Thursday, November 20, 2008

What to Expect When You're Expecting A Craniotomy!

Here beginneth, by the way, a series on what patients can expect from various fun procedures that are common at Sunnydale General.

So you're having a craniotomy. Let's gloss over, for the moment, whether it's for a tumor or an aneurysm clipping or an external-to-internal carotid bypass, shall we? Most craniotomies have the same side effects and recovery time, so we'll ignore the whole range of reasons for them and focus on the important thing: Somebody way smarter than you will have his (or her) fingers in your skull.

Actually, that's not quite accurate. Somebody way smarter than you will have a series of microscopic instruments inside your skull. The point is, though, that your skull will be opened up (a thing that's never meant to happen) and closed again. Great. What can you expect from the process? Read on:

Prior to Surgery

The day of surgery, you'll be expected to show up at the hospital early in the morning, probably with freshly-shampooed hair. You'll be hungry and thirsty, having not had anything to drink or eat that morning. Somebody will start an IV line on you and fluids, which will help with the thirst part, and give you a dose of something to make you happy. Then you'll be wheeled into the operating room.

Surgery Itself

At this point, one of two things will happen: you'll either be put out completely by the friendly anesthesiologist, or you'll be moved to the operating table, *then* be put out by the F.A. Your head will be positioned in a head-holder (tough medical terms, I know!) and anything from a small strip of hair to half your head will be shaved, depending on the surgeon.

Note: Most docs now shave only what they have to, so don't think you'll lose all your hair.

While you snooze, your head will be scrubbed with a sterilizing soap and draped with sterile drapes. Somebody else will be working on your other end, putting in a urinary catheter.

Once everything is ready, you'll have surgery. Since I have no clue what actually goes on inside the brain during surgery, and you'll be asleep for it, let's move on to the post-surgery period.

After Surgery

You'll wake up, more or less, in the ICU. You'll have wires on your chest, IV and intra-arterial lines in your arms and possibly feet, and you'll feel like hell. Your throat will be sore from the breathing tube they put down you to keep you breathing, and you'll still have that damned catheter in. You'll also probably have a doozy of a headache. This will all cease to matter as the fact that you're in the ICU dawns on you, and you have to cope with bright lights, beeping machines, and nurses coming in every few minutes to make sure your neurological exam hasn't changed. Expect them to ask you silly questions like "What day is it?" and shine bright lights into your eyes over and over. 

After a night or two in the ICU, you'll be moved to a neurosurgical acute care unit. All but one or two IVs will come out, along with the line in your wrist that monitored your arterial pressure. Expect some major bruising there, by the way.

After I introduce myself, I'll take out your catheter. You have eight hours to pee, which shouldn't be a problem. The catheter removal doesn't hurt (at least the way I do it) and you'll feel a lot better after it's gone.

You'll be able to eat regular food if you can, and I'll manage your nausea if you're feeling queasy. Don't ask for Phenergan, by the way, since you won't get it. It makes you too sleepy.

I'll be checking your neuro status every four hours, or more often if I'm a tad worried about you.

The first afternoon out of ICU, you'll probably sleep. This is normal. You might feel *great*, what with all the anesthesia still in your system, but you'll be sleepy the next day for sure. Either way, sleepy or not, you're getting up into a chair and walking a little bit, just so I can be sure everything got put back into the right place.

Okay, So Now What?

Let's take a look in the mirror, shall we?

You'll notice that, if your incision is along the front or side of your head, you have a whopping black eye and a whole lot of swelling on your face. This is totally normal and will go away completely within about ten days. You'll also see a shaved strip or patch of hair with either staples or sutures in it. That's where they went in, and those staples/sutures will come out in about ten days, just as you're looking less like you've been hit by a truck.

You might have punctures in your forehead from that head-holding widget I mentioned earlier. Those will heal and leave very small scars if there are any scars at all.

There are probably bruises on your arms from the IV and a huge bruised area on your right wrist from the intra-arterial line. Your jaw (if your incision is in the front or side) is sore, or your neck (if it's in the back) feels like you have one hell of a crick in it. We can take care of that; just ask for pain meds.

