The recovery at home was basically three things:
- Sleeping/ Not sleeping but wanting to sleep
- Temporary craziness
- Side effects and skin infections
Sleep/Not Sleeping: I don’t know if this is common, but I had a hard time with sleeping. I also had times when all I did was sleep for hours and hours. Then, there would be times when no matter what I did, I couldn’t sleep for more than two hours at a time. I think this was in part due to pain, but it was also due to the pain medication. The narcotics prescribed made me feel both fatigued and keyed up, which is a bizarre combination. I finally found a way to get some rest in a reasonable format after I was able to mostly stop the pain meds. I was helped by something as simple as the Sleep With Me podcast and when none of the “tips” for sleeping (no phone, no TV, cold and dark room, etc…) stopped working, I moved to Lunestra after I had been awake for most of seven days.
Being crazy: First of all, let me say that if you are preparing for this yourself or reading about this for a loved one, I want you to realize that you need to open your heart to forgiveness. Then, imagine all of this: you have had a major operation in which part of your skull was cut out, put on a table while some tools went inside your ACTUAL BRAIN (under the gray part, but still) to put a fancy paperclip on a vessel that has already broken open once, and then you were put all back together again. Then, to stop bad things from happening after this procedure, you have to take a combo of medicines that all by themselves, without the brain surgery part, would make life harder.
So, the medications are bad. One of them, called Keppra, was particularly awful. I read a comment that said taking it is like becoming the Incredible Hulk, and that is the most apt description I have ever heard, though I might have gone with Mr Hyde instead. It was AWFUL, and I was a nightmare to be around from that all by itself.
But, it wasn’t just the Keppra and other meds, there was also head pain. Every noise hurt. My mom scrambling eggs for me was an exquisite kind of torture. Leaf blowers were demons sent directly from hell. In general, light and noise were bad and worse in terms of their direct effect and the combo, well, let’s just say I’m glad I can’t remember all of that time in my life.
Side effects and skin infections: There were many side effects, for the lack of a better term, from having brain surgery. A big one was my vision was pretty bad for a while. It was better than after the first surgery since I felt pretty confident that it would get better. I also had a particularly hard time with balance and drops in blood pressure upon standing for a while afterwards. Then, I had a skin infection at the surgical site and had to go through all the wound care for that.
Things improved gradually, and I would like to say that I’m completely back to normal now, but that’s not quite true. I’ll write another post about the longer-term recovery since most of this immediate recovery was all over by week 8 past the surgery. The good news is, though, that the immediate surgical recovery was not as bad as after the aneurysm and I’m continuing to improve even now. I’ve had my brain checked quite a few times, and everything is as it should be.