I’ve made it through that first week post spine surgery. That will be the hardest, right? I’m not sure; I take nothing for granted! But, I can now:
- Shower myself
- I get dressed every day
- I have a decent pain management plan (that falls apart at 3-4 p.m. when my long acting pain meds wear off)
- I’m up and walking possibly more than I was pre-op (due to pain then too).
One of my biggest problems is “where to be?” Lying in bed at a 45 degree angle sets off my radiculopathy (nerve pain originating from my back). I think back on how I kept this from happening before and… before I used pillows to prop me in a position that didn’t aggravate those nerves. Leaning against those pillows now causes pain at my incision site.
Standing… I can only stand for short periods of time. And sitting… this too sets off back/incision pain. Lying in bed/sleeping used to be a comfortable position except now, I know this will only be comfortable until my pain medications wear off. The magical hour for this is 0400. I was taking pain medication at night prior to the surgery; 0400 was the time I would wake up because of pain then too. Often, I lie there until 0600 when the coffee pot clicks and turns on. It is the sign that it is “okay” to get up now. Gone is my once “night owl” preference; I’m an early riser now. And so starts another day…
One of the pain medications side effects are that they cause nightmares. Boy, I’ve had some doozy dreams lately! I can’t believe anything from my dreams knowing they are induced by the medications. But waking up in a cold sweat and disoriented… It takes a moment to get my bearings. It isn’t a pleasant feeling at all!
One of the things I was thinking about lately is the course of events that lead up to this surgery. My initial two laminectomies done as an outpatient… Do they even count as surgeries? That was the start of keeping “MRI clothes”; clothes that don’t contain any metal in them so I don’t have to get undressed in that very cold room when getting an MRI to document exactly what was going on in my back. And it was the start of my finding my “happy place” to zone out for 30-40 minutes to avoid the claustrophobic feeling in the MRI machine.
My first spine fusion (Nov 2016): I knew that surgery was NOT a success by that three-month post op visit. That is when I started having more radiculopathy pain and subsequently prescribed a medication to mask that pain. My neuro doc was so hopeful having me repeat x-rays every three months and every time, I showed very little healing/fusion of the level. The pain I endured during that year was the same as I had before even having the spine fusion only this time, I had medications I could take prescribed by the neuro doc. He knew the pain I was in! It was my “dirty little secret” beause in today’s climate, needing pain medications equates to shooting heroin on some street corner! That is how I felt any time I even thought of talking about my pain meds with anyone. We were all so disappointed that the correction the doc did to my spine during the surgery shown on the intraoperative x-rays was lost by that 3 month post op visit/x-ray.
And that brings me to my revision spine fusion + another level (January 2018). I am so hopeful it will work this time. I go in at 5 weeks for an x-ray and post-op visit; I don’t know what to expect but am hopeful there will be some bone forming at the graph sites this time!
And I think… I’ve ignored this problem I am having. I’ve denied this could be happening to me. Mentally, I have all these things in my mind that I can do; physically, I can’t do them any longer. It is probably the most honest thing I’ve ever said to finally admit this is happening to me! And where do I go from here? I just don’t know.
So until my 5 week post op visit and x-ray, I will continue to get up every day, take a shower and get dressed. Out of courtesy to others, I will wait until 6:00 to attack that coffee pot. And I will continue to “experiment” with the pain medications trying to get “coverage” in between the long-acting pain meds prescribed. I keep telling myself… the pain will lessen (eventually) and all the things I think about doing… I will do them just probably not today. There is always tomorrow; it will be a better day tomorrow!