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Finally home and glad to be alive

lstellerllsteller Posts: 1,428
edited 06/11/2012 - 8:25 AM in Back Surgery and Neck Surgery
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.


  • what a story. :jawdrop:
    I think you just need to put all of that behind you now and get on with your new life it doesn't sound like something you want to relive again.

    At least you have a good attidue and obviously some great friends to help you.
    Blessings Sara O:)
  • I'm not even sure which part of your story I should respond to. What a horrible experience. So I will just say "Thank God you're home!" I hope your recovery goes well and you will be off the percocet as you wish very soon. Keep us updated on your progress.
  • Bless your heart....I'm glad you are home >:D< What an experience #:S
  • Wow, what a horrible experience.

    But you are home now, and you seem to have a wonderfully positive attitude. I'm sure that will help you to heal quickly.

    I wish you the best, and quickest of recoveries.
  • . . . it was horrible that the Robaxin ordered for me immeidately post-op for muscle spasms never arrived until the following morning.

    Your story . . . broke my heart -- for you, as well as the mentally disabled person who was left alone in recovery. My eyes are welled up with tears.

    Peace to you as you recover.
  • :jawdrop: It is stories like yours - and I am glad you are better, #o that make me seriously, seriously consider not even going through with this. Scares the crap outa me...
  • I am so sorry for what you have been through!!! Let alone the poor guy next to you.. What a disgrace that this is happening on this day and age. Where was this done, in a cave in some foreign land. What the hell, I would call immediately and inform the person with the biggest desk what the hell is going there. Does your surgeon know about this because I am sure he would not want his name affiliated with some so called hospital care lie that. Emtlady, you know better than that. All hospitals are not created equal. Get better soon and never look back but tell everyone you see what happened there.
  • Hey Sara - yes, I do want to put this behind me, but I will talk to the trauma floor manager about what I went through and what the mental challenged person went through. There has to be a patient advocate for everyone, someone who sees that care is properly managed. In most cases, this is ensured by having a spouse or other family member along. Since I knew I would be in the hospital for at least four days, I couldn't find anyone to bring with me. My siblings all work and have families, and I didn't think it fair to ask them to come and stay with me for so long. They did come to visit me once (on Saturday) after the first surgery, when they knew I'd be in for a second. They just came for the day and while it was nice to see them, I was having a good day and didn't really need assistance then. My cousin is a patient care administrator at a hospital in San Diego, California. She said that there, if a nurse left a recent surgical patient alone in the dark, that nurse would have been fired. I'm not looking to have anyone lose their job, but I am trying to help insure that this never happens to anyone else.

    3 level spinal fusion, L3/4, L4/5, L5/S1, November 2008. Stiff, but I can walk.
  • As I lay there, I tried to remember that there were others in more pain than me, but boy was that hard. I'm sure that some of the meds they were giving me were making me a bit loopy anyway and I know I wasn't thinking properly. I just wish that people would read the darn chart!! I too was appalled at the lack of touch, humanity, simple care. I can still see that shaking hand above the blanket and feel my desire to just hold it, stroke it, whisper that things would be all right. Doesn't anyone do that any more?

    Today was a great day. Warm, sunny, and I went for a good walk. I prayed for that person and hope they are healing in peace too. Thanks for your note.

    3 level spinal fusion, L3/4, L4/5, L5/S1, November 2008. Stiff, but I can walk.
  • Yes, I am so glad to be home. And so glad to have a friend who completely understood where I was coming from and why I needed to get out of there right away. I'm better off at home with my kitties. They are taking great care of me!

    3 level spinal fusion, L3/4, L4/5, L5/S1, November 2008. Stiff, but I can walk.
  • Well, I learned long ago that life is what you make it. If you want to wallow in misery, you can do it, but it's so much better to at least try to make life fun. I will get better and I will have a good outcome. As I said, I know my surgeon was really good. The poor man -- I can still see his face when he said "I understand you wanted to remove parts of my anatomy last night!" image:)" alt=">:)" height="20" /> It will be hard to return to the office for checkups, but I think we will eventually put that behind us! ;))

    3 level spinal fusion, L3/4, L4/5, L5/S1, November 2008. Stiff, but I can walk.
  • for the hug! Oh man, am I glad to be home in my own place!!

