Surgery patient now back home, and doing well
By Kenneth Fine
Published in News on May 8, 2009 1:46 PM
Paul Bronson, back row middle, and his father, Larry, accept an $800 check from the staff of Murphy's Place, where a benefit was held for Paul while he was recovering from major brain surgery.
Five years ago, a brain hemorrhage nearly killed Paul Bronson.
So as he sat behind a desk, flipping through photographs of the pieces of his temporal lobe recently removed by surgeons, he wasn't fazed.
"It isn't weird at all," Paul said, looking down at a picture of three nickel-size pieces of brain matter taken out of his head several weeks ago. "I can deal with it as long as I'm alive."
His father, Larry, has the same perspective.
"That's just what they sent to pathology. They removed a lot more," he said. "All that was non-functioning. That's what has been causing his seizures."
For the Bronson family, the last half-decade has been filled with worry and frustration.
But Paul's second major brain surgery -- and the support of the small town he hails from -- has the family believing the young man has a second shot at living a normal life.
Before that day in April 2004, he seemingly had it all -- a fiancée, a career in the military and health.
But after he suffered the hemorrhage and was rushed from his Mount Olive home to Wayne Memorial Hospital in the back of an ambulance, everything changed.
Not long after the emergency surgery that saved his life, Paul was discharged from the service.
His marriage plans were canceled. He couldn't work.
In fact, the only thing he really worried about day to day was when the next seizure would come.
Those seizures are why he planned this latest surgery.
"I was just ready," Paul said. "I can't sit here and say I wasn't nervous because I was. But you know, I had family around me and friends. I just wanted the seizures to be over with."
Larry tries to explain what he was feeling during the six hours it took doctors to perform that temporal lobe resection at Tampa General Hospital.
"We were confident because he was using the same surgeon," he said. "But yeah, you're anxious. You're nervous. You're just waiting for it to be over."
And once it was, he was surprised how quickly his son recovered from a second major brain surgery.
"There is really not a long recovery time," Larry said. "They brought him out of surgery on a Monday evening and he stayed in the recovery room until Tuesday evening only because they didn't have a bed. ... Once he started eating and they got his seizure medication balanced, he was up and walking around in no time."
That Saturday -- only four days after pieces of Paul's brain were removed -- the father and son took in Disney World.
But they were advised to stay in Florida until Paul's post-operation checkup more than a month later.
"The doctor wanted to see me in six to eight weeks," Paul said. "He didn't want me to leave out of Florida just in case anything happened."
While the Bronson's were in Florida waiting for the OK to come back home, word about Paul's procedure spread through Mount Olive.
A benefit was planned by staff at Murphy's Place, the restaurant where Paul and Larry usually do lunch on Fridays.
"I thought it was great," Paul said. "I thought it was really nice of them."
And when he got back home last week, more than $800 was waiting for him.
"I told them, $5, $10 would have been nice," Paul said. "Just the thought of them putting time into that, it was really nice."
Only a few months removed from the procedure, it is still unclear whether the surgery was a success.
Paul hasn't experienced any seizures since the operation, but it is still "way too early to tell" if they are gone for good, he said.
But the young man isn't really thinking about his brain.
He is too busy thinking about going back to school, to pursue a degree that will allow him to be a therapist for others who suffer brain trauma.
"I can tell them, 'Hey look. I have been through what you're going through,'" Paul said. "Maybe they can find something positive in seeing that I'm OK."
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