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I'm home....here's my story.

SpineAZSpineAZ WiscPosts: 1,084
edited 06/11/2012 - 8:41 AM in Back Surgery and Neck Surgery
First, let me say you have all been wonderful in your support. I'm still not up to doing too much on the internet due to some pain. But when I take meds for the pain I'm too tired to hit the internet. Surgery was 2/3 and I was released 2/9 (so one week in the hospital).

Second, I'm doing a bit better than I thought but am still struggling with fatigue and some pain. I've been putting together my experience for you (a few thoughts a day) and here it is:

Surgery was Wed 2/3. We arrived, as directed, at 6:00 AM. Staff got me all prepped including IV and the suppression hose. Soon after the charge nurse came in to tell me she had my surgeon’s medical assistant on the phone. The MA said that for all spinal surgeries they use a monitoring system (to monitor nerve impulses, etc). But since this was a combination posterior and lateral they had the wrong machine. The only good news was my surgeon’s partner (Dr. E) had a cervical surgery to do after mine, so they had booked the OR for the entire day. They called the other patient who was thrilled to come in early instead of waiting until 3:00 pm which was when they estimated I’d be done. She had fasted long enough so she said she’d be right over. No problem, I was nervous but could handle the delay as I was comfortable in the pre-op area. But then they became overwhelmed and since we live 15 minutes from the hospital they capped my IV, wrapped my hand well, and send me home with the compression hose on as well. They were nice enough to push some glucose through my IV when I left since I was so hungry and told me to go home and take my pain meds with a sip of water. One hour later they called me to come back in.

Surgery began at noon and ended at around 7:00 pm. They removed the L4-S1 hardware from my previous surgeries. The L4-S1 region seemed to have straightened out too much so they fused the L3-L4 (L3 had moved over L4 so spondylolisthesis at that level which was my problem years ago when I had L4-S1 fusion as well) and then did special work to add hardware down to S1 that would hopefully add a bit of a natural like curve to the low back (for long term stability, otherwise I’d be susceptible to more problems due to poor body mechanics). All this was done via a posterior incision around 5 inches vertical and a lateral incision about 3 inches on my left side.

As for diet I was supposed to be on ice chips and water sips only on Wednesday and Thursday as the lateral incision can cause the intestines to shut down a bit. But there was miscommunication and the staff thought I was on a soft liquid diet (as did I as I’ve never had lateral approach before) so they gave me Jell-O, apple juice, and chicken broth. The juice and broth and Jell-O I had been too early so I ended up with severe (and painful) abdominal distention on Thu and Fri. Had to skip PT on Fri morning as they couldn't get me in the LSO brace due to abdominal distention. Thus back to ice chips only for most of Fri until I could do limited liquids Fri late night (Jell-O and broth). Saturday I was able to do small portions of a solid food diet to tolerance.

Sunday my abdominal problems were improving and the hope was I'd go home Monday as pain was reasonably under control. I had gone off IV PCA pain pump and was taking my Opana ER orally and Percocet every 4 hours for breakthrough pain. Sunday night I had a severe pain crisis starting at midnight. The staff scrambled to get me under some kind of control but it was very bad and I was a mess (pain, crying, etc). Finally at 7:00 am Monday the doctor stopped by as he'd been called by the nurses. He quickly met with the pharmacist and came up with a new medication cocktail converting Opana ER dosage to equivalent MS Contin dosage along with stronger Percocet and 2 Percocet every 4-6 hours instead of one. I had NO sleep that night but within 8 hours I saw improvement.

By Monday afternoon I maintained reasonable improvement. Monday night I did much better (even slept for 2 hours at a time and slept deeply). I also knew the stiff hospital bed wasn't helping (when Ihad back surgery in 1993 they had me on an air bed in the hospital which worked better but I didn’t even think about asking about this). They held me most of Tuesday to see if I could maintain good pain control and discharged me at 4 pm.

I slept well in my own bed both Tuesday night and Wednesday night. (Though when wanting to turn onto my side I kept reaching out for the bed siderail to help me turn - there was none and in one instance I ended up grabbing my sleeping cat who was not too happy....LOL). My hubby is sleeping in our guest room (where he’ll stay until I recover) and he gave me a loud bell to ring if I needed help. He was amazed I didn’t need him. Thank goodness for the toilet seat riser I had bought before the surgery. That and the spray dry shampoo (as I can’t shower until after my first follow up appointment tomorrow, until then it’s self sponge bath only).

The lateral incision has caused some thigh nerve pain in my right side (same side as the incision) but not awful. Kind of feels like a pulled muscle and that the leg is a tad weak but not too bad. The neurontin is helping for this thus far. I still have significant back pain but tolerable. The meds make me tired and I sleep when I need to, etc. The brace is not comfortable but that will get better as the lateral incision heals as the “hip” portion of the brace hits me where the lateral incision is.
I didn’t expect to have as much distress in the hospital as I had. My hubby had to stay at the hospital 12 hours a day Thu and Fri and did everything for me, and I mean everything! The hospital has a program that when a patient has a friend or relative who is a "partner in caring" the person gets a badge
that allows them 24 hour visiting and discounts on food and stuff for themselves and/or the patient. And they treat the Partner in Caring with such respect and admiration it was great.

