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In ICU - On the other side, back kind of! (G) Hi!!!!

Aviatrix36440Aviatrix36440 Posts: 5,904
edited 06/11/2012 - 8:57 AM in Recovering from Surgery
Howdy all!! Kind of “on my feet” a bit here. I haven’t read much yet as still on the groggy side of things – I’m using spell check to catch the fog and butter fingers! (G) I’ll be on an off to try and read and post.

The game plan as many of you know was 3-5 hours to do laminectomy for C4 to T1, and posterior cervical fusion C4-T2. The surgery was just over 6 hours and ended up being Laminectomy of C4-C7, but fusion remained at C4-T2, screws, rods and BMP with my lami bone mixed in. Oddly no blood needed minimal blood loss. Then oops!!

As they brought me out of anesthesia (and I get a bit fuzzy here), post neurological assessment, my right side was paralyzed! My right thumb worked though errs, well was responsive to reflex and pain??? This of course put a monkey wrench into a quick diagnosis and assessment for sure!! All my ears heard were “It is possible she had a stroke during surgery, but the thumb doesn’t make sense at all. Let’s send her right up for an MRI of the brain down to T3 to rule it in or out.” Of course my groggy ears initially just heard “STROKE” and me thinking oh crap, after all this, and now a damn stroke? Oh come-on man!!!

Okay, in the tube I go….55 minutes later I hear good news …brain is clear, but we do have a large hematoma in the cervical spine! So my surgeon and I have a discussion about this new development and whether we should “go back in” and remove it, or see if it resolves overnight. I preferred plan “A” since this development was direct to the surgery, with instant function and paralysis, I preferred to go in and remove it vs. chance overnight pressure and more damage. My surgeon agreed, and exigent surgery was scheduled. I was delayed for 2 hours due to a finishing procedure in progress, and the need to clear the OR of Latex.

I found out today that my husband feared I either wasn’t going to make it, or the damage was already done! How crappy of a feeling that had to be! Fortunately for me and him – neither fear come to reality. When I once again was woken up from anesthesia, my arms and legs were good to go (right side). I am getting neurological assessments every 30 minutes, and remain in ICU. Tons of steroids, some more antibiotics, PCA (Dilaudid .1mg allowed every 8 mins) for pain, though max 1mg if needed. Also a strong breakthrough medication (IV can't remember the name of it right now) that works great!

Guys I found out the hard way about not keeping up with pain levels and medication. I got behind, and the pain was unbelievable, and I can take a bunch of pain - stupid!!! Won't do that again if I can help it. Lol!!! Ouch!!!

Due to the need to go back in, my hospital location and discharge instructions for higher chances of maximum recovery have changed. I am being kept in ICU until Saturday or Sunday, and then going to be transported via ambulance to an acute aftercare facility for between 2-3 weeks – 24/7 facility supervision, nursing, neuro and wound management along with PT. “One stop shopping” right? (G) At first I was BIG TIME depressed over this change, but then I remembered my hubby was not comfortable with my being home alone originally to begin with, and now the need for another 2 hour surgery and his fears; I too am now comfortable with this post hospital heath management. ICU here has a great staff, they are keeping me comfortable, and my medical team has privileges at this hospital if need be. Whew!!! My surgeon also ordered me a walker (he doesn't want me using my cane until fusion starts to keep an even balance) and a wheelchair - for more lengthy activities - sit woman!! (G)

My surgeon as per my request took pictures during the course of my original surgery. I can’t wait to see them! He also told me he has an x-ray for me too! I will put them on my Photobucket site when I have them. I might do a link with a gory or “weak stomach” warning, lol!!!

Well, that is where I am at presently. 5 levels and pretty darn comfortable – much to my surprise. Granted very soon as I tell others after surgery, so to I do know the hammer will begin to fall, and the ouch modes en-route to recovery will begin. Mentally I feel in a good place with my medical decisions. My compression socks are alternating on inflation and acting like a mini leg massage – rather pleasant feeling actually. My nurse (wonderful nurses so far – love em!!!) on the night shift told me that it’s funny, patients either like them or absolutely hate them! Weird. They are great for me anyways… (G)

I’ve been here in Word typing this in between Dilaudid naps, so now going to copy it into an “I’m back kinda” thread. Then going to try and see what Dave (Metalneck) posted to add my replies there. Thanks for speaking for me in advance Dave, you’re a super friend indeed!! I know there are more that too may have spoken after we talked voice (Sleeprgirl ), so if I missed you dear friend, apologies ahead of time!! *HUGZ* to you guys, and all my other spiney brothers and sisters. I could feel the energy, I really could!!

