Friday, June 16, 2017

Today I Had My Back Surgery

Today, I had my back surgery.  I arrived at 8:00 to check in and get prepped.  The surgery was scheduled to start at 9:40, but the surgeon was running ahead of schedule, so they were able to wheel me into the OR a few minutes early.  They gave me a sedative before we left the pre-op room.  I remember them wheeling my bed through the hallway, but I don’t remember arriving at the OR.  By then, I was already asleep.

The surgeon called this procedure a posterior microdiscectomy.  The release form had a much longer description, which I can’t remember.  This is a stock image (from a different hospital) that shows roughly what they did.

The surgery took less than an hour.  Then they moved me to a recovery room, while they waited for the anesthetic to wear off.  Then they moved me to an observation room, where family can visit.  It’s possible I regained consciousness in the recovery room, but the first thing I remember is being in the observation room.

It was immediately apparent that the surgery was successful.  I no longer had the chest discomfort that I’ve had for the last 19 days.  I also had no discomfort in my legs.  That can be a side-effect.  I wiggled my toes in both feet.  No loss of feeling or motor control.  So far, so good.

I eventually learned that they only had to make a small incision, they didn’t have to remove much of the bone, and they were able to remove the disk material that was impacting my spinal cord.  There were no complications.  The surgeon characterized the procedure as “boring.”  You don’t want surgery to be exciting, so that was good news.

This was my first major surgery, so I didn’t know how my body would react to the anesthetic.  I seem to have had a best-case scenario.  By the time I got to the observation room, it was wearing off quickly.  I didn’t have any nausea, and I felt like eating.  I started with some water and crackers.  Then the nurse asked me if I wanted any other food.  I asked if they had pizza.  They did.  Hospital food isn’t as bad as I was led to believe.  Either that, or it has improved.  Now it’s like ordering room service.  My first post-op meal was pizza and cranberry juice.

I have some post-surgical pain at the site of the incision, but so far it’s minor.  They gave me a prescription for a narcotic pain reliever, but so far I haven’t needed it.  I’m hoping to manage the pain with Tylenol.  I’m also taking a muscle relaxant.

For the next two weeks, I have to follow a few rules to minimize the risks of infection or bleeding.  I can’t shower for two days.  After that, I can shower with a water-proof bandage, but I can’t bathe.  I can’t take aspirin or other NSAIDs.

I also have rules to prevent reinjuring by back or tearing open the incision.  For at least two weeks, I have to avoid bending or twisting my back.  I have a brace to help with that.  For six weeks, I have a 10 pound lifting restriction.  That probably rules out any air travel, since even a carry-on bag ways well over 10 pounds.  I’m not to do any yard work or housework.  YAY!  (I don’t mind helping with the housework, but I hate yardwork.)

I have to avoid high-impact activities for 12 weeks.  That includes running.  I’ve already cancelled travel plans for my next five races.  I expect to cancel my plans for several others. 

I'm allowed to walk.  In fact, they strong encourage walking.  There are a few races on my schedule that may be walkable, but I don’t know if the doctors will want me walking that far.  I’ll ask about that at one of my follow-up appointments.  For now, it looks like it’s going to be a boring summer.

I know I said boring is better than exciting, but these restrictions will test my patience.  I hate cancelling races, but I want to put this behind me.  I don’t want to make it worse, like I did with the injuries I had two years ago.

1 comment:

  1. I'm glad your surgery went well! Best wishes for fighting the urge to do too much too soon--You can do it!