As I’ve averred elsewhere, no two brain operations are exactly alike. I wouldn’t take anything written here as anything more than just some personal reflections.
As the pile of Macmillan Trust pamphlets on my bedside table attests, meningioma is the merest whisker away from cancer. Only the difference between the words ‘malign’ and ‘benign’ separate the unfortunate from the unfortunate. But even being fortunate comes with a physical and mental toll.
The biggest thing has been sleep. At first, trying to kill the pain of the post-op scars, I slipped into taking Codeine Phosphate. So far as I can tell, this works by giving you distractions rather than by actually killing the pain. Those distractions are, in order of severity:
- Shitting-yourself level nightmares
- Unable-to-shit-under-any-circumstances level constipation
Progressing to paracetamol certainly ended the nightmarish dream state and liberated my bowels, but aren’t exactly a massive bulwark against the pain. It’s not that the pain is cripplingly severe, just a kind of ever-present background thing that makes it difficult to sleep or concentrate on things for very long.
Fortunately, my face now looks just common-or-garden fat again, rather than as if I’ve been repeatedly punched about the fizzog by some hamhanded angryman from a Pennine mill town. The anti-inflammatory drugs (dexamethosone?) at least did their bit of the job.
My staples are also out. I think I’m still slightly stunned by the revelation that they perform the operation with a ‘gamma knife’ – which sounds like something off of Blake’s 7 – and then put you back together with staples.
To remove them, they basically use a staple remover too. Nothing fancy. Just some plier-looking motherfuckers and a Woman What Does yanking them out of your head in a back office at the doctors while twittering on about X Factor. Uncomfortable. Now they’re gone, I can fully appreciate the scar though: there’s still a bunch of stitches which will dissolve with time, but now you can actually see the thing it’s quite impressive – a good 6-7 inches of twisted, bumpy flesh that will be a talking point down the Hare for years to come, I’m sure.
This week’s other interesting side effect has been fatigue. Lord alone knows they’ve mentioned it enough – I’ve a fistful of well-intentioned leaflets on the subject – but this week has been like swimming through a vague alcoholic fug of the kind you get when you’ve had a dinner time pint and suddenly find yourself outdoors. You know the thing when you’re very careful about where you put your feet as you walk/stagger back home/to the office? Well that’s been the story of the week. They have given me a clutch of notes telling me to get some exercise, but when you find yourself leaning on lampposts every 100 yards it’s hard to imagine popping down to the gym to work off your biscuit intake.
All that aside, my ability to hold a conversation (or type a meandering blog post) seems to be undiminished – a fact for which I’m sure you’re grateful.
I’ve got a vague hope that I might get back into the office next week. Hanging round the house might be doctor’s orders, but it’s also shit boring after a while.