Barbara described that fateful July day leading up to her brain decompression surgery with Ramin Rak, M.D., F.A.A.N.S., a board certified neurosurgeon: “My friend said, ‘I will get you water; don’t move.’ I guess I moved, and I fell down the whole flight of stairs.”
Unbeknownst to Barbara, she had a very large epidural hematoma on the back of her head in the right hemisphere of her brain, from the parietal lobe to the occipital. The tumor was very dangerous, causing bleeding and severe brain compression. She was rushed to Huntington Hospital, the closest hospital to her friend’s house, where the fall took place. “The one good thing about it is that Dr. Rak was there and did my surgery, and that’s what saved me,” Barbara said.
Dr. Rak is the Director of Awake Craniotomy and Brain Mapping at the Long Island Brain Tumor Center at NSPC and has established hospital programs for these procedures on Long Island. Other specialties include brain tumors and cerebrovascular and skull base diseases. Dr. Rak’s treatments include minimally invasive techniques such as stereotactic radio surgery with Cyberknife®, as well as other complex spine and brain decompression surgery techniques.
Barbara fully awakened two days later, when her family explained her fall and major surgery to her. She saw a sign referring to Dr. Rak, and since her boyfriend had the same name, she thought it was a joke at first. She quickly discovered, however, that it was no joke. “When I met him, I thought he had a great bedside manner. He was great, he was sweet, and everybody said how great he was,” Barbara said.
Wound-healing issues required some additional follow-up, and Barbara saw Dr. Rak in his office several times after seeing him in the hospital. “Connie, who works for him is a doll. I like her so much. It’s a very easy office. You never have to wait long. They’re all very nice,” Barbara said.
On one of Barbara’s visits to Dr. Rak, he told her: “You look great. It makes my day to see somebody like you, where you’ve come from what you started with.” After that, Barbara said she gave him a big hug. “I wish he was a regular doctor, so that I could see him on a regular basis,” Barbara said.
Finally, Barbara had some parting words: “I don’t want anybody to go through what I went through, but if they did, he saved my life.”