Thoughts 10 days after surgery

I'm finally able to get up and down with reasonable ease. By up and down, I mean standing/sitting in a chair/the bed/the toilet. I still cannot bend forward hardly at all, so don't ask me to pick up something off the floor. I have to do a deep squat, and unless I have something really sturdy to hold on to, it's pretty painful.

I can also lean back against a pillow and sit in the car for a bit - putting pressure on the incision.

For about 8 weeks pre-surgery, I was taking an antidepressant that had a side effect of helping with nerve pain. For me, it was to reduce the pain with a side effect of mood-boosting. I weaned off those and am now totally drug-free. It's so nice to be able to leave the house without carrying a mini pharmacy in my purse.

I am sort of freaking out the past two days because my right leg has been having these weird sensations. They are not painful, but just sort of tingling/numbing type feelings. The first night this happened, I didn't sleep thinking that my disk has re-bulged already and OMG I cannot go through this again. My family cannot go through this again. I just want to be able to play with my son and be a real parent instead of a half parent who has hardly ever been left alone with her child because she can't pick him up.

I've been reading online that some people have this sort of thing after surgery, or even have phantom pains as the nerves heal. I've also heard that it could just be in my head - the pain doctor told me about a condition where people are in pain for so long that they convince themselves that they are still in pain. I'm really hoping this is just the nerves healing.

As a side note - the bruise on my hand from the IV I had overnight after surgery is still purple and green. Yuck.


What it feels like to need a diskectomy

I want to tell this story in chronological order, but let's back up a bit, shall we? Every time I visit my neurosurgeon's office, they ask me to fill out a "pain scale" document, rating how hard it is to do a list of normal things (like bathing, doing household chores, having a social life, etc) and they always ask if I've had any issues with my bowel or bladder function.

The last post I wrote was Thursday night. I actually worked from home that day after going home from work in so much pain Wednesday that I couldn't even walk across the street to the pharmacy to get more pain meds that my neurosurg called in. The hubs drove to my office Thursday, picked up my laptop so I could work and the pain meds. I probably took 10-12 pills that day. I was averaging about 3-5 for many weeks prior.

Friday morning, I could barely move the pain was so intense. If I tried to stand up, the pain shot down my legs and crumpled me to the ground. Even crawling, my go-to if the pain was bad, was pretty awful. I remember that I did go to the bathroom and made it to the couch somehow. I was attempting to work from my phone, but not doing much. About 10:30, I felt the need to pee, so I crawled to the toilet but could not get anything to come. It was unbelievable pain to sit there, so I thought maybe it was just too painful to pee. I laid down and petted the dog for a bit before trying again. Nothing.

Call the neurosurgeon's office, bawling. Attempt to tell the story.

Not 10 seconds later, the guy calls me back himself. Usually it's his nurse. He says I know this isn't our plan, but I need you to get to the hospital right away. We are going to operate today.

(I found out later that he was actually supposed to leave town, and stayed for me. He even came to see me the next morning to see how I was doing. Talk about patient care. I also found out that if surgery is performed within 24 hours, the bowel/bladder function can usually return to normal.)

The hubs carried me to the car after taking our child to the neighbor. Thank the lord she was home and able to take him! We get there around noon and I have surgery at 2pm. I don't really remember much of that day, but I'm so glad it's over.

The next morning when they took out my catheter, I peed on my own! I was so nervous that I'd have to use a bag, even if temporarily.

I had pain-free legs the night after surgery. The hardest part was learning to stand on them again. It was the strangest sensation to stand up and NOT feel pain. Walking needs improvement too. I'm still leaning a little crooked from doing it for so long. 

I'm happy to say that today (four days later), I only took half of a pain pill, and that was to ride in the car. I will be so glad to never see those things again. 

My scar is a little bigger than it was last time, maybe three inches instead of just one, but I'd do it all again. I'm still really sore back there, and stiff when I first stand up. I can't bend forward or do anything that involves using back muscles. Imagine when you brush your teeth and you lean forward to spit - yeah, I can't do that just yet. I know this will get better as time passes so it doesn't bother me. My biggest issue now is the constipation, but I can save that for a post all it's own. ;)

On the bright side, I'm getting a nice long Christmas break with my boys out of the deal.


Surgery Number Two

In just a few days, I will go under the knife for the second time in my 32 years. I wish I could say I didn't need surgery, but why would someone have surgery if they didn't need it? Oh yeah, they want to look good. At this point in my life, I just want to be normal again and I don't really care if I look good or not.

If you are new here or don't remember the story, read a few of these posts to see why I had surgery the first time and the experience:
9.3.12 The most pain since birth
9.6.12 Surgery set for Monday
9.13.12 Home on drugs
10.22.12 6 weeks post op

The important point is that starting less than six weeks after my first surgery, I was having pain again because the disk that was shaved off had returned to push on my sciatic nerves again. The pain has been on and off for the last year, but in September 2013, I was feeling really good. I hadn't had pain for several weeks and was dedicated to my PT program. I decided to take it to the next level and go for a short run. At that point, I was walking at least 2 miles every night pushing the stroller, so I just jogged for a bit on our walk.

While I was running, I felt my right leg go numb. I know that's bad, so I stopped running immediately but continued our walk. I was slightly stiff, but I didn't have any pain that night. The next morning I woke up with a little pain down my leg. The day after, it hurt a little bit more.

Fast forward three months, and the pain is still increasing daily. I've tried all sorts of things to not have surgery, all the while dealing with this pain. I started seeing a pain management physician, had two steroid injections and have been on all sorts of drugs to try to reduce the pain. One drug did work for about a week, but then my body got used to the drug and the pain came back in full force.

Surgery is scheduled for Tuesday and in my current state, I cannot get out of the bed for more than a few minutes without a ton of pain - and that's WITH the pain medications. Needless to say, I'm really looking forward to Tuesday morning. I've told my husband that I vow to live differently after surgery. For the last two years I have not hardly lifted weights and I think that is a major reason why my back didn't heal correctly the first time. I didn't have the core muscles to support my spine - and I still don't. I'm going to start PT as soon as my physician will allow it and having gone though PT so much this last year, I know a bunch of exercises to do that don't involve a lot of movement.