PCTF C4 - T2, Laminectomies C5, C6 & C7. Severe Palsy left arm/hand.


  • I am blown away that you are doing so well. At 24 hours post op there was no way I was able to be as coherent as you. Your prayers were definitely answered. I'm glad you are back among the living now. It sounds like you have a great team taking care of you. Why do you need inpatient spinal rehab? Is your cord damaged from this? Tell me more...
    Surviving chronic pain one day at a time, praying for a reprieve because living another 40 years like this doesn't sound too fun!
  • Brenda, Hon, soooo happy you came through your surgery and your able to post!!! I've missed you!!! I watched for Dave's update, needless to say, your possey was getting restless and worried!!! I hope your hubby is able to get some rest. It sounds like your in wonderful hospital and your nurses are taking excellent care of you!!!
    The love and prayers form SH were wonderful. Ms Brenda, we love you!!!
    Get some sleep, I'm praying for you! Very gentle hugs, Brenda C.
  • Neck of Steel Cindy said:
    I am blown away that you are doing so well. At 24 hours post op there was no way I was able to be as coherent as you. Your prayers were definitely answered. I'm glad you are back among the living now. It sounds like you have a great team taking care of you. Why do you need inpatient spinal rehab? Is your cord damaged from this? Tell me more...
    Howdy Cindy,

    I think part of it is I do have great pain management going on, and this is similar to when my C5/6 ACDF was done - in the fact that recliner position seems to be my most comfortable?!?

    I apparently did damage to my cord from C4ish down to T1 (C8 nerve) thanks to C6/7 going pseudo and allowing so much movement. In a neutral position (such as a recumbent MRI) you don't see any indications visually of stenosis, but positional you see it at all levels described. It was the constant intermittent "hitting" off and on/against the cord that added Myelopathy to the mix over the last year and a half unfortunately.

    The "fortunately side" is it is now hopefully stopped from progressing. Whew!! As my last consults, and too this wonderful surgeon that I found stated, nerves do not react well to being hit "even mildly"...especially over time it just builds up. Fortunately I dug around a lot, did a lot of research and found the right medical team mix. :)

    Until he sees fusion at all levels, he wants me using a walker so I am at least supported and balanced, whereas my cane allows me to be at a angle which is a negative. One of the really *big* good things I have noticed post op (Tamtam will get this...) the "thumb feeling" I've had at the side of my C6 is GONE!! I haven't choked out since I started eating yesterday. I haven't had a meal before this surgery for almost 2 years without at least 1 choke out - how great that aspect has been the last 2 days!!! Whooohooo...I didn't not expect -that- feeling to go AWAY!!!! Happy sighs...

    I'm in the Miami-J collar this go around. I think I like it better than the Aspen, and I liked the Aspen. The padding in the J seem softer. The wheelchair (which I finally am allowing...yeah I refused before - damn ego) is for longer activities so I don't over stress my arms or load my neck. Even though I quit smoking almost 2 months ago, I have smoked in the past, and even non smokers have risks at 3+ levels. Soooo....this surgeon is taking all precautions that he can. I think he hook me up with a bone growth stim tomorro or the next day. I know before they send me to recovery down near my house. :)

    I hope that helps. I just had a 25 minute nap, took my Dilaudid hit, and will catch the next 2 or 3 and then another nap. Nope not the best sleeping, but for now it is working pretty good for me; I just hope it continues, or allows me to sleep without getting behind the pain curve. I know I'll hit another...dreading that! (G)

    PCTF C4 - T2, Laminectomies C5, C6 & C7. Severe Palsy left arm/hand.
  • Howdy Ms. Brenda,

    I'm enjoying what I am because *I* think if I saw another posting this, my comment would be 2 words: "Honeymoon Mode" be careful! (G) I of course hope this mode lasts, but I have set my brain to realize I might just be getting a smooth start out of the recovery gate! Lol!!!

