12 Ways to Terrify Someone Recovering from Brain Surgery

Posted on
Aug 15, 2012

One of the nice things about brain surgery is that you can pick out all sorts of clever things to say for when you come to. I had a few quips lined up (“I have a splitting headache!”, “Who wants morphine? I do! I do!”, and “Which of you bastards tried to tip my surgeon to ‘throw in a lobotomy’ while he was in there?”) but it was my friend Natalie who gave me the winner.

“Since you will have a metal plate in your head,” she said, ” you should totally get a photo of Edward Furlong from the mid-nineties. And then when you come to, show Rand the photo and ask him, in your best Terminator voice, ‘Have you seen this boy, John Conner?'”

This was clearly far superior to any of my cracks, so I went with it.

Unfortunately, I encountered a few problems.

  1. I never actually got a metal plate in my head. The hole in my skull is small enough that my doctor said it would probably close up on its own. (This notion somewhat horrifies me. “We’re just going to leave your skull alone and hope it fuses together” isn’t the sort of phrase that instills confidence in a patient.)
    – 
  2. I kept passing out before I could finish the sentence.
  3. Rand didn’t get the joke. Like, at all.

When I finally did get the line out properly, which was TOTALLY AWESOME, he just stared at me blankly.

I figure this is partially the fault of my husband, for not getting a single pop culture reference from prior to 2001, and partially my fault. My execution might have been a little off. Let’s be fair: people who have just undergone brain surgery shouldn’t be expected to deliver clever one-liners.

However, people who are waiting for their loved ones to come out of surgery have plenty of time to plan stuff, right? Consequently, I think that Rand missed a serious opportunity here. I was hepped up on all sorts of things (including a pain killer that was “ten times stronger than morphine” according to the nurse, and anesthesia which I would not be able to shake from my system for another week and a half or so). Just imagine the stunts he could have pulled! The unclever lines at which I would have laughed maniacally! JUST IMAGINE THE PRANKS THAT MY POOR, TRAUMATIZED BRAIN WOULD HAVE FALLEN FOR.

Oh, Mr. Fishkin: you squandered a once-in-a-lifetime chance. You decided to forgo all shots at a quick laugh, and instead just held my hand and kissed it when you saw me, occasionally muttering how much you loved me. You silly fool.

Here are just some of the ways you could have freaked me out:

  1. Wheel my bed to a forgotten corner of the hospital (These exist. The place where I had my CT scan had no windows, and the most recent magazine was from 2007. It was the forgotten land). Smear fake blood on the walls. Pin a hastily written note to me that says “THE ZOMBIE APOCALYPSE IS UPON US.

    Zombie doctors, nurses, and nuns, from the Seattle Zombie Walk a few years back.

  2. Get some costume make-up, and make everyone look much older than they presently are. When I finally come to, look positively shocked. Explain how I’ve been unconscious for 12 years. Note how pleased our new robot-overlords will be with my recovery.
  3. Three words: President Van Halen. (Or is that two words? Whatever. It’s still awesome to think about.)
  4. When I regain consciousness, gently tell me there’s someone you want me to meet – and then introduce me to your new wife. When I protest that I was only unconscious for a matter of hours, explain that you “couldn’t wait around forever.” Act offended when I don’t offer up my blessings.
  5. Remember that episode of The Twilight Zone where everyone has pig faces? (If you are Rand, of course you don’t remember. You grew up without television). Have everyone apply prosthetics so they appear to have pig faces, and freak out at my hideous non-piggyness when I finally wake up. For an added twist, offer me bacon.
  6. Get someone who looks a great deal like you – beard, dark hair, velvet brown eyes rimmed in thick dark lashes … AHEM. Sorry, where was I? Oh, yeah. The prank. Get someone who looks like you to take your place when I wake up. Bonus points if you can dress him in your clothes. Have everyone call the doppelganger “Rand,” and instruct them to look confused when I protest that the person in front of me isn’t actually my husband.

    Well, shit.

  7. Invent new slang words. Use them liberally yet vaguely (bonus if you can use them in conflicting ways), and explain that they caught on while I was undergoing surgery. Example: Say that the food in the hospital cafeteria is totally “blurst.” Give no further follow-up as to what “blurst” might mean.
  8. Have everyone in the recovery room wear my clothing and personal effects. When I notice this, nervously claim that it is simply coincidence, and that you did not, under any circumstances, sell my stuff to friends and relatives while I was unconscious.
  9. Whisper to me, “Hey baby, you’re left-handed, correct?” When I explain that I am not, shout, “WELL YOU ARE NOW!”
  10. Upon discharge, drive me to an unfamiliar building and say, “We’re home!” When I claim that we don’t live there, pull out a teddy bear, point to it, and hiss, “SHHH! You’ll wake the neighbors!”
  11. Select the German language setting on the DVD of a popular movie. When I request you switch it back to English, take my hand, look at me with a concerned expression on your face and whisper, “It is playing in English.”
  12. When I inevitably ask for a cupcake, look at me blankly and say, “What’s a cupcake?” (This will probably horrify me more than most people. Be prepared for a deluge of tears.)

    Note: that would be a really, really mean thing to do.

Fun stuff, right?

Okay, fine. Toying with the heart and mind of a person who’s just undergone surgery isn’t the nicest thing you can do. I guess I can understand Rand’s reasons for simply sitting by my side and holding my hand, leaving only to bring me a ginormous chocolate cake.

But I still can’t believe he didn’t get my Terminator joke. Damn it.

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