You will probably hear ticking, dripping, thunking, swishing, or popping noises inside your skull, especially if the incision is on the front or side, or around your ear. That is Totally Normal, and is a result of air in your head moving around. You are not insane. The surgeons *always* forget to mention that, and it makes people worry.

You will get very tired very easily. Keep this in mind. You'll find that mental things, like crosswords or reading, tire you faster than physical things. This is because you're basically trying to walk on a sprained ankle--in other words, you have to keep using the part of your body that's been injured or insulted, even as it heals.

Even with the tiredness, you may have trouble sleeping. This is due entirely to the fact that you're getting Decadron, a steroid, to reduce swelling inside your brain. That side effect will go away as soon as we start tapering (lowering the dose) of Decadron, so don't fret. In the meantime, ask for a sleeping pill.

You'll notice that I'm loading you up with laxatives and stool softeners. This is a major deal, since constipation goes hand-in-hand with pain medicine, and I don't want you straining. If you go more than two days without pooping, I will take Drastic Measures. 

Speaking of pooping and peeing, I'll take great interest in how much you drink and how much you pee. This is because opening the brain or spine can lead to various problems with how your body handles fluids, and I want to make sure that's not happening with you. 

After Discharge

When you go home, you'll want to take it easy for two to six weeks. Walk, eat, sleep, sit up in a chair, be calm. You'll have a followup appointment in about two weeks with your surgeon, at which time you'll chat about the surgery and he'll make sure he didn't leave any bits out. 

Make sure your diet is good. Your appetite will probably suck, so eat good food when you get hungry. Include protein and some fat. Avoid junk. Drink plenty of water.

Nap occasionally. Let your body tell you what it wants to do.

And don't worry about screwing something up. Depending on your doctor's orders, you may or may not put antibiotic ointment on your incision or take oral antibiotics. As long as you don't scrub the incision line with a toothbrush (and yes, I have had people do that), it won't get infected.

Don't perm or dye or relax your hair for about six weeks after the staples or sutures come out, though, 'cause that scar is still delicate. And don't use a hairdryer: it'll cause staples to become uncomfortably hot.

Finally, remember that you have had brain surgery. It might be six months before you get your stamina back, okay? Take it easy. In a year, this'll all be a bad memory.

Here endeth the first lesson.


  1. " which time you'll chat about the surgery and he'll make sure he didn't leave any bits out."

    Oh, I hope not. What if it's the bit that tells me how to blow my nose? I hope all those bits get put back in. The bit that houses the memory of Randy Barrett from college can go. Like, down the toilet, please.

    1. Anonymous9:08 PM

      Terrific, honest, funny love this. So true! The crackling and clicking I thought my head was coming open again. Scary.

    2. This post just saved me from losing it - I've just come home from a very short stay in hospital post-MVD and the rhythmic clicking just started which feels like the site of the surgical entry is like a pop-top jar lid! Nothing had been mentioned by any of the team at hospital. Thank you so much for your candor. :)

  2. Anonymous11:36 AM

    "As long as you don't scrub the incision line with a toothbrush (and yes, I have had people do that)"

    Oh, GOD!!! That isn't right.

    I didn't know about the popping and such from air in the head.... I thought air in the head was Bad. I guess it's caused by ... I dunno... microair?

  3. Thanks for writing this, it's awesome! I work in a hem/onc BMT ICU, but once in while we get the crani overflow from the other ICUs. They always freak us out a bit since we see neuro pts so rarely, but this gives a great perspective when thinking of how to educate our pts and be more comfortable with their procedures. Maybe I'll get around to writing "What to expect when you're expecting a stem cell or bone marrow transplant" some day...

  4. Anonymous6:20 PM

    "Speaking of pooping and peeing, I'll take great interest in how much you drink and how much you pee" ~
    I love it!
    Great commentary from the 1st through the 3rd person point of view.
    Maybe we should replace patient information hand-outs with your narratives?

  5. Anonymous6:57 PM

    Our friend Catherine and I agree, the sendup of a relentlessly cheery patient information brochure is dead on, but, as she said, 'I wish I'd had that much information before I went in.' [NOT a craniotomy]


  6. All that craniotomy stuff sounds great. When can I get one?

  7. Anonymous8:36 PM

    I'm not medically inclined, just a psych social worker, nor have I or anyone I know had a cranial procedure but I found this fascinating. I'd love to see more.