    I'll take what length of reduced pain I can get given two procedures in the surgery, and swing back through for my *cough* small (G) complication. Hopefully the complications are over, but if not, I know my surgeon doesn't run from a challenge. Whew, gonna try to read a bit, but might too see if I can nap again (not too tired right now, it just sneaks up on me!)...out I go, it's kind of funny. Talking one minute..zzzzz the next! Chuckle.

    Love ya lots Brenda, you're great peeps and a really good and supportive friend as well for me!! Big Thank you *HUGZ* :)

    PCTF C4 - T2, Laminectomies C5, C6 & C7. Severe Palsy left arm/hand.
  • Hi there Brenda!
    I am so happy to hear how well you are doing! You sure did have more than your share of obstacles during this one, WOW!
    I think the acute care unit sounds like the very best fit, they are equipted to take good care and usually are very close to the hospital.
    I had ended up in the hospital for extended stays from both of my fusions this year, 9 and 11 days, they did offer the acute care but okayed me going home with the home health care. After the lumbar experience, in hindsight, it probably would have been a better bet.

    I am sending you lots of gentle hugs! take good care and we will all be watching for your updates
  • sunny1966ssunny1966 VIRGINIAPosts: 1,385
    I thought of you when I got up this morning and wanted to get on SH to check for an update---Well was I surprised to see your LONG posts???? Nah, not really! You can't keep a good woman down-or a stubborn one either can you? lol.

    I'm so glad to hear from you! I hope that everything continues to go well. Now you need to be a good girl and take it easy. Don't be causing to much trouble for the nurses. :D

  • Good Morning!!

    Before the hematoma, the game plan was going home, and having an RN come for an hour or so daily to check me, wound care, pain management etc. Then surgery # 2 two hours later changed me to plan B. At first I got rather upset, but in hindsight I realized when my logical brain took over, this was best for me medically, and for the hubby "mentally"... He's not admitting of course, but he has been pretty stressed out.

    Originally too, a walker was going to be my primary, now it is the wheelchair to keep the leaning and arm stress down on the arms/neck. My new "different able" equipment will be delivered today to the hospital, to which my hubby will take these home since I'll use hospital and aftercares equipment over the next few weeks or so.

    My happy go lucky frame of mind is back in place, so this is good. I let me get down a bit to get it out, then I am good from there. Whew!! Lots, lots, lots...flexibility is the key. :)

    Thanks for being there Ms. Bonnie. *HUGZ* Oh, and the long "me update" post - done in Word over 3 hours/then copy paste into here. All - between Dilaudid and naps! (G) I knew with that if I tried on-line, hehehe it would have timed me out for sure! (G)

    PCTF C4 - T2, Laminectomies C5, C6 & C7. Severe Palsy left arm/hand.
  • Howdy Debbie!!!

    As you can see above, I did my personal update post in Word, then copy pasted into here. It took a few hours between pain medications and naps. (G) Dave [Metalneck] is a wonderful friend, and I am very happy he was able to update from our voice talks. Thanks again Dave!!!! Big *HUGZ*

    My surgeon used the hospital camera (film!!) so I am going to use my 12 mega pixal to photo them and have em. When I see him on my follow up, I will get them - so about 2 to 2.5 weeks? They should hopefully come out fine. :)

    I do know the pain *is* there, as I found when I got behind on my pain medication. With how mine is being managed, this is good, and hopefully will continue as such. Whew!!! Just don't get behind on pain medications unless you want a 10 hit! Not good...lol!!! Thanks so much Debbie. *HUGZ*

    PCTF C4 - T2, Laminectomies C5, C6 & C7. Severe Palsy left arm/hand.

  • Well Brenda,
    We are all full of admiration for you! Posting so soon after such a large surgery.
    It is great to hear from you and it sounds like you are on the up again. :-)

    Now be a good girl and follow all instructions. You don't want to risk damaging all your surgeon's skillful work.

    I hope that your hubby has come down again after alll the stress, and that he can now relax and sleep well.

    How cool to have photos of your surgery. You have a very rare breed of surgeon there.

    Big, but very gentle hugs
    >:D< >:D< >:D<

  • Great to hear you have had excellent results!

