Microdiscectomy Spine Surgery

2016-02-09 10.47.09_blog

Five short days later I went in for surgery. Don’t I look fabulous? I look like Marge Simpson’s younger sister. I think one of the worst parts about surgery is the lack of coffee in the morning. Ok, well, obviously the surgery and the recovery are the worst, but those few hours before surgery, it’s torture to those who just adore coffee. Like me.

The nursing staff actually complemented me on having such a positive attitude and how my laugh was contagious. It improved everyone’s mood and they were happy to assist me in anyway. I believe the quote “You can catch more flies with honey than with vinegar” rings true here. The surgery itself went really well. Once awake, although really muddled, I immediately felt relief in both of my legs from the pinched nerve and was very pleased about the outcome.

Once a little more lucid, we quickly realized that I was having a minor reaction to the anesthetic medication. Although I was able to go home, it took three times longer to get discharged. Oi! Once we left, we had to visit the pharmacy to drop off my opioid prescription and wait for it to be filled. Nothing like showing up with an authentic paper prescription and showing your ID when you are hopped up on drugs. An hour later, all thanks to the ER experiencing an influx of patients and sending them to the only 24 pharmacy in town, I was finally able to take the medication.

Then something happened. It felt as though someone reached through my stomach, grabbed my spine and then pulled it right through. As if they were looking for a rope to hold onto. I couldn’t sit because I was dizzy and I couldn’t lay down because I got nauseous. Mr. P called it a level 10, I called it a level 9 because I’m saving my ten. Mr. P called the on-call doctor at 1:30 in the morning hoping he didn’t have to call the ambulance. The on-call physician happened to be my surgeon and he suggested that we increase my anti-nausea medication and once that medication kicked-in, we were to increase my pain medication.

Two hours later, the anti-nausea medication kicked-in and therefore two hours later, I could increase my pain medication. Over the course of the next four days, this process was repeated. I had to wait for one drug to kick-in until I could take the next one.  On the fifth day, I woke up and decided to take Tylenol instead of the anti-nausea and opioid medication to see if it could combat the pain. To be honest, I was so sick of feeling nauseous, I was uncomfortable anyway regardless of whether I was laying down or sitting, and that dizzy feeling was unbearable; I felt like I was drunk! Once the Tylenol kicked-in, my pain subsided and I felt like a whole new person. Called the doctor and got the approval to stay off the opioid drugs as long as my pain was manageable. YASSSSSS!!

Now only to combat the boredom and anticipation of getting back to my “normal”.


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Ultimately, the choice was mine


Two days after I posted about my herniated disk, I saw the Spine Specialist. Mr. P and I packed up our stuff, sat in uncomfortable waiting chairs over an hour well past my appointment time and was about to give up until we were called back. I was and still very grateful that my husband was by my side, lending his emotional support and being my extra pair of ears. I mean, we’re talking about a herniated disk. We’re talking about next steps and quite possibly surgery. And as someone who has arthritis in her back, this just elevates it to another level. I needed all the support I could get.

Well, Dr. Spine, was fabulous. What was a 20 minute appointment turned into over an hour (and explained our long wait time). He never looked at his watch, he heard my questions and then answered them thoroughly. He had experience working with patients who had ankylosing spondylitis. He had experience working with patients on Remicade. He understood the increased risks. He took my history and struggles over the past six months seriously. He understood that I had been dealing with this pain for over a year and that it increased significantly over the last three months. He understood that I took every option, every road, every opportunity to do something other than to see him first. And then was kind about it. He then heard Mr. P’s questions and then answered them thoroughly. Mr. P actually asked a lot of good difficult questions that I would’ve never thought to think about. And then it was time. To make a decision. I was at the absolute last option and I needed to decide whether surgery was right for me.

Making the decision to move forward with surgery was one of the scariest decisions I ever had to make. My parents weren’t in the room nor could tell me what I could do. And although Mr. P was the most supportive human being on the planet, he couldn’t make the decision for me. Ultimately, the choice was mine. I was the one who was going to have to go through the prep, the surgery, and then the recovery.

However, I didn’t have time or the luxury to think about whether or not I was going to move forward with the surgery. Why? Well, my Remicade medication. Because Remicade, a biologic medication, is an extreme immune system depressor, all surgeries need to be performed at the tail end of any Remicade medication cycle. Meaning either the final week or second to final week before you receive your next dosage. You see, my Remicade appointment was scheduled literally a week later. We had to either jump on this surgery train either now, or wait another 5 weeks until my medication had mostly passed.

Ultimately, I decided to move forward with the surgery since the pain and numbness I was experiencing was getting dangerous. So dangerous in fact that one day as I was driving home, I couldn’t feel my feet because they went numb. It was time.

It was time to have back surgery. Probably the scariest words I’ve ever had to say. Ever.


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