Me Post Brain Surgery:
Life after brain surgery, I’ve found, is full of things that you can no longer do on your own. So make sure you have someone nearby at all times to help you. I was lucky enough to have my parents fly all the way our here to help me recover. This allows my husband to go to work but also it means I am not home alone. So here are some of the things you can’t do after brain surgery:
- You can’t brush your own hair:
- You can’t shower on your own for at least 2 weeks. Make sure someone is in the house while you shower to help you in and out of the shower and is there in case you slip. Better still buy grippers for the shower floor and a shower chair/stool:
- Heat is even more brutal! I find I get more lightheaded quicker – and the heat here is pretty intense (just yesterday it was 115 degrees!)
- You can’t deal with bright lights. I was never sensitive to bright lights before surgery but after it’s just sometimes too much. It’s hot and really sunny here in the UAE! Often I’m turning on softer lights or closing the curtains.
- You can’t ride in a car without getting car sick. Ok, so before the surgery I was prone to car sickness, but after I am even more sensitive to it. After surgery I had to drive an hour and a half home from Dubai to Al Ain. My dad had the idea of giving me the eye patches from the flight over to get rid of the sun (couldn’t wear sunglasses because of incision) and to help me relax.
- Can’t poop. Yeah I’m talking about poop here on my blog. Because of the pain medicines – and not to mention the trauma of brain surgery your body just went through, you will have trouble pooping. The intestines are the last thing to come back to normal after major surgery and anesthesia. So be sure you have some laxatives nearby to help.
- You can’t get dressed without help for a while. Putting a shirt over your head seems daunting so be sure to have some button down pajamas and shirts. Also elastic will be you best friend – pajamas pants, yoga pants, anything with an elastic band is heaven!
- You can’t watch T.V. or read for too long. Because the bone flap they removed was near my eye, using my right eye to reach or look at a screen hurt. If I read for more than 30 minutes I’d have pain. If I watched T.V. for more than 30 minutes I’d have pain. Don’t worry though because this improves over time. I’ve been recovering for 2 weeks and already I can do 2, sometimes more, hours of reading and watching T.V.
- You can’t do daily things so having people help you is huge – and allowing people to help you. You can’t shop, cook, clean, etc. My friend Jenia offered to help us out before the surgery with getting our errands done and it was a huge help for us! She offered to help and during this time you need to let people help you.
- You can’t hear normal. You will pick up and hear different frequencies of sound and it will make you super sensitive to loud noises and high pitches. You will have ringing in your ears and think you’re crazy. I’ve gone to the door bell to answer the door when the bell hasn’t rung. You will hear video game noises in your ear – embrace it because its now the new soundtrack to your life. Some sounds will echo. For example someone will say something at a certain frequency like okay! and you will hear in your brain okay! Okay! Okay! Okay! And when you turn to tell that person to shut up you’ll realize that they haven’t been talking! Hahaha its best to just laugh about it!
- Don’t push yourself. Remember you just had brain surgery – its okay to rest. If you’re tired – sleep. If there is too much going on around you and you feel overstimulated – leave the room. If you’re hungry eat. If you want to lay by a pool and read a book – lay by the pool
- Don’t miss your pain meds. If the doc says take panadol every six hours – do it. Don’t let your pain get too high because it takes a while for the medicine to kick in.
- Don’t sit or stand for too long. In fact, don’t stand up or lay down two quickly either because the blood with rush either to or away form your head giving you a quick feeling of lightheadedness.
- Don’t walk alone. Or as my husband’s favorite football club, Liverpool, sings “Never walk alone!” When walking in a mall or out and about sometimes you’ll get tired so having someone nearby to lean on is a must!
- Must be patient. Things will take longer and that’s okay. Have others remind you of your progress to help you stay patient.
- Must communicate with those around you. Many won’t know how to react or deal with what you just went through (and honestly you are still trying to know how you should react to all this). If you need quiet, tell those around you. If you need rest, let everyone know and go lay down. If you’ve had enough walking or being up, let those around you know you need a break.
- You must keep a list of verses and quotes that will motivate and inspire you. Often after surgery I was feeling defeated, like someone hit me over the head with a baseball bat, or like I was just too exhausted. During these times I had my husband, mom, or dad, read a quote from my list and this helped me to stay positive and to keep going.
- Must eat healthy. You are recovering so you need to treat your body right. Some days I would just eat what was around – chocolate, cookies, ice cream. But really you need yogurt, fruit, salad and your body will crave these things. A fruit basket is the best thing for someone after surgery! Tell those taking care of you to remind you to eat healthy.
- You must pray, journal, read – do what you need to in order to keep your faith strong. One devotional that really carried me through all of this was “Streams in the Desert” by L.B. Cowman.
- You must continue to do what is important. For example a week and a half after surgery I attended my girls’ graduation party. Of course, remember my don’ts – as in Don’t push yourself. I only went for an hour and didn’t stay the whole time but being able to see my girls graduate and say some words to them was worth it (just take your pain meds before you go!). Also my mom and dad are here with me for 3 weeks from America. I won’t be able to see them for a while (we are unable to come home this summer) so I’m trying to spend as much time with them as I can!
- Must use humor! Phrases like “That blows my mind!” or “peace of mind” or “don’t want that in the back of my mind” will have a whole new meaning and make you laugh! And laughter is good so laugh away! My doctor had a sense of humor too. When I woke up from surgery and was in the ICU I said “Doctor is everything ok? Is it all over?” He just smiled and looked at me and said, “What do you say we do this again tomorrow!” Hahahaha can you believe that??!! I owe that man, Dir. Bitar on the left, my life:
- You must make things to look forward to. The road to recovery is long and it can be overwhelming when you look at the whole picture. So plan little things in the week to look forward to. Maybe tomorrow you will walk a little further. In a couple days you’ll meet up with a friend. In a week you’ll go out for coffee with your husband. These little things will make check points for you mentally.
- You must get super cute pajamas before surgery because after surgery this is all you’ll want to wear – and the cuter the pjs the happier you’ll be. I got pjs from my mom, family, and my good friend Jenna. All cozy, comfortable, cute, and fun!
- You must treat yourself in little and big ways – remember you just had brain surgery so you can basically do what you want! For example when we went to Applebee’s for dinner yours truly ordered a Shirley Temple instead of her usual water – it’s the little things that make me smile. My husband even treated me to a piano! This will really help me recover : ) Also the weekend I was to get my staples removed in Dubai we decided to treat ourselves big and stay on the Palm Islands in Dubai and live it up! Only 3 of my 57 staples hurt when coming out! Not bad if you ask me : ) Also while staying on the Palm in Dubai I treated myself by calling the minimart from across the street because they delivered ice cream to our door!!
I hope you enjoyed this list. Those are just a few of the things that stick out to me. I’m sure there’s more I’m forgetting to tell. But most important remember that you’re body has just gone through A LOT – rest, sleep, and be gentle with yourself.