I am sitting right now on the end of a reclining couch, a pillow tucked under every possible inch of me, my calves squeezed into T.E.D. socks with red textured hospital booties providing the necessary foot traction, should I have the urge or ability to stray from my post. For now, my urges outweigh my abilities by quite a margin, so Iíll be set in this spot for awhile.
Most of you probably donít know that I spent the last week in a blur of hospital madness, undergoing two back surgeries in four days--both unscheduled and urgent, both with some complications. But I am proud to report that I am now on the mend, resting comfortably and feeling very fortunate that things worked out the way they did.
I have had back surgery once before, that same pesky area, too. I have stenosis in my spine (they say it is a genetic condition most commonly found in a rare form of dwarfism; itís like winning the lottery, but without all the money). It basically means the openings in my spine for the nerve bundles to run through are too small, so my nerves are more likely to get painfully squished without any wiggle room. I also have a diseased disc that tends to slough and bulge, to leak its ďdisc materialĒ out to contribute to that painful nerve crush. Last time during surgery they carved that disc and bone away from the left side.
This time, it was a major hemorrhage on the right side; well, so big it was both sides, really. I had some serious symptoms last Thursday, losing muscle ability, not to mention the pain, and it became clear I couldnít wait for the earliest scheduled MRI to get a look at what was going on. The scan showed that surgery couldnít wait, and I was on the table Friday. The operation went well, but it was soon evident the problem had not been solved, and my nerves were still under enough pressure to make walking, and moving, nearly impossible. That and a 102.9 degree fever put me back into a hospital gown just hours after I had been released, and another MRI showed Iíd better be under the knife again soon.
The second surgery came on Monday, a milepost in a pretty blurry series of memories from the hospital bed. When I woke up, I was told that there had been a little complicationóthat more than six hours had passed instead of just three. I was missing some enzyme, they told me. Since I was awake, and it seemed the old pain was gone, I pretty much dismissed that information, and moved on to more a important question: ďWhen can I go hoooooome?Ē
It wasnít until the next day that I began to realize how scary that second surgery had been for everybody but me. That enzyme deficiency they told me about meant that a drug they used to paralyze my muscles for three minutes for breathing tube action didnít wear off for hours. So following the procedure, they tried to wake me up, realized I couldnít breathe (I was awake enough at that point, and felt like I was choking helplessly. I told myself frantically to DO THE UNIVERSAL SIGN FOR CHOKING!!). They then had to put me back to sleep with machines to do the respiratory work. The surgeon told my husband he has been practicing for decades and he has never run into a (hold on, still have not memorized this yet) pseudocholinesterase deficient person. Yikes!
Thankfully, each and every one of the many medical professionals who took care of me was absolutely amazing, and so even with problems, everything turned out wonderfully. I might be stuck in this recliner for awhile, but I am so grateful that I was in such good hands. (Not to mention how great my husband has been as a nurse, and the rest of my family and friends, who have brought me food and comfort and company galore!)
And, Iím getting some jewelry out of this. Since that paralyzing drug is used for surgeries that are unexpected, the ones where there might be something in your stomach because you didnít fast properly or they think you didnít, the next time around I might not be able to tell them about my enzyme deficiency. Iím going to get the fanciest medical bracelet out there, the one that can fit 20-letter words and goes with everything. I wonder if they make matching earrings?