7/21/2008

Reflections on My Surgery – Part Two


I remember coughing as I regained consciousness in the recovery room. I could hear someone saying, “You’re in the recovery room, David…you’re out of surgery.” I thought, “Well, thanks for that update.” The room was spinning and I couldn’t really focus my eyes on any one object. I told the nurse what was happening and she gave me something that stopped the vertigo I was experiencing. I remember feeling stiff as a board and with little feeling in my back. That changed shortly as the pain slowly came into focus as I regained full consciousness. It was a familiar, sharp, excruciating pain that was all too familiar. The nurse put this little pump in my hand and to use it to ease the pain. Believe me, I started using it. The pain subsided and I was able to coherently gauge my surroundings. There were people in different cubicles separated by this thin cloth that you could practically see through. People were moaning, a couple were screaming and I wanted out there as quickly as possible. I asked the attending nurse how much longer would I be there. She said, “That depends on you.” Why can’t people just give a simple answer anymore??? I knew she meant how well I progressed. But, why not just say it?

After about an hour and a half in recovery, I was taken to my room. Family and a few friends (the ones who weren’t too busy to be there for the surgery) were present in my room. I enjoy talking to family and friends. But, this wasn’t one of those times. I was still in misery despite the pain medication. I was nauseated, weak and just wanted to try and sleep. Flowers, which I have no use for at all, were everywhere, get well cards. It was the usual stuff that you see in a hospital room. Thanks to my niece, she saw that I wanted some time alone. She suggested that everyone come to bedside and say hello to me and let me be for the day. Bless you girl! So, except for the aforementioned niece and a couple of relatives, everyone else left me alone for the day. I was not in the least hungry, but they brought me lunch. They had to be joking. I’m thirty minutes out of the recovery room and lunch? It was a cornbread square, a pathetic little bowl of salad and the ubiquitous green jello.

The neurosurgeon came in as I was attempting to sit up and partake of this delightful cuisine. He told me the surgery was 2 ½ hours, about 30 minutes longer than expected due to calcification of the disc. I wasn’t sure what that meant. But, it couldn’t be good. So, I didn’t press him on the subject. He told me he wanted me to take it easy (no problem) for the rest of the day. But, it would be nice if I tried to get up and stand for a couple of minutes late that afternoon. I also needed to sit up as much as possible and to blow into this little doohickey that had a yellow ball in it. He then patted me on the shoulder and said he would be in to check on me later that night. I found out later that little 3 or 4 minute session cost my insurance $195.00. That was just outrageous.

Everyone left shortly after the surgeon did. I was left alone with my misery and pain of dealing with the aftermath of back surgery. I laid there, listening to all the people walk by my room, talking about what they were going to do that night, that weekend. I felt as lonely as I have in quite some time for some reason. I knew I would be spending the weekend in the hospital. Listening to people talk about what their social activities were to be for a particular night or weekend, always seemed…rude to me for some reason. It’s like everyone else needs to hear what they are going to do. Maybe I am just getting old. Regardless, that first night was hell on earth. I kept waking up with a sharp pain in my back. Honestly, it felt like a knife. I was starting to consider the surgeon had left a surgical instrument in my back. I even told the nurse that and it seemed to give her a much needed laugh. Glad I could help someone feel better! I sure wasn’t feeling better. I remember laying there, looking up at the stars in the night sky wondering how many people are laying in their bed tonight, in pain and agony, under these same stars. I didn’t feel so much alone then for whatever reason. I probably didn’t sleep for over an hour. The pain medication was becoming less and less effective in dissipating the agonizing pain. I was in sheer misery and pleaded with the nurse to put something stronger in that IV. They said they would call the doctor to see what he says and, oh by the way, your temperature is 103. And it won’t come down. It’s possible we will have to give you an ice bath if it doesn’t come down. Oh joy.

More in part three and final segment of this series.

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