If you’ve been diagnosed with a benign brain tumor, surgery to remove the mass is only part of the recovery equation. After you’ve been discharged, the real work begins. Today, we take a closer look at what you can expect life to be like in the days and weeks after brain tumor removal, and when you can get back to performing certain activities like working or driving.
All of the following sections involve general guidelines. Your recovery will likely be slightly different, and your doctor can explain your specific care instructions during your time in the recovery center before you’re discharged.
You will be discharged to return home after your medical team feels that enough time has passed and your vital signs are looking good. The exact timeline for your discharge depends on many factors, including the location of the tumor, the areas of the brain that were affected by its presence, and the age and overall health of the patient. Discharge day may be a day or more than a week following the operation. Once you’ve been cleared for discharge, your medical team will provide you with discharge instructions, including how to care for the incision site, how to manage your medications, what signs to look for that suggest you have an infection, and how to best transition to life out of the surgery center.
If you need additional care at home, the medical team can explain how Occupational Therapists, Physical Therapists, Speech Therapists or traveling nurses can assist in the patient’s home. OTs can help the patient relearn or perform tasks like getting dressed, going to the bathroom, personal hygiene and safe cooking practices, while PTs focus on improving things like strength and balance. Speech therapists can help speech or language functions that have been affected by the tumor or its removal, and they can also help patients who are having difficulty swallowing.
Driving After Brain Surgery
Driving after brain surgery is something the needs to be cleared by your surgeon, especially if there’s a chance that you may be prone to seizures after tumor removal. In many cases, doctors ask that the patient schedules a post-op checkup two weeks after the operation. If all vital signs look normal, driving may be approved at this time. In Minnesota, you have to be seizure-free for three months and have a doctor’s recommendation that you are healthy enough to drive in order to legally drive. You can learn more about Minnesota’s laws regarding seizures and driving here.
Traveling after brain surgery will depend on your recovery plan, the destination, and if you are scheduled to undergo radiation treatments. If you are traveling far away for more than a day, talk with your doctor to make sure it is approved.
Back To Work
Returning to work after brain surgery is dependent on the tasks you perform. Most doctors recommend that you take 6 to 8 weeks off following tumor removal, but that can be modified based on each specific patient. For individuals who work heavy labor, a longer timeline may be needed. 12 weeks may be a more reasonable goal if you operate heavy machinery on your job.
You may be able to collect FMLA (short-term disability) while recovering from brain surgery, It requires physician participation, but Dr. Chang and staff are always happy to help patients who need paperwork approved.
For more information on transitioning back to normal life after brain tumor surgery, reach out to Dr. Chang’s office today.