The recovery process since the clipping has been long, and it’s still not over yet. I’m having a hard time not making a corny joke, like “My recovery has been like a roller coaster, full of ups and downs and vomit” or “if you’re hoping that getting a paperclip in your brain will help things get organized in there, you should consider getting an Easy button from Staples instead.” Those are pretty lame, so I’ll won’t quit my day job.
Since the process has been a long one, I’ll address the different phases I’ve gone through. This post is about the immediate recovery that occurred in the hospital. Here’s a general timeline:
2 days in the Neuro-ICU. I stayed there two nights, but would have moved to the regular neuro floor on the second day if I hadn’t been having some issues with the drain (more on that in a bit)
3 days on the regular Neuro floor
So, the total hospital time was 5 days. I went in for the surgery on a Monday (early, early on a Monday) and then I came home on Friday, late in the evening.
I don’t actually remember much of the stay in the ICU. I have a vague memory of a PA telling me that I’d get to leave in the morning the day after the surgery, which seemed surprising because I still couldn’t really sit up easily, then the neurosurgeon saying I needed to stay one more day because of the drain. The drain, you see, was still filling up with blood and CSF, so I couldn’t leave the ICU till that stopped enough for them to take the drain out.
Drain? Like a sink drain? Not quite, but the same general idea. After the surgery, they install a little plastic tube in the surgical site, and that tube is attached to a little plastic bubble so that excess brain fluid and blood can drain from the surgical site and not allow for much brain swelling. As a horror fan, I was totally stoked to have a BUBBLE OF BLOOD attached to myself for a few days. I even took a pic. Please remember that I was also on some pretty heavy duty narcotics, so everything was a bit more removed/distant than in normal life, which may also explain why I thought a bubble of blood was pretty neat instead of gross. I’ll include photos below, but you don’t have to look if you’re squeamish.
So, after the drain issue was cleared up, I was able to move to a regular room and put on my own pajamas and take a shower, and life was amazing (in comparison). I’m telling you — if nothing else, this aneurysm has made me realize that taking a shower and cleanliness in general is one of the best modern conveniences ever. Sometimes, I hear folks talking about “how things used to be better in the olden days” and I just do NOT understand that. Why in the world would you want to go back to heating up bath water by the BUCKET??
Back to recovering — I wish that I could say that the recovery was no big deal, and it was all fine, and I had no pain. But that’s not true. I will say that the recovery from the surgery was WAY less awful than the recovery after the aneurysm. Here are some pluses/minuses:
- Plus: I only took the heavy duty pain meds for about a day and a half, then was able to move to the pill form of pain meds relatively quickly.
- Minus: My whole face hurt. My lips hurt. My head hurt. My teeth hurt. My eyes hurt. My neck hurt. The side of my face hurt. The back of my head hurt.
- Plus: I don’t remember the pain the same way I do the aneurysm pain. I know I had it, but the combo of drugs and the surgery itself has thankfully removed a good bit of that memory
- Minus: The staples. I had about 50 staples in my head for a scar that is about 10 inches long. Since I also have relatively bad psoriasis and had been off my medication for a month prior, my scalp was a scaly, blood, itchy, painful mess. A mess that I couldn’t scratch or clean for days.
There is no plus to bloody, itchy staples, so I’m done with that list.
I’ll get to the recovery at home and all that has continued in the next posting. I can say that in general, the clipping recovery wasn’t the worst thing that has ever happened. If you’re reading this, you have an aneurysm that HASN’T ruptured, and you’re considering the surgery, my suggestion is to get it done if the surgeon thinks you need it. The ruptured aneurysm was seriously one of the most awful things. This clipping surgery was not fun, but 2 months after, you’ll feel almost like yourself again and you won’t have to worry about things as much.