Yesterday I over did it (sat/stood) too much and today I am paying for that. Having been through so many surgeries before I'm used to the ups and downs (one day you feel good and the next day you feel awful). Tomorrow is my first post-op check up with the surgeon. Not sure if he'll take x-rays but I'm eager to see what all the new hardware in there looks like.

I'll pop in again as I can. Time to lay back down.

{{hugs}} to you all

2 ACDFs, 2 PCDF, 3 LIFs; Rt TKR; Rt thumb fusion ; Lt thumb arthroplasty; Ehlers Danlos 


  • Thanks for the update. Glad you're safe home and I hope you heal completely and that brace gets more comfortable. Best wishes for your follow up with your Surgeon. 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
  • Just wanted to pop in and add my good wishes. Sounds like you had quite an ordeal, but the worst is over. Rest as much as possible...and walk when you're not resting. I'm going to be a couple weeks behind you!! I'm scheduled for 9 a.m. on 2 March.

    Be well.
  • Glad to see you are finally home and your hubby is fully there for you!!! Your diary brought sympathy and too, happy tears to my eyes. You're a good writer! I hope the healing is now (I know, some down days come) on the upswing. Rest and heal. *HUG*


    PCTF C4 - T2, Laminectomies C5, C6 & C7. Severe Palsy left arm/hand.
  • Glad to hear everything went off without a hitch well I should say sounds like a hiccup or two. But then again if it didn't you wouldn't have a good story to tell us...jk. Hopefully you will be up to walking soon and can stay on the positive road of recovery. Just don't let those down days get you to down. I like to say measure your success by the weeks not the days. Take care for now and will watch for updates on your recovery. Here's to a speedy recovery.
  • Karin, I hate to hear about your bad times in the hospital. But really happy to hear you're home. Take good care and best of luck with your follow up. Happy showering after :)

  • HI Karin, I don't know you ( yet ) but hope to.

    Your a very good writer, I felt like I was right there with you :)

    Happy to hear your home and doing OK.
    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.
  • Sorry to hear that you had a bit of a rough ride in hospital, but good to hear that you are improving. I'm also still a bit fluffy from pain meds, but getting there

  • Sounds like you had a very bumpy start, but you survived it and hopefully are now under way on a smoother road to recovery.

    Rest and heal well.
    Take care.
  • Karin-I am so glad to see you are home-uphill from here!Please keep us posted as you feel like it---love,Jeannie
  • Hey Karin, welcome to the other side! I know you're an old hand at surgeries, but I'll say it anyhow; the good days will soon outnumber the bad ones. Oh, have fun with that LSO!! Just kiddin' ya. Glad yer home lady.

    Peace and painfree days,

  • Hi Karin,

    Glad to here you're home - hope your recovery is swift and uneventful.

  • Hey Karin,'

    Here's hoping each day brings you less pain and that you experience many more "upswings."

    Yes, you did a great job documenting your experience so far. Grrrrr..... Man, did I feel for you.

    Kudos to the Hubby. Tell him I said, "2 Thumbs UP!"

    Look forward to hearing more from you as you improve.

  • Glad you are home and doing better! I am in AZ also and chatted with pammie, we are all not that far from each other. Hang in there, everyday is better than the one before.
  • I'm glad you are home and had the strength to share your experience.

    Sorry there were ups/downs. I tell you, the story about the liquid diet is not uncommon. I had an aid try to tell me I could shower. Had I not known (from last time), I would have said "ok"...but I knew better to make sure it was ok - -and as suspected, I couldn't shower for 5 days. Your abdomin pain sounded like the biggest battle that was an unnecessary setback. I am glad your hubby could be there for you 24 hours.

    Let me tell you...sometimes, you want your family to go home but other times, it's so nice to have them there because they are so comforting.

    I love your energy and sense of humor...trying to use the cat to roll. I've tried using the dog to log-roll. I didn't have a fusion but still got used to grabbing the hospital bed rail to roll. My husband said he should have installed one. I use his arm at night to roll his way. I use the nightstand to help roll the other way.

    It sounds like you mentally were prepared for ups/downs which helps. I'm going to take a peak to see if you posted on your follow up appointment.

    Best wishes for continued healing.
  • SpineAZSpineAZ WiscPosts: 1,084
    Well of course I've already overdone it a few times. And the sad thing is that at 10 days post-op overdoing it can just mean sitting too long. I was very comfortable sitting at my desk top computer....until I stood up. I have a netbook so I have GOT to force myself to lay back a bit more. Tonight everything hurts...part of that is also using other muscles to do stuff they haven't done before. 15 minutes until I can take more pain meds!
    2 ACDFs, 2 PCDF, 3 LIFs; Rt TKR; Rt thumb fusion ; Lt thumb arthroplasty; Ehlers Danlos 
  • Set a timer out so you don't get carried away reading something. I use one all the time as I know the limit i can sit at any point and time and when it goes off i am up and moving around.
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