Monday, 4 April 2011

Of hospitals and recovery *WARNING*

Here is a picture warning. They aren't very graphic but I am putting up pictures of my surgical scar and the tubes in my arm etc. I don't know how to put up a picture blind so if you don't want to see them then please don't read on.

Hospital tag on my wrist

The procedure that had to be done was called a microdiscectomy. Which basically means removing part/all of a disc that is for some reason putting pressure on one's spinal cord or nerves. For me it was a badly herniated disc that was pushing my spinal cord right out of place and putting pressure on the nerve that runs on the outside of my right leg. This caused pain and numbness down my right leg and on my right hip along with some back pain. Usually with a herniated disc they have you try other things first (physiotherapy, anti-inflamitories, hydrotherapy, etc.) but mine was so bad that they wanted to get it right away rather than risk further (or permanent) nerve damage.

It was scary to be told that they need to open up my spine and take out a huge chunk of disc :( especially because at this point they had given me some meds that made me a bit off the wall to begin with. There was the risk that something could go horribly wrong and I could lose the use of my legs, but the surgeon was very good in explaining that he has done this, and many more complicated procedures, often before and had never had a problem like that, and they put me into surgery pretty quickly so I didn't really have much time to think about it (not that there was a choice). I did think about running out of the hospital at one point, but by that time I had been readied for surgery, so I couldn't have even if I wanted to.

After that I was taken up to a little room, and waited about an hour for them to get ready and finish up another emergency situation. Then I was wheeled into the operating theatre, given and injection, told I might be lightheaded and directly passed out. There was no 'ok, now take a deep breath and count to three' I was just out! Fine with me :). I woke up in recovery where they were putting on teds (sort of knee high sock-tights) and these straps on my legs that inflated and help with circulation. I talked to the nurses (I think they were nurses) a bit asking what the teds and the straps were (I was pretty out of it) and took some panadol (it's an over the counter pain med). Then I was out again. I woke up later on when I was in the ward where a very nice nurse had to take my vitals every half hour. It wasn't too bad though since I would fall asleep right after again. I think after that I woke up around 7:30 am on the 31st when they were giving out breakfast.

Later on Bran visited and brought me coffee and cookies :)

yummy cookies

They were yummy, although I didn't eat many as I wasn't very hungry while there. Later on Sarah (MiL) brought me some timtams (Bran stole those), mini-snickers(I'm still snacking on these), and flowers. 

Flowers from Sarah

I was able to walk with a walker when the physiotherapist visited, but the doctor wouldn't send me home yet. Nor would they take out the catheter! Gods, the catheter! Worst feeling ever. That was more painful than my back, or my legs, or anything really. I just wanted it out!

Guh, i'm sure none of you want to hear about this, but it really was the worst bit about being in the hospital. For anyone who doesn't know, the type of catheter i'm talking about is the one that goes up your urethra and into your bladder to continuously drain the urine. There isn't a choice in the matter, it drains it. How it works is there is a little tube that they put up there, and a small balloon that they fill with saline so it wont come out. It was extremely irritating to my urethra and all the areas around it, and to my bladder which was not so happy to have a tube and little balloon in there. And since people were poking my legs all the time to check on the numbness it was accidentally tugged. A LOT! I know they were trying to be careful of it, but it was just awful! I was so thankful when they finally took it out on the second day. 

I was also having odd readings on my heart when they were taking vitals. One of the doctors had me hooked up to a heart monitor dealy for a bit, but apparently everything was normal as I never heard back from them. 

hospital picture

Which leads me to day two of the hospital stay. 

The physiotherapists visited me pretty early on, and I was able to get up on my own (log rolling FTW) I used the walker for a little bit, but could walk without it easily. They took me to their gym to make sure I could do stairs and pretty much said I was fine to go home. They gave me a sheet of stretches and exercises to do and said I should visit a physio once or twice after a few weeks just to make sure i'm doing alright. They were so nice and helpful :) I was very happy with them. 

It took a long time for the doctor to come and visit. It wouldn't have been that big of a deal but I was pretty much right to go home, and they couldn't take the catheter out without the doctors permission >.<! I also had to wait to get the tubes out of my arms. I had one in the crook of my arm that was put in place pre-surgery and another that was put in my wrist during. They had to add the second one because I was laying on my stomach for the surgery and needed one they could access. 

tube in my wrist (and breakfast in the back round)

But the doctor did eventually visit (he had like, 116 patients so I understand, but it was still bothersome :( ). He got to me at about 3 pm and said I was basically good to go. Then left. I bet the nurses were so happy he finally came as I had been harassing them all day about seeing him >.> they were thankfully very understanding. Once the catheter came out, I got dressed in my own clothes and waited to get the release papers. Once I got those at about 4:30 pm, Sarah (MiL) came and helped me get meds, and a cab, and I was homeward bound!

I was SO thankful to be home. Bran has been wonderful through all of this <3. I think I had some tofu and pretty much went to bed. I don't remember much after getting home.

On saturday, sunday and today I pretty much did little walks around the house, got Bran to mostly cook and clean up for me, and rested (I've watched a lot of stuff on the laptop). I'm not allowed to lift things that are heavier that a few kilos (so, like nothing heavier than 5 pounds). I can bend over, but need to be careful. Mostly I just have a stiff back and my foot and part of my leg are still numb. And I get tired easily. I also had Bran take a pic of my staples and scar so I could actually see how big it was (and thus stop poking it blindly).

Scar on back, maybe 3" long

So beyond that i'm worried about potentially permanent nerve damage for my foot/leg, but so so thankful that it all went well and that there isn't any more damage. We were able to get it relatively straight away, so i'm hopeful that everything will heal up within a month :).

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