Archive for the ‘Recovery’ Category

Friday 25th July 2014

Today started off a bit more positive with the thought of I could go home. A group of doctors and nurses came around this morning looking at my notes and discussing things, asked me a few questions but still unable to talk properly I managed to answer them.

The surgeon came to see me and advised as thought it is a grade 2 Astrocytoma and they got around 99% out, recovery has gone well and asked me how I was doing.

My reply was I’m fed up of being stuck in here, most people have left the ward and it was lovelly outside again. To this he replied with I can see no problem why you can’t go home. I phoned my wife and advised she can pick me up. After a quick check over a nurse noticed I still had my heart IV line in. Removing this did make my stomach turn a little with it being quite a big line and the nurse putting pressure on which hurt adding to it.

My wife came to pick me up but I couldn’t go until after the MRI scan that has already been booked, nice communication there!

No problem at all, MRI scans don’t bother me other than I can’t stand needles and they always put a contrast die in. On this particular occasion it did not bother me though.

This is the fun bit (try not to laugh too hard), the way I deal with MRI scans is simply close my eyes and let them get on with it. This time I almost actually fell asleep in there! Being so high on drugs and head all over the place I closed my eyes, ignored the noise and felt as if i was floating. This sounds crazy but I was imagining I was floating in a space station – lol. If you know about MRI scans you will know that they take different scans and each time the noise changes. With me floating in a space station in my head, every time the noise changed a bulk head door opened and I floated in the the next section and this repeated until the scan was over.

Why a space station? I have no idea but think is what started off my weird dreams in the days to come.

After the scan was complete and moved back to the ward I was able to go home. Some nurses came around with meds, advice, support groups etc etc. You get these at every appointment so by now I was bored of them. Most of this information is about coping brain cancer, what help is available and the charities.

See time to go home…

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Ok, not much to report regarding night 2 as it was pretty much the same as night 1 but this time I slept in chair with the nurses checking on me every so often and trying to force painkillers down my neck. These were refused again as I wasn’t in pain probably due to the concoction of tablets given throughout the day, I couldn’t even tell you what these were.

Again throughout the night my stats were normal and they were considering letting me home in the morning. When you think about it, it is quite amazing (or at least it is to me, maybe it is the same for everyone?)…

23rd July 2014  –  5hr operation in morning with recovery in afternoon and night.

24th  July 2014  –  Recovery day and night

25th July 2014  –  Possibly going home in morning

See time to go home…

Day one of recovery was a little better but not by much, constant feeling of your head being in space and body back on earth made it all feel less real.

Breakfast was fine, (infact better than at home as I never have any as i feel sick after it)cereal followed by toast and a cup of tea and never had a problem keeping it down. Now came the time of getting up and getting washed, with your head feeling 10 times larger than it is and your spacial awarness all over the place I found it hard to wash from a bowl as I was still not fit for a shower.

One of the hardest things I found was the simple brushing of teeth, every stroke of the toothbrush could be felt vibrating through my head so I didn’t bother, yep I chose dog breath instead.

The day got better as it went by and I had my parents and wife visit me giving support which puts you in a better frame of mind, and as you may know a postive frame of mind helps recovery. I chose not to have my kids visit me as I believe it would have been good to see them but I think it would have upset them to see in such a state compared to how I usually am.

After being told it is possible for patients to go home the next day after surgery I got a little excited but there was one problem, for you to go home they checked if you had bowl movements – lol. Unfortunately for me this was not happening despite being given natural laxatives so I had to stay in. I was offered a suppository which I quite happily declined as I had been probed enough!

Today 24th July 2014, I was able to walk unaided so made a few trips to the bathroom myself with the thought of a suppository as motivation. No luck so I guessed I was in for another night.

The UK is not known for hot weather but the worst thing about this day of recovery was that the aircon was broke and it was a hot day outside(around 30 degree’s celcius is good for UK), this was making inside like greenhouse and the fans just blowing warm air around. At this point I was starting to get frustrated at the whole situation and just wanted to go home.

