Saturday, November 24, 2012

Scar musings.

This week I noticed something weird about the scar. I guess it isn't really that weird but I just hadn't figured it out before.

Up until now, the scar itself hasn't really given me much pain. [Side note: the most painful thing throughout the whole experience, apart from the initial migraines, was the cannula in my wrist when I woke up from the anaesthetic. The massive needle was visible under my skin for over an inch and it wrecked! It still hurts now when I wear a watch.]

I was lucky - with the tumour being right at the top of my head I've had it easier than some. Not least because it was easy for the surgeons to get to, and the scar will be well hidden when my hair grows back. But also day to day it has been easy to not disturb the scar - I can lie down without squashing it, so can sleep without any pain.

I heard somewhere that some nerves are severed during surgery, and with no pain receptors inside the skull, its normal to not have much pain with head surgery (relatively).

For the first week the scar was covered up, and I didn't touch the plasters at all as I was petrified about infection. The woman opposite me in hospital was five years and seven operations into rebuilding her skull. Her tumour was removed without complication, but her scar got infected during recovery and I really do not want to go through the ensuing hell that she explained to me in minute detail. So I was doing everything I could to not touch the plasters or the scar. With anything.

Contrary to what I was expecting, having the staples removed didn't really hurt either, weirdly. But the process left the scar exposed, and I found myself absentmindedly itching it now and again. That hurt - I never did it for long.

And then the itching kicked in for real. It lasted about three or four days and was total torture. But it still wasn't painful exactly.

As the weeks have gone on, the healing has improved the look of the scar. It's no longer encrusted with blood, can't really call it a frankenscar anymore. In some areas it has completely healed over already, but in others the skin doesn't seem to quite line up and it's really bumpy. I'm hoping that will improve over time as it looks and feels weird. And brushing will probably hurt (when I have enough hair back).

So overall the scar really hasn't been that painful, until this week. On Tuesday I spent the day driving around in a van (obviously I wasn't doing the driving), and noticed it hurt to rest my head back on the headrest. On closer investigation I realised that the skin on my scalp doesn't move under the scar. Along the length of the scar it feels solidly attached to my skull underneath - there is no give. How had I not noticed that before? And will it be like that forever?

The centrifugal force of going around a corner had been making my scalp move against my skull. Normally this wouldn't be a problem, except where your scalp is effectively glued to your skull and won't budge. It bloody hurt.

So, word of warning. I have no idea if this is normal but it you've had a craniotomy then don't lean your head on a headrest when going around corners in vans. Oh yes, or over speed bumps.

My one monthiversary.

Suddenly it's one month since surgery. Wow.

I'm celebrating, on my own, in bed, with a migraine. I'm really disappointed. I knew it was a long shot but I was really hoping that the tumour had been the cause of my migraines.