Saturday, February 20, 2016

Ten Things You Never Knew About Brain Surgery

Brain Surgery is not a luxury item. You don't window shop for it or decide to purchase it as an impulse buy. (And, even if you want to later, the purchase can not be returned.)

Brain Surgery is priced like a luxury item. The average cost is $157,000.00, but that is just for the surgery, surgery treatment, & initial hospital stay. 
It does not include pre-op or post-op treatments, or medications, or any kind of ongoing or complication costs, or the every 18-month followup angiograms, or any rehabilitation or therapy costs, nor does it include the living expenses for the average 3 - 13 month recovery time. 
If you include all that, the total costs can average well over a quarter million dollars.
That is almost $50,000 more than the price of this two bedroom luxury dreamhome in Bali with beach and mountain views. (But a lot less fun or relaxing.)

Just merely saying the words "I had brain surgery," makes friends, family and complete strangers flinch like you bitch-slapped them, and instantly view you differently, even though they never underwent any type of brain surgery themselves.

Craniotomies often involve something doctors lovingly refer to as a "Cookie" being cut in your skull (due to the cookie size and shape of the hole). But cutting into the flesh to make the skull hole will initially leave a trench deep enough to fully place two fingers in once "the cookie is replaced". Certainly something Cookie Monster never talked about on Sesame Street.

Brain surgeries often involve skin flaps, which is a medical way of saying if they need to get at your brain in the front, they will peel the skin of your face down to gain access, but Neurosurgeons frown when you call them Leatherface or Hannibal Lecter, and everyone else looks nauseous when you tell them they peeled off your face. Go figure.

After brain surgery, you can feel the screws and bolts under your skin with your fingertips for the rest of your life, which makes you interesting to pet at parties, like the Terminator in a toupee.

Brain surgery patients often hear a soft, continuous, audible clicking inside their heads during the first year of recovery. Although technically not an actual noise, the brain doesn't exactly know how to process the skull bone healing after suffering trauma so it processes it as a sound. The clicking stops when the bone completely heals, which is down right freaky after a year of annoying sound effects,

Despite the dramatic depictions in movies, after brain surgery doctors rarely bandage your head or wound. It must be allowed it to breathe to prevent dangerous infections. In fact, they request you severely limit any time in a hat or a hoodie, down to only a few minutes at a time. Which makes it rather hard for people to look at you when your head is gashed and stapled like a fairly melodramatic horror movie.

Brain surgery can seriously affect your ability to sleep, so sometimes during your recovery you have to trick your brain into resting by zoning out while awake. It is often recommended to watch something on television you are utterly uninterested in to allow your brain to drift away during it, so it has a similar affect as a REM sleep cycle, which is very strange when the credits roll hours later and you can't recall a single thing you just watched.

You get sent home with stronger pain medicine with almost any other surgery or injury. Brains don't feel pain, so most people go home with the same types of meds as someone who sustained a hairline fracture and got a couple of stitches. 
Let that sink in... I know, right?!?!

Certainly not the kind of Top Ten you want to have to participate in. And, only the beginning of things you will get to know if you have to have brain surgery. First and foremost though, brain surgery sucks, but so does the alternative.

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