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Going Home - The Early Weeks



Headaches are very common following a subarachnoid haemorrhage. They are not usually so severe as the headache experienced during the event itself, but they can persist for some months as the blood around the brain is re-absorbed.


Taking pain killers as recommended by your doctor can help. The headaches will ease in time and may disappear altogether, but you may be more prone to headaches than you were previously.


You may feel strange sensations in your head and this is common, especially during the early weeks of your recovery. If you are at all concerned about headaches or sensations you should consult your doctor.


Keith (46) from Hampshire, SAH August 2006 says:

The constant severe headaches got me down at first and I ended up back in hospital after a particularly bad episode. The headaches started to ease in severity after a few weeks and I remember the first day that I went without pain killers as a milestone in my recovery. It took about 6 months before I was virtually free of headaches and one year on, I don't really get them any more.


Sarah from Wiltshire, SAH October 2004 says:

I had bad headaches prior to SAH and in some senses I have fewer now - because if I feel a headache coming on I am more likely to stop and rest up. I know that battling on will only make it worse in the long run, and after 3 years I am not so scared the whole time I have a headache, and I know I'm likely to get a headache if I over do it.

During the early weeks at home, you will feel very tired. Even simple things like having a bath can leave you completely drained. Having a rest or sleep period each day can help, but you should try not to do too much too soon. Gradually build up your activity as you feel able and the fatigue will ease with time, but you may find that you never completely regain your previous level of activity.


Vic from Frimley, SAH January 2006 says:

It was much worse in the beginning but still get tired very easily and can sleep for England. I think this also has a lot to do with my medication for blood pressure as they keep me quite low. I also get tired limbs very quickly if I exert myself, like trying to run upstairs.

Keith (46) from Hampshire, SAH August 2006 says:

When I first came home, I was constantly tired and slept a lot. Even simple things like getting dressed or talking to friends and family would leave me completely drained of energy. I needed a sleep during the day for several months and returning to work was particularly difficult as the fatigue increased and I needed longer rest periods.



Most people feel more emotional, especially in the early weeks. Mood swings and crying for no apparent reason are common. As with most other effects of subarachnoid haemorrhage, this generally improves with time.


Karen (45) from Dorset, SAH July 2005 says:

I had days where I would feel so low with trying to cope with the aftermath of the SAH that I would just escape to my bedroom and cry. I would become inconsolable and cry tears of frustration. I felt so frightened, so alone and felt as though nobody could help me. I always tried not to let my children see this, as I didn’t want them to worry. I cried buckets of tears over the thought that my children could have lost their Mum and I feared for the future. I felt like a different person and wondered whether life could ever be the same again.


Anxiety & Depression

Once you return home from hospital it is natural to feel anxious and worry that it may happen again, although this is very unlikely. You may feel low or isolated at times, especially in the early weeks, but it generally improves with time. If you feel very low, it may be worth talking to your GP. Attending a support group and talking to others in similar situations can help, but if you feel uncomfortable talking to strangers face to face, an online support group like the one here at behindthegray.net can also help.


Sami (36) from Nottinghamshire, SAH August 2006 says:

I was very anxious in the first few weeks about being left alone and that I was going to suffer another SAH. I became so depressed that I was referred to a councillor. He helped me to realise that this wasn't my fault and that I had nothing to feel guilty about.


Memory & Concentration

Short term memory is often affected following a subarachnoid haemorrhage and memories of the event and the time spent in hospital is often very vague.


You may also have difficulty concentrating and find that you can only concentrate on tasks for a short period. You may need to write things down and keep a diary as an aid to your memory.


When you visit your doctor or hospital, write down a list of questions before you go and write down the answers so you can remember them later. As with other aspects of subarachnoid haemorrhage, your memory will improve with time, but your short term memory may never be what it once was.


Karen (45) from Dorset, SAH July 2005 says:

My short term memory had become very bad. I would walk from one room to another, forgetting the reason why I went in the first place. I had to start to make lists to help me remember. My brain seemed to be on "meltdown" and was reluctant to absorb any information. I would also forget a conversation very easily.

Sarah from Wiltshire, SAH October 2004 says:

I have to write work things down now and I might have to go back to some one and clarify details of our conversation. Unless I've overdone it, or have a headache, or am fatigued, I am OK to concentrate and remember most of the time although things do fall off the edge when I am busy. Learning new things is harder, but I am less embarrassed at the thought of appearing stupid so I cope with that!


Communication and Speech

Speech is often affected by subarachnoid haemorrhage. Hesitation and difficulty finding the right words are common and usually improve with time. It may be necessary to see a speech therapist if problems persist.


Keith (46) from Hampshire, SAH August 2006 says:

My speech was very hesitant at first. I would often stop mid-sentence, unable to think of the next word. It was worse when I was stressed or tired and speaking on the telephone was particularly difficult. It was very frustrating as I knew I was doing it, but it gradually got better and my speech was back to normal within a few weeks.


Noise and Visual Stimuli

You will probably be more sensitive to noise and visual things such as bright or flashing lights during the early weeks of your recovery. Being in crowded, noisy or busy places such as supermarkets can be particularly difficult at first.


Karen (45) from Dorset, SAH July 2005 says:

My first visit to a Supermarket was traumatic and I didn't cope at all well. My eyesight was awful, my legs weak and my brain went into overload with the bright lights, piped music, door alarms going off, children crying and people walking at me. It was all too much and I had to leave and sit in the car whilst my Husband finished the shopping. I cried my eyes out in desperation and wondered what the hell was happening to me.

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