Well, I don't think the stars and planets were aligned properly last month. I was getting ready for my 3-level fusion (L3-S1) on the 19th of November, running around doing errands on the 17th, when I was rear-ended! :O Geez Louise - do I have a bullseye on the back of my car? So, the pain is worse, I'm stressed, but I arrive at the hospital. They are not leaving me too long until I receive my happy shot and am whisked off into the surgery room. Fairly quickly, they give me the "oxygen" mask (yeah, right, suck that sleepy juice down baby -- night-night!!). I awake to hear my surgeon telling me that placement of the rods and screws went flawlessly, but they were unable to remove my damagaed discs through my back, so I have to stay and have another surgery on Monday, the 24th. I'm moved to the recovery room, where there is a developmentally-challenged person next to me waking up from surgery. Screaming, screaming, screaming!! :''( I could see his hand sticking up above the blankets and shaking. I asked if they would wheel me over so I could hold his hand, but they wouldn't allow it. I knew the poor guy just needed some comfort. A human touch to help calm the mass confusion in his brain and body. So, I had surgery at noon, got to recovery at 6:00, and we're waiting for a bed. Screaming continues as the poor confused person is not humanely tended to. They move me to the other side of the ward, but I can still hear the screaming. 11:00 p.m. - still no bed in the wards, so I'm sent down to bunk with three guys in one of the intake bays for the night. Mind you -- I'm still on a gurney, not a proper hospital bed. My right leg is burning and I keep struggling to stay on the bed because I'm sliding off. During the night, my catheter either kinks or some such nonsense and I'm sure I really have to pee, but I can't go. I try to call for the nurse. I have no call button. I throw a pillow into the hallway, hoping to catch someone's attention without waking all the guys next to me. Not that anyone is really sleeping, because the screaming is still going on, on the other side of the ward. Finally, I have to resort to a little shouting and a few choice words to get some attention and relief. They hoist me back up onto the gurney and unkink my hose. By 3:00 p.m. the next day, I'm finally in a bed in a room. Woo hoo. Only the leg end of the bed doesn't really work well and I really need my knees up badly, but who gives a rip, right? The pain is bad, but not unbearable. I've been through a hysterectomy and kidney stones, so I figure I'm a champ at this. I get myself up, I walk, walk, walk. In time, I prove I can pee without the catheter, so I'm relieved of that attachment. On day two, I manage to walk up to the gift shop and buy myself a sudoku book and a pencil, but I can't really concentrate on those numbers -- wonder why?? On Sunday, they decided that they can finally move me down to the Ortho ward, and keep a bed for me there, so I can be properly cared for after they open me from stem to stern in the front, remove my damaged discs, and put in my bone dowels and BMP. I arrive on the ward and am placed in a room with a raving lunatic. While the nurse is trying to hook up a couple units of blood for me (I lost a lot in the first surgery), she is yelling at the nurse to turn her bed around so she can look out the other way. She screams and raves all night, so I'm very rested by the time they wheel me into surgery the next morning at 5:30 a.m. I awake in recovery at about 4:00 p.m. to the most exquisite pain I have ever experienced. I repeatedly hit the pain management button, but not much is happening. I begin to become crazed and delusional from the pain. I somehow manage to find my cell phone and call my brother and ask him to come and get me out of there -- bring the police if need be, but he is two hours away. I beg for more pain meds. I beg them to call the surgeon, but they tell me he is in surgery. I tell them I'm sure there are phones in the OR. The pain gets worse, and worse, and worse. I begin screaming, and screaming, and screaming. I yell for someone to get my surgeon so I can rip off part of his body and stuff it down his throat, so he can have an idea of the pain I am in. They shut off my light and close my door, leaving me alone -- screaming in the dark. I finally find my phone again and call a friend in the town I'm having surgery in. She comes to the hospital and finds me alone in my room, just in a hospital gown, no blankets, cold, contorted in pain, shaking and screaming my fool head off. She finds a CNA and manages to get me a warm blanket and then, low and behold!! It seems there are orders for sufficient pain meds to keep me comfortable. They were written and sent down with me from surgery, but apparently no one could read them!! My dear, dear friend stays with me until I can stop screaming, even do a little chuckling, and finally fall asleep. On Tuesday morning, my surgeon arrives, standing a bit away from my bed, fully aware of the bodily harm I had threatened him. He could only apologize, which we both knew was too little, too late, but obviously, the fault did not lie with him. He had written orders for sufficient pain relief. The orders were not followed. Over Tuesday, I force myself to walk, walk, walk, even though I now have a six inch incision on each side of my lumbar spine, and an incision in front that extends from the top of my pubic bone to the bottom of my left rib cage. They keep yeling at me that I am not eating, even though every thing they bring me either has sugar or soy protein in it. My menu card, as well as my wrist band, say I can't have either!! ~X( Soon, I am able to order food, I eat as they want me too. On Wednesday, the doctor comes in and says that perhaps I can go home on Thursday (Thanksgiving), or maybe even that afternoon. I inform him I am leaving as soon as I can get packed. I call my friend, I wash up, walk over to the pharmacy for my pills, get my bags packed and she arrives to get me. An hour and a half drive, and I am finally home!! So, it's been over a week and I am finally strong enough to write about this horrible experience. I think my surgeon was excellent. My back and even my abdomen are doing well, but the nerve pain my my leg is severe. They finally called in a prescription for Lyrica for me today and now I am so much better. I think I can kiss the percocet goodbye soon.
Big lesson learned. If you are single -- make someone go to the hospital and stay with you. Pay them if you have to. You cannot be alone and be properly cared for. I do have the card of the trauma manager, and I will be calling him next week. My experience at the hospital was abyssmal. I will never forget that pain. And I will never forget being shut up in the dark on my own.
I am healing. I refuse to be disabled forever. I will get my life back. I am thankful for this site and the opportunity to read everyone's experiences. I hope someone can find some help in my story.
I am so thankful to be home and alive!!
3 level spinal fusion, L3/4, L4/5, L5/S1, November 2008. Stiff, but I can walk.