Once home I was so grateful that Lindsay had been given a couple of weeks off work from the doctor to help take care of me, she was a godsend – and still is. At home I coped pretty well with Mavis (the name I had given my rollator, walking aid!). Lindsay had transformed our downstairs spare room/darts room into a bedroom as I wasn’t able to climb the stairs. Dexter, our dog, soon learned to shift when I was on the move, I think that was after I accidently ran over his tail…he’s a quick learner!
A couple of days after being home I had an appointment with an optometrist who provided me with glasses that had a prism in the lens to compensate my double vision (a result of too much pressure to my eyes from lying face down during surgery). Lindsay refused to be seen with me as the glasses were so hideous! So she frog-marched me to her work and got me a better pair! I was just grateful I no longer had to wear the black eye patch!
Before surgery, Lindsay had recommended I cut my hair, but since I learnt they would only need to shave a small area and that it would be hidden underneath then I was adamant I wasn’t cutting it! Fast forward to after surgery and the length was an issue, it was difficult to keep as I had restricted upper body movement, also the weight of it hurt my head and pulled at the scarred area. Lindsay took great pride in saying ‘I told you so’…several times! I had originally asked a friend (who is a trained hairdresser) to cut it, but I wasn’t up to sitting in the hairdressers so Lindsay offered to cut it! Call me mad/stupid but I was that desperate to have it cut I agreed! She spent two minutes on google before chopping it into a bob with a pair of kitchen scissors! Reluctantly I had to admit she did a good job! Here’s a photo of my hair before surgery and after Lindsay’s handy work!
After arriving home, I received an array of beautiful get well gifts from my colleagues! I was overwhelmed and moved to tears by their kindness. Here’s a wee picture of those gifts which were a beautiful bouquet of flowers, two hanging baskets and the brackets to hang them on, a voucher for afternoon tea for two and a Debenhams gift voucher and another bunch of flowers from the home…you can understand why I was so overwhelmed!
My colleague Dot had her long service award ceremony at work on the Thursday after I got home, she had been such a huge support to Lindsay and myself I was determined I would attend. It felt amazing to see all my colleagues and residents that day and I couldn’t wait for the day I would get back to work. At the ceremony there was a barbeque and it smelt wonderful but unfortunately barbeque food doesn’t really lend itself to a soft diet! So I drank my slightly thickened orange juice instead…mmm!
I found a recording of my voice from September 2014 on my phone and I couldn’t believe how slurred my speech was, in parts of that recording I couldn’t even understand myself. My slurred speech was one of the first things my doctor picked up on, even though it wasn’t one of the symptoms I had gone to him with – as I had always assumed, as did others, that I had a speech impediment – but he said that it could be connected with my other symptoms which made him believe it was a neurological problem.
I had been home from hospital ten days when the physiotherapist paid me a home visit to assess me with regards attending the rehabilitation unit. She was surprised at the level of my mobility and determination to get around the house! She explained to me that by attending the rehab unit I would receive several different therapies all under the one roof. I was looking forward to getting started on the road to recovery.
At the rehab unit I tried to do a ‘heal to toe’ walk for the first time since surgery (I was asked to do it several times before surgery as a neurological test, and each time I stumbled off balance). I was very unsteady and my leg became very shaky/jerky, ataxic. I started to panic as I’d not experienced that level of uncontrolled movement since before surgery, and a little part of me worried the cyst had regrown. But the physiotherapist had me repeat it several times, and the shaking reduced. She explained to me that my brain was processing something new – as it had been the first time the brain had been asked to do this movement since surgery – and that’s why it was such an uncontrollable shake, but once I had repeated it, although signs of ataxia were still there, my movements were a little bit more controlled. My brain was having to be taught how to coordinate my movements from scratch. This proved to be the case with writing as well. When I first went to write something after surgery I was shocked at how hard it was to write and how messy it was! Here’s a picture to illustrate the difference between my normal writing before surgery and my first attempt at writing after surgery!
Nine weeks after surgery Lindsay drove me back up the Western General Hospital in Edinburgh to see an ophthalmologist with regards my double vision, although the prism glasses were working I was still hoping my sight would improve. Six weeks previously my prism had been fourteen, now it was only nine which showed my sight WAS slowly improving! The consultant told me that had there been no signs of improvement then he doubted there ever would have been, but now he thinks there could be more!
After we had returned from Edinburgh I couldn’t understand why I was so tired. Lindsay had obviously done the driving and the examination hadn’t been too extensive or taxing. I happened to mention it to my physiotherapist and she explained that the brain has the capacity to filter out so much of what we see and hear (a bit like the junk folder in email!). However, my brain can no longer filter sights and sounds, and so for the whole journey my brain was trying to process everything it saw and heard, essentially overloading itself causing me to feel so exhausted. I was slowly beginning to realise there was more to my brain injury and post-surgery recovery than I had originally comprehended.