surgeon also saw the bump right away.

“Boy, your skin is pulled so tight over the plate,” he said.

Then I had a light-bulb light-up moment. Oh it's the plate not my bone! That made more sense. I knew the basics of the surgery. I had two surgeons; an ear, nose, and throat surgeon who removed the tumor from my sinuses, and the neurosurgeon who went through my forehead. I was aware that he had used a titanium plate to secure my forehead back into place, but because the bump was irregularly shaped I never thought it was the plate.

“That must be uncomfortable?” He continued. Which it was, and I was impressed that he could hone in on that. “I think we should remove it. Everything should be nicely healed up, and you don't need it anymore.”

He explained a relatively simple procedure where he would only have to make a small incision, maybe a couple inches, along my original incision. He said he wouldn't have to cut my hair, and if the surgery was done on Thursday I could be back to work by Monday. This kept sounding better and better. So I signed up for it with enthusiasm. My dad was also enthusiastic as he called dibs on keeping the plate after it was removed. One more thing to add to my baby book I suppose.

A few weeks later I was back in Houston for surgery. I had passed all pre-surgery exams which consisted of: bloodwork, a meeting with the anesthesiologist, a weigh in, a reading of my heart rate, a blood pressure exam, a meeting with the surgeon and his team, and a urine test. (Because they never believe me when I say I'm not pregnant.)

The next morning I report to the surgery check-in at 5:30am. From here things are pretty routine for me. I put on my surgical gown, and cap, in gorgeous hospital green. My surgeon's assistant, a young handsome, Indian man brings me the paperwork that basically says In case of death or dismemberment you or your family won't sue us, etc.... So, I sign my life away. My IV is put in and I am rolled out into the operating room. I am asleep before they even tell me to count backwards from ten.

When I wake up, groggy and sore, the first person I see is the handsome assistant. Normally the first thing they say to you is something like, “Everything went well. The surgery was a success, etc.” The first thing he says to me is, “We had to cut more of your hair than we had anticipated, I'm so sorry.” Through my blurred vision I see his expression, which is so apologetic you would have though he was telling me they had to amputate both of my arms.

I smile slightly, wave my hand at him, and sleepily say, “That's okay, no big deal.” Again, he looks stunned by my nonchalance. I can only imagine the temper tantrums he has seen at the mention of lost hair.

My dad is the one who actually explained the details of the surgery. As it turns out. The plate was not what was causing the unsightly, uncomfortable, bump. It was actually bone that had grown over the plate. Apparently, my surgeon told my dad that he had not seen anything like it before. So he had to make a snap decision, shave part of my head, and reopen my entire incision ear to ear. He then filed the bone down and smoothed everything over with bone cement. The plate remains in my head. It is basically fused into my head at this point.

Knowing my dad would be disappointed that he would not get the memento that he was promised my surgeon smuggled out an exact copy of the plate so we could have one. It is surprisingly pretty. I never thought I would say that about a surgical plate, but it really is almost like a piece of jewelry. It is maybe the size of a nickle, it has a swirling pattern, and six points where the screws go make it look like a snowflake.

The fact that bone grew over the plate reminded me of my first surgery. They told me that when they removed my tumor part of it had calcified and turned to bone. So, this was certainly not the first time I had received surprising news. However, every time I am amazed that all of these twists and turns continue to happen. I guess I have superhuman healing powers, I can even grow bones!

(And, I was still at work by Monday.)


Latest comments

05.11 | 16:12

I am so sorry you had to experience this, Becky. But one thing no stinking fire can take away from you is this: You're an awesome writer. Keep on producing!!

15.04 | 16:00

You are the first person that I have heard from that has this bugger! feel free to reach out to me in the contact me section. Limited response in this section

15.04 | 03:48

Wow. IHow are you doing with the Teratocarcinosarcoma. I was diagnosed with it last September.

15.11 | 18:32

Wow! What an inspirational story! I hope that you continue to share. And for those that don't get it. Try and fit in her shoes one day.