  • Get well soon! Git-ir- done
    Flexicore ADR 2004 resulting nerve damage l4l5 Fusion 2006 same level, 2009 hardware removal with lami !
    2012 scs implant ,
  • Glad to see you are in such good spirits! Let the healing begin and remember to take it easy! :)
    2011 ACDF C5-6 for Spondylosis with Myleopathy
    2012 L4-5 herniated disc and hernated disc at C4/5 2013 Taking Amitriptyline for headaches
  • Jelly,

    And lucky me, he had to go back in again to get the mess out of there! Just got taken off of the PCA, so the pain change has begun! Not bad-bad, but the PCA is more pain reduction friendly in my book! (G)

    I'm guessing I'll have the pictures in about 2 weeks for my first post op check. If the office was closer to the house, he'd probably let me copy/scan them at home. Who knows I may drop the hint for his office staff to scan them and email them to me. (G)

    My wheelchair and walker arrived, zero co-pay which is always good. My surgeon picked out the equipment, and it looks pretty good. Except for adding my trademark memory foam cushion, all is good. :) Baby steps....

    PCTF C4 - T2, Laminectomies C5, C6 & C7. Severe Palsy left arm/hand.
  • C, Alex, Lili,

    Meant to reply a little earlier, but PT showed up for walker training, and in an hour or so, wheelchair transition safety and training - can't be running people over now! (G) Hubby is going to add a ramp for the entrance to the house (4" step), otherwise pretty well ADA compliant in the house.

    So far so good. I hurt a bit on oral meds, but still not show stopper pain if I stay ahead of it - which after the other day, (lol) I plan to do! Whew!!!! Getting there!! :)

    PCTF C4 - T2, Laminectomies C5, C6 & C7. Severe Palsy left arm/hand.
  • Hang in there & get well....

  • you're in good hands, and the rehab sounds like the right place. So they've told the doggie to sit (G) instead of using a walker (no walkies yet)? I hope you won't mind being pushed around - or will you do the "pushin'" yourself (in other words, in a motorized chair)? Seriously, I'm soooooo glad everything's going well. Be good, now, and I look forward to more and more updates between naps. Love 'n Verrrrry Gentle >:D< >:D< >:D< , Ess

  • Brenda,
    I am smiling on your behalf.

    It is so good to hear how you are doing, and you sound just the same. Same sense of humour; the Brenda that we all love.

    >:D< >:D< >:D<

    Now be good ;)

  • Wow, that sounds like quite an ordeal! Glad to hear you are on the upswing, though. Keep on top of the pain and abide by your restrictions! It sounds like a good plan, though. Not only did you have a major surgery, but you had complications that set you back a bit. I hope from here on out is a smooth ride for you. Keep us posted on your progress, as you are able to.
  • Sounds like you're in good hands So they're making the doggie sit (G). No walkies for you, and you won't mind being pushed around- or will you do the "pushin'" yourself (I mean in a motorized chair)? Be good, and enjoy the pampering (I hope the food is good.) Love 'n Verrrrry Gentle >:D< >:D<, Ess >:D<
  • The game plan was ICU until Saturday or Sunday then to the acute care facility, but my status and attitude, reaction to meds etc., they promoted me to the regular nursing floor. I'm in my private room, coffee within reach, and Judge Judy on the boob tube! (G)

    Very, very pleased with this hospital, and my "team"... Nodding, walker okay for little activities, but shopping, going to the zoo for instance (mental distance picture), wheelchair. Since he had to open most of the prior surgery, the risk for infection is higher (he switched from nice stitches to staples) - works for me, not in this for a beauty contest! (G)

    He also doesn't want me leaning on my arms which of course translates to upper thoracic and cervical. When the pain meds aren't keeping up, it is the connection between the spine areas getting the worst of it. The 3 levels into the cervical seem rather quiet in the pain department, it just doesn't like the cross over I guess.

    I figure this will be a long adventure. Hopefully all these measures work, and no need to go back in. My right side is being symptomatic again though (just started), feeling and swelling. We are waiting and seeing if it backs down...sigh. Otherwise boys and girls, "Life is good indeed".. :)

    PCTF C4 - T2, Laminectomies C5, C6 & C7. Severe Palsy left arm/hand.
  • Good to hear recovery is going well! Hopefully is quick and easy for you!
    APROUD CANADIANveteranButNOTa doctor, my thoughts are my own
  • Very Happy that your doing well.

    And thankfully your doctor were able to identify the problem quickly and you all made the correct decision to have another surgery to correct the problem before it could possibly become worse.

