My Week In the Hospital After Brain Surgery

in surgery •  2 years ago 

I stayed in the hospital for 9 more days after my brain surgery. Some doctor almost threw me out exactly a week after my brain surgery, but my body said no and I was given 2 more days. In average, they say it is between one week to 10 days, which does not seem like a whole lot of time considering someone just cut your brain open.

I covered my initial 24 hours after brain surgery in a previous post plunging into some detail about various things from eating and drinking to catheters. Really delightful.

I never really know how much detail I should dive into or how much is best to share to give you all an understanding. In my head I feel like that person that cannot shut up, and true, sometimes in real life I am that annoying person. I suppose it is cathartic to write everything down that comes to mind, though I want to keep it digestible and helpful.

Bruised and Battered

I read somewhere that it would be a mix of Frankenstein and car accident. I felt a bit like a Game of Thrones survivor. At first, my face was glowing, then swollen, then I had difficulties opening my eyes because of the swelling. I truly looked like someone who fought for about 3 days straight by the end of the stay, though I only saw a recap of the early metamorphosis about 2 weeks after the surgery. I didn't dare look in the mirror. It took me well a few days until I summoned up the courage, too scared to know what I'd be looking at. But it wasn't all that bad, kinda, I just didn't really recognise myself. My face also turned all colours from yellow to purple, so yeah, the whole rainbow. But mostly, a swollen, yellow-ish egg shape with blue, purple and red specks, dipped into a bit of dried blood. (Oh common, you've seen worse on TV!)
Oh and I couldn't chew or smile properly.

hospital brain surgery

Taste & Smell

I couldn't taste or smell anything. There was a risk I'd lose my sense of smell and therefore taste, but it took a lot longer for the sense of smell and taste to come back, and then only on the left side. Here is something to remedy the visuals from the previous description: I smelled my husbands lovely, natural smell every day to check for any sensory changes.

Eye Sight

It only took a couple of days for any changes. Weirdly, my eye sight on the right eye, which was impaired, came back very quickly and clear. The left eye though was a bit blurry. Normal enough, nothing else to report here. I even managed to read some articles without problems on my last 2 days.

Steroids and Food

Where to begin...In short, I had turned into an eating machine. I don't think the fact that I couldn't actually taste anything helped, cause if I had, I am sure I wouldn't have finished all those culinary masterpieces in the shape of hospital food. Boy, was I hungry. Though to be fair, the hunger came with a vengeance towards the end of the stay and persisted well beyond that for quite some time. Luckily, the hospital portions are tiny and husband and mother reigned my food desiring monster back in with bananas, carrots and other healthy things (all soft stuff, naturally).
Which brings me to the second point with regards to steroids. You will gain weight. It is inevitable and also logical. I mean, you're not moving, you've been given steroids which basically dig a wide hole in your stomach and your body is needing energy to recover. Steroids also make you look like you've been pumped with additional air to float around on the search for more food.

hospital brain surgery

General Concentration

Following a conversation is exhausting. I had to take a nap every time I interacted with someone or listened to my mum read. It is as if you have the tiniest brain only capable to fill a few words. Noise was also not my friend. I only functioned on certain sound waves and volumes and could only deal with one person at a time. Also, I talked very slowly and quietly cause it was just too tiring.
It took a week until I could read on paper, one paragraph at a time and even then, I napped in between or just looked at images. I couldn't bear looking at a screen of any kind and that lasted for about 3 weeks.

Story Time

My mum told me that she'd read to me every day in the hospital. And without fail, she did! By the way, she has one of the most soothing voices there is. She read a book called The House of the Mosque. It was perfect for letting my imagination flow and falling asleep (not like it was very difficult).

More Sound Effects

Remember those sound effects from the drain? Well, there was more. Loads more over several months. Some cracking and clicking. I suppose I heard my head heal?! Or just fluids moving around. I don't quite know, but I was told it's normal and nothing to worry about.

