Monday, October 26, 2015

Spinal Fusion Surgery Part 1

The Surgery:

I was scheduled for a lamenectomy and a L4-L5 spinal fusion (possibly a second level fusion ,to be determined during surgery)

A laminectomy is a procedure involving surgical removal of the bony arch of the vertebrae (lamina) which covers the nerve and allows for exploration of the disc and foramina, often used in the treatment of spinal stenosis.

Spinal fusion (such as a TLIF) is a surgical technique to stabilize the spinal vertebra and the disc or shock absorber between the vertebra. Lumbar fusion surgery is designed to create solid bone between the adjoining vertebra, eliminating any movement between the bones. The goal of the surgery is to reduce pain and nerve irritation.
Spinal fusion may be recommended for conditions such as spondylolisthesis, degenerative disc disease or recurrent disc herniations.


  The hospital : Friday

    We were supposed to be there at 5:30 a.m. ,with surgery scheduled for 7:30. They took me back to pre-op and I did not know if I would see my husband agin until after surgery or not. they did let him come back there after a while.

   they took me to a room ,had me strip and put on a gown and some hideous white thigh high Ted hose .the elastic on top did not even fit my legs. Then a pair of grippy socks .They weighed me, drew blood, started an I.v. Had me sign a ton of papers . Then I laid around waiting. My spouse was allowed to come back at this time. Then I waited some more,for my doctor . They would have given me the medicine that makes ya tired at this point ,but I needed to clarify with my dr. That they were indeed going thru my back and not my abdomen. I was confused because my procedure was listed as TLIF and not PLIF. Apparently ,both terms mean "thru the back" so after that was cleared up ,they put something in my I.v. ,and that was the last thing I remembered until I was being transferred from a gurney to the regular bed, in my room.

  I woke up during that transfer and trust me when I say , I was in absolute agony! I was gratefully surprised to find myself still alive and then I was shown my morphine pump and memory was gone after that until the next morning.

   they woke me up several times doing vitals and such ,but I didn't really wake up except to push the pain pump. The breakfast guy woke me up with a tray of scrambled eggs and some dry toast. I could not even look at food. I did ask for some coffee.

 Pretty much laid there all day drifting in and out of sleep. The pain would become bearable until I'd have to change positions. I think the first couple times the nurses had to literally scoot me up and turn me. The nausea was in full force , I was brought lunch and dinner, could not eat any of it. Had diet cokes and water. Hubby came by for a little bit. The nurses kept giving me various forms of laxatives. Pills, liquids, more I.v fluids. They took my vitals incessantly. My bp was super low ,like 80 over 40 ,temp was high. So they did not remove my I.v. Oxygen or catheter.  I was pretty depressed and weepy.i was wishing that my spouse had sent me some flowers.

 Sunday :
was pretty much a repeat.tried to watch t.v. But my eyes were all blurry. Could not bear to do anything really . Vomited a few time, had my vitals taken and was gotten up to walk down the hall. Walking was ok, except for the dizzy ,nauseous feeling. They wanted to wean me off the pain pump but the nurse was too busy to deal with me ,so she said "oh,you don't want to try that while you're so nauseated, do you? "
Uh, whatever. I wanted that oxygen out of my dried out ,bloody nose. I wanted the painful ,giant I.v. needle out of my arm and the catheter out!
  they finally came a gave me a new I.v ,with a smaller needle. And took the catheter out. I was relieved that I was able to pee and wipe off my dirty cootch. the pt guy also came by and showed me how walk up some stairs (as I would need to walk up 34 of them to get into my house)

First thing in the  morning, they brought me breakfast ,I could not even look at it. I asked for 2 cups of coffee from my CNA. I was finally off the oxygen.and scheduled to go home that day.they still had to order my walker and elevated toilet seat. I got up and washed my face ,brushed my teeth and found the clothes I had worn to the hospital,dressed myself and waited . my hubby showed up ,all in a big hurry and rushed everyone to do whatever they had to do ,to speed up and let me out of there.

      they brought me down to the car in a wheelchair . the ride home was pretty painful .getting from the car up to the house was not as bad as I had anticipated. naturally, went right to bed when I got home. hubby had to go out for some business thing and returned at almost 10 p.m.