    Now just take care and go slow.
    Remember it not a sprint, its a marathon.

    My best to ya.

  • Looking good post surgeries now. Easy recovery not sure about that, but it would be nice! (G) Just took the ole pain meds, so should be getting sleepy soon. Sleep is good. (G)

    PCTF C4 - T2, Laminectomies C5, C6 & C7. Severe Palsy left arm/hand.
  • Came out of that second surgery neurologically weak, but functioning again. The strength is getting better, and the pre surgery issues which we knew would stay did, and is back where it was pre surgery. So it looks like he caught it and cleaned it up good.

    I'm out of ICU and over to the nurses floor until most likely Sunday where I get tossed in an ambulance for transport to the after care facility. Whew!!!

    PCTF C4 - T2, Laminectomies C5, C6 & C7. Severe Palsy left arm/hand.
  • I am glad that things worked out! you had a rough go of it girl!

    I am glad that you are able to go for the rehab after your stay. I am sure that your husband is very happy about that :)

    I hope you are comfortable!!! >:D<
  • About a month ago you called me up at 4 am and we chatted until 5:30 am. I was post op and you were pre op. We couldn't stop yacking! It was a riot. I have been thinking of you and know that you will come out of this stronger and better! Just feel better every day and don't over do it or you will pay double later. Keep the spirits up and sleep as much as you can. You are a tough cookie and I know you will get through this better than anyone!
  • Extra 'full' surgery was not on my list of things to do when I got here, that's for sure! (G) It is still holding, so chances are, he got it all. Now the key is to watch for infection.

    I have a drain in that has been doing its job quite well. My surgeon wants to start taking tubes out to reduce further infection risks, so tomorrow catheter comes out, and maybe the drain tube as well. Then the only thing left in is my IV tubing on my right arm that will stay for antibiotics and muscle relaxers etcetera. :)

    Hubby wasn't comfortable with me being home solo especially with a house with 3 cats that love to get under foot, and I can't look down....Ouch, that could hurt! He also didn't want to chance missing an infection. So I get it now that my "logical brain" is in line. Lol!!!

    PCTF C4 - T2, Laminectomies C5, C6 & C7. Severe Palsy left arm/hand.
  • Howdy you!!! Yeah, that was fun. (G) So far I've been able to keep perked up. The expected goals except for the bump after the primary surgery, all went as expected. The chances for failure are high with this many levels, so I will all I am told to protect it, and give it *all* the best chance to heal and fuse. Whew!!!

    Time will tell, but without the lamina in there, it gave my cord lots of room to work again. We are hoping of course to reverse some of the bad bre surgery stuff, but won't be surprised if none of that changes - and so far it hasn't. I am good with it.

    I am just so happy that I don't have to hide from pills anymore as the choke outs seem to be fixed with my throat being straight once again!!! Yes, yes, yes!! Hi ho the choke is gone, the choke is gone. Fingers staying crossed... 8>

    PCTF C4 - T2, Laminectomies C5, C6 & C7. Severe Palsy left arm/hand.
  • How is the hospital food? Just had to ask!!!! :)

    I had the cath out the second day in the hospital, and it seems to hurt my bladder when I pee now :( It is awsome that you can still have more help to do things on your own after you leave the hospital! My husband, and kids pretty much have been doing everything.

    I don't understand the whole drain thing? I didnt have that because I had ALIF I believe?!
  • Most of the hospitals down here ...their food is actually pretty good. Except for them having mushrooms in my gravy (bad, bad) itchy and rash 101 reaction from head to toe, Benadryl took care of business finally! The food is pretty good.

    My cath is fine so far. I've never had a problem with them taking it out. I am on a solid "no bend, lift, twist", solid 3-6 month no-no on it. Hehehee...As for the drain and all, I think it goes on how long an incision is if a drain is needed? I didn't have one for either of my prior fusions, but did for 2 days on my elbow when they transposed the nerve. That incision was around 4 inches there abouts. Its good though because you can see an infection starting too.

    So far this has gone pretty good. I just have to stay ahead with the pain meds. I have an IV muscle relaxer going in now. I had a lot of spasming last night, so lets see how this goes. I think he called it "Roxio?" Or something like that. It's relaxing that's for sure. :)

    PCTF C4 - T2, Laminectomies C5, C6 & C7. Severe Palsy left arm/hand.
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