Tuesday, 31 July 2012

Ups and Downs

Two weeks ago I went into hospital for my fourth spinal surgery.  I checked in at 2pm the day before the operation; and given they only needed to do a chest x-ray, take some blood and give me an ECG meant it was a long, boring afternoon.  Wednesday morning they took me to the operating theatre pretty early, and 5 hours later I woke up in ICU (not recover) feeling pretty good.  Unfortunately not long after I started feeling some negative side effects.  First, my legs and abdomen started spasming and my teeth started chattering.  They gave me some pain medication for this and covered me with some blankets which seemed to help, but then my temperature rose and my blood pressure spiked.  They gave me something for my blood pressure, but it then dropped quite low.  After that things settled down a bit, and I had a typical restless night in ICU.
On Thursday I experienced doctors doing rounds for the first time.  It was interesting to see the doctors trying to assess me just based on my symptoms.  After this I had improved enough to go back to the ward, which led to what is always the most unpleasant part of leaving ICU:  removing the catheter.  I just shuddered typing that!  Unfortunately Thursday was another unpleasant night.  I developed a fever, with my legs spasming again and was having really strange feverish dreams.  I was also getting a lot of pain in my hips, hamstrings and backside.  Worst of all, I started getting double vision as well so they sent me for a CT and x-ray.  Fortunately everything was clear and by morning I felt a lot better.
Friday was a lot less eventful:  I was able to get up and walk again, and despite some slight dizzy spells getting up I was starting to feel a lot better.  Saturday and Sunday were similar - I started walking more and further, and on the whole was feeling pretty well.  Unfortunately the pains in my legs and backside shifted to an intense shooting pain in my tailbone.  This was affecting my walking when I wasn't on painkillers.  The doctors let me know it was sciatica caused by blood from the operation in my cerebro-spinal fluid, and this would take 2-3 weeks to move through.  Ouch!
On Monday they let me know I could go home when I felt comfortable doing so.  Unfortunately Tuesday was the only day no-one could pick me up, so I was stuck in there until Wednesday.  I felt great on Tuesday - being stuck in hospital when you feel OK is a terrible feeling.
Unfortunately my return to the real world wasn' particularly kind to me.  I was quite sore after the hour in the car to get home.  After a bit of relaxing I decided to try going for a walk as I hadn't been outside for a week.  This was when I realised that walking on an uneven, hard footpath was a lot harder than on the carpeted floors of the hospital.  I was very slow and had to watch my feet and concentrate very hard.  On top of this, if I took a misstep I would get a jarring pain in my chest.  Also, the pain moved out of my tailbone and into my backside and hamstrings.  Walking was not fun.  Even worse though, the mild dizzy spells I was having in hospital started increasing in frequency and intensity.  This has been on and off since - just when I think I'm having a good day and turned a corner the next day I have a shocker.  Yesterday was particularly bad.  Today has been pretty good.  Here's hoping the frequency of good days starts to outstrip that of bad days!

One last thing to note:  this was the first operation where they used staples rather than internal stitching.  I had a bit of oozing from the wound over the first few days, but they gave me a few stitches which stopped it.  This was a great result as I'd had issues with inflammation and infection with my previous two operations.
Here's a picture of the wound on the Saturday following the operation - I'm still amazed at how healthy it looks (ignoring the 30 staples!).


tmso said...

Dude - don't let them take out the staples. That is wicked!

tmso said...

Oh, and so sorry about all the pain. I can't believe they did that to you and you were walking (slow and painful for sure, but walking) the next week. You are awesome. The good days will come in legion.