Today marks two weeks since my surgery and I cannot believe how well I am now doing. As you know, the prospect of having an operation on my brain sent me into a spin, it seemed almost too big a concept to deal with and triggered great anxiety and fear in me. The last couple of weeks have been challenging and that is unlikely to surprise anyone. I have been horribly unwell due to pain and severe dizziness and have suffered as medical staff have made a half-hearted attempt to find the best combination of pain meds to deal with my pain. In the early days, mum asked how my head felt and I described it thus: “Imagine the worst headache you have ever had, then add a migraine and visual and auditory sensitivity and distortion, then imagine someone has hit the side of your skull in the same place repeatedly with a metal hammer.” I acknowledge this may sound melodramatic but it was how my head felt early on. Thankfully, I have since been given better medications for the pain which makes me less sick and better able to exercise. I have had two days recently where my pain has felt less severe which has been wonderful! I know that with time, it will only get better and easier.
The past four days have seen me hit a number of significant milestones and I’d like to share them with you. I have this week been able to:
- Stand up without getting dizzy or falling over or having to use my hands to push myself up;
- Turn around and turn a corner without losing my balance or getting dizzy;
- Go two days without vomiting!!;
- Start physio, speech and OT therapy and advance to hydrotherapy;
- Walk the entire corridor on my own without incident; and
- Shower myself standing.
Whenever I am in hospital I am acutely aware of how small my world becomes. Immediately after surgery I am limited to my bed and soon master that environment, then I progress to being able to move into a chair for part of the day and perhaps even sitting up for a meal, then to moving around my room, quickly mastering that space, then I move on to other areas such as walking the corridors and attending physio and so on. Leaving the hospital becomes another new start as being in a different, larger and busier environment takes a while to adapt to and so on. At the moment, the mere thought of going to the airport and being on a plane, fills me with dread.
Since the op, only a few people have seen me and fewer still have seen my wound. Our friend, ‘T’ visited last night and was pleased to see me able to get up to greet her. Every other time she has visited, I have been flat on my back in bed or seated and wobbly. It was reassuring that my progress in healing from the operation and my efforts the past few days at my rehabilitation exercises are showing results.
I thought it now timely to share a couple of photos of me, my wound and the multitude of the bruising colours. I warn those with a delicate stomach that some of these photos may be upsetting. As it turns out, the incision is a bit bigger than I had thought. I had bandages and wound tape on my head for several days post-op so it was a little while before even I got to see the surgeon’s handiwork and how much hair had or had not been sacrificed.
All the nurses have been impressed with how the surgeon saved so much of my fringe and keep the scar close to my hairline. I have days where I feel fine about it and the occasional day where I can’t bare to look at myself in the mirror. With the facial swelling and bruising, I felt disfigured and for someone as vain as I, that was enormously upsetting. Thankfully both the scar and swelling are progressing well and I no longer have a giant egg on the side of my head, it’s shrunk to more like quail egg size and my face is returning to its normal shades.
It has been quite helpful to have these photos for us to reflect upon and see how much improvement and healing has occurred in two short weeks.