My Brain, Part 5 – Post Surgery, November

My Brain, Part 5 – Post Surgery, November

I noticed some dramatic changes in November, but nothing miraculous. I was beginning to realize that one of the reasons I hadn’t been able to find medications that worked for my symptoms was that my symptoms were not being caused by my ADHD or Depression. In fact, the tumor had actually been suppressing some of the symptoms, and bit by bit they were coming back with a vengeance.

As my memory gets to be a bit more reliable, I’m now dealing with the aftereffects – getting hit with huge blanks in my memory from before the surgery, hubby and kids mentioning things and reminding me of stuff I did or said of which I have no recollection whatsoever. Still incredibly tired, incision isn’t healing as nicely as I would have liked, so I’ll be letting the hair grow back.

I was already taking nothing but Tylenol for pain before I left the hospital. I was given dilaudid for pain right after the surgery and a couple of times after when we discovered that I’m immune to morphine, but for the most part I did OK once a few tubes came out and my enormous headgear was removed.

The blanks I’m drawing are from the months before the surgery – more of them closer to it, when all the other symptoms were also escalating. I was already aware that my memory was significantly worse than usual, and it was harder to find triggers for recall that used to work. I spent A LOT of time standing around wondering why I was where I was, what I was doing that brought me there – you know how when you walk into a room and forget, but if you go back to where you were before and it comes back to you? That was no longer working. I wouldn’t even remember where I had been before to go back there and look for whatever it was that made me go wherever it was I had ended up. Now I’m back to blanking for a moment, sometimes having to retrace my steps, but frequently being able to do that mentally instead of physically.

There are just some things that I’m discovering are gone, and they’ve been small, so it hasn’t bothered me too terribly much. For example, I had purchased a replacement beater for my stand mixer, because the original was chipping. I got one with a rubber scraper on the side, but found that it didn’t work for large batches of batter. I was out with hubby and saw a display of my brand of mixer and said that I should look for a replacement beater that didn’t have the scraper, and he told me that I’d already ordered it, even used it. Really? I went home, found it, looked it over, and even though clearly I had the new beater, I had no memory whatsoever of ever having seen it before, or of throwing the old one out. Everything related to this particular item just doesn’t come back at all.

There are posts I’ve made here and things I’ve written elsewhere that I come across and have absolutely no recollection of ever having thought. Not all of them, but enough to make it seem kind of Twilight-Zone-esque. I mean, it’s not like rummaging through old school papers or letters or things and not being able to remember the details, or being able to piece together a few long-forgotten memories. It’s like someone else must have written these things, but at least they took the time to get to know me and didn’t embarrass me too much. Very bizarre.

Since tomorrow’s a long day (going to a show at the Philadelphia Museum of Art with the whole family!) and I’m still just so tired and out of it during the day, I thought that it might be a good idea to take a small dose of my Adderall XR just so I could get through it.

Potential problem, though, is that in the past, whenever I took Adderall without the benefit of also being on a well-established regimen of an SSRI, it gave me anxiety and panic attacks. So, since my brain is working so much better now than it did before surgery, I actually thought about this beforehand and took a small dose today.

N.B., my doctor had already worked it out with me that I can divide up my capsules for smaller doses, since I found that two doses spaced 3 hours apart worked better than a larger single dose, and my insurance company won’t give me 60 pills a month even if the number of milligrams works out to be the same.

So. . .divided up 25 mg into two gelatin capsules, took one this morning. None of the euphoria that comes along with taking it for the first time, thank goodness. Barely noticeable heart palpitations (palpitations not being abnormal rhythm, but simply the sensation that your heart is beating harder or faster, FYI) and no noticeable anxiety. Then again, since I was able to think of one thing at a time once it kicked in, I found plenty of things to keep myself too busy to get anxious.

I still could use a nap or two or three, but I don’t feel like I’m going to cry if I don’t get some sleep already!!!

It’s not a definitive measure of whether I’ll be able to take this without an antidepressant, because I’m right back to ruminating instead of sleeping, but it’s nice to know that it still works and I’ll be able to enjoy my day tomorrow.

Oh, and another post-surgery change that I just noticed is that the constant music loop that was always in the back of my thoughts is not always present anymore, and is a little easier to ignore/dismiss. It still pops up first thing in the morning, but it doesn’t dominate everything else.

Well, I have discovered the approximate point when all traces of antidepressant medication have left my system. *sigh* Besides the return of depression symptoms, I’m actually experiencing occasional small brain zaps – miniature versions of the ones you’d get from SSRI withdrawal. Usually they’re brought on by movement like turning around or stopping after walking, but occasionally they just happen.

I’m trying to remind myself that there is still a lot of healing left to go, that if my incision is still not done and I still can’t move my neck all around because of cerebrospinal fluid, it’s unreasonable to think that my brain is all better. That works for a moment or two.

Word recall, which had improved greatly, now has intermittent glitches. I’ll go blank on a word that I’d used regularly, but it’ll come back spontaneously, apropos of nothing, in the next 24 hours. Sometimes the same word will come and go over the course of several days.

The show was wonderful, but huge, and I paid the price for it. The day was much longer than I was ready for. The creative ideas were incredibly overstimulating, and I couldn’t sleep for more than a few hours at a time – still having trouble with that. When I tried to replicate a technique, I had so much trouble trying to figure out all the steps and put them in order (plus plenty of time to beat myself up while waiting for components to dry or set) all it did was frustrate me. I don’t know if that’s a recovery thing or an untreated ADHD thing, but it was definitely helped by sleep deprivation.

Two days of small doses of Adderall were OK, but the third day brought back increased anxiety, so we’re not going to be playing around with that. I see the psychiatrist on the 26th for re-evaluation. We’ll see how that goes. For now, I just do pretty much nothing useful, which makes me sad, but it’s how it has to be for a little longer.