I was lucky that I had not been left with any major physical disability after the stroke, which made rehabilitation after surgery a lot less than it might have been. My disabilities were all in my head (brain)! My inability to read, not being able to recall names and specific words and my total confusion with numbers, dates, months etc. were the results of my stroke, rather than from the brain surgery.
Before the removal of my brain tumour, I was looking at an unknown future as I did not know just what damage may be done to the brain. The surgeon had no idea either about just how much (if any) of the brain would be damaged as he had to go seven centimetres inside the brain to reach and then remove the tumour. Of course, he told me of many possible scenarios (like paralysis), but he just did not know what would happen until he was inside my brain.
As it turned out, I had very little after effect from the surgery. The worst was constant vomiting and nausea for three months as the part of the brain that controlled this was bruised. I had to wait for the bruising to clear up before the symptoms left me. The left side of my face drooped for a couple of days too, but it was back to normal before I saw it.
I did have some loss of balance. I would be walking along and find myself bumping into a wall. My poor balance stayed with me, but is not all that noticeable.
So, instead of being in rehab for three months, I was home from hospital on day seven! My rehab consisted of follow up appointments with the audiologist as my left ear went deaf for a few months. I was given a hearing aid, but did not need it for long.
I had one visit with a physiotherapist for my balance and one visit with the reading therapist. After two years my reading ability has improved, but it is still a struggle. Both therapists felt that I was doing exactly what was needed and did not need them to assist or guide me.
How different was my experience to that of my husband, Peter. He had a total knee replacement and after four weeks he was still experiencing severe pain. He has to return to bed every day and was loaded with pain killers.
He had physio exercises to do at home each day and went to a therapist group twice each week. He also went to hydrotherapy once a week. This went on for some months.
Peter was warned by his surgeon that he would suffer a lot of pain and that it would take 12 months before he would feel ‘normal’ again.
With my life threatening illness my disabilities will probably be with me for life. But I do not suffer a lot of pain. Pete had a lot more suffering than I had, but at least he can look forward to a complete recovery. But we both found it essential to do the follow up rehabilitation after surgery to ensure that we had the best possible chance of a good recovery.
If you would like to read the full story of my stroke and brain tumour trauma and how I sped up my recovery you can read my book.
Hints and Tips
Do not be slack with any rehabilitation exercises you are told to do. The results can make an invalid of you if you don’t work hard at recovery. In some cases, you can truly say ‘no pain, no gain’!