  8. Anonymous9:28 PM

    Loved it.....having my crainy next tues. 9/12/08. Being a orthopeadic nurse a little knowledge can really put the bloody wind up you..humour softens everything..........thanks for making me laugh will try and remember this next week....between me sleeping in the chair and drinking heaps to prevent another IDC and enjoying the multicolours around my right eye.

  9. Anonymous8:31 AM

    Awesome nice to know what happens before and after we do what we do-BTW putting the holders (skull pins)in makes me want to wet my pants when I see it so I don't look!
    OR RN

  10. Anonymous5:24 PM

    OK, I am looking at having my little skull cracked open and I am terrified. My doc is Dan Barrow @ Emmory. How much more can you tell me? I have a Cavernous Malformation in Right frontal lobe that hemmoraged 5 years ago. now have partial seizures. Am being recommened for surgery to avoid another bleed in another pregnancy. (my last bleed was during prenancy @ 4.3 cm).
    HELP...mama wants to keep her head sealed up...but she also wants another baby and not more bleeds. I am trying to get in better shape to better recoup...any advice, more pearls of this blog AWESOME. so funny and informative!

  11. Tanya5:49 AM

    I work at a neurosurgery practice. I think it's hilarious and fabulous that when I entered "craniotomy patient information brochures" into Google your blog was the first thing that came up. Really enjoyed reading it. Most of us in the office never go to the hospital and have no first-hand experience with what our doctors actually do or how our patients are affected. This really gave me some perspective on what our patients go through. I forwarded it to our surgery schedulers and mid-levels... :) Thanks!

  12. Anonymous9:15 PM

    I am 11 days post crainiotomy to remove a benign meningioma (tumor slowly growing from the covering of my brain). It was small (less than 2 cm), and approximately under my hairline at my left forehead. My staples come out in 3 more days. I have been sleeping in my recliner, more or less sitting up,and I have had no bruising of my eye or face. I haven't felt badly at all, even immediately post surgery. I only used pain pills at night the first night, and during the day three days, two days on tylenol, then nothing. I credit my easy time to a brilliant neurosurgeon and a briliant anesthesiologist. But I also credit Bellaruth Naprastek, whose CD titled "Successful Surgery" I listened to repeatedly the week before the surgery. It includes a guided imagery exercise and affirmations. I highly recommend this to anyone approaching surgery. Having a positive attitude is particularly important in recovery from brain surgery, and I think this product has helped me enormously. Bless all of you who assist in these surgeries and bless all you who are pre or post craniotomy. Mary

    1. I'm having surgery for a meningioma soon. Thanks for sharing your experience!

  13. Found your blog the night before my wife's craniotomy. It was quite helpful and funny as well. She's now day +1 post-op and doing well. Your descriptions were spot-on.

  14. Had my surgery the week before last and like your blog I have been using humour to explain a lot of these things to my friends and family and I found as a consequence that it has made the whole process much less scary for them and for me. I laughed at the part about the hair drying - I am from Montreal (a city of women who like to look after themselves - grooming is very important to us) and learned my lesson as far as which direction to point the nozzle of the dryer (ouch). I have had my staples out yesterday (had to go twice because the original doctor forgot one in there - thank goodness my husband was curious enough to want to see what it looked like sans metal) and am still amazed that in week two I am doing so well.
    Good luck to all of you who are reading this before surgery - do not be frightened as this surgery is pretty common from what I can tell - and while it is a bit overwhelming you will be so glad when it is done and it is likely to afford you a new lease on life and a pretty amazing degree of gratitude for what you have!

  15. Anonymous6:45 PM

    Thank you for writing this. My one year old son goes in for a craniotomy next week, and I am terrified. I don't know how to help him and I'm scared. Your info helped, and your writing style makes it less scary.

  16. Anonymous4:46 AM

    Im four weeks post surgery, and yes, this blog is spot on! It is a little scary the surgery, but I am recovery very well. The only issue that I have is the tiredness and a bit of spinal and neck pain. I look forward to the six week turning point post surgery!

