Facing brain surgery and how you can provide comfort and support for the patient

Facing brain surgery and how you can provide comfort and support for the patient

When I was facing surgery for the first time, I was overcome with mixed emotions. These lasted a few days from the time the surgeon told me that he would need to operate until the night before I had to go to the hospital. The days leading up to the night before were the worst and I could almost feel the fear and anxiety peak to breaking point before I went to sleep. I was restless the last few hours before going to bed. Trying to fall asleep did not come easy either. I constantly thought about my children and my husband. I felt an immense amount of self-pity and wished with all my heart that this was not happening. I then did the only thing you can do at that most vulnerable point in your life…I prayed. I prayed until I drifted off to sleep.

I remember going to the hospital, checking in and filling in all that paperwork but from that point onward, I was on autopilot. Lying in the hospital bed, I waited for the porter to come and fetch me…but, at this point, I took one deep breath and let go of it all. I felt at peace with whatever was to come.

When the surgery was over and I heard the nurse softly calling my name, trying to wake me, I opened my eyes slowly but felt extremely tired. She wanted to make sure I was awake before they called the porter to wheel my bed back to the ward. As he pushed my bed, I briefly opened and closed my eyes until eventually the lift doors opened and there stood my husband. He was a definite sight for sore eyes. I felt overcome with emotion and didn’t want him to leave…not for a minute. I was drowsy and tired but most of all, I was unaware of what I had just been through. I couldn’t keep my eyes open and all I wanted was for him to hold me and comfort me. I couldn’t lift my head because it felt so heavy and weighed a ton. (This unnerved me to a point). He looked a bit uneasy and said he had to leave because the kids had school in the morning. I felt my eyes stinging because I knew I didn’t want him to go…

That is a time I don’t think I will forget. I remember all the feelings and emotions clearly. I was an emotional wreck but thankfully drifted off to sleep again for most of the night…

At this very moment in time, my cousin is undergoing brain surgery to remove a frontal lobe mass. I am aware of what my experience was and feel that I need to share this with her family (my aunt, uncle, her brother and sisters but most of all her 3 daughters).

Facing brain surgery is not an easy thing to do. However, I do feel that during the operation itself, the ones outside the operating room feel it worse. The heightened fear and anxiety and mostly the unknown are probably enough to drive you insane. But, don’t let it…

The only insight and advice I can give to anyone who is sitting in a waiting room, is this. When you come out of surgery, you are confused and nothing makes sense. You might not have any idea where you are or why you are there. Because of this, you become fearful and the minute you see a familiar face, all you want is for that person to remain with you because they are a source of comfort and familiarity. It doesn’t matter that nothing else makes sense…all that matters is that you provide an invisible blanket of strength and a feeling of “Everything is going to be OK”. It’s a confusing time and one where you will need to be stronger than the person who has just had a very major operation. It might not even be the end of it but hopefully, the worst is over.

With any surgery, especially brain surgery, no-one knows what the outcome will be…it could go either way. The bottom line is, have faith and know that in the end, you will be their source of strength.

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