Exercise, kinda

They told me to move on day 2. Day 2! One, because my catheter had to come out. Two, to avoid blood clots and stuff that comes with that. Three, to get me out and about and eventually home. Pfft, yeah right. Panting like granny, I used all of my evaporated core muscles to heave myself up on my elbows...from an already upright positioned bed. Every time I needed to go to the loo, I had to plan it several minutes in advance. The remote for the bed always in reach (stinky eye to those nurses moving the remote).
I also had physiotherapists making me walk to the tea cart, which was right outside my door. I had to make tea or coffee or whatever was in reach and go back to my bed. I hated it. I was exhausted. I wanted to sleep. After that it got a bit better until my husband and I practised the walk out of the hospital. I made it outside of the ward but it was downhill for me after that. The feeling was a mix of anxiety, sickness, dizziness and hyperventilating. I just think I wasn't ready for such a long walk, mentally and physically.

hospital brain surgery


It ties in with the previous point. You don't have any physical strength. Holding a spoon to feed yourself porridge is about all you can master at first. Pouring water from a jug into a glass seemed like an impossible feat, let alone pulling the tray towards me. I especially felt helpless when nurses would check on me and move the food tray aside and not put it back. Same for the remote. It was such an undertaking each time and my muscles just would not do what they were supposed to.

Bowel Movement

Sorry, but it has to be addressed. They won't let you leave the hospital unless you passed something and if you can't, well then there are various levels of interference. I was told this before admission, so I was well prepared for the abundance of that one question by basically everyone who checked on me. Luckily, I didn't have to go to the most invasive level. I think the sheer pressure (ha!) just made my body voluntarily continue with its bodily functions as it is supposed to. But, let me tell you, the combination of steroids, having to eat all the time, painkillers, trying to isolate your tummy muscles (no straining the brain!) and the pressure to perform does not bode well.
My mum, bless her, tried to get me to relax by reading to me for well over an hour, twice! Other more natural ways of helping yourself are to eat dried plums (ugh, my worst nightmare), carrot or apple purée (homemade, of course), and to try to move.

Having the Clips Removed

Let me begin by saying that I like to know in detail what will be done to me. Just give me the heads-up, a minute to take it in and ready I am to have done to me whatever needs to be done. Well, the nurse who took out my clips refused and started to fumble on my head. I panicked and had an anxiety attack similar to the one before surgery. In hindsight I think the nurse wanted to spare me the details and thought I'd be better off not knowing.
I would have wanted to know how many clips I had in before the nurse started to take them out, the tools used, the technique, basically everything.

Don Juan and the Jamaican Mamma

The kitchen staff changed only a few times compared to the daily turnaround of nurses. Don Juan, the charmer, sometimes snug in a yoghurt or chocolate cake for me and generally kept all the ladies on the floor in a good mood. To clarify, he himself goes by the name of Don Juan and that's how he introduced himself to me.
There was another food lady, I called her the Jamaican Mamma in my head, because she bossed everyone around and told all the sick, recovering people what they can and cannot eat. Nurses had great respect for her and tried not to offend her. Her accent also didn't help me trying not to stereotype her. Anyways, one lovely afternoon, I managed to go all the way to the balcony. I enjoyed the warm-ish weather when I realised that the kitchen lady usually comes around at this time to take orders for dinner. Afraid of not getting anything, my mum ran to tell her what I wanted. Apparently they argued about the fact that I wanted gravy on mashed potatoes. The Jamaican Mamma only puts gravy on chicken.

hospital brain surgery

The evening I got home, my mum made the most massive pasta bolognese. It was probably very delicious. I know it was even though I couldn't taste anything. But the mere fact that there was some kind of texture was rewarding enough. And who doesn't like their mum's cooking.

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What an interesting post! Your well documented and expressed experiences with surgery from the perspective of a patient is very interesting, and I hope you are feeling a lot better post-op! There are many reasons why (unfortunately) Doctors try and 'rush' patients out of the hospital, the first is funding and limited space (An unfortunate consequence of capitalism and governments not funding public hospitals properly), secondly is a psychological one, many studies have shown that the quicker patients leave hospital after major operations the greater chances of a 'full' recovery especially since hospitals are a haven for antibiotic-resistant bacteria such as MRSA (Methicillin Resistance Staphylococcus Aureus) and Finally for comfort, most Doctors, Nurses and staff generally want patients to go home for comfort as this can lead to faster and better recovery in the long run.