  17. this is the best feedback I have found had surgery 5 weeks ago, wish I'd found this before

  18. Anonymous11:34 AM

    Do any of these things get left off if you are just having a craniectomy to remove a calvarial hemangioma, not brain surgery?

  19. I just had my craniotomy for removal of a cavernous malformation in my right parietal lobe. It sucked, but quickly got better. I left the hospital after two days and have been home for one day - besides a little freak out after an intense pooping session, I have been great and already feel the effects of having that little bugger taken out.

  20. I love this! I am having a craniotomoy in 4 days and this actually helped ease some fears. :)

  21. Anonymous9:35 AM

    My daughter in law is having a craniotomy to remove a meningioma from a vein at the base of her brain on November 6th. She will be 35 years old tomorrow is the mother of 3 little boys ages 5, 3, and 1. She is surrounded by friends and family and has so many prayers going to heaven for her. This post was so informative and helpful. It is easier to deal with it just knowing what is going to happen. Thank you for this. It means a lot.

  22. Anonymous2:25 PM

    Penny. What's with the symbol you use as your thumbnail? Where's it from?

  23. Anonymous11:39 AM

    I had a craniototamy three weeks for a LARGE meningioma. Three months of headaches significant memory loss toward the end led to an ER visit CT scan and diagnosis. This write up is exactly what I have experienced.

    Three weeks later I feel much better, I am off most of the medications (Decadron), but I still have trouble sleeping. I never in my life had a hard time falling asleep but now even when I am exhausted I will lie there awake. The Doc told to take Benadryl which helps some. I seem to stay in a dream state and I wake up from these stressful dreams. I never used to remember my dreams before. Anyway, I like your article it is very informative for patients.

  24. Anonymous10:25 PM

    This is a very Good reference. i had my surgery on the 18th of last month and everything here is exact.

  25. good luck6:12 PM

    thank god for smart nero surgeons and smart sweet nurses, i have hadlaser and cranitomy :) i was on a walker a few days, but my tg pain subsided, and i no longer wanted a bullet to relive the pain.that fifth cranial nerve is a mf :) anyhow i have ms so trust me it was all well worth a few weeks of pain, after surgury if the meds they use to knock you out upsets your stomach and makes you throw up ask for some dramamine, dam that did the trick for me, my son just happen to be in the icu when i was sick ocming outta surgury he said get her some dramamine, thank god for smart kids also, army recruter iraq war dont forget a lil prayer for the drs and nurses and of course for you

  26. Anonymous2:47 PM

    Hi I had a Craniatomy 2 weeks back. Great article, very accurate! I had aching but and lower back nerve aches for 4 days after surgery. Did some nerve stretches eventually and pain subsided. Eyes feel dry and get tired quickly. Looking forward to 6 week mark. Don't fear pain of a don't feel anything and God helps mental fear.

  27. Anonymous4:17 PM

    Your view is delightful, however this is not my story.:-) Feb 26,angiogram felt as if someone poured kerosene on either side of my bottom jaw and lit a match. Dr.shoved the canula on my right groin vein, like a rotor rooter, it hurt. They were playing "we will rock you" by Queen, no thanks. 28 of Feb actual surgery. Lovely they all said I had beautiful hair. I just smiled, I mean what intelligent person cares about their hair when their brain is about to be manipulated? In ICU crescent shaped sutures from ear to ear. They left almost all my hair? interesting I thought. Pain in sutures, blood every single day in mucosa of the nose, no sleep, Decadron made my legs weak, I had taken my laptop, and my books, got to read only one. Too tired. My vision is worse than when I went in, only had left eye visual cut, now it's across both eyes and no deep breathing makes it go away like prior.

    Then came the Heparin, seems I had to blood clots in the lungs. It was difficult to get my INR level to 2.

    Then I began to research. Coumadin? rat poison? not me buddy. They sent in a psychiatrist to determine if I had the "capacity" to refuse it. I did. She was adorable and smart and reminded me of Dr.Joyce Brothers crossed with Dr. Jill Biden. The neurology team was up in arms. LOL.

