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.

Leave a Comment

  • TheOtherLisa

    I think that #11 is my favorite. So simple yet brilliant.

  • Whereas I chose to terrify my best friend by having my boob nearly pop out in front of my father. Stupid hospital gowns.

    (Ok, that’s not terrifying. Just sad. And oddly amusing.)

  • I love how your mind thinks! This is funny stuff!

  • Lizzie

    Yes! I love #2. But #11 would be much easier and also very cruel 🙂

  • Casey

    I like number 6, could you imagine waking up and seeing me standing there!!

  • Trying to talk to a partner who grew up without TV about TV is how I think old people who date younger people must feel all the time.

    “Do you remember when… oh right. Nevermind.”

  • Ken

    I don’t really want to wish for Rand to undergo brain surgery, but I totally do just so that you can unleash all sorts of comedy hijinks upon him. Like maybe replace all his yellow sneakers with red ones and act like that’s what he’s always worn.

  • Jay

    Hahaha – I love your sense of humour!

    (#11 was my favourite.)

  • CatCatAttack

    Have someone blond dress up in a nurse’s outfit and walk into your room whistling the tune from Kill Bill.

  • Emily

    I love #12. Reminds me of a Simpsons halloween episode where Homer time travels and ends up in a future where he has the perfect life.

    Homer: “Hmm…Fabulous house…Well-behaved kids…Sisters-in-law
    dead…Luxury Sedan…WOOHOO! I hit the jackpot! Marge dear,
    would you kindly pass me a donut?”

    Marge: “Donut? What’s a donut?”

    Homer: “AHHHH! AHHHH! AHHHH!” (Sounds of Homer making a furious time-travel exit)

    Marge: “Oh look, it’s raining again” (Donuts fall from the sky)

  • Shauna

    #4 is the most terrifying (but oh, so fricken hilarious!!!!!). Rand would never do that, but it is still funny to think about (in theory) as an excellent practical joke!

  • Ok … no seriously … what did they do to your brain for it to come up with this?? Oh wait … NOTHING!!! LMAO!! you might – and I don’t want to say this lightly … but you might be a genius.

  • Only you would wish your husband has played awful tricks on you while high on medication! But you are hilarious and I would of thoroughly enjoyed when you came to (what was it 2 weeks later?) and you realized that he had played tricks on you and the revenge it would of resulted in. THAT would be priceless. Now that you’ve come to – you should start playing tricks on HIM and make him think its a result of the brain surgery!

  • Ermel

    Best post here that I’ve read so far, and that’s saying a lot!

    I almost kind of somewhat hope that someone around here will undergo brain surgery sometime …

    Yours, Ermel.

  • Rick

    The question is — are these things you would have thought of pre-surgery? Or did the drugs influence this, um, creative burst?

    If the latter, how do I get my hands on said drugs?

  • I laughed till I cried. I wish you were my best friend.

  • I still think you should have done what my friend did after his surgery:

    Friend: “Nurse after this surgery will I be able to play the piano?”

    Nurse: “I don’t see why not”

    Friend: “Good because I couldn’t before”

    Nurse shakes head and leaves room

  • Dan

    Remember when my wife Liz and I visited you in the hospital and you were like, “wait, where’s Mike?” and I was like, “um, who’s Mike?” and then you started screaming and throwing things at Liz? You’ve got this straightened this out in your head now, right? Cause Liz and I were a little worried about you after that.

  • These all made me laugh so hard. I was in the hospital an extended time for an illness. Although my friends did none of the above, they did post a TON of pictures of me really doped up on dilaudid, on Facebook. It was pretty funny. I looked so high. Because I was.

  • Christy

    Love your ideas, especially the zombie apocalypse one…and I, too, love cupcakes and chocolate cake.

  • I am making sure my husband NEVER sees this post in case I ever have to have general anesthesia again!

  • Heather

    My favorites are numbers 1 and 4. Number 1 made me think of one of my favorite movies, 28 Days Later, which you wouldn’t have seen or maybe you saw it through your fingers. The main character wakes up in an abandoned hospital in the beginning which you later learn is abandoned because of zombies Aaaaaaaaa!! (but they’re not really zombies-more like raving, cannibalistic lunatics) But anyway he walks to his house and (spoiler alert!) finds his parents dead on their bed with a note to him that says “Don’t wake up.” and I always thought “wtf! you’re telling him not to wake up but the only way he would see this note is if he. woke. up. and walked through the zombie infested city to the house! A little late to warn him, dontcha think?” Perhaps a nice blood scrawled message on the wall of his hospital room would have been better. Then he could have found a way to live in his room and never leave the hospital. I don’t know. I think I’ve given this too much thought.

  • This may have been the funniest thing I’ve read in months! Thanks for your good nature and ability to laugh through such a hard and trying challenge. I’m sure it was very emotional. Those are some of the funniest pranks I’ve ever heard of though and have given me some great ideas! Thanks 🙂

  • I’m giving this list to my family and friends. Good times. Good times.

  • Richard Lloyd

    Just found this and sent to a friend scared witless at the thought of imminent brain surgery. It did the job – can’t thank you enough!! (And I liked the zombie gag best!)

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