Sunday, October 28, 2012

The after effects.

I talked a lot before surgery about my fear of pain, and everyone kept telling me that it wouldn't hurt so much but I didn't dare believe them. In my book it's better to manage my expectations down so everything's a bonus.

But it really hasn't been that bad. During recovery and the first night the nurses carry out obs every two hours, and part of this is asking for pain levels out of 10. From the beginning I found it hard to gauge the pain in my head - it was strange and transient. Was it surface pain from the wound, or deeper pain from the depths of my brain...? (I know that there aren't any pain receptors inside the skull so this isn't possible but it felt like it sometimes).

I was wary of pain, so I took all the pain relief on offer, and that worked.

But I was aware I was masking the problem. I wouldn't get a handle on how painful it was until I turned down the painkillers. That was a scary thought. Turns out it's absolutely fine, since I've been home I've taken two paracetamol by way of painkillers and that didn't even do anything. I have weird pain in my scalp as you'd expect from any cut, but it isn't that bad and comes and goes. It's actually starting to itch now more than anything. It's comforting to know that I have a big bag of codeine at the ready should I need it.

The more interesting after effects are the sensation of movement and imbalance inside my head. It's hard to describe but everything feels very lopsided. It isn't constant and every now and then something shifts in a very disconcerting way and I have to wait for my head to reacclimatise. Sometimes is doesn't.

And laughing really is weird. It's nice to notice how often you really laugh, although frustrating when you can't let yourself. I feel lucky to be laughing so much at a time like this! When I laugh my scalp moves in such a way that I think it's going to get stuck in the wrong position. I guess it's the scar pulling, and will get better soon. Stitches are due out on Wednesday so hopefully it will be healed enough by then.

Today my head has in general felt a bit more stable, and centrally balanced. I suppose it's got a big change to get used to  - there is a space in my head where there wasn't one before and a loose bit of skull that needs to knit back together on one side, so it's no wonder that it feels a bit lopsided. It's amazing I am walking around at all, let alone feeling as strong as I do.

I'm still waiting for the new found amazing skill, that I was convinced I would acquire through head trauma, to show itself. It isn't a language, I've checked. It could be eating judging by the amount I've put away in the last two days, although strictly speaking that wouldn't be new found. Hmm wonder what it could be...

Did that just happen?

Something that keeps fleetingly occurring to me is the sheer enormity of it. Then it goes again.

It first happened the night before surgery, in hospital, like I got a glimpse of the situation from another point of view. Then it was gone again.

After, it kept surfacing again but I put it down to the morphine. The horror of what just happened... have I just had something pulled out if my brain? Did they really just open my head?

In the shower in hospital I had a moment. I wept with relief. I'd survived. I'd just managed to balance on one foot while washing the other and that's always taxing, but it seemed ridiculous to be showering, and balancing on one leg, when I hadn't been sure I was going to be able to move said leg at all. 

It was a happy moment, but ridiculous too. I had to hold on to the wall and weep. And then laugh. I'd survived.

I think it will take a bit of time for the enormity of what's happened to sink in. It's ok to write about how you're processing experiences, but it doesn't mean you're actually processing them. Argh.

Surreal still, I guess.