It wasn’t fun…and my back is still hurting due to a surgical procedure in which a 2.5″ slice was made in my back. On top of that, the doc told me afterwards that my back was worse off than my MRI images indicated…so he had to do some extra work…in the end, though, it was worth it: the back pain from the herniated/ruptured disc is gone, the pain shooting down the legs is gone, the numbness is gone. About 1/2 of the weakness is also gone. So, was it worth it? Hells yeah, it was. lol.
The day started off badly: my ride to the hospital never showed up. And given that I only had 20 minutes to get to the hospital (and Google Maps was telling me it’d take 22 minutes with traffic), I decided on a kind of nutty thing: I drove myself to the hospital. Not an experience I’d recommend when one has a back that wasn’t very happy…and without any pain meds (couldn’t take any before the procedure).
Once I got to the hospital, however, things went nicely: within 10 minutes I was registered, within 20 minutes, I was in Pre-Op. Where, unfortunately I had to sit for a while (Dr. Nelson had a complicated surgery before mine that went a bit long). Once they were ready for me, however, things went very quickly: the anesthesiologist went over their Q&A, the nurses went over theirs, Dr. Nelson visited and was kind enough to tell me (after seeing my “Advanced Healthcare Directive”–a living will, basically) “if you start to die on the table, well, I guess I might try to save you.” Hahaha. The joker.
One thing that was no joke was Dr. Nelson’s surgical skills. I remember me cracking some bad jokes as the oxygen mask went on…then nothing until I woke in the recovery room. In tremendous pain. They started off with a dose of morphine. When that didn’t work, they went up to a dose of dilaudid…a relatively powerful synthetic morphine. Then when that didn’t work, they gave me a second, stronger dose. Eventually my body calmed down. Evidently, it didn’t like being fooled around with that much.
When I finally got into my room (it took a while–WakeMed seems to be falling apart–of the four elevators servicing the wing I was in, only one elevator was working…the escalators in Day Surgery checkin were also not working when I showed up lol), I rapidly realized a few things: 1) I had absolutely no pain in my legs and lower body; 2) my back was a bit sore; 3) I really needed to go to the bathroom. Or at least I thought I did.
Nothing is quite as interesting as being handed a “jug” to pee in. With the room door wide open. At that point, however, I really didn’t care…and decided that if someone walked by, they could look for all I care. Took me about 30 minutes, but finally I was able to have my first post-op pee…and I’ll be honest–that’s a pretty good feeling.
Too much detail? Probably. lol. Some other observations about my stay at WakeMed: nurses were pretty nice, although they had some attitude (mostly towards other people–for whatever reason they seemed to like me), the room was tiny, the bathroom (when I eventually got to use it) had severe plumbing issues (they had to call in maintenance since it was backing up and spewing black gunk into the sink and shower), with all that said, it was still pretty comfortable. Hospital food still sucks–they didn’t think to feed me until after the kitchen closed–so my dinner was literally a boxed lunch; breakfast was a puck of meat (sausage?), two “pancakes”, some corn flakes, orange juice, and something optimistically called “coffee”. The downside: no syrup for the pancakes–which you really wanted after the first bite of the “butter only” version. Trust me.
The night of surgery day, my boss’s boss showed up and sat with me for over an hour and a half just chatting. Talk about helpful–it kept my mind off the remaining back pain, and he’s hilarious, so I got a number of good belly laughs out of that convo…even if I was “hopped up” on meds. Frankly, I think David is just amused at seeing me so pathetically strapped up to the various equipment (oxygen in the nose, anti-blood clotting pumps on the feet, a bed that kept adjusting the inflation of the air bladders whenever I moved). Well, K, that’s not fair–he’s actually also a very nice friend who just was concerned about me. Which is pretty awesome.
Later that night, a nurse took me for a walk–and we did two laps. I kept grinning like an idiot, and actually hugged a couple of nurses. They didn’t understand: it had been 3.5 months where I couldn’t walk without quite a bit of pain…and here I was walking less than 6 hours after my back operation…and zero pain. I wanted to do an Irish jig. And that kind of freaked out my nurses.
Anyways, the next day rolled around, and remembering I had driven my car, I started refusing pain meds (can’t drive your car if you’re so zonked you can’t see straight). Of course, I didn’t tell the nurses that–and they thought I was even nuttier than my desire to do back flips down the halls. My boss’s boss’s wife offered to give me a ride home, so at 10:30am, I was officially released from the hospital–and Susan came to pick me up. I had to explain the last minute alteration to the plans (she had planned on driving me home–but I needed to get my car home), so instead, she insisted on following me home in order to make sure I got home safe. Which was quite a trip for her…and not only did she follow me home–she had a care package for me! The best sammich and stew I’ve had in…well, an awfully long time. We even took a walk around my yard, while Susan gave me some thoughts and ideas of what I can do with what sort of is my yard. All in all, above and beyond, and it left me considering just how lucky of a person I am to have such caring folks in my life.
By then it was mid-day, so I popped open the lappy and started work. I had actually started answering work emails that morning, but to do “real work” I needed the lappy. That’s when I noticed that the dilaudid and morphine was…finally wearing off. Pain started getting a bit more intense, and by the time I crawled into bed–around 11PM, I was hurting. But I thought I’d sleep it off. Bad idea. Around 3AM, I woke up and was in pretty intense pain (it didn’t help that a small pillow which was propping up my back from the bed so I didn’t have to lie on my wound had slipped and was directly pressing into the wound lol)…do I was forced to down a perc. Eventually fell back asleep…and now, well, it’s the day after.
Cool note about the surgical incision: they used dermabond surgical glue instead of sutures or stitches. Which actually had a couple of nice side benefits: 1) no dressings to change–since there were no bandages; 2) no visit back to the doc to remove stitches! The glue actually wears off after 10 days, which is enough time for the wound to naturally close up. Isn’t technology wonderful? As an emerging tech strategist, I had to toss something tech related into this post, afterall. LOL
All in all, I’m ridiculously happy with the results: no more back pain, no more numbness. I didn’t even realize how much hurt I was in until that hurt was instantly relieved. Teh awesomeness. So, to everyone who sent me their best wishes, to all those who helped me in so many different ways, I can only say: thanks. It meant a lot to me that you were there for me when I needed you so badly.
And with that, it’s time to dive back into work. Take care everyone–and don’t be surprised if you see me in the gym in a week. Hey. I never claimed to be too smart.