Brain surgery is a lot for the body to handle, and you will likely experience some side effects as you recover. Your caregiver may also experience stress, difficulty sleeping, anxiety, and other indirect symptoms.
The following information may provide peace of mind for patients and their caregivers.
Side effects for the patient may include dizzy spells and confusion. Swelling in the brain is expected after surgery, so recovery will take time and the benefits will not be immediately apparent. Steroids may be prescribed to your loved one to help with the swelling, but they may have their own set of side-effects (difficulty sleeping, sweating, over-eating, agitation). It is important that you or the patient report these symptoms to the treatment team so they can decide whether the dose needs to be adjusted. Returning headaches should also be reported to the care team, as it may be a sign of a recurrent edema (swelling in the brain) or a new tumor.
Some people may complete recovery in a few weeks or months, others will have to learn to adjust to permanent changes in their life such as not being able to work or accomplish all the same tasks they did before. It is important to ask many questions of the surgeon to find out what potential short and long term side-effects to expect.
It is important to speak to the medical team to find out which side-effects are normal and which require you to call a nurse or 911.
If you need to take time off from work to care for a spouse, child, or parent (not an in-law) due to a serious health condition, depending upon your employer and your status, you may be eligible to take unpaid, job-protection leave under the Family and Medical Leave Act.
Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA):
The FMLA provides unpaid, job-protection leave for people with a serious health condition or who need to care for a spouse, parent, or child with a serious health condition. FMLA leave can be taken for a total of 12 weeks in any 12-month period. Covered servicemembers and their caregivers may be eligible for up to 26 weeks of FMLA leave in a 12-month period. During this time, you will also keep your insurance policy if it is through your employer, though you will likely still have to make your regular contributions.
Not all employers are covered employers for FMLA; generally, private employers with less than 50 employees are not covered by FMLA, but that may vary by state. Government agencies and elementary and secondary schools are covered by FMLA. To qualify for FMLA leave, a person must work in a location where their employer has at least 50 employees within 75 miles.
To qualify for FMLA with a covered employer, generally, a person must have worked for at least 12 months within the last seven years. Also, the person must have worked for the employer for at least 1250 hours (an average of about 24 hours/week for the year) within the last 12 months. Qualifications differ for airline flight attendants and flight crew.
Page 3 of the Department of Labor’s The Employee’s Guide to the Family and Medical Leave Act has a useful graphic to help determine if you are eligible for FMLA leave.
According to the U.S. Department of Labor, a person may be eligible to take FMLA leave if they are needed for the care of a spouse (as defined by state law, or from a marriage entered into outside of the U.S., but could have been entered into in at least one state), son, daughter, or parent with a serious health condition. Caregivers to patients who are not their legal or biological son/daughter/parent may still be eligible to take FMLA leave based on an “in loco parentis” basis. Examples of being needed for care include when the patient can no longer provide for their own medical, safety, or other needs; being needed to transport a patient to medical visits, or providing psychological comfort and reassurance.
FLMA leave can be taken as one single block or, if deemed medically necessary, it can be taken as multiple smaller blocks. If FMLA leave is taken for medical appointments, you must try to schedule the appointments to minimize the impact on your employer.
Your employer may be permitted to make you use your saved-up paid-time-off (such as sick or personal leave) for your FMLA leave.
If you know ahead of time that you will be needing to use FMLA leave, you must inform your employer at least 30 days in advance. If you do not have enough time between learning of your need for leave and the time you need to take the leave, you must inform your employer as soon as possible (generally the same day or the next business day). It is imperative that you give your employer enough information to know that your reason for leave may be covered by the FMLA act so that your leave can be protected.
After you submit a request for FMLA leave, your employer will notify you if you are eligible within 5 business days. They will also provide you with a notice of your rights and responsibilities with FMLA. Your employer may request a medical certification of the need for FMLA leave, if this happens you have 15 calendar days to provide it, if information is missing from the certification, you will have 7 calendar days to provide the missing information.