The Eternal Headache

The Eternal Headache

It’s been two weeks since my brain surgery that removed Mini, my itty-bitty 6 mm prolactinoma that despite its size, caused all sorts of problems. Most of my post-op symptoms have resolved themselves. My sinuses seem quite clear and I’m doing saline nasal rinses three times a day to make sure they stay clear. I have no drainage from my nose anymore, so I can normalize a little bit and not need tissues and a wastebasket next to the bed. My senses of taste and smell are pretty much back to normal from what I can tell. I can sleep flat again, which in turn is helping me sleep better.

But there’s this headache. It’s not a bad headache most of the time (if my medication is working.) It’s more of a constant, sinus-like, tension-like pressure headache that’s always there and never goes away. I’ve been trying to get off the Percocet, but nothing else will touch this headache. At this point, it feels like it will never go away.

Obviously, a headache is to be expected after brain surgery. While they didn’t have to mess around with my actual brain, just the pituitary gland, they still had to cut a hole in my skull, albeit in the back of my nasal passages. And it’s possible I still may have some absorbable packing up in there somewhere that my ENT will take out at my follow-up appointment tomorrow.

I’ve polled the people in the Facebook pituitary tumor support groups about the post-op headache. Some people said it lasts 6-8 weeks, others have said months. Still others have said it never goes away. Hopefully I’m in the first group of people. This headache is bad enough that it’s very close to tipping the scale into a migraine for me, and if I go back to work feeling like this, that will definitely spell bad news because that place is a zoo and has always exacerbated my headaches. Hence the reason I prefer to work second shift, when there is just one pharmacist and two technicians on duty (myself being the one pharmacist.)

I find myself trying to avoid the headache getting worse by doing as little as possible. When I was discharged from the hospital, they basically told me in terms of my activity, “Just don’t do anything. Just walk around so you don’t get blood clots.” (Again, the feeling that I’m made of glass…) I’m trying to obey that, but sometimes I get restless, hence last week when I overdid it by putting out my fall decorations and then I paid for it for two days. But I wasn’t doing anything except moving around a lot, so I don’t know what the big deal was. The headache seems to be very, very sensitive to any triggers that usually trigger migraines in me. I’m trying to stay hydrated. I’m trying to not go too long without eating. I’m trying to keep the house quiet. Sometimes just thinking about it is enough to make it worse, so I’m trying to distract myself with light activities like reading and writing.

I know I need to have patience, which is one thing I’ve never had much of. It’s only been two weeks since the surgery, so I can’t expect to feel 100% better yet. There’s still a lot of healing that needs to go on inside my head. But I’m amazed I feel as well as I do. I wasn’t expecting my senses to be back to normal this soon, but I’m grateful they are, because I know a lot of people have long-term or even permanent deficits following surgery. Life is far more enjoyable when you can taste and smell things. And I can smell my fall candles!?

At least it’s not migraines. Although it’s very close. It’s always worse when I first wake up, which makes for a lovely start to each day. Percocet for breakfast, anyone??

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0 thoughts on “The Eternal Headache

  1. I just came across your blog and have been catching on your story. You have been through so much. I hope that the rest of your recovery goes well and that the headaches will go away! Just take it each day at a time x

  2. Are you burning your candles a lot because that could be one of the triggers. Candles didn’t bother me until I started using pure essential oils and my diffuser. Now I can’t take how strong they smell or the chemicals in them.

    1. This did occur to me, and I had to put one of the candles away because it was too much. I don’t seem to be having trouble with the other ones (I can tell if it’s the candle because my headache will flare if I walk by it…weird, but true.) Thanks for the suggestion!?

  3. Maybe you have already covered this and I missed it. But just in case…
    Is your Cortisol low? The headache you describe, pituitary surgery, etc- sounds like low cortisol. I am not a dr in anyway, in fact I’m new to Adrenal Insufficiency. But I figured I’d mention it.
    I’m so glad you are doing as well as you are- now rest! Stay in bed!

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