Hi to everyone!
I am brand new to this forum but I have been stalking for a few days.
I just had my procedure done yesterday @ 730 A.M. I was released this afternoon. I will try to remember to document everything to help anyone facing the same procedure.
I am a 34 y/o female and in good health. I had been having back pain for a good 9 months. I had been given some back strengthening exercises that I did for 8 weeks and it helped the pain go away about 95%. I was feeling much better. Then one day I had been out shopping all day and walking for a good 6-8 hours. The next day my left leg was soar but that was pretty tolerable. I didn't think anything of as I was walking around for so long I was not surprised I had leg pain. Over the course of 4 weeks the tolerable pain turned into excruciating pain down my leg. It was strange because it seemed to get really bad at a slower pace. It was very gradual. Then one day I could barely walk on it. I was limping everywhere. A few days after that as I was walking back from my bathroom and I had an episode of pain that I can't even clearly explain. It was so unbelievably horrible. I could not stand; I had to run to my bed and get off it. I was screaming in pain. At this time I lost feeling in my foot and calf. I did not have foot drop but I was very scared if I waited it was just going to get worse. It was like my foot was asleep but would not wake up. The nerve pain was so very bad. I went to the ER and got an MRI. I saw that my disc was so herniated it was pressing up on my nerve causing the sciatic pain. I was barely moving and had been ben ridden for about a week and just popping Norco's like candy. In this time I had 3 opinions from different neurosurgeons and 2/3 recommend surgery as well as my PCP so I decided to go for the surgery.
I selected to have my surgery done athospita lwhich is right outside Chicago. I elected to have a neurosurgeon do it as I felt more comfortable with that and I personally thought it was a better choice. Not to say an Ortho would have been bad. I am sure they would have been great but I just thought if something goes wrong, like a fluid leak, they are gonna call the Neurosurgeon anyway. If anyone is curious for a reference on my Dr PM me and I will be happy to give his details. He is absolutely fantastic in my opinion! He was very caring and I could tell he was concerned with my well being and not selling surgery. He is very experienced with 34 years of practice and he also teaches neurology at a prestigious medical school in Chicago. In addition to this he worked at the clinic for 8 years. I was very happy and comfortable with his manner and credentials.
I arrived to the hospital at 530 AM to check in. I was promptly checked in and asked to give a urine sample.
My husband and I were advised what room to go in. I had to remove all my clothes (everything) and put a gown on. Had my blood pressure, temperature and respiratory levels taken, got my arm ID and was advised all the details of the surgery. At about 630 I was taken up to the prep room before surgery and was visited by another nurse who informed me the anesthesiologist was going to come and talk to me. My surgeon came over to talk to me and make sure I was doing ok. Naturally I was horribly nervous and he was relaxing me.
The anesthesiologist came over and told me about the type of meds they were going to give me and the type of sleep I would be under. I got the IV at this stage and was given a small sedative shot to relax me. After 5 more minutes or so the anesthesiologist came back over and asked me how I felt. I did feel more relaxed and she was happy with that so I got a little more. At this stage the surgical nurse came over to me and introduced herself. We talked about the procedure so I was sure I understood what was going to happen and asked some additional question such as if I was a smoker and what pills I had been on. They wanted to make sure I had not been on any NSAIDS within 5-10 days (due to these are blood thinners and can prevent clotting). She gave me lots of warm blankets and rolled me into the OR where the Dr was waiting for me in the hallway smiling away. I really was do comfortable with the Dr. I can't say enough good things about him!
In the OR it was super freezing! I have to admit I was so scared at this point but the staff was nice and calming. The nurse gave me more warm blankets and the anesthesiologist asked me it I was ready for my cocktail (LOL). I had some oxygen for a few minutes and the staff put those boots on me that keep blood clots from happening. I loved those things and wished I could have taken them home! The oxygen mask was removed and had something amazing placed in my IV, after that I was fast asleep. I don't remember anything else until recovery. The anesthesiologist was my best friend
I did have a cathedar placed in but I was asleep so I can't say it was bothersome at all.
I awoke in recovery to the nurse calling my name and asking me if I was in pain. The surgeon came over and asked me to move my leg and toes. I was able to better than before and he was very happy and so was I! The recovery nurse gave me a shot in my IV for pain and the immediately called my husband and mother who were waiting in the family room. Due to the extent of the disc damage the surgery took about an hour longer than expected. I was able to speak to my husband and mother and let them know I was ok. I was still very much out of my mind. The only thing I really remember is telling them I could feel my toes. I stayed in recovery for about and hour and a half and was given 4 more shots of pain meds. I don't recall exactly but I believe it was demoral in very small doses. My surgeon went to talk to my family and let them know everything that had happened. The surgeon was very visible and descriptive. He made sure he did the consultations and communication instead of his staff and this I was so grateful for. He made my family and I very comfortable. As it turns out the disc was much worse than expected. It had practically exploded and was a huge knotted mess in my back. This is why the surgery took and hour longer than originally planned but he was able to get all the little fragments out. The surgeon was of the opinion if I had waited much longer or elected to do endoscopic I would have been paralyzed. The Dr. took 40% of the disc out. I don't want to say endoscopic is bad but in my case it would have been bad due to the extent of the disc herniation. I am sure for some endoscopic is a good choice. It a depends on the persons specific damage level.
I was then moved to my floor and was moved to the bed. This was painful as all the painkillers were wearing off and the could feel the incision site painfully. It is really more the muscles around it than the incision itself since the muscles have to be moved around to get to the spine. My surgeon was in the room to check on me and make sure I was ok. He was asking me how I was feeling and checking the strength in my foot and leg again. He was very pleased with the improvement so fast. My nurses and CNA's were very attentive and so nice. Everyone in the hospital for the surgeon to the transporters were so wonderful. I did not run across one unpleasant person. I elected to not have any pain meds the first night. This might have been the wrong decision because I was in a great deal if pain. I was just so tired of being all on pain meds. Plus the anesthesia had made me super nauseous. The nurse did give me something for the nausea that cured it almost instantly. I felt much better after that and was able to eat solids. Also the atheist was removed very quickly and it did not hurt at all.
I had physical and occupational therapy come in and help me with walking around and climbing up and down stairs the first day out of surgery and also the next afternoon. They had me walk with a walker at first but I did not need it and quickly was walking on my own. The sciatic pain was gone instantly! The numbness in my calf and toes is still there but I did have some immediate improvement. It is so relieving to be out of the pain. With some more time I feel confident my numbness will be gone and all will return to normal. The Dr. said it will take a little while as the nerve needs to heal. The Dr did want me to take the pain meds. Although I was roughing my way through it he said it is better to not be in pain because I will be able to walk around better which will help healing. I have 10 mg of Norco's and 5 mg of Valium which are really fantastic for the pain. Be sure to take stool softeners when on pain meds though! Trust me!! I will be starting physical therapy in about 3 weeks which will also help. After I got cleared by all the parties I was able to go home which is where I am now. It always feels better at home but I do have my husband home taking care of me for 4-6 weeks which I feel is important. You will need help navigating around. At least I do.
I will keep my recovery updated as much as I can. Please feel free to ask me any q's. I understand how frightening I and confusing it can be and I am happy to give any feedback on my experiences.
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