When you wake up, you may be in the intensive care ward or high-dependency unit for about 24 hours. Or you may go back to the neurosurgical ward straight away. The doctors and nurses will monitor you carefully.
They will do neurological checks such as testing your reflexes and seeing how your eyes react to light. They will also take your temperature and blood pressure.
Your face and eyes may be swollen and bruised. The swelling should go down within 48 hours and the bruising within a few days. Some people may have a swelling filled with fluid in the area over the operation scar. This is called a meningocele and will go down over time.
Drips and drains
You may also have a drip (infusion) going into a vein in your arm. This is to replace any fluids you may have lost and keep you hydrated. A nurse will remove it when you’re able to eat and drink properly.
There may be a tube coming from the wound to drain blood or fluid into a bottle. It’s usually removed within a day or two.
Some people have a tube that goes up the nose and down into the stomach. This is called a nasogastric tube. It’s used to remove fluid from the stomach to stop you being sick.
You may also have a tube put into your bladder to drain urine from it. This is called a catheter and is usually taken out in a few days.
You may have a headache when you wake up after the operation. The nurses will give you regular painkillers until it gets better. It’s unusual to get a lot of pain after surgery to the brain. Always tell your nurse or doctor if you’re in pain or if the pain starts to get worse.
You may be in bed for a day or so after the operation. While you’re in bed, it’s important to move your legs regularly and do deep breathing exercises. This helps prevent chest infections and blood clots. A physiotherapist or nurse will show you how to do these exercises. The nurses will help you to get out of bed and encourage you to start moving around as soon as possible.
The wound on your head may be covered with a dressing or bandage for the first few days. The nurses will check it regularly to make sure it is healing well. After about 7–10 days, they remove your staples or stitches. This can be done at the hospital or at home by a district nurse. If dissolving stitches were used, these won’t need to be removed.