    3 level spinal fusion, L3/4, L4/5, L5/S1, November 2008. Stiff, but I can walk.
  • Well, I felt it necessary to tell about it. Not to scare anyone off, just to say that you DO need to have someone THERE -- right there with you as soon as you get out of surgery and are taken to a room. Heck, if you GET a room! :O While the second surgery was horribly painful (consider that they totally opened my front and probably had to move all my guts to the side while they worked), they did an excellent job. The after care really sucked the big one though!!

    3 level spinal fusion, L3/4, L4/5, L5/S1, November 2008. Stiff, but I can walk.
  • I did have one nurse and one CNA who were GREAT! I made a special point of thanking them and will tell the trauma manager that they were wonderful. Unfortunately, I can't remember the name of the horrible nurse -- blocking out the pain already -- but, as I said, I'm not out for anyone to lose their job, just to make the hospital aware that it really needs to straighten up!

    3 level spinal fusion, L3/4, L4/5, L5/S1, November 2008. Stiff, but I can walk.
  • What an ungodly story - that is so unreal that treatment like that happens in developed areas - it sounds like something you would hear about in a third world country!
    I must commend you for your incredibly positive attitude, though. Your ability to move past the negative will help you tremendously in your recovery process.
    Also, I must thank you for your advocacy for the developmentally disabled man that was suffering along with you. As a special education teacher for children with severe developmental disabilities, I can tell you that there are so many people who wouldn't see the comfort to be had just in human touch (obviously a lesson those nurses missed out on!) There are so few advocates for the DD population - people who will truly step up and make their voice heard. Sadly, the story you tell is all too often a reality for those members of society who don't have the ability to demand help and attention for themselves. I'm sure just having another caring person in the room was of some small comfort to that man, and your insistence on taking the time to make the necessary follow-up phone calls to report the abuse that you and your fellow patients suffered helps to prevent this horrible situation happening to anyone else again.
    You go girl!!
  • I'm so glad you're home safe with the kitties. We've taken in a little hobo cat and he's adorable! I'm sad for your experience at the hospital. I really believe it's the cutbacks and shortage of Nurses. I feel bad for the challenged young patient in the room with you. Here in Canada if the Nurse feels a patient needs one on one care we call an agency to get a personal support worker to be with them. The charge is to the hospital. But it's the same cutbacks everywhere. Anyways I hope you recover in God's speed and you're painfree in the long term. Take care. Charry
    DDD of lumbar spine with sciatica to left hip,leg and foot. L4-L5 posterior disc bulge with prominent facets, L5-S1 prominent facets with a posterior osteocartilaginous bar. Mild bilateral foraminal narrowing c-spine c4-c7 RN
  • and I hope someone is helping you too. May you have a speedy recovery.

  • Linda,
    That was a horrible experience and glad to see your safe at home.

    There is a powerful phrase that get the nurses and RA's jumping and its "patient advocacy". If you feel your not getting the attention and treatment you deserve, demand to speak to the Head Nurse.
    Also, if a nurse shuts you out and does not deliver your medications as prescribed, its malpractice. Clear cut.

    I had a difficult nurse which almost refused to give me my meds because it cross the line of maximum allowed amouts during 24 hours IN THE MIDDLE OF THE NIGHT when I was in no position to think rationally. (2 doctors outside this rehab facility said the amounts were OK for short term pain management) I had a very STERN talk with that nurse in the morning and reminded her of her responsibility and role.....and my meds came in seconds! I made an appointment with the facility admin the next day and had a long talk.

    I believe these nurses actually become de-sensitized...and when one Coherent Outspoken person speaks up...it throws them a reality check.

    I am not one to use the legal approach/card, but it seems that you were mistreated and should inquire further.

    I had my pocket PC/phone with me the whole time and journaled everything and glad I did because everything fades away so quickly.

    Get well soon!

  • I am so affected by that shaking hand sticking out of the blanket. I see it all the time in my sleep now. And I must say I wondered when, before surgery, they had someone come in to ask if I would participate in a study on PTSD in back surgery patients!! I guess I know why they're studying that now. GEEZ! I do feel ready to speak with the trauma manager now. I'm going to let them have the whole story.


    3 level spinal fusion, L3/4, L4/5, L5/S1, November 2008. Stiff, but I can walk.
  • Yes, I think the cutbacks are a problem. Actually, the hospital I was in has been in the news lately for cutbacks and problems, etc.

    I think kitties and puppies are some of the best medicine anyone can have when recovering from surgery. My kids (cats) have been very respectful of my tummy, but come and lay by me and massage me with their paws. They know something is wrong and really want to take care of me. I love them dearly.

