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My surgery and progress so far!

DIFerrisDDIFerris Posts: 86
edited 06/11/2012 - 8:38 AM in Back Surgery and Neck Surgery
Well, I will try to give a summary of my experiences with surgery, stay in the hospital and at home afterward to this point. I am not much of a writer, so I will try to get in the details.

Getting to the hospital on Tuesday was fairly uneventful. I live in Poughkeepsie, NY and my surgery was NYC. It is about an hour and 40 minutes by train, and then a cab ride down to 17th St. I checked in around 7:30 AM and went down to the surgical check-in area. All the usual vitals and conversations with everybody took place. I was in this area for a while. I was told that my surgeon's previous surgery ran a little long and so my surgery would be delayed approximately an hour. Okay... not so bad. At this point now I know we are all nervous and just want to get it done. Waiting is the hardest at this point. The mind seems to go crazy when it has nothing to concentrate on!

When I was ready and they took me in, it seemed that it took a while to "go to sleep". Maybe they were doing it slowly on purpose, or something... but I felt like I was drifting in and out and it was a strange feeling. Finally I went to sleep. When I woke up it was the same way... drifting in and out. That is scary... I can't describe the feeling. It is almost like what it must feel like when they are trying to keep from losing you. Not sure. I only know that I was scared at that point. I finally woke up all the way, and was in recovery. I think what might have been scaring me so much is that I have never had that many people milling around me looking so busy.

I was in and out of sleep for a while. Morphine is such a good thing! :-) My husband got to come in. I asked him what time it was and how long I was in surgery. He said the surgery took longer than they expected and I can't remember what time he said it was. I was not concerned about it taking "longer"... I am sure they only give a generalized estimation at first anyway.

I don't remember waking up with that "OMG it hurts" feeling. I was actually pleasantly surprised. I had told my husband before though that I didn't think it was going to be as bad as when I woke up after my gastric bypass surgery. That was brutal!

I was able to get up and walk a little. I would have been able to walk more, except that I was extremely nauseous. I would only walk a couple steps and then get sick. I am not sure what was causing that... maybe medication, maybe trauma to the area?? Later in the day they removed the catheter and removed my IV. It was at this time that I transitioned from the morphine pump to dilaudid pills. The transition was a little rough, but with some adjustments, I was doing well.

The next day (Thursday) I did even better. Still nauseous and not able to eat, but comfortable otherwise. Drank water, ate ice chips and slept a lot. Forced myself to walk farther. When I started feeling nauseous I would just stop and take a few deep breaths. When the feeling subsided, I would resume. The physical therapist had me walk down the hall, use the stairs and then walk back. I did fine with that. Several times during the day I walked on my own and did what I could on my own. I was finally able to walk to the restroom on my own. Yay! The hardest thing at this point was getting in and out of bed. I still needed help with this. They brought my brace and the physical therapist showed me how to put it on, adjust it, and take it off.

By Friday I was doing very well. They ordered equipment for me to take home (a walker and a commode for the side of the bed). That seemed to take forever to get. I couldn't leave the hospital without the walker... I knew I needed that. So checking out took a few hours :-) I was surprised when the cab driver that stopped for us was so very patient and helped get my "stuff" in the trunk. My mom, who lives with me, has a wheel chair so my husband brought it down when he came to pick me up. That was extremely helpful. Grand Central can be somewhat daunting when it comes to how far you might have to walk to get to the track you need to be at. The driver also was extremely careful driving to the station and unloading. He was one of the nicest cabbies I have had! He got a really good tip that day!

I thought the train ride was going to be bad because it is such a long trip (an hour 40 minutes) and so a long time to sit, but I was very comfortable. I took more pain medication and actually went to sleep!

Since I have been home (Friday night), I have done increasingly better. I can notice changes even hourly as far as getting around. I walk around the house and can get in and out of bed by myself. I have my husband just stand by close in case I can't do something, but I at least try to do it first. I use my walker in the house, and use my cane going up and down the stairs. My husband helps me get in and out of the shower. I am still not 100% steady on my feet and am afraid of slipping and falling.

I am 2" taller now! I thought it more like 4", but my husband did a proper measurement on me, and I am 5'5" now. I was 5'3".

I am not having any issues with sitting, although I don't sit for more than a short while at this time. I can't sit on the couch. It is too hard to get up.

All in all, I am so thrilled with my progress at this point. I am being extremely cautious and I don't bend, lift or twist. I am trying to respect my limitations at this point and not do anything that could harm my healing and my overall improvement.

I had some bad situations at the hospital that I am really not happy about, but given my overall improvement and the fact that I got the attention and treatment that was most important, I am not going to dwell on any of the unhappiness regarding that. I am using my energy to stay positive and keep improving.

I am so happy that I took the time to go over the must-haves post here. I equipped myself with a lot of things that I know I would not be happy without right now.

Thank you all for your continued support! This spiney-home has been so great to have. This is a tough journey, and the help and support I have received here has helped immensely.

Hugs and Love to all my spiney friends!



  • I'm really impressed. I can't imagine riding the train home after your surgery. You must be one tough lady! Good for you. It's great that you are doing so well and yourpain seems to be under control. Keep up the good healing.
  • Wow, I will never take my car for granted again! I live in a small town in the Sierra Nevada foothills and my hospital is two blocks from my house! Can't imagine taking a cab and a train after surgery, you are a trooper!! Welcome home and hang in there ok?
  • I am sitting here reading your post and just GRINNING from ear to ear ! I am so THRILLED for you ! :D
    L1 - S2 "gone" useless in 1 way or another. DDD. RA. Bone Spurs. Tons of nerve damage/issues. Stenosis. Both knees replaced. 50 yrs old. I had a great fall (hence my user name) at age 41 and it has been a domino effect every since.
  • LizLiz Posts: 7,832
    Hi Deanna

    I am really glad to see you are doing so well after your surgery.


