Release from the Misery of the Neuro-Observation & Continued Hospital Stay
The day after the surgery, when I guess they realized nothing incredibly serious would happen, I was moved into a private room with a roommate. I remained there another full 2 days. I know I was in incredible pain, but I will never forget and always worship my day nurse. She is not only my favorite nurse, but one of my favorite people! God, did she help me get through those awful days.
The pain/pressure wasn’t controlled too well and I was purely miserable. The body forgets the actual feeling of pain, but we remember it happened. To add to that pain, my fear of nighttime continued. As a blessing, my night nurse would walk the halls with me, once I could walk of course, while we talked about our lives, our relationships, work, what-have-you. She is also on the list of top nurses.
A very tough moment was the first time they got me out of bed. Again, I was an incredibly active person when this all happened. It was insane to me that the simple act of getting my legs over the edge of the bed to stand was so hard, even though “hard” really can’t describe it. I began to cry, saying, “I can’t do this.” I felt so defeated by all of this. What a blessing I had a wonderful nurse’s assistant who encouraged me saying, “I wouldn’t let you do this if I thought you couldn’t.” So, with that, I garnered my strength and stood up. I can frankly say, it was one of the greatest feelings and accomplishments of my life, and I’ve been pretty damn successful in everything I’ve done.
And so, with time and fantastic physical therapists, I was able to sit in a chair. I graduated to using my IV stand to make it to the bathroom. Soon after, I began to walk the halls although I couldn’t do the entire perimeter yet. That came soon though. During that time, I colored a lot. I colored a beautiful cloth flag-type thing – I don’t know exactly what to call it – filled with butterflies. I hung it on my IV stand, and walked and walked down those halls. I remember people smiling as they passed by me. I hope that picture of butterflies gave them some comfort and a tiny bit of happiness. It did for me at least.
My hospital has a recreation center full of games, arts and crafts, books, painting materials, etc. It’s a bit cheesy, but its such a valuable asset for patients. It also has an outdoor patio. Frankly, it’s a gift. After being cooped up in a hospital bed, just minutes of sun and fresh air feels miraculous. However, the first time I was wheeled onto that patio, I had a complete breakdown. I think the joy of that little bit of freedom overcame me and it hit me like a ton of bricks all that I’d just been through. I cried and cried until I asked to go back to my room. Thankfully, I was able to pull myself together to eventually go back there.
Probably most important to my recovery was my attitude. I didn’t want to stay in that awful bed. I wanted to sit up. I wanted to walk. I wanted to get the hell out of there! Sadly, my roommate did not have that same motivation and complained quite a bit when the staff tried to get her up. Sometimes, she outright refused. Her nurses would also tell her to call them before she ate anything because apparently she had diabetes or at least very high blood sugar. She never listened. In fact, her family would sneak her heavy, unhealthy food. I also overheard that when she would actually be released, she would be admitted to a rehab facility. Honestly, I felt damn lucky I wasn’t in that situation, or possessed her overall attitude. I don’t blame her whatsoever. We all handle cancer, and especially brain surgery, in our own way. I believe it’s one of the most difficult experiences in the world! I was just different.
Another overwhelming moment came when occupational therapy (OT) arrived. The therapist asked me to draw a clock. I just couldn’t. My mind wouldn’t compute what a clock was and particularly, how to draw it. I was asked to repeat several words. Again, I couldn’t. I graduated every school with honors, survived law school, passed two bar exams, yet I couldn’t do things kindergarteners learned. However, the therapist determined I actually wouldn’t need OT. She was sure it would all come back because frankly, I was fully communicating and was basically myself. (Even now though, I have a hard time with that damn clock!)
My recovery progressed and every time the doctors evaluated me, I was on the right track. Despite it all, I was actually doing great. Remarkably well, in fact. So, after the day of the surgery and 2 full days afterward, I was ready to be released that 3rd day.