7/23/12 - 7/24/12 The surgery came and went yesterday and it had a couple of interesting twists. We met with Dr. Brown in the morning and after analyzing the first MRI compared to the second MRI, he saw that the ruptured disc size had doubled. This put me in huge risk. I am lucky this didn't effect bowel or bladder stuff. After seeing this he decided the best route of action was a spinal fusion along with the other procedure. I'm not going to lie, I was really scared but Dr. Brown is awesome and I trusted him. This bumped up the surgery time to two hours and recovery would be about 5 days instead of 2 in the hospital. I went into the operation room. The next thing I knew I was waking up in the recovery room. After surgery when Michele finally saw me I was pretty groggy and I guess the first thing I did was reach up and grab her hand and said to her, "you're the meaning in my life..." I paused for a minute and then said, "you're the inspiration." I'm pretty sure I was joking around but I don't remember a whole lot either.Post surgery stuff went really well. They had me on a clear liquid diet and I was told that as soon as I passed gas I would be moved up to the next level of food such as mushroom soups or tomato soup. Let's just say it wasn't until the middle of the night that the magic happened and I'm now able to eat better things. As for moving around yesterday, it was actually a really good day ! I stood up and walked to the door two times throughout the evening. I felt really great! My pain level was very low and I really was excited that maybe this was the worst it was going to be.
This morning however the anesthesia has warn off and I am really starting to be aware of the incision on my back. It's been rough today and actually when they came to try and help me to stand up and move, I actually started to feel dizzy so they set me back on the bed and I passed out. Later today we had the second attempt and they were more cautious about what was going on, and took my blood pressure a couple times while we moved from laying to siting and stuff. Everything went pretty well but shortly after standing my ears started to ring so I sat down before anything bad happened. This has so far been the end of my attempts at walking today and hopefully later tonight I can give it another shot. I've been more frustrated today just because of the pain and the standing incident but I also realize that I have a giant incision in my back and muscles an skin have been cut. I'm trying to keep positive attitude but it's hard when you have been through a lot already. I think I thought that last night was going to be where I was physically going in this process and it's not quite working that way today. M said it best. "You are going to have good days and bad days over the next few weeks but it will get better." I know things will be fine' it's just hard.
7/25/12 As the hospital stay went on I continually got better and better. On day three I stood up and completed all my required walks and sits and discovered that for me the food was important to keep my energy up. If I didn't eat enough I would feel dizziness symptoms. I am completing all my physical therapy movement and worked with an occupational therapist today to learn how to put on socks and clothing without bending. I had many visitors throughout the stay and really appreciated my friends and family. working with a walker is an interesting thing. I don't need it to stay standing but it gives me a sense of security for balancing. I'm just not stable on my feel. I can really feel the muscles in my back working. They are really pleased with my healing and feel my drain tube could come out soon which means I could be clear to go home. To be honest, I don't feel ready to leave yet. I'm not secure on my feel and worried I could fall. Today I also had the opportunity to
7/26/12 Each morning I get a visit from my surgeon or his PA and on day four he said my drainage tube/bag could come out anytime and asked where I was at in regards to going home. I was honest and told him I was quite nervous of leaving yet and felt that I would be ready mentally and physically tomorrow. He felt this was a good choice and said he would see me tomorrow. Today I got to clean myself up a bit and had a chance to shave. No full showers until I get home though. It's nice to start to feel normal. As for my pain and such, it's rough standing up, especially from the chair but I'm doing it. I still have some numbness/tingling in my right 2nd to last toe and the Dr. said my nerve is probably a bit damaged but it should come back. I am so glad to not have the pain I was experiencing in my leg though. Today the occupational therapist took me through going up and down stairs, getting in and out of vehicles, and how to deal with taking a shower. Everything makes sense and I am comfortable with the processes. Tonight Michele and I just hung out and watched movies in the room. It was really nice to just be with her. I sense a relief in her for me. I know it was rough for her seeing me suffering and finally we are on the downward slope of healing. She is amazing.
7/27/12 When the surgical PA came in on day 5 we decided that I would go home. I am ready to go. I feel comfortable with how to take care of myself and I feel stable enough to be at home. With that being said, he needed to remove my drainage tube. I rolled onto my side, he removed the bandage and told me to take a deep breath. As I exhaled and he pulled it out... Man that hurt and felt really weird. It was in a separate incision than where the surgery was and the tube was as round as a straw (slushy size) and about 5 inches long. The last thing we needed to happen was a bowel movement before they would let me leave. I probably didn't mention the fact that I hadn't gone the entire time I was in the hospital (I know...really gross and too much info). Now I'm not going to go into details here and I'm sure you appreciate that but I will say this. The plumbing wasn't working so the nurse said we would need to help it along. I took one for the team TWICE because the first one didn't work if you know what I mean. The nurse told me that most patients return to the ER because of serious constipation so they want to make sure all was well. My last few hours sucked... I was clear at 11am to go but I didn't leave until about 3pm due to... processing. To say the least, I am really happy to be home.
The next two or three weeks were quite uneventful (which is good) with just me resting/healing and walks a couple times a day. Most of the time the girls come with me which is really nice. I feel like I'm a dad again and it is great to be outside and moving my legs. We are also having all our meals at the dinner table again and I really missed this. My back seems to be reacting to the bandage on my back and itches around where the tape is. It is annoying but I'm working through it. At the end of week two I decided I was ready to be done with my meds and stopped cold turkey. Not a good idea at all. I got "crack itches", ran a fever, and felt like I had the flu. The nurse told me I had to ween off so with lessons learned the hard way I did over the next week and a half and I'm pretty much off the meds now. I still am taking them here and there at night though. Of everything recovery wise, my pain is quite minimal except sleeping is pretty rough. The muscles are over tired by bedtime and I toss and turn a lot. This is my big complaint but nothing will ever compare to what I felt like before surgery.
At week three I had my follow up to the surgeon PA and everything looks great. They cleaned up the remaining stitches and gave me clearance to not wear a bandage anymore. I also was told I was allowed to drive again which is really exciting for me since it has been a couple of months. I saw the MRI that happened right before the surgery (the rupture was huge) as well as the x-ray showing the four titanium screws in my back and bone grafts. I start pool physical therapy the on September 7th and will do this for 7 weeks. The Dr. says his main concern with me is the fact that I'm healing really well and because I feel so good I have to make sure I don't over exert myself and set myself back. I like this concern and I will be careful. I never want to be where I was pre-surgery ever again.
At week five I have started spending much longer on my feet or sitting. I actually had teacher meetings this week Tuesday (with an evening band rehearsal) and Wednesday for 8 hours each day. It was rough on me and I'm sore but I made it. The pain I'm experiencing is just muscle soreness now. The incision isn't much of an issue, it's just muscle spasms and extreme tightness. I think I will be ok to teach next week. It will be exhausting but it will be doable. Tomorrow we leave for our first summer vacation with family! We are going to Chicago to take Avery and Lil to the American Girl Store. I think it will be fine physically for me. I'm a bit nervous about the long drive but I think it will be ok with stops and reclining here and there in the van. Then we stay in Detroit for Labor day weekend. Currently, life is good and every day I show a little more improvement. The Dr. says that it will be six months to a year before I feel pretty normal but I will take where I'm at over pre-surgery. I can't wait until I can sleep and not think of my back though. Time will work this through.
I will report back in a couple weeks after school starts and I have had some of my pool therapy. Thanks to all of you for keeping me in your thoughts and prayers. The gifts and well wishes have been wonderful.
Thanks gang. I'll talk to you soon.