Sunday, March 14, 2010
I put a few photos up on Facebook, but things appear to be a success. The surgeon really had nothing to say to me after the procedure, just something he does a few times a week.
Procedure: C3-C6 French Door (or Double Door) Laminoplasty. He didn't do anything else while he was in there, hoping that all the syndromes related to the central nervous system were related to the compression on the spinal cord.
Work and disability: Wow, they just don't want to get on record ahead of time for anything. I tried to ask how they would handle if I could only do part-time temporarily when I come back, and they all said, "We'll see." I said that there are two real dangers with being out for a long time: one, that they'll really suffer without me, and two, that they won't.
Tuesday: Surgery was pushed back to 11, so I had to show up at 8. Had to do a special antiseptic cleaning of everything but hands and genitals. At a little before 11, they gave me the first of my antibiotics and anesthetics, and I don't remember a thing for the next six hours. Apparently, they include an amnesiac in that first batch, derived for use on children in ERs.
Around 5, I woke up in a bed, with a view of a hallway vaguely similar to the view of the hallway from my desk at work. In my mind, I was working on a spreadsheet on my laptop, and somehow realized that I had to hurry up and finish it and save it because I didn't actually have a laptop. Then they took me to my room where my family could see me. My parents had had to go home by then to pick up the boy, but they returned with him later that evening. I was doing great at this point, feeling no pain but also not feeling like I was on drugs. Alex also came by to heckle.
I surprisingly slept well through the night, being switched once to sleep on my side. And they woke me every two hours for my vital signs. My pulse rate broke one of the Western Electric Rules, with eight points in a row above my historical average (based on the Novemember hospital stay) but other signs exhibitied normal variation. Root cause is probably a general decrease in health the last four months due to lack of exercise.
On Wednesday the pain started in earnest, though still it was never terrible. They asked for the pain on a scale of 1 to 10, and I suggested that they whack incoming patients in the ankle with a hammer and say, "ok, that's a 7, keep it in mind for later." THey typically didn't get my jokes. Nor do most, I guess, but that doesn't matter, because I'm usually the main audience for them anyway. They removed the cathether (I took a picture of it just to see it, but deleted it immediately because even I don't want to see a picture of that), and later on took out the IV. They still had a drip bag attached to the incision, and that bag continually filled up slowly. Managed to pee (it hurt due to the cathether, but that went away after about a day). Ate real food starting with lunch, though they told me to eat softer food. Wife came in and left, parents came in, co-worker came in and said by a vote of 5 to 3 that they had a card for me, Bim stopped by too because he was bored. Otherwise I chatted with my nice roommate who was in for a knee replacement. Did a lot of Facebook checking and appreciated all the well-wishes. They took out the pain button and gave me pain pills. Jordan Haskell also made an appearance.
Thursday was check out. They just needed to verify that I could walk up a couple stairs and that the X-ray looked ok. I also talked to the occupational therapist, but she was so good-looking that I couldn't concentrate on anything she said. She pulled a Constanza moment on me, when I mentioned that real men didn't use loofahs, and she said her fiancee used one. My neck was and is a little stiff, though it felt in part that it was due to lying on it with a brace in the same position as much as it was due to them making a four-inch cut and retracting the muscles in my neck. (I mentioned, and maybe it's the truth, that most of the recovery of surgery is not due to what they are fixing, but to what they need to do in order to go to what they need to fix.)
Made it out at about 1, took a nap in the afternoon. I've generally been feeling a little better each day, a little less pain, a little less frequent with the pain pills, but I am also now at the point that I'm bored with the whole recovery process and wish it to be done.
Finally got a shower yesterday and another one today. Took off the bandage after each one and got a couple photos today which I will share. Enjoy.