    Coumadin does not dissolve clots, they are absorbed by the body but can prevent new ones for forming. I still said no thank you. They took me off the Decadron, fluid remaind under the sutures, they misrepresented sutures vs. staples and oh by the way the titanium plate.

    Today is 4/1 wish I could say April fool,but it's not a joke. I came home yesterday. That's 30 days, went to rehab which was intersting, cooked a meal, and other light stuff for 5 days.

    Meanwhile I put myself on Occuvite, they said ok, Cod Liver Oil, ok, I asked for a multi-vitamin, B-12 -and ate very well, not to my liking but very healthy.

    Today my first day home, I will put cold ice and salt on my head to bring down the swelling which went up from 0.8 cm on March 8 to 1.6 on March 31 which I demanded that they take a ct scan to prove that there was increasing pressure.

    I walk wobbly, though I know I will improve because ONE day I was my normal fast paced self but I relapsed. I also woke up very happy ONE day, which matched how I used to wake up everyday of my life. I am 64. Bad part is I look very young and I am an anthropologist with 40 years of knowledge and research and they said I was doing fabulous. I am not.

    I am glad you chose to highlight all of the comments that were very positive but life is not like that.

    After surgery I read about the operation, would I still have it? no. It shortens your life span, where as having the meningioma inconveninces one, but I had no headaches just the visual disturbances that I could control with breathing and not keppra. Oh am off of that also. That's what researching does, give you options.

    I also have nerve or tendon injury from a phlebotomist who had no business going into any of the 3 veins in my inner wrist. But I think it will heal in about 6 months.

    I am sure I will be fine in six months, will re-enroll in law school, and enjoy life. But this was a fun reading!! Thank you.

    Yes am real and on Twitter and I made comments there.

  28. Anonymous7:26 PM

    Read this to my family as my mom was in surgery. I can't tell you how well-written and informative this was. We all felt so much more knowledgeable conversing with her nurse after. Thanks a million.

  29. Catherine7:53 AM

    Oh, thank you head nurse! Humor has assuaged the savage beast, Fear. I will sleep better in the nights ahead. Craniotomy set for week and a half from now. So scared. Love the phenergan reference. I am a nurse...pts ask for phenergan instead of odans etron all the time. I get it! They want it with the benadryl and dilaudid all together. I love the title, "head nurse." I'm trying to choose an analogous name for myself. Kidney, pancrease, immune system, withdrawal nurse...doesn't have same je ne sais quois. I have been the charge nurse on event that brings jeers from oncoming shift and always results in mutiny on the bounty, especially with regard to the assignment. I throw up my hands. I will approach this craniotomy, with it's vast unknown entities, with aplomb rather than timid defeatism, thanks to your thoughtful words. I thank you again and will make every effort to poop and pee accordingly and not to complain about being OOB to chair. Wonderful.

  30. Mandy McCracken12:44 AM

    This is 100% accurate. I had my third craniotomy in January '13 to remove another meningioma (darn things keep coming back). I wish I had read this before my first surgery in 2007. The one thing different with my first surgery is that I had a seizure before. I was on a crapload of steroids and had every side effect imaginable. It took six months for the steroid acne and moon face to totally go away. I'm a skinny minny, so it was obvious just by looking at my face that something was not ok with me. To say the least, this last surgery was a piece of cake compared to the first. Steroids suck!
    Thanks for this article!

  31. Anonymous6:43 PM

    When can I cut my hair after the surgery

  32. Paul Addison2:43 AM

    My sincere thanks for this article. I am trying to stay as stress free as possible prior to the Op and avoiding some of the more lurid US sites. The detail here is just whay I needed and I am very grateful.

  33. Anonymous11:11 PM

    Kate: hi, just wanted to say a Huge thank youa to all the feedback of all you experiences. I am due to go in on the 14th jan for a craniotomy to remove a meninginoma and A nerve wreck to say the least!! I am interested to hear if anyone has experienced any tinnitus both before or after? I'm 36 mother of two beautiful young children and this all began wit have series of 'ear infections' which eventually led me to the ent and an MRI. The tinnitus started so suddenly at the same time and they seem to think its unrelated but I'm convinced otherwise....really hope it goes away post op!!