I do want to say that none of this is to say that you shouldn't stay in hospital for less than you Feel comfortable with, if you feel you still need it (as you did) then you should absolutely stay until you are comfortable with leaving.

Yeah agree with @locikll MRSA transmitted either with person contact or contact with infected objects.(for example, handles, table and etc) Plus wounds from brain surgery increase your risk of exposure to MRSA too. Its win win situation for you and doctor.

Definitely agree and I appreciate that the doctors let me stay :-) And yes, I am feeling a lot better, thanks

I am very happy to hear that :D It seems like you're going to be making a full recovery which is incredible.

First of all, thank you for sharing your journey and the side effects of your brain surgery!! I was a nurse on a brain injury unit where several of my patients experienced the same symptoms post surgery that you did. It is a VERY tough thing to go through, and I have to say, I am so proud of you. You're a strong fighter, and that's inspiring. Thank you for sharing your journey from a personal level, the world needs to hear these things.

Thank you, that is very kind

Thank you for sharing your experiences, I'm sure they will prove invaluable to people who have to experience similar surgery. No matter what doctors tell you, or you read online from official sources, it helps no end to get a very personal first person recounting.

I had a brief stay in hospital five years ago - the first overnight experience in the hospital ever for me (including birth since I was born at home). It's a weird alternate reality of rules and regimens, for first timers it can be quite a shock. Although I'm well aware that doctors cannot work miracles and their knowledge and abilities are minuscule compared to the complexities of the human body, I did find it strangely comforting to be there where you and your health are the center of attention - even if distributed across many people on any given day.

Anyway, hope your recovery continues to go well and keep writing!

wow, what a strong and great lady...I wish you a quick recovery.
Following you now in order to stay in touch and send in my support. You really have a big courage to document all the pains yu went through. I hope that our steemit community will show you much love...bless you and I wish you success in life.

What a harrowing story. I'm glad you had the courage to share it with us and so happy you're making a full recovery. It sounds like you have wonderful family around you.

I see that you live in London. You are so lucky to have that health care available to you! Like you, I left work several months ago to attend to family obligations and consider next steps for life. As an American, this means that my wife and I are now uninsured. If either one of us went through your ordeal here, it would mean selling our house and living in debt for the rest of our life.

They won't let you leave the hospital unless you passed something ...

Back in 1998 I had brain surgery to release the pressure from a acute subdural hematoma following a bike accident. I was in a coma for four days and spent three more in the hospital after waking up, when they said it was time to go home. I didn't have a bowel movement for two more weeks! Nobody asked about it.

Even 20 years ago, the bill for that stay was over $20,000!

Oh wow! Yes, I am indeed lucky to be in the UK/Europe and also close to a very good hospital. The bowel thing was one of the main checkpoints even at admission, ha!

My wife was amazed when she went to the doctor over there. They said, "You're not part of the NHS, so you'll be paying privately." Even then, they charged her 50 pounds for a visit that would have been $400 here in the US.

Your doctors practice medicine, while ours practice business.

Awesome and very inspiring post, glad you feel better now and healing :) Thanks for sharing, hope you fully recover in shortest possible time, stay stong & #keepsteemin :) Have a nice day

Very touched by your post...
Would love to Follow you and of course the Upvote too..
Speedy recovery..

Wow, what an experience. I went back and read the whole series. I wish I could have voted on the others!

Hi. God bless your journey and may you recover soon.

:// I'm glad that you feel better ...
May I ask though ,how was the bolognese

The bolognese was delicious, I think, as my taste buds weren't quite back to normal :-)


May you live as long as you wish and love as long as you live. :-)

stay strong and wish you get better soon

I am happy to see You are hell and healling. That is the most important. Wosh you the best on this recovery.

thank you



Ohh ... I hope you do well as soon as possible, I'm with you

Hopefully his health quickly returned and can move again ,,, fast heal yes ,,, :)