    3 level spinal fusion, L3/4, L4/5, L5/S1, November 2008. Stiff, but I can walk.
  • I'm by myself, but have a family member stop in almost every day to see if there is anything I need. They've scooped the kitty litter box when I couldn't bend down that far (I now can do it when sitting in a chair), emptying or loading the dishwasher, vacuuming, etc. It's really nice of them to help. I am fortunate that I have a free bus pass and I think I may be ready to start using the bus system to go where I want and get what I want (as long as it doesn't weigh over 10 lbs) soon.

    3 level spinal fusion, L3/4, L4/5, L5/S1, November 2008. Stiff, but I can walk.
  • Yes, I found myself thinking it was all a horrible dream myself, but I know it's all true. Especially after my friend arrived and found me in an awful state. I'm calling their trauma manager next week. I'm ready to talk now.


    3 level spinal fusion, L3/4, L4/5, L5/S1, November 2008. Stiff, but I can walk.
  • I'm so sorry you went through that. Yes, I would also like to see a PTSD study!! I went through some horror Thursday, but like you, am just working on "turning that page".

    You are so right - always have someone with you!!! I can't imagine being alone - my heart just aches for you. What kind of person (nurse, aide, whomever) can stand in the hall and listen to screaming for hours? Seriously?

    If you get a bill of any kind from that hospital, take it with you to the patient advocate. My mother was mistreated one time, we complained, and her portion of the bill was erased. Didn't make up for her bad treatment, but it was "something".

    ( (HUGS ) )

  • I know you're not trying to scare people away from the surgery but OMG that is seriously making me ponder not going through with my ALIF in a week. Then again I'm sure I'm saying it since today has been the first good day in a while. I'm glad you're home and doing well. I'm worried that our hyperactive puppy is gonna be a little too rough when i get home. we'll see...sigh.... welcome home and def call someone that kind of treatment is inhumane unless you're in the dark ages.
  • you had the thought to call someone in.

    I too will never forget the pain on waking from the operation. Twice (same anesthesiologist) this happened.
    Never ever again! [(
    I was cold and rigid and unable to move.

    Still - Like you , I am glad to be here. ;)
  • I am stunned. What a horrible hospital experience to have, but it sounds like the experience with the surgeon was okay. I'm so glad you are home and on the road to recovery.

    While I, too, would encourage you not to dwell on it, the management of that hospital needs to know how shoddy the "care" is.
  • Linda, I am so sorry for your abysmal treatment during your hospital stay. "Call light in reach" is documented in every hospitals nurses charting. It is a basic right of the patient to be able to get help when needed. While doctors are known for their illegible handwriting, it is the nurses responsibility to call and clarify any order they cannot read. And yes, there are phones in the OR. I have called many a surgeon in the OR to get orders for my patients. They put them on speaker phone so they don't have to stop what they are doing. Of course some are more condusive to this than others, but they can always call back when finished. As for the screaming patient that is really sad. I do understand they cannot let patients touch other patients because of liability and infection control issues, but they could be more humane about it. Perhaps even just letting you talk to him would have helped. I was 2 doors down from a brain injured guy who randomly screams and bangs on things all the time. He has security with him 24 hours a day because he is violent. And yes hospitals can employ nurses aides to sit with patients in these types of situations if their is no family available. Please do report your experience. It may help to put it in writing as well. Hospitals do take these reports seriously. I couldn't help but think I hope this wasn't all part of the PTSD in back surgery patients study. That would just be too crazy and unethical.

    I am so glad you are home with your kitties. I have a special kitty too. He has been my buddy while recovering from surgery. I think he misses me now that I am back to work. It sounds like you are recovering nicely now that your nightmare hospital experience is over. Good-luck to you and take care, >:D< Cali-Sue
  • I just got out of the hospital on Saturday for my fusion. I would not classify my experience as bad as yours, but I experienced terrible nursing on Thursday. The nurse was always late with my meds. At one point I asked her to call my surgeon and see if they increased and she told me she wouldn't do it (I called myslef). She was always in a hurry and whipped my legs into bed causing excruciating pain when she wanted to go to lunch. At one point she told me my meds would have to wait because she was getting her period and bleeding out her pants. A half an hour later I was still wainting for them and crying in excruciating pain. My mom lost it at that point and asked for the head nurse who immediately got my meds and my mom requested a new nurse. We have written down the the name of the nurse and will be writing some letters about her care.

    But again, I am sorry you experienced this care. ~X(

    One more point to all, PLEASE do everyone thing you can to have someone there to advacate for your care. It makes a big difference.
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