  34. I really wish I had read this before my crainiotomy, but you know we never do research until after because we are still thinking, well I am still thinking I am insane two weeks later for hearing dripping and swishing in my ear and having a lot of preasure. So naturally, I Google it. Thank you for writing this. They should give this out with the pre op checklist! :)

  35. Anonymous6:52 PM

    I had a craniotomy 3 1/2 months ago and it was preceded by waking up one morning with severe noise sensitivity in one ear as well as distortion of sound in that ear. The MRI to diagnose my ear problem didn't find anything except a huge meningioma on that side of my head. The noise sensitivity resulted in huge tinnitus and like the writer just above this, I was told it was not related to my tumour but like her, I'm hoping it is. Now three months out, I still have loud tinnitus in that ear but the noise sensitivity has decreased significantly. I'm hoping the improvement is my brain working to fix this and am hopeful in another three months my hearing will improve too. I'm getting better every day but still have a lot of fatigue so am living quite a quiet life for now.
    Thanks for this great blog - I wish I had read it before my surgery because it is really a realistic depiction of post surgery.

  36. can somebody tell me side effects of craniotomy ? and if we operate it will it disappear forever or is there any chances that it will come back ? thank you

  37. What a great way to truly understand what I am going to be put through w/in a week or so...I am a nurse working w/ 'Special needs' kids in -home care. Not only does this informative article give me more of an understanding, yet will also be very helpful for further cases, as I will be able to help theses wonderful pts.'s parents be more aware pre/post- op. Thank you so very much for taking the time and caring about people like myself. God bless you. 4/29 is approaching quickly, as I was dx w/ a brain aneursym Nov. 1st 2013. Going to print out and pass to my family / and friends Khat are feraking out FOR me. karen M. Akana-kaapuiki

  38. I had a craniotomy 10 months ago after having an aneurysm rupture. now my temple area by where the craniotomy was is "sunk" in.. I feel pressure in my eye on that side... Is this normal?

    1. Anonymous8:59 PM

      Yes it is normal .

  39. Kristenia RNC, MSN4:31 PM

    Thank you for taking the time to write this. As a pediatric ER RN I found it quite helpful. I had a r temporal cranio 2 wks. ago.This has certainly helped me.

  40. Claire6:45 PM

    I am having a craniotomy to clip a left sided aneurysm pressing on my optic nerve in 5 days.....I found this helpful and interesting! Thank you!

  41. Frenchyal3:51 AM

    I had a cranio 4 months ago and this is very accurate.
    It is scary but you will be fine :)
    Not that painful, just making you tired.
    Good luck to you all and god bless you

  42. Having just had a craniotomy on 4/23/15, I want to say thank you for this blog. For me it was amazingly right on but in a light hearted way. It was not doom and gloom. I am home recovering. Only spent 2 days in the hospital Thank you again.

  43. Anonymous6:10 AM

    I have been an Neurosurgery ICU for almost 20 years. And inronically, now the roles will be reversed...I have a colloid cyst on the 3rd ventricle of my brain. And, after years of monitoring the sucker, it needs to be removed. I am undergoing a craniotomy on May 14, 2015. I firsthand, understand the complexity and potential risks involved with brain surgery. I am very frightened, to say the least. And, although, I know the process of pre/post surgery. I still feel overwhelmed and scared....This blog is 100% accurate. Thank you.

    1. I needed some information on my son condition is it anyway I could email you ?

  44. Anonymous9:43 PM

    We are 3 weeks post - craniotomy for my father. He had two surgeries two days apart and then spent a week in ICU in an induced coma and then slowly coming out of it. This blog is an excellent resource and very close to our experience in most ways. Thank you!

