It’s easy to get lonely after having surgery and being laid up for weeks on end. Normally I have a lot of people to talk to and occupy my brain space. My mom and dad have done a great job keeping me company, but I miss my friends and my coworkers. I miss walking around and talking to people. I miss having quiet time for the sake of getting away from the noise, not just because that’s all that’s available. Everyone’s lives have gone on without me, mine just standing still.  


Post surgery: One week out

So I’m laying here on my bed, after going to Target with mom, and I am EXHAUSTED. I have successfully tired myself out by doing approximately a tenth of the physical activity I normally do during a day. I am also incredibly constipated, I know, TMI. But seriously, I may have set a record… haven’t pooped in a week. Normally 5 hours is a long time for me to go between poops, but 7 days, that’s pushing it. I’m getting to the point where eating or drinking feels like stuffing one last container of leftovers in the fridge after thanksgiving: it may pop at any moment. In my case, I’m hoping it pops out the bottom, not the top or (in this rare case) out my back. I drank a jar of Magnesium Citrate to help things along. Tasted like a Sprite that’s been out in the sun since 1997. 

So, thoughts on being one week out from surgery. 

  • I am significantly less hopeless than I felt before having surgery. Now that my back’s been cut open, sucked out, and plate-and-screwed together, I’m feeling much more hopeful that I’ll have a regular life. Yes, I am still having problems after the surgery but mostly it feels like muscle pain from the slice. Yes, I’m having to ask for help doing most things right now, but I’m not having desperate thoughts about never leading a semi normal adult life. Whatever normal is…
  • Surgery was painful AF. I won’t sugar coat anything. I woke up from surgery thinking I had died, or was about to die. My BP and pulse were very low the entire time I was in the hospital, I woke up with a bloody throat from being intubated, and by back hurt so bad I couldn’t move, even if I had wanted to. This was not fun. It was not a vacation. Would still recommend. 
  • Day 1 after surgery was the WORST DAY EVER. I was in more pain than I thought possible, and they wanted me to WALK AROUND. I felt like they were asking me to run a marathon at that point. Turning onto my side in bed was incredibly painful. Standing up, sitting down, walking, standing, laying down, etc. it all hurt. All of it. And they had taken away my morphine pump. Those bitches. I liked that pump. 
  • Generally, I had the most wonderful nursing staff I could have asked for. Danny was my day nurse, and Brandi was my night nurse. They listened to me, were gentle when I needed someone to be gentle, and pushed me when I needed to push. I plan on taking them both a thank you card and a gift card when I go back for my 2 week out appointment. 

That’s all I can think of for now. I’m incredibly grateful for my family and friends who have gathered around me and helped me get well. Everything from helping me sit down on the toilet to helping me roll over in bed to holding my hand or me when I got dizzy. I’m a lucky gal to have such a great family. šŸ‘«

Pain series: Part 4

I just looked out my window and saw four teenagers passing around the biggest blunt I’ve ever seen. It’s 420 which means everyone is high, planning to get high, or coming down off of a high. I’m never indulge but sometimes wish that I could simply for the medicinal pain relief that I would feel. Now the guys are singing, enjoying whatever high they’ve got left for the next few hours.

I watched a video on my surgery today. It was an animated educational film, but it still made me nervous and kind of freaked me out a little bit. I probably shouldn’t have watched it but I was curious about what it’s going to happen to me. I have an appointment on May 1 for a physical and a consultation with the nurse who will be helping me through everything. Her name is Jackie. I’ve talk to her a few times on the phone and she always makes me feel like everything is going to be OK.

I watched another video of a guy in his 60s who had the same surgery I’m going to have and he was about six weeks out. He said he wasn’t experiencing any pain at the moment but that the first few weeks were really rough, but he couldn’t do anything by himself, go to the bathroom by himself, and that he can’t lift his baby grandchild at all. That seem pretty rough but trading some really bad short-term pain for a lifetime of bad pain just seems worth it to me. 

Starting to get nervous, but trying to keep things in perspective. I’m going to have a lot of help and a lot of people who love me around, that’s going to be nice and keep my mind at ease.

Pain series: Part 3

Friday, I had a second consultation with a spine surgeon at Rush hospital. I’d taken all the recommended steps (physical therapy, core strengthening, medication, steroid injections) before he wanted to do surgery, and none of them had helped. I explained that I’m really at the end of my rope here. I can’t just keep going hoping the pain will go away. He said he’d like to do surgery, and I quickly agreed with him that that was the best option. So, I’m scheduled to have spinal fusion on May 8. I came out of that appointment so relieved that there was some step I could take to move forward, to find some relief. 

They’ll make a 3 in long incision in my back, and take the disc between L4 and L5 out. They’ll replace it with a titanium cage surrounded by bone. So basically, I’ll be one of those people who beeps every time I go through a metal detector. Oh well! I’m down. Let’s do it. 

One thing that was pretty sobering was seeing one of my neighbors yesterday. We were in the middle of moving, and she was carrying her groceries up her steps. She was clearly struggling, so I went over and asked if she needed any help. She immediately started berating me, asking how I could not have seen her struggling 10 min ago, and how all the young people are stupid and selfish and wouldn’t help her. She said “you have no idea what it’s like to live with back pain like this, unable to do anything. No one else stopped and asked if I need help, stupid young people”. I had literally just seen her and walked over, but in her I saw a possibility of my own future. Normally I may have been pissed off at her for berating me after I asked to help her, but I totally understood why she did. Constant pain can turn you into a nasty person who lashes out at anyone, for no reason. I’ve had a few times where I couldn’t bear the pain I was in and just took it out on Jeb, though he never deserved it. In this lady I only saw pain and sadness, not someone who was actually a raving bitch. That could’ve been me in ten years. Alone. Sad. Resentful. 

I’m doing something about it. I wish she could’ve or would’ve gotten help. I can, so I am. May 8, you can’t come quickly enough. 

Pain series: Part 2

It’s been hard to accept the way my body has changed over the last year, as a result of my injuries. I’ve always been fairly physically active, but my activity has taken a huge back seat due to the injuries and pain I’m in. I mean, I injured myself doing weightlifting, which I was sort of getting good at.

After lifting became too painful, I started doing yoga. I really liked that, but it was tough to get the same results as with crossfit, and I felt my body begin to change. It didn’t take long to feel like my body was never going to be strong again like it had been. I love the feeling of being sore from a hard workout, but I haven’t felt that in a long time.

Now I’m waiting to see if I have to have back surgery. If I do, my exercise routine will be walking back and forth across my apartment. I’m kind of in limbo right now, but I see the doctor tomorrow to consult for surgery. I’m in so much pain and just desperate to feel some relief. It’s been over a year of constant pain in my back and legs, and it’s wearing me out physically, mentally, and emotionally. I feel bad because I can’t do basic things like lift medium heavy boxes to move into our new apartment. I used to deadlift close to my body weight, so it’s hard to have regressed so far.