The Brain Surgery Experience
The car ride home was a little rough because of all the movement, but I was willing to do whatever it took to get out of the hospital and back home with my family. I was happy to be left alone and allowed to sleep for as long as I wanted.
Now sleeping with a bunch of staples going across your head is not all that easy. My scalp had sutures below the surface, but on the exterior there were 40-50 stainless steel staples that stuck out of the surface a few millimeters. I like to sleep on my side, but I couldn’t put any pressure on those staples without a lot of pain. Fortunately, since I had a similar sleeping problem with my shoulder I had already come up with a jigsaw puzzle-like configuration of half a dozen pillows that allowed me to get some rest.
The first week at home was pretty tough. The one thing I wasn’t prepared for was the intense fatigue. And I was in reasonably good shape. I’d been riding my bike on an indoor trainer as much as my gimpy arm would allow in the months prior to surgery. It was all I could do to get out of bed and trudge over to the recliner each day. Bed, recliner, bathroom, repeat. That was my life. Bed rest for a month, or Lazy-Boy rest in my case. I couldn’t even take a shower. I was just too weak. In addition to the fatigue, moving around could be painful since my scalp was pulled taut by the staples and sutures. That said, in general the pain was not very bad. A couple BIG Tylenols a day kept me going.
On Friday of the following week, nine days after surgery, I made a trip back to my surgeon’s office to have the staples removed. This didn’t hurt too badly since the area was still pretty numb, but a few were tough. The brain surgeon told me I should avoid any trauma to this area. “Now you tell me,” I said. Even with the staples removed the incision and skin around made a rather prominent fleshy ridge going across my head. My doctor said as the sutures below the surface dissolved that everything should flatten out. He also mentioned that my head was still swollen in certain areas, but I guess it takes a brain surgeon to notice.
Even though I had started taking showers it seemed like the dried blood and medicine that stained my head just wouldn’t go away. Of course it did eventually, and since I was just lying around watching movies I didn’t really care.
Including the week I had the brain surgery I was out of work a total of four weeks. I probably should’ve made it five weeks, or even six. Not that I’m a workaholic by any stretch, but it just seemed like it was time to get back to life as usual. Maybe it wasn’t. Even though I was working in a laid back white-collar environment I found the first few weeks very tiring.