Before and after your surgery
Surgery for epilepsy is a big step, so you need to prepare for it carefully.
If you work, tell your employer that you are expected to need three months to recover. You will also need to consider what will happen financially. If you are working, check that your employer will pay you sick pay while you recover and until you are back at work.
If you receive benefits, consider what will happen if you become seizure free. While nothing would happen immediately, in the long term you may no longer qualify for benefits you received in the past. It is important to consider your options - would you want to return to work, or further education? We understand that these choices can be daunting, and will be happy to discuss them with you.
Accommodation for relatives
If you don't live in the Southampton area and a family member or friend wishes to stay close by, the main hospital reception can send you a list of local bed and breakfast and hotel accommodation.
There is very limited accommodation on the hospital site in Mellor House.
In the first few days after surgery, you will gradually increase how much you can do. Most people go home after seven days. Patients usually go home on their normal medication regime, and this will continue unchanged for at least the first year. Very occasionally, some people develop side effects from their medication after surgery. If needed, we will change your medication before you leave hospital.
Remember to gradually increase how much you do both physically and mentally over the next few weeks. It is normal to have good and bad days. Some people have headaches, but these will reduce with time. The specialist epilepsy nurse can help if you have any questions.
On returning home, most people will be able to do everything for themselves, such as washing and dressing, but will find they get tired very easily. You will need to rely on friends and family for support, and gradually build up how much you can do. The surgical team will discuss with you your plans for recovery, but if you have specific concerns, such as living alone, or caring for small children please let us know.
If you work, when you return it will probably be tiring. We suggest that you start part-time, and gradually build back up to your normal hours over several weeks. The epilepsy nurse will be happy to contact your employer if you, or they, have any concerns.
Follow up after surgery
The epilepsy nurse can give you advice after you go home. We will make an appointment for you to see the neurosurgeon around six to eight weeks after you leave hospital. Over the next six months, the neurologist, neuropsychologist and liaison psychiatrist will give you appointments for review. You will have a repeat MRI scan, and most patients will also have their vision checked. Wherever possible, several appointments will be arranged for the same day to limit the number of visits you need to make.
We will continue to review you at regular intervals over the next few years.
Each person copes differently with having surgery. If the operation is successful, experience has shown it can take people a long time to get used to life without seizures. Remember, you have lived with your epilepsy and the difficulties that it brings and you and your family will need to go through a period of re-adjustment after the operation.
Emotional reactions are quite common. Some people can develop temporary depression after surgery, and we encourage you and your family to be aware of this. The depression will usually resolve by itself or can be helped with a short course of medication. Very occasionally it may require a hospital admission for treatment.
You may find that becoming more independent, and being faced with choices such as returning to work, learning to drive or starting a family can be stressful. Allow yourself time to recover at your own pace and try not to put pressure on yourself to make changes too soon. If you have any specific aims after surgery, discuss this with the epilepsy surgery team before your operation, who will be able to assist you in forming a plan to achieve your goal.
We encourage you to talk through how you are feeling with your friends and family. If you, or your family are finding things difficult, please let us know. We are here to help.