Hello, it’s officially been three years since I had my crazy neurosurgery operation, and in honor of the fact that I am still alive right now, I’m posting about it.
Handily I’ve written on this topic a couple times and in honor of my new spirit of, actually publishing old drafts, I’m taking this post from January 24th, 2014, fixing it up, and presenting it for you today. Here it is:
15 Things I learned while recovering from Neurosurgery.
1.Learn to live with surprises: Even if you really, really, really, think that it’s the end, and you’re completely prepared for it, you can wake up fourteen hours later incredibly thirsty, and with the odd sensation of being unable to move your upper body.
2. I don’t know how to phrase this but: Eleven pm in the ICU seems to be the perfect time for the construction crew to jack hammer something. Either that, or morphine has some crazy effects. Point here, you’re not sleeping, but that’s okay, you’re just in the ICU.
3. Appreciate the little things: Recovering in the ICU after surgery 24 hours since your last sip of water gives you a new appreciation for the meaning of the word “thirst”. At this point, the tiny sponge lollipop they give you to dip in water and moisten your mouth with is like an oasis, and the nurse who brought it to you is a saint.
4. People have a great capacity to do good. All nurses are saints. They are amazing people who look upon you in your hour of need, and give you morphine. Or some other pain killer, or bring you a lavender scented hot towel to wipe the dried blood off your head with.
5. People may not always live up to your expectations. The nurses that are part of the night staff may also be saints, but of the tough love variety. They favor doing things like “calling your doctor” before giving you an extra dose of meds, which results in you waiting 45 minutes in agonizing pain to get those meds, and hope they kick in.
6. The stomach has its own clock. Hospital kitchens close, so be hungry when the kitchen is open, and not at 3am when you and your sister are looking at the menu picking out what you actually feel like you could possibly consume. This will result in bitter disappointment that is only satisfied by handfuls of crackers and jello.
7. You are capable of amazing things. Like being spoonfed and not choking to death or dying. While you are capable of doing this, I recommend you avoid being spoonfed at all costs. If the nurse decides that you need help eating because you haven’t eaten in three days, while she may be right, she may not be the best person to spoon feed you. Surviving being spoonfed by an impatient nurse is a great accomplishment, as it means you’ve miraculously found a way to swallow food and breathe at the same time.
8. Curry soup does not deserve to exist. I don’t know why it is even considered a food. It is a malicious attempt to make you suffer for three days while it brings back memories of the spood-feeding horror of the past with its lingering smell on your unwashable neck collar.
9. Pain is relative, EXCEPT NOT. Apparently the official hospital pain chart is on a 1 to 10 scale, and not 1 to 5. Know and memorize this fact. Getting the allotted portion of medicine for the “I’m just unhappy enough not to smile” face when you’re really at the “All pain I experienced up to this point in my life was nothing” face is not fun.
10. Know your limitations, other people won’t. Physical Therapists have both too much and too little faith in you. You get to walk around the entire building with just a walker! But no, you can’t go the two feet from the bathroom door to the toilet alone.
11. Sometimes you just need to get away. FLYING PTERODACTYLS OF DEATH! Are preferable to another night in the hospital, agonizingly reclining in your bed, wondering if this moment in torturous space and time is ever going to go away.
12. Visitors help time go by faster. They are also far more accurate gauges of how poorly you may or may not be doing, as their faces contort into looks of pity upon seeing you, while doctors just take blood and give instructions.
13. Hold on for dear life. Having a “Wheel chair pusher in training” kind of feels like you might as well be wheeled to the MRI machine by your five year old niece. Also, why does she have a volunteer tag? WHY ARE VOLUNTEERS IN CHARGE OF TRANSPORTING THE GIRL WHOSE NECK IS HELD TOGETHER WITH STAPLES????
14. Be happy to be alive. As you were probably never closer to death than you were in those moments, going under, being operated on, and recovering in the ICU, and you survived that, this means you can probably survive anything. Survive it or not, the main point is that:
15. You are loved. People love you. Enough to drive nine hours in a car with their 9 month old son, a giant stuffed tiger, and a perfect get well card with a kitten on it. Enough to sleep in an uncomfortable hospital chair three nights in a row, keeping you company and massaging your legs when they hurt from not moving for so long. Enough to have their faces contort into looks of pain when they see you suffering. Enough to spoonfeed you until you’re about to choke. Enough to tell you that you should have this operation because otherwise life might end. Love is limitless, and experiencing the love in this world is worth the pain.
God is good.