Hello dear readers!
Sometimes, with everything we are going through, we just need a good laugh. A fellow chiarian sent this to me, and I had to share with you all. I hope it gives you a chuckle!
By Wendy Waeghe
First I’d like to say I’m so very glad I had the surgery, I’m 90% better! I have no regrets except cutting off all of my long hair……..myself, “pause for the gasp.” I looked like Mr. Cleans ugly step sister, so just let the doctor/hospital do that for ya. Know that there are many of us who have been in your shoes and will try to answer any questions you may have. Your doctor is still the best place for medical advice. This is just a bit of info to maybe help and hopefully get you to smile.
Here’s what you can expect … from the experience that you are or may go through after brain surgery…
It takes a long time to recover. I know that probably sounds obvious, but this point took a long time to sink in. I got really impatient with myself. I kept wondering, after just a week, when I’d start to feel like myself again. At two weeks, I started to panic. In the end, it took months – months! – before I felt normal. It’s been more than a year now, and guess what? Things still aren’t exactly where they should be. And that’s okay. Healing takes time. Be patient with yourself.
You will be stoned out of your gourd. I was loopy from the medicine, and slept for days. DAYS. I could barely stay conscious for more than a few hours, but I kept fighting it, which was dumb. Just sleep it off. You’ve earned your rest.
You will have the attention span of a goldfish (because of the aforementioned medicine). TV shows will be really difficult to follow, and reading books or email will be absolutely impossible. Even the plots of movies you’ve already seen will be absurdly confusing. Have you tried watching Adventure Time? The episodes are only 11 minutes long, and they don’t really make sense anyway, so you might want to check them out.
It might hurt. A lot. This should probably fall right into the “obvious” pile, but I did not anticipate this. The thing is, getting your head drilled actually causes pain. People will tell you that the brain doesn’t have any nerve endings, but your scalp and your skin do. There’s also brain swelling and extra fluid that causes headaches, and I’m not talking the kind that you get while at work or running errands and take a couple Motrin for either! You will feel like there’s a war going on inside your skull and your brain is losing the battle. You may even throw up. GOOD TIMES. Now is not the time to wait it out or to be tough. You could end up with a headache that lasts for, I kid you not, days. TAKE YOUR DAMNED PAIN KILLERS! You can be strong at a more appropriate time, like at the grocery store or your child’s birthday party. (DID YOU SMILE?)
Nerves take a long time to regrow. When your surgeon cut into your skull, they also cut into a lot of tissue and nerve. Over the next few months, as these grow and heal, they’re going to be crazy sensitive. Every time I shivered, it felt like it reverberated straight across my skull and down into my brain. I’ve found that the best way to calm things down was to gently press a hand onto my head. Just a bit of pressure helped soothe my nerve endings. Also, consider wearing hats to ward away chills. Those can be a @&$ch.
Your senses might reset. I was told about this, and it still amazes me. Sometimes whenever the brain is touched or traumatized, your senses are affected. In my case, I noticed that my already strong sense of smell (This nose ain’t for show, buddy!) was now basically super-human. I could smell things that hadn’t happened yet. I also became acutely aware of the sound of my own voice, which sounded strange and foreign to me. Sometimes it still does. Things normalize after a few months, and I’ve got to admit, this is one of the cooler after-effects of brain surgery.
You’re not going to poop for like, a week. The lower intestine is the last thing to wake up after major surgery. So take all those stool softeners the docs are giving you, okay?
Steroids can you turn into a hormonal, rage-filled beast. The good news? They stop your brain from swelling so you don’t die. The bad news? They transform you into the Tasmanian devil . But, with acne and a huge desire to eat everything in your fridge, here’s a tip: try eating lots of lean protein and veggies, and accept that you might gain some weight anyway. Be responsible, but don’t try to limit your caloric intake or diet. You need to eat to properly heal. It’s not permanent. You’re feeling weird because of the medicine, not because you’ve become Phineas Gage or something… Shesh.
