Note: Some of the images in this post are graphic and might be upsetting to some viewers
Surgery time! Three months after the accident, the swelling had decreased enough in order for my neurosurgeon to go back in and reinsert my bone flap. Not going to lie – I was scared! I figured to myself, I should be okay because I came through the first one so well and I was definitely in worse condition that day. Still, surgery is surgery and there are always risks and it’s a scary process. I knew that I was in good hands with my surgeon and the rest was left up to God.
I find it funny that this procedure was considered “elective”, like I could take it or leave it? I understand being bumped for an emergency but when I think elective surgery, I think getting a boob job, not putting your skull back together (shrugs). My parents waited with my in pre-op and when the time came to wheel me away, I started to cry. In my mind, this was my first time going in for this kind of operation. Since I was unconscious the last time, I obviously didn’t remember what it was like. There was also no waiting that time. One of my surgeons, a resident who I was familiar with from my time in the hospital, was outside the O.R. as they were wheeling me in and he told me that everything was going to be fine which I really appreciated.
When you first go in the O.R., you are still awake as they transfer you from the stretcher to the operating table. They start prepping you right away. I remember they had to undo my gown (I was still covered up) and that my left arm had to go into a molded arm rest. They also start pumping oxygen into your lungs through a mask. Then (thankfully) comes the drugs before they do any of the scary prep – like shave part of your head!!
I came to while still in the O.R., as I was being transferred to the stretcher. My head hurt like a son of b*tch!! I will never forget the pain as they moved me! As they wheeled me out, I asked my resident “Can I see my mommy now?” (exact words) and he told me that I had to go to recovery first but that he would bring her in as soon as possible. He kept his word. No one is allowed to come in and see the patients in the recovery room but they let her in. It wasn’t until that moment in recovery when I saw her face that I felt like I could finally relax and that it was over.
There are a couple of things to be prepared for after any head/brain surgery. For whatever reasons, doctors don’t always tell you this stuff. I guess it is so common place to them that they forget about it. You have to fast first before a surgery for 12 hours, or longer if you surgery has been delayed. Regardless, if the lunch staff forgets and brings you a tray of food – DO. NOT. EAT. IT!! You will be tempted to because you are SO hungry but trust me, you will live to regret it!. I was brought a tray of Shepherd’s Pie after my surgery and I ate every last bite. My mom was surprised because hospital food is not the greatest. My uncle brought me in a yogurt and I ate that too. I think I also ate part of my dinner but I’m not sure. The 12 hours of vomiting I remember like it was yesterday. Your body is going to want to get rid of the anesthetic and you will bring up whatever you have inside of you. The more you eat, the more you puke. I suggest you munch on crackers instead until the nausea has subsided. I’ll never eat Shepherd’s Pie again.
As you can see in the photo I have a tube inserted, that’s to drain the excess blood – sorry if this post is making you squeamish! They keep it in for a few days before they remove it and close the site. Don’t worry, you are completely awake as this happens. It feels really weird and there is very little pain. You would be surprised at how long that tube is!!
I was discharged back home to my parents house 2 days after my surgery. As anyone who has seen Grey’s Anatomy knows, when they operate, they squirt a liquid over the area, to sterilize it before making an incision. This stuff does wonders to your hair! I like to call it Medusa chic. You aren’t allowed to wash you hair for a few days so it gets nice and crunchy. It’ll take a few rinses to get all of that crap out.
Typically, and this is totally normal, your face will swell about 5 days after the surgery. My operation was on the right side of my face so after being home for a few days my right eye completely swelled shut. I was told that there would be some swelling around the site, but my cousin who had a different neurosurgery was not. Since I’m the expert, she had come to me for guidance beforehand but I forgot to mention this detail to her – my bad!!
For the first and second surgeries, they used staples to close the incision. The first time I was still in the hospital when they were removed but the second I had to go to my family doctor. They kindly provided me with a staple remover for her (i.e. her nurse) to take them out. Again, you are awake for this procedure, it kind of pinches a little but it doesn’t actually hurt. It’s basically like removing a staple from a piece of paper, except you are removing it from skin.
You’re tired all the time, noise and lights still bother you but other than that you’re pretty good. Once you can finally wash your hair, you feel fantastic!! The staples or sutures usually come out after about 10-12 days and by that point you are up and around with nothing stopping you.