I remember watching the film Jarhead the night before my operation, and deciding to switch it off half way through so I could watch the rest the next night…
They don’t know why but my surgeon explained that optimistic patients tend to heal better after brain surgery, so I’d shut the laptop closed willing myself to survive what was coming in about six hours time.
Ten hours later, I was woken up rapidly – as soon as the surgery was over. “What’s your name?… Do you know where you are?” I’ll never forget hearing the reply from the patient on the table next to mine (to utilise support staff they operate in pairs): “Comedy”. I still don’t know whether he was too long in the tooth, too used to repeat operations to bother answering correctly, or whether his operation was a complete disaster. But I survived. It hurt like hell, and when they asked how I felt, there was no answer but “Like you’ve cut the top of my head off.”
Just one hour later and my family were coming to visit me in the Intensive Care Unit. I heard later that they’d all been willing each other into the room first, too afraid to find me in a state worse than they’d hoped for, but instead they found me on cloud nine. After a short while the nurse took my wife aside and explained, “You’ve got to realise he’s completely high on morphine!”
It was two nights later that reality started to kick in. Lying quietly in an isolated recovery room, I could actually hear my own heartbeat pumping blood around my body, desperately trying to repair the trauma of a brain operation. It felt far too much like the start of another epileptic fit, so I lay there for hours, staring at the red emergency pull chord. Just in case.
Four days later I moved back home. Ready to start again.