Scar tissue is a @&$ch. Check with your doctor on this one, but after you’ve healed completely, consider massaging the site of your incision to help break up the scar tissue that forms around it (I think that you, like me, will have a hole in your skull as opposed to a metal plate. So, please, be gentle). A little bit of scar tissue protects your skull, but if you have a lot you might feel an uncomfortable pulling across your scalp. Do be careful. Even now, a year later, I get headaches if I massage my suture spot too much.
Your head is going to look like a medieval dungeon. There’s the matted blood in your hair, the weird jelly they put on your head, and the metal staples or stitches holding it all together and … ugh. Oh, and you’ll have weird scabs on your scalp, as well as some bruising. As gnarly as all that sounds, it is, apparently, normal. Obviously, this goes without saying, but you shouldn’t pick at anything.
You are going to wake up crazy thirsty from the anesthesia, and no one is going to give you water. They are concerned you are going to throw it up. So instead, you get to munch on ice chips in an attempt to quench your crazy thirst. Even then you will probably throw up anyway. Your throat is gonna hurt like hell from the breathing tube. Let me repeat. Good times.
Do you speak more than one language? You might get confused as to which language you are speaking, and to whom. I did that. I am pretty sure it was a form of alien from another planet that has yet to discovered. I was fresh from surgery and my body felt like it was the consistency of green jello. (Why green you ask? I don’t know. Just looks gross to me) I was able to get the nice lady’s attention somehow and explained there was a spider crawling on the back of my neck! That nice lady? My nurse. “Hun, I can’t understand you.” Great they don’t speak alien here and I’m doomed. Of course it was not a spider. It was a spinal fluid leak which she found and then there were a whole lot of folks coming in to kill the aforementioned spider (I’M SAVED!)
Get someone to do your laundry. It’s amazing how quickly you will go through every single pair of pjs you have when you are wearing them non-stop. Ditto for pillowcases, which you will need to change nightly, and towels. You will basically amass a military barracks’ worth of soiled clothing and linens, but you will be too out of it to remember how to work your washing machine. It will look like a space ship with flashing lights and weird noises. Ask someone for help. Especially if it’s down a flight of stairs. My stairs reminded me of the Never ending stairs picture. My thought at that moment? “I want my mommy.”
For that matter, get someone to take care of you. Swallow your pride, and rely on other people. You will be in a daze. Making yourself food, getting dressed, washing your hair, are all going to be impossible without help. I was 44 when I had brain surgery. I can’t remember ever needing my mother more. My husband was there helping of course, but I just wanted my mom.
People in your life are going to react to this in different ways. The crazy thing is, you won’t be able to predict who’s going to do what. Some of them are going to be amazing. They will come to the hospital and visit you and send you chocolate and call you to see how you are doing. They will stop by your house with food and presents and if they are grossed out by your head, they won’t show it. Some folks … well, some of them will drop off the face of the planet. They’ will say or do weird and insensitive things. They will dismiss what you’ve been through. It will hurt your feelings, be infuriating, and might just confuse the hell out of you. Whatever the case, try to go easy on them, okay? Some people are just bad in a crisis. Besides, you’ve got bigger things to worry about.
Friends are going to look to you for cues on how to act. If you don’t want to talk about it, they won’t ask. If you are really open, they’ll be receptive to what you have to say. Decide how you want to deal with this thing, and you’ll find that everyone else will likely fall into step.
The entire experience will be weird and surreal. My surgery was more than a year ago, and I still haven’t completely wrapped my head (heh) around what happened. Things seem to fall into two categories: “before my brain surgery” and “after.” That’s just how it is. It’s a weird thing.
For a very brief window of time, everything in your life is going to make sense. The petty things that bug you will fall away, and you’ll just be really grateful to be alive. Enjoy that feeling for as long as you can.
I hope you are feeling better soon. And welcome to the club.
Thank you so much Wendy for sharing your hilarious take on what we have to go through. Sometimes, you just need to laugh!