  45. Anonymous4:14 PM

    All I'll say is there is no amount of money or drugs that would make me want to relive the experience. I basically spent the next month hallucinating what ever I could think of. From trails of ants everywhere to face leering at me as the sun came up each morning. I had to relearn how to walk and dress myself. And for a few day lusted after all the fishing shows That showed them careening down water ways because I was so thirsty. They didn't let me drink anything for a couple of days for fear of it going down the wrong pipe and me coughing and undoing all that they did to get me back to what I was like before the operation. My wife says it totally changed my personality ( for the better) and made me more sedate and easy going but it could just have easily made me more mean. Avoid craniotmys at all costs. It about the most invasive procedure of all.

  46. Anonymous12:20 PM

    One year later and I am losing my hair, have egg like swellings in 3 areas,pressure on the left side of my head and neck, and I hear and feel popping,and crackling when I open and close my mouth. Not to mention memory and speech issues. Anybody else go though this? Head nurse...will this ever end?

    1. I am 4 months post op and still experiencing symptoms of ataxia, left sided weakness, dizziness and tinnitus. I keep wondering when it's all gonna get better. My neurosurgeon said 1year.

    2. It's been a little over a month and I have tons of difficulties... Things have slightly improved.. Memory is horrible... Can hardly talk or walk but it has improved

  47. Anonymous8:29 PM

    I went through my first craniotomy for a meningioma resection ten years ago, and I am going to have another resection in February. My tumor didn't grow back, a different one started growing. I have a total of three still in there, but only one is growing right now. Your description of what to expect was almost exactly what I experienced. Although I elected to have the remainder of my head shaved before I left the hospital as my hair was full of beta fine and other nasty stuff and I couldn't wash my hair for three weeks afterward. No way was I going to go around with gunned up hair. It's not so bad to have your head shaved. My hair grew back rather quickly. I will probably have them shave my whole head again this time just so I don't have to deal with nasty hair! Btw, I recovered quite well, with the exception of some short term memory loss, from the first surgery; and I am confident with the help of God I will recover well from this one as well.

  48. Relieved to read that the noises in the head are normal...! No, the surgeon had not prepared me for them and some of them are so loud that my other half can hear them when he puts his ear to my head. They have however greatly reduced in two weeks so I am hoping they will eventually go away altogether :-)

  49. My 10 Month Old Had Brain Surgery On November 7th , Got Released From UAB December , He's Now 1 Years Old And I Was Wondering How Long After Can I Get Him A Hair Cut ?

  50. My 10 Month Old Had Brain Surgery On November 7th , Got Released From UAB December , He's Now 1 Years Old And I Was Wondering How Long After Can I Get Him A Hair Cut ?

  51. Anonymous3:42 AM

    18 months ago I had surgery to remove a benign meningioma Brain Tumour. It has been a very turbulent year and a half, with one complication after another resulting in another 3 extra surgeries from a CSF leak Craniotomy, Infection, Cranioplasty. I have made it through one of the hardest years or my life...... and I every thing I read here is True and brings back memories.

  52. Anonymous8:49 PM

    I have undergone excision of AVM in my right temporal lobe 4 weeks ago. I feel exactly the same things that has mentioned in this blog. I have had the same doubt too about the knocking sound in my head,confusion,getting tired easily,constipation. After reading your post I understood it is common for those who have undergone craniotomy.But I have one more doubt being my right side of my face is still bulged how long does the swelling at the incision site remains.Also I would like to thank the nurse for posting this article and wishing faster recovery for those who undergone surgery

  53. Thank you for this blog :-) a good read and great to hear from a nurse's perspective, so useful for those facing craniotomy.

    I've also blogged my own experiences as a patient, I'd like to think our blogs compliment each other!


  54. Laurie C8:33 AM

    Thank you so much for this! I thoroughly enjoyed reading. It took some of the fear away from what things will be like before and after my surgery. I know life doesn't always run according to plan, and there is the possibility of things cropping up that you don't address. I have my doctors pre-op information to address those things. Your article addressed another need for me. You let me laugh a bit at something that scares the bejeezus outta me! Thanks again,