     Some things no one told me :

   You will be extremely itchy!  Not sure if it's the anesthesia or what .I was scratching my arms ,face,chest for a week. Bring some anti itch lotion with you to hospital.

 just because you are ok'd for a regular diet ,does not mean you'll be able to eat it. my throat was so dry ,I could barely swallow food. I was nauseous as hell and herb filled food ,only made it worse. ASK ahead of time for a soft ,Bland diet. They served me food like roast chicken and rice, herb quiche, and beef tips. Needless to say, I did not eat for 3 days.Even after I was home ,I could still only stomach things like oatmeal, scrambled eggs and toast.

my vital signs were extremely low and I also got a fever and vomiting.
 due to any one or ALL of these ,I was kept on an I.v. ,oxygen and a catheter.

No one told me that the oxygen will totally dry out your nostrils and sinuses. hello Bloody nose! They hooked up a humidifier , but by then the damage was done. ASK for one immediately if they keep you on the oxygen.

I think they left the catheter in because it would have been too much trouble for them to have to get me up to pee, with my tangle of tubes as they kept pumping me full of more and more fluid.

Not sure what the cause was, but my eyesight worsened. I could barely even see the TV.

  The nurses are too busy to bother with you. They will be there, constantly taking your vital signs and giving you meds ect... Other than that ,you're pretty much on your own.

Stuff I brought and never used :

Robe ..I had a huge tangle of tubes most of the time and never used the robe

Slippers…every time someone came and made me get up , they slapped those blue hospital socks on me OR they were STILL on from a previous time.

Clothes…I was admitted for Surgery on Friday. Discharged Monday. During the entire time not ONCE did any one help me to clean up OR change clothes. Wore the same gown the entire time and before I left ,all my clothes were in the closet ,behind a heavy chair . I dressed myself in the same clothes I wore on arrival day. and had hubby put clean socks on me ,and my shoes when he got there.

Stuff I brought and did use :

Brought my phone and iPad. Was not really ever in a pain free enough position to use the iPad. I did use the phone to check my email .Also LEFT my ef'n charger at the hospital.Could not reach the room phone OR the outlet to use the charger .

My own toothbrush and tooth paste. Remember to use this while they have you up ,otherwise …you will not be brushing your teeth.

Hair elastic : I did use this to wad my hair up out of my eyes., sort of a hideous unicorn ponytail right up front.

 I brought a comb , but having my hair stay combed while sweating, thrashing around in agony and sleeping was a ludicrous idea.

Some comfortable underwear. I had these on the second they removed my catheter.

I brought makeup …Bwa ha ha ha !!! Trust me , just leave that shit at home. Yesterday was day 8 , I finally put on some mascara.

Stuff I should have brought:

Some Vaseline or something for my dry nostrils

Anti itch lotion

 Face cleansing wipes

My own sweetener ,for coffee

A hair turban or some tight French braids.

To be continued ..........


  1. O Retta ...I wish you had talked to me first ...ive been there done that twice and dont wish it on my worse enemy! My second surgery I didnt even get the pain pump and was released for home in less than 24 feel like you want to patient and cautious its a long road to recovery,if you have any questions message me, my thoughts and prayers are with you

    1. what surgeries did you have Angie? My doctor told me he would never do this surgery and send someone home the same day.

  2. What ever happened to your kitty with the tumor ? My husband had the same surgery in June, although his nursing care was much better and they had him on an oral pain killer which made him totally out of it but really took care of the pain. He went straight to an inpatient rehab and an intermediate care unit and then home the end of July. He still has some pain in his thigh but the back pain is totally gone - he is in outpatient rehab now. He had a back brace he had to start wearing just before the surgery and just stopped a couple weeks ago. His back feels a little odd sometimes but that's because the brace was so firm and provided such good support to his back while it healed. It was a hard time but well worth it for the pain relief.

    1. Glad your husband had a good outcome. My poor little cat made it home to America ,had exploratory surgery and the cancer was spread all throughout his abdomen. He died. He will be forever missed .