It’s time for another post about my brain surgery I had last September. Last time I wrote about how I prepared leading up to the surgery. This one is about the eve of the surgery and the morning before. I’ll try to keep it light, yet informative.
The surgery was scheduled for a Tuesday morning at 8am. This meant that I had to be admitted already the night before, so the staff could start with the preparations and have me ready to go as soon as possible. Thanks to private insurance giving me a private room (probably the only one on the floor). I would have not handled snoring and loud breathing very well in addition to everything else.
The night before
I got a call from the bed manager to check in between 7-9pm.
I had dinner (I think). I don’t actually remember that part but it says so in my notes. I do remember drinking a lot, as it was important to be hydrated, since I wasn’t going to get anything for several hours. I didn’t really know what to expect, but the pre-admission’s office recommended something to read and some snacks; i.e. a Vogue, banana and chocolate. Oh, and I showered, washed my hair and cut all nails for obvious reasons.
As soon as I got “comfortable” in the room, people started to come in and prod me for various blood samples and venous access. The assisting surgeon also paid me a visit with the consent form asking me to basically sign away my life. It had all the risks laid out for me. I knew about most of these already from my pre-admissions reading pack. However, having read out loud about strokes, loss of eyesight and sense of smell, blood clots etc. made the situation awfully real.
The air in the room was tense. My husband was moving a lot, my mother was quiet. I was rather calm.
Trying to relax
I was fully aware, that I needed to stay calm for surgery and recovery. Calm and positive people tend to have better surgical outcomes and recovery is easier. Therefore, I had to kick out my husband. He wanted to stay overnight, but he was honestly making me more anxious by constantly moving and fiddling.
over and over to myself out loud and in my head. I slept a little, had my banana and was asked at midnight to stop eating and drinking. I got my first steroids.
What I packed
Besides the snacks and light reading material, I overpacked on comfy wool socks, joggers, shirts (not to go over the head), jumpers, more socks, underwear and a towel (and don’t forget the toiletries, of course). I also added earplugs and sleeping mask to the list, since I wasn’t sure I’d get a private room after the surgery. Didn’t think about the fact, that it might be a tad too painful or simply impossible to use afterwards.
Pool sandals! So important and the most used item out of everything I had brought with me. No slipping, no fuss and easy to clean.
The morning before
I woke up ridiculously early. I was relatively calm.
Since I knew I’d be laying on my backside for a while, I did some squats and stretching and believed it would help to counteract any flattening of my butt. Observing the clock at minute intervals, I was getting more and more nervous. I tried to talk myself down, which seemed to make things worse. Instead, I watched people and cars getting to and from work. I wanted my husband and my mum. The countdown had begun and I was headed full on for an anxiety attack. Of course keeping it together and staying calm and collected only works for so long. The fact that you wait and count down the minutes until your family gets there also doesn’t help.
My mum and husband arrived at 7.30 sharp, 30 minutes before I was due to present myself for surgery. My mum’s hug unlocked the tears and angst. Not able to divert it, I had a full on anxiety attack, with tight chest and stomach, shaking and curled fingers. Deep breath in and out.
A few minutes later, the anaesthetist checked in and oh his voice! I wanted to have his voice accompany me all the way. I didn’t want him to leave. Whatever sound waves he was on, it helped!
Apparently, so I’ve been told afterwards, I was still quite anxious when the anaesthetists administered the drugs and had to spent a little extra time to calm me down.
I wasn’t so worried about the surgery itself but rather what would be after and the risks that come with it.
A little bonus: A week before
Pre-admissions told me a week before the surgery that I cannot get sick. My psychosomatic self was on high alert, as I over-analysed every scratch in my throat, sneeze and the size of my lymph nodes. I pumped myself full of vitamin C, as you do, and anti-cough medicine. If it helps to keep you sane!
PS: I haven’t yet addressed the risk of death when it comes to these kinds of surgeries. I think everyone in this situation will be well aware of the risk factors, but I think it unnecessary to point it out every time.