    Liz, Spine-health Moderator

    Spinal stenosis since 1995
    Lumber decompression surgery S1 L5-L3[1996]
    Cervical stenosis, so far avoided surgery
  • Sounds like you're doing great Deanna! Even though I did have that feeling of horrifying pain when I awoke, it really was only about 50% back / incission. I'm a big guy and the doc was pretty brutal on my body through the surgery.

    I'm still at the hospital. They took my morphine away yesterday and put me on percocet. Wish I could have had the dilaudid instead. These folks are really stingie with the meds.

    Anyway, thanks for posting! It's really encouraging to hear how well someone else is doing.

    Take care and God bless you,
  • Wowsers!!! What a attitude! You go girl!!! Glad to hear you are doing so well. I hope it continues. I had a four hour car ride in the middle of some really bad winter Minnesota/Iowa weather, but I cant imagine a cab/train ride. You are a inspiration to us all. Keep feeling good, keep ahead of pain,play the princess for a while and keep on healing. I am doing good. Head doesnt hurt to bad. Looked appropriate for HALLOWEEN. Not to painful unless I get to tired. I cant ear my glasses and dont have contacts, so reading is a bit of a challenge. But I am feeling good about the whole thing and think I am also turning the corner and coming round the bend. Have a great day and I am sending you a big big but soft hug! >:D< Love, Robin
  • :H So glad to hear how well you are progressing. I live in Washingtonville and had my fusion in White Plains. With all of the construction going on down there I wish I could have taken the train myself. The ride home was the worse part. You seem to have a great attitude and I think that is what makes us recover so well. I firmly believe in exercise and walking to help keep us healthy and mobile.

    Keep up the good work and feel free to p.m. anytime.

    Take care, Donna =D>
  • So glad you are home and the surgery part is over. Praying that your recovery will be fast and with your attitude and desire to get better it will. Keep us informed and may God Bless you!
  • I'm glad to hear you are doing so well. How great is that you are taller! A marked improvement in BMI in no time! I also had gastric bypass surgery. Mine was two years ago. I have to admit that waking from my spinal surgeries (especially the second one) was a LOT worse than the RNY. I'm glad you on your way back to being well!


    3 level spinal fusion, L3/4, L4/5, L5/S1, November 2008. Stiff, but I can walk.
  • for your encouragement and kind wishes.

    I am still doing very well. I'm trying not to overdo anything just because I feel okay. I am walking and getting around well. I am in pain, but managing it.

    I am still not able to sleep through the night, though. I wake up around 1:30 or 2:00 every night having urinary issues (wetting the bed) and am in pain. I am sure that will pass.

    I had a phone conversation with the physician's assistant yesterday and told her that my prescriptions I was sent home with are only for 10 days. I told her that I am currently taking 8mg of Dilaudid every 4 hours and 2mg of Dilaudid as needed for breakthrough pain. I am doing very well on this, as I have a high tolerance for pain medication and previous attempts at darvocet, vicodin and percocet have not helped me at all.

    She told me my doctor is not comfortable with prescribing this medication. She said he wanted me to wean off of it and take one of the other medications that I just mentioned. She said it is a strong medication and needs to be monitored.

    I am in a panic. I have had so many really bad experiences with pain medication over the past 4 years. None of them work for me! I am doing well on Dilaudid, and don't want to stop taking something that is finally helping me with my pain... especially pain this intense.

    I'm afraid my progress is going to be hampered if I have to endure the intense pain with no relief.

  • I understand what you mean about going to something that hasn't worked so well for you in the past. Have you ever tried the Fentanyl patches? I had been on percocet for quite some time before surgery, when my doctor prescribed the patches for me. After one day, I nearly drove over to his office to kiss him! The patch delivers a steady dose of pain medication over a three-day period. You don't have to worry about skipping a dose and being in horrible pain. They come in different strengths and I think work extremely well. You should act quickly, because I think they will have to mail (or have you pick up) a prescription for any sort of narcotic. They can't call those into the pharmacy any more.


    3 level spinal fusion, L3/4, L4/5, L5/S1, November 2008. Stiff, but I can walk.
  • Wow! All the best with your recovery, Deanna.
    Keep positive!


    ...an old timer here and ex-moderator

  • I totally understand how you feel. Pain can be a hard thing to control, but as Linda mentioned, the Fentanyl Patches have been a lifesaver for me. I apply one every three days and take oxycodone 30 mg every 4 hours for breakthru pain and this has worked well for me. I felt very good on diluadid as well, but I have only recieved it in the hospital. I dont take percocet, I take oxycodone, cause I dont want all the unneeded tylenol. I have enough meds, dont need to take one thats not needed. Hope this makes you feel better. I have had a hard time on pain meds as well, and the fentanyl and oxy has been a good combination for me. I am not out of pain, but it makes it bearable most days....Take care and let me know how you come out..Love, Robin
  • SpineAZSpineAZ WiscPosts: 1,084
    I'm glad to see you are home and recovering. You are my HERO for traveling back home via cab and train. Yikes!

    Do you have a Pain Management doctor? I'm not sure yet but I may be having a 360 fusion soon. So in my last visit to my PM last week I asked what to do about post-op pain management. He said if the surgeon was uncomfortable with prescribing the strong stuff or prescribed it but wouldn't continue it - then I could just call the PM office - they'd confirm the surgeon was hesitant to prescribe - and the PM doctor could take over my pain medications from that point forward.
    2 ACDFs, 2 PCDF, 3 LIFs; Rt TKR; Rt thumb fusion ; Lt thumb arthroplasty; Ehlers Danlos 
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