Happy Anniversary to me!
Nope I didn’t get married on this day….
It’s the anniversary of my Lumbar Spinal Fusion…Back Surgery! One year ago I was off to the OR at 9am for my long awaited back surgery I’d to begged for.
***** Post contains surgical pictures. If you do not like scars, shut your eyes.*****
I injured my back sometime after Thanksgiving 2007 and have no idea how. Originally doctor’s suggested a pulled muscle with a perscritpion for muscle relaxers; then cortisone shots into the muscle; then pain killers and Physical Therapy. My physical therapist said I’d messed up my back. Guess so. No exercises worked and I never improved.
At my insistence, I had an MRI two days before leaving on Christmas vacation with Hunni (then fiance). My doctor prescribed Percocet for the travel and told me he’d call me on my cell phone only if something showed up…otherwise I’d see him in January. No big deal right?
We visited Momma through her birthday on 26 December and then boarded Amtrak bound for Alliance, OH. Somewhere in the mountains of Pennsylvania – when I had almost no reception – my phone rings. My orthopod…ie back doctor. Cue freaked out.
I jumped out of my seat…uh, rolled out in massive pain…and walked, no hobbled, to the back of the car for the best reception. All I heard was 3….discs…. bad…. see you soon. Then he cut out!
Ahhhhh! What does that mean?!
About two days later he called back and gave me a more detailed explanation. I had 3 herniated discs in my lower back that would need some attention and he would see me in his office as soon as I got back to NY. I spent the rest of my vacation with Hunni in Ohio in pain with my Percocet and my mind running away with me as to what would happen to me.
Returning to NY the doc determined I should continue with PT and start epidural injections into my discs this time. Long story short I did this 3 TIMES!!! All not very pleasant, and no improvement. I did make some nice friends at the surgical center who asked about me each time.
The pain worsened and my medications dosages grew. I had a small pharmacy in my night stand and purse. My pain tolerance is already high, for other reasons, so my combo of meds could knock out a VERY large man but offered me little relief.
Add to this some powerful tests I think they use in torture only to learn I wasn’t “bad enough” for an operation. Too many discs involved and too young (only 26 at the time) I was so frustrated.
Over six months of this crap and I could barely sit. This was my position and the most of saw of Hunni. I was miserable.
Finally an option for me. A new procedure called an IDET. Less invasive and moderate success. Sign me up. I would have stood on my head to spit wood and nickels if they told me it would help.
Hunni and I’d already married and moved to Massachusetts so we headed back to NY on September 4 for the procedure.
Waking up from anesthesia I expected to hear the familiar “everything went well the doctor will be out to follow up with you in a few minutes” from my nurses. Instead I heard “Oh you’re awake…I’ll go get the doctor quick.” Scared the crap out of me. My doctor didn’t even finish the first disc. As he was wrapping the catheteraround my disc it snapped off. Yep the catheter was left in my disc in my back!
Now there was another problem to fix. After a week in NY to ensure “no complications” Hunni and I had the a-okay to drive home and find a surgeon near our new home. I hobbled in the door at home and fell asleep instantly on the air mattress I’d set up in our living room for TV watching. Then woke up in the WORST PAIN EVER!
Hunni rushed me to the local ER as I puked my brains out, screaming. The nurse on duty was very confused as we tried to explaint he situation…I don’t think she believed us. After a set of xrays of my back we heard loud gasps int he hall and everyone gathering around the xray. I must admit they were interesting…it looked like I had a spaghetti noodle wrapped around my lowest disc.
Over the next 6 hours they tried to transfer me to a larger hospital that could remove the catheter. No one wanted to fix someone else’s mistake…not that I blame them. Eventually I was transferred to Albany Medical Center. Repeat process after the most painful ride of my life in the back of an ambulance over the winding Berkshire mountains.
Over the next week I was the hospital spectacle. The neurosurgeon and eager med students debated feverishly over the best course of action. Yet they still didn’t want to operate and I didn’t want to lie my life in pain. One more excruiating tests and they finally agreed the catheter was migrating and needed to come out.
The original plan was remove the lower two discs and place a rod to stabilize the third. my incision is on my abdomen so they would cut less muscles and I’d heal better. I was just happy they were operating.
The first few days after surgery I don’t think I was ask excited about surgery. I could roll over on my own or use the potty. Just a few minor things, right? After a week I was released to Hunni’s care. Long days full of a walker, cane, PT, pain meds, big braces, and worries that I had made the wrong decision followed.
The moment I sat down pain-free for the first time in a year I knew I’d made the right decision.
Honestly today I’m better than I ever was. There are many more things to tell about the ordeal but the moral of the story is that I feel awesome and I celebrate this anniversary with amazement that it has been a whole year.
Some days I forget that it happened. But then I look at my scar and go “Oh yeah they cut me open.”
I’m blessed…extremely blessed with a recovery no one thought was possible. Happy Anniversary to me and my new and improved back 😀