The first stop for post-surgery expectations is your surgical team. Your experience will vary greatly based on your health history, your diagnosis, your anesthesia and your surgery. However, if your surgical team hasn’t communicated clearly what to expect after surgery – which may be reason enough to research other surgeons in your area – or you’re at the early stages of your diagnosis, here is a somewhat general summary about what you can expect after brain surgery.
You will notice pain after surgery. Obviously this is not preferred, but what do you expect? Your brain has been operated on. Don’t be alarmed by this. Discomfort will be both immediate and lingering. Don’t try to be a hero and endure the pain either, because it will last. Instead, take your prescribed medication as directed. For some reason just knowing this seems to make the process more bearable.
Things are going to seem different. Your entire sensory system will be implicated, so things shut down for a bit. Taste, smell, vision, sound can all be affected in unique ways. People experience both increased and decreased sensory functions, so don’t be alarmed.
Medicine has side effects. Whether it’s steroids or pain medication, there may be some noticeable side effects. Even gentle over-the-counter medicine has side effects; the perfect pill does not exist. Understanding that changes in hormones, emotions, attention span and or preferences may occur as you continue to take your medication. This is normal and shouldn’t cause you to stop taking your much needed prescriptions. If you experience any serious pain or discomfort as a result of your medication, talk to your surgical team immediately.
Your surgery site needs time to recover. Even with the advancement of minimally invasive surgery, brain surgery will still result in bruising, stitching and scaring. You may feel like things are loose up there or extremely sensitive. Some patients feel a curious desire to pick at the stitches or scar. Take things slowly and give your wound the time and space to heal properly.
Be patient with your recovery. It takes a while. Brain surgery is kind of a big deal. Don’t get frustrated when it takes longer than a few days, or weeks, or months to feel yourself again. Be patient with others as well. Frustration can arise as people don’t respond to your surgery the way you expect them to. Also, try to be patient with your surgical team. Dosage and estimated timelines can be tricky. They want whats best for you and sometimes it just takes patience.
It may not make it in better, but knowing what types of things to expect after brain surgery will remove a lot of the fear and stress associated with the uncertainty. The surgical team working here with Dr. Chris Duma prides ourselves in patient education and care. Please don’t hesitate to talk to Dr. Duma, or a qualified member of his staff, if you have questions regarding surgical expectations.