  55. Obsessed with this! So cool!

  56. This piece was the best material I could have found before my surgery. I had a mid-fossa craniotomy a month ago for a spontaneous CSF leak from my right ear. Fortunately or unfortunately, I have been a nurse for 20 years, 8 in the OR. The information here was spot on. I sent the link for the article to the neurosurgery nurse practititioner that took out my staples a week post-op. She said she was going to put it in their patient education materials. This gave me more reassurance than anything else I read.
    I have done pretty well. I was in the ICU for 2 days and neuro-step down floor for 3 days before I went home. My lumbar drain came out day 3. I haven't had any problems other than my ear is seriously still full of fluid which, according to the neurosurgeon will eventually resolve. I hope so. I am doing fine now but I never want to go through that again. The worst part for me was that I was in the PACU for over 6 hours waiting for a bed. Every time I would finally get comfortable enough to sleep for five minutes, I would be woken up by several loud, obnoxious PACU nurses, talking and laughing about stuff outside of work, two were even on their cells phones talking loudly to their kids. My family was horrified at the unprofessionalism too, This was an isolated incident that happened to me and I am sure not the general rule of post op crani recoveries. I am also not a high maintenance patient. I never rang the bell or asked for anything. Other than to get me out of the PACU as fast as possible. I was at Dartmouth Hitchcock in Lebanon, NH. The rest of the nurses were very good.

  57. Anonymous7:49 PM

    I had a craniotomy Sept 2015.. all of these things you describe are accurate, except i could not get anything for sleeping the nights i was in the hospital and could not sleep for 2 weeks post surgery. Because of the Decadron, i was a roid rage mess. Not sleepy, hungry 24/7 and anxious. Once I was off the steroids, things got better. Once i had the staples removed and could wash my hair, i started to feel "normal." I ended up with severe PTSD from my surgery due to the fact i have an 18 month old son and am only 30 years old. Death was brought to the forfront for me. Slowly over time the anxiety has calmed down. My only problem post surgery is i have ear issues which i have never had. The NS and ENT say its nothing but i know it is a result of the craniotomy. Go in with a positive mind, you will come out with a positive mind.

  58. Thank you for letting us know what those popping noises were. I felt like aliens were in my head. It has been 2 years for me now only problem is my head seems to have sunken in more. Anything I can do help that and my jaw. I am not complaining very glad to be alive.

  59. Susan8:11 AM

    This is spot on. I am 3.5 weeks post op and wish I had seen this before my surgery would have been better prepared to know what to expect after the surgery...

  60. My husband and I just found out today that he needs this surgery...this article is fantastic!
    It's easier to face something when you know what your up against,thank you so much!

    Robert and Joanie Kidd

  61. The nurse describing the craniotomy was right on point and it's cute the way she described it 😄 6 weeks ago I had a craniotomy to clip 2 aneurysms and it wasn't nearly as scary as it sounds. I had the best Neurosurgeon and I know that helped the surgery go alot easier for me. His name is Omar Qahwash in East Lansing Michigan. From the first day I was introduced to him, I knew I could totally trust him to perform my surgery. He's down-to-earth, very compassionate, takes his time explaining everything to you, answers all your questions, and even likes to laugh (you don't see that in many doctors at all, sadly). Thanks to Dr. Qahwash, and myself realizing how Blessed I was to even get this taken care of, i had nothing to be afraid of. Good luck to all of you and I hope your experience ends up as good as mine has 😄

  62. The nurse describing the craniotomy was right on point and it's cute the way she described it 😄 6 weeks ago I had a craniotomy to clip 2 aneurysms and it wasn't nearly as scary as it sounds. I had the best Neurosurgeon and I know that helped the surgery go alot easier for me. His name is Omar Qahwash in East Lansing Michigan. From the first day I was introduced to him, I knew I could totally trust him to perform my surgery. He's down-to-earth, very compassionate, takes his time explaining everything to you, answers all your questions, and even likes to laugh (you don't see that in many doctors at all, sadly). Thanks to Dr. Qahwash, and myself realizing how Blessed I was to even get this taken care of, i had nothing to be afraid of. Good luck to all of you and I hope your experience ends up as good as mine has 😄

  63. I go in for surgery tomorrow and have been looking for something like this! Thank you so much! The surgeons do not give you realistic information about the after care and a lot of the nurses can't explain. Bless you!

  64. Anonymous5:24 PM

    When will my hearing come back my surgery was on 15


Note: Only a member of this blog may post a comment.