One Little Pill

Recovery from brain surgery is a mental game. I can use little tricks to improve my prognosis. One of them is a little white pill–but I don’t use it the way you’re thinking.


The human brain doesn’t enjoy getting shoved around. Even with the finest surgeon at work, it still resents his pushing it out of his way to cut out my tumor. Five minutes of shoving may not have pissed off my brain, but an eight-hour surgery has left it furious. It wants to lay still, do nothing … period.

Now that the rest of my body has recovered and I am getting more active, my brain has decided to push back. It swells when I do much of anything. Thanks to the good folks at the Acoustic Neuroma Association, I know that this is normal. My brain might keep swelling for weeks, or years. Okay, so I’ll get to the pill.

My fabulous surgeon has prescribed narcotic pain medicine to alleviate the brain swelling. I took a few of them on my first days back home, but determined not to get hooked, I quickly switched to ibuprofen, which helps the swelling but tears up my stomach.

My daily choice is brain swell or stomach problems, big ones. I used to have ulcers. Took years to recover.

Of course I still have that narcotic pain medicine. Just one pill left. I could easily call and request a refill. So soon after surgery, it should be no problem. I talked to the doc about options–not many. I want to try cranial sacral therapy, but will have to wait a while. They offered more narcotics, but I turned them down. Fact is, I know too many people who got hooked.

That one leftover pill is going to have to be my strength. Yeah, I know addiction makes better fiction, but this is my life.

I set it on the table. Thought a minute to put this whole mess into perspective … and made a decision. That one pill is going to stand by like my cavalry. I can take an occasional ibuprofen if I have to work, go to an appointment, or fight excruciating pain, but on an everyday basis, I just have to get used to the swelling.

The more active I get, hopefully, the more the swelling and pain will diminish. My brain will sort of forget our bully session and move on to other things–or maybe it won’t. Either way I’ll have some brain swell, but if I minimize the ibuprofen, I won’t have the stomach problems.

And one-pill cavalry will stand by, ready to ride in to my rescue, in case I can’t take any more pain.

I’m very lucky not to have have cancer or lupus, should be back to normal quite soon. I can join a support group, research some alternative therapies, do yoga …

And keep my brain trained on one little pill.

2 thoughts on “One Little Pill

  1. Lucie, I’m sure that, with your smarts, you researched this approach and talked to your doctor. So, I’ll just say, please be careful. I’m thinking of you.

  2. You are so thoughtful, and yes, my doctor was the first one who said that I would need to “get used” to the swelling if not the pain. As a woman who has had babies, I can handle pain pretty well. As you do.

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