Couldn’t have a bath as they none, couldn’t shower as I couldn’t get my wound wet, the only way to keep cool was damping myself and drinking water. Even the water was getting warm quite quick!

As dusk was approaching the temperature started dropping and sitting by an open window gave respite and comfort.

While all this was going on in my head I couldn’t help but feel guilty after hearing an old man across the ward being told he had 3 types of cancer in his brain making it inoperable, the poor man only had about 3 months left on this planet and it cast my mind back to when my grandfather had lung cancer and fought to the end despite it being terminal. The old man seemed to take news well but as with this blog you just don’t know what going on in the head. It certain puts a different perspective on things!

See recovery night 1…

The night after surgery was a welcoming sight, the ward was so hot because the aircon was broke.  With a window open and a slight breeze it was lovely but that was not the problem. Remember me saying your neck feels like it’s been over stretched? Well it is a major problem trying to get comfortable, no matter what position you lay in your neck aches like hell. I tried all sorts of positions with and without pillows and finally found that having the bed up about 45 degree, a pillow at lower back, a pillow at neck/head and then a rolled up towel at base of skull reduce the ache enough sleep. Great I can get some sleep!

Hell no you can’t, due to major surgery the nurses have to check your vitals every hour and once satisfied every two hours. How the hell this aids recovery I do not know! Anyway, I was quite lucky in that my vitals were fine and they actually told me they have never seen someone so calm and with normal bloody pressure matching what it was prior surgery. The trick here is explained in my decision to have surgery reasons if you remember that one.

After constant broke sleep and refusing painkillers because I didn’t need them (it was if they were trying to force you to have them, at one point I thought they were going to beg) I managed to get some sleep when they switched from 1 hour monitoring to two hour monitoring. Finally morning was breaking through and I was starving.

Continue to Recovery Day 2…

Recovery Room

After the surgery I was ushered into a recovery area with constant monitoring. Feeling a little groggy and not quite with it I did have a major issue with my neck. I guess it is the same for most people after being strapped to a bench by the head for 5 hours and the only way I can describe it is every muscle feeling over stretched and a constant ache.

The feeling in the head is pretty much only the tightness of the skin and a numbness. In my case I also had swelling at back of head and near the temples due to the clamp points breaking the skin in order to hold head down tightly. Other than this I had no further issues and you don’t feel the staples and I never even had a headache.

The Ward

2 hours after being in recovery area it was time to go to the ward with other patients with similar issue’s such as brain surgery and spinal surgery covered under Neurology. A major part of recovery is hydration which means you have to drink often, and guess what that means? Yep you need to leak so within the hour I was out of bed pulling curtains and draining into a pot and called the duty nurse. Sounds quite quick doesn’t it? well that is because it is, your head feels 10 times larger than it is and every time you stand up you can feel pressure in the head like a heartbeat. For the first few trips to the pot I shuffled along like an old man due to spacial awareness all over the place. The reason for a bottle is for checking that you are drinking enough and any abnormalities which you shouldn’t have due to it being brain surgery.

Just after an hour my wife was able to come and visit at which point I was eating dinner. Actually not bad for hospital food! The only problem with visitors coming is that pre-surgery they shove a tube down you throat and in my case I found it very hard to talk like as if you partied too hard and lost your voice the following morning.

Not long after making sure I was drinking enough and able to empty bladder I was able to go to the toilet and encourage to take walks now again around the ward. Finally able to take a trip myself (but aided by my wife) to the bathroom I took a look in the mirror and what a sight! That gown was way too loose fitting. On a serious note; the staples, iodine and dried blood ruined my good looks.

ouch

The funny thing in the mirror was a swollen scalp and a pulsating of fluid through the hole left in skull (reminded me of the film Alien). Now the tricky part was going to the toilet, being so disorientated and a pulsating in head I decided to have a sit down wee. Getting backup was another ball game, pressure in head felt bad and as you get up it feels like fluid moving from you spine to your skull.

My wife helped me back to bed and the cycle started over again.

Continues on Recovery Day 1….