After Brain Surgery

Hilary when she got home from surgery

Brain Surgery sounds so scary. No one wants it, but if there’s something wrong, it’s essential to take care of it.

As you know, my beautiful sister, Lori, passed away from a ruptured brain aneurysm. So, when the neurosurgeons told me to get the surgery done to correct my aneurysm, I hesitantly said, “Okay.” (I got three opinions.)

It’s been a long ride from the time I decided to get the surgery done to now, post-surgery.

My thoughts before surgery – will I be the same person? will I act differently? will I look differently?

My hospital experience

I was asked to be at Mt Sinai West at 9 am. The staff told me no food or drink after midnight. So, I walked in craving coffee. My husband took me to the hospital, and my daughter and her husband met me there. I was scared, nervous, and anxious.

I was so afraid that I wouldn’t be around to tell this story.

The anesthesiologist met me and asked me a few questions. I looked at him and really got scared. He was so young. He looked like he was 14. My daughter said, “Mom, he will probably be more careful. Would you rather have an old man with shaking hands do the anesthesia?”


At around 11ish, I was brought to surgery. There was a lot of equipment around me and Tim, the admitting nurse tried to comfort me. (He was amazing.) Within moments, I was asleep. They gave me general anesthesia, so I was completely out on an incubator, which scared the pants off me prior to surgery.

The surgeon, Dr. Christopher Kellner, put a catheter in my groin and looked carefully at the aneurysm. He felt that if he put a coil in the aneurysm, I would have a stroke. Instead, Dr. Kellner put in a flow diverter stent to divert the blood away from the aneurysm. So, eventually, it would shrivel up and fade away.

flow diverter stent

After Surgery

I don’t remember anything and my next memory was when I was in the ICU. The nurses were trying to get me to swallow a pill and at that point, I did not want any part of it. “Why can’t you give me pain meds via the IV?” I asked. They had a bit of an attitude and I’m not sure why they wanted me to swallow pills when I had to lay on my back for 4 hours post surgery.

Seriously? How was I supposed to swallow a pill lying down? They told me it was the doctor’s orders. But I find that hard to believe.

My daughter and son-in-law came to my rescue. They were wonderful. I finally got pain meds via IV and was resting. Having a horrible headache that first day, everything else, seemed to bother me. They put a catheter in my arm to measure my blood pressure, which was highly elevated that first day and they immediately gave me meds to bring it down. That catheter in my arm hurt so bad. My whole body ached.


The overnight nurses were much better than the day nurses. Tamara was so sweet. During the day I would ring the bell and no one would come. I was glad my children were there to help me navigate the situation. I told them to leave at around 8 pm.

The headache was intense. I couldn’t sleep.

Tamara came in to talk with me. She told me that she just had a baby and wanted to get back to running but didn’t have the motivation. That’s when I told her to buy my book, From Couch Potato to Endurance Athlete. It was funny a few of the nurses said they would buy it and read it.

I finally got oxycodone for the pain and slept about three hours.

Day 2

at the hospital before discharge

I woke up and still had a slight headache. I felt a bit woozy. The PA came in to talk with me. She suggested a magnesium cocktail and suggested that I stay another night. There was no way I was going to do that so I told her I needed to go home.

After being told that I could have a 9 am discharge, I contacted my husband. I asked him to bring me a roll and a cup of coffee. (The hospital food was horrible and there was no way I was going to eat any of it.)

He came up around 8:30 am when the surgeon was there. I asked Dr. Kellner if I made the right decision. He said, “Yes, we did.” He wasn’t sure why I was getting such terrible headaches and said most of the patients don’t have such a bad headache. (I guess I was just lucky.)


I was finally discharged around 3ish in the afternoon. Stephen was my nurse and he was just as good as Tamara.

The magnesium drip along with the oxycodone helped a lot. Brian drove us home and I was greeted by a yell from my son, “Welcome home.” He had COVID and was hibernating in his room. He was so afraid that I would catch it. I appreciated that.

I went up to my bed and fell asleep. So happy to be back home, I thought I would take a shower first but I was too tired and crashed.

After Brain Surgery

I’m home now after being at Mt. Sinai West for two days. I still feel woozy and have a bad headache. Otherwise, I feel okay.

Dr. Kellner called me yesterday to find out how I was feeling. I was really impressed.

On social media and via text messages, I was getting questions like, “Do you still have your curly hair?” to “I thought you would be different?” That’s why I wrote this post.

Thankfully, the procedure was done laparoscopically and I don’t even see the small incision.  I was sent home with magnesium and oxycodone for the pain. Although I’m not a big fan of pain drugs, if I need it, I will take it.

Special Thanks

Special thanks to my entire family and to all my friends and family who texted me, DM’d me, sent me emails, and more. It truly meant so much to me to have this type of support. So, thank you!

I also want to thank Dr. Kellner and his team.

And, most importantly, I want to thank Trish Scobey and The Bee Foundation for being incredible.

Why I’m sharing this personal story?

Although brain surgery seems scary, with the right team of doctors and support system, you can come out stronger on the other side.

If you have an unruptured aneurysm, make sure to do something about it before it’s too late. Experiencing what Lori’s daughter’s and I went through is something that no one should experience!

Be proactive and take care of yourself!