Back Surgery 2018 – Day 0

It is very odd going into major surgery feeling OK. Usually I am in agony on a gurney or at the very least struggling to be mobile enough to move around This time however things are different. The injury I sustained just 2 short months ago was serious enough that another incident will give me permanent damage in most of my right leg. So it is with understandable trepidation that I set off on this journey once again.

In reviewing my last posts about the surgery I find that it was too much writing and not enough fact. I am starving for details about how I felt and what I am going to expect in the coming weeks. So this time I will try to expand more on what I am feeling and how my progress is going.

I sat in the most bizarre waiting room in any hospital in the world, remembering that 5 years ago I felt exactly the same. If you have never been to the surgical waiting room at St Mikes it’s a mixture of baroque paintings and classical decorations that make you feel like you are on a set of a period film rather than waiting for surgery. As they wheel you down the hallways to the OR it becomes even more odd with pictures of small children petting cats and oil painted landscapes fit for a stately home. The waiting is the worst part, hanging about just napping and wasting time until the surgical suite is yours. I sent about 4 hours on a bed waiting to be taken but once they came for me that familiar feeling of the bottom of the initial hill on a rollercoaster comes to mind. There was no turning back, terrified or not there was no getting off the ride and as the car crested the hill the plastic mask went over my face and a tear rolled down my cheek.

The relief on waking was something I will never forget. This time I had been having doubts, probably from my advanced age, that things might not go OK but as the fog lifted from my brain I came to the realization that I was in fact still alive. I revelled in this miracle of a revelation for about 3 seconds until I felt the first hit of pain. It has been a long time since I have felt pain like that, and other than the nerve pain of actual spinal cord damage there is nothing quite as excruciating as the pain of a deep incision in your body. I lay very still for as long as I could stirring only to try to drink or to soothe my throat with ice. The intubation had made my lips and throat raw and the surgery had left me incapable of any movement without tsunamis of pain washing over me. I drifted in and out of sleep for the rest of the day with Alyssa the nurse managing my pain and my hydration for me. Nicole and Elyse turned up right after I woke and it was really nice to see familiar faces and eventually taste some real food and some coffee. My memory of the rest of that day are sketchy at best but I do remember being frustrated at not being allowed to try to stand or walk.

Recovery Day 1 – Wednesday
Pain 10 Mobility 1

Wednesday was discharge day and although things moved quickly it was a long and involved process to get out of the hospital. I had to get assessed by the physio who, by the way, was the very same lady as 5 years ago. My ability to walk confirmed and my desire to leave increasing I managed to get dressed and be ready for the long walk to the car. What I can say is that I am glad I was asleep for the surgery because the car ride home was probably what it would’ve felt like. Every bump, every swerve every turn and braking sent bolts of pain through me and it was an excruciating 45 minutes until we were in Aurora at which point I was able to look out of the window and see… snow. Seriously? Snow. The rest of the day was spent in bed or walking gently around the kitchen and family room trying to get my balance and strength back. Nicole was kind enough to go get me some supplies from the health store including a grabby tool and a bed bottle since it is still a very involved and excruciating process to get up from bed. Most of the day was spent watching TV in bed trying to get used to any position that reduced my pain and trying to remember not to cross my legs or twist my body at all. Let me tell you it’s hard to be still at the best of times… The basics are this, I can’t move my back at all, I have to remain straight and aligned at all costs. I can’t bend, twist, rotate, lean or contort in any direction otherwise I feel like my staples are going to explode. It is one thing to keep your back straight while lifting but it is a whole other game to remain completely still while trying to do things. The day passed in a haze of morphine and sleep but I am still waiting for the first dreaded trip to the bathroom. I haven’t really been eating so I am not entirely surprised it hasn’t happened but there are a couple of things at play. Morphine is known to cause constipation and as of yet I don’t have my stool softener which has me frankly terrified in case the need arises to go. So I am not eating. I don’t really need to since I am bed bound most of the time but that will pass and the details I will likely not share here.

Recovery Day 2 – Thursday
Pain 8 Mobility 3

I am definitely getting better at moving around. My confidence in my mobility is increasing and I am getting better are moving while not moving if that makes sense. The big news today was that I was able to get some pans on and go for a walk. Even though it was freezing cold I still managed about 500m outside discovering that I need new gloves int he process. The walk was slow and painful but I was happy with my progress since my last recovery journal (which was luckily in the summer) had me walking on day 2 also. Since this was a slightly more involved surgery I would expect to be a bit behind but if I can walk again on Friday I think I will be really happy. The walking itself is very slow and I took my cane although I didn’t need to use it. However by the time I got back home my leg and back were in pain and I was ready to get back to bed. It wasn’t bad for my first outing and gave me a lot of confidence in my recovery however I also know the past 2 surgeries I have had a relapse which I am desperate to avoid this time. So I will be sensible and cautious and move at a human pace in order to prevent any unnecessary injury. Nicole and Elyse have been out and about most of the day which is probably best since I have 3 furry guardians looking after me right now. I have everything I need, I just know it is a matter of time until I improve to a significant degree. I am optimistic but impatient…


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