It’s fairly standard procedure after a biopsy to control the swelling in your brain with steroids. In my case I was sent home with a truckload of dexamethasone and a blue medical card to carry with me at all times. The level of concern from the medical teams at discharge is carefully metered out in an attempt to keep you calm and dignified in the wake of someone drilling a hole in your head and threading a needle through your brain, trying to avoid the important bits. As it’s your brain, unfortunately all the bits are important.
As the patient, I didn’t question the type, quantity or frequency of medication. You don’t in hospital do you? After all, the highly qualified and experienced doctors and nurses know best.
Off I went home, clutching my bag of steroids like some terrible take-home kid’s party bag from a highly unusual weekender. Another prescription was being urgently generated between my local GP and pharmacy.
I had an almighty hunger.
Strange, I thought, considering I’d just had a major operation under general anaesthetic. Previous operation anaesthetics had left me feeling sick and unable to eat. Then I remembered I’d eaten everything I’d been given in hospital. I mean everything. Even the out-of-hours hot microwaved meals I’d been provided with by Sodexo, whom I presume won their PFI contract partly based on cost. M&S it certainly was not.
At home I started consuming food at an alarming rate. I found myself pacing the kitchen tiles in anticipation of an online supermarket delivery, like a crack addict might wait on a street corner for their dealer to turn up. If it was my turn to do the shopping, the crates would arrive stacked with biscuits, chocolate, cakes and various puddings. In the evening at family dinner with my wife and daughter I’d have a pudding. Later, when my wife was on the final stretch of feeding our daughter to sleep, I’d have another pudding by myself. Daughter finally asleep, my wife would appear from upstairs tired and just wanting some quiet time, I’d gleefully ask if she’d like pudding. Sometimes she did. Even if she didn’t, I’d be crushing meringues into my face.
We’d set up the spare room for me to recover in after the biopsy. Little did I know it would become a den for the overnight consumption of an extra couple of thousand calories a night. The steroids kept me awake to such an extent that some nights I just didn’t sleep at all. The summer of 2018 was incredibly hot in the UK, and contributed to night after night of sleepless restlessness, aided only by iced water and biscuits. It was like a craving. My brain wouldn’t stop badgering me until the chocolate digestives had been opened.
Combined with the steroids, my size and weight ballooned so rapidly that the scars on my stomach from a repair operation a few years ago were suddenly stretched taut across a much bigger area. I’ve been left with stretch marks which I’m quite self conscious about.
I’m on the road to recovery these days. My physiotherapist is helping me regain core muscle strength through a series of exercises and once I’m stronger I can do something a bit more athletic.
I still love biscuits.