Thursday, September 4, 2008

Back Surgery Part II

This is part two to my back surgery (you can read part one ­here). I apologize in advance that this will probably be a long blog.

The decision to have back surgery was the hardest decision of my life. If you ask me if I'm happy with the decision I've made I honestly can't give you a straight answer. Why you ask? Well I still have back pain pretty much all of the time and I can't for the life of me remember what my back used to feel like. I don't remember what it is like to have a normal (well not really normal, but normal to me I guess) back. I don't think I'll be able to explain to you what it feels like after the surgery, but I will try. I can tell you though that I think that the pain before my surgery was worse than what I experience now. But I just can't say for sure.

I wish I had an x-ray of my spine from before the surgery but I can't find one. Just image a spine with a 49º curve to the right side. Yes, 49º. That is quite a curve. This picture will give you an idea:
My curve was similar to this but quite a bit bigger and located up a little higher. And if you notice that her shoulders are not level I have that same thing going on but for some odd reason it's opposite, my left shoulder is higher. Anyway, now that you understand my situation before the surgery, here's how it all went down.

My surgery was scheduled for Monday morning, and I had to be at the UC Davis Hospital in Sacramento bright and early at 6:00 am. Since Sacramento is two hours from my house my family, my best friend Tonya and I all got some hotel rooms and stayed across Sunday night. I'll never forget how upset I was that I couldn't eat or drink anything the night before when Tonya, my brother Troy and I found our way to a Mexican restaurant. Anyways, I'm over it now.

We got to the hospital Monday morning and I was a little nervous (looking back now I really should have been more nervous than I was). We were told that the surgery was going to take about 6 hours. They had me go back to the prep room where I get in a bed and wait for the anesthesiologist to come in. It wasn't a private room which I thought was odd, there were several other patients in there. I mostly remember an old guy in a bed near me that had had a heart attack and I assume he was going to have heart surgery that morning. They left me laying in that bed alone (well, with strangers in the room, but that doesn't count) and I was SO scared! Finally after what seemed like hours but was probably about 20 minutes the anesthesiologist came in and gave me a pill to help with my anxiety (I don't remember what it was though) and he explained some things to me (again I don't remember what though). I vaguely remember being wheeled down the hallway but that's it, I don't remember the operating room.

The first thing I remember after the surgery was being wheeled down the hallway towards the recovery room and looking up from the bed as it was going down the hallway and telling my doctor that I was laying on rocks. This is basically how the conversation went;

Drugged up Kory:"I'm laying on rocks."

Doctor:"No, you're not. You're fine."

Uncomfortable drugged up Kory:"Yes, seriously! I'm laying on rocks and it really hurts!"

Doctor:"It's from your surgery, it's normal. You're NOT laying on rocks."

Angry, uncomfortable drugged up Kory:"Listen to me! THERE ARE ROCKS UNDER MY BACK!"

I remember being so mad at that doctor because he didn't care that I was in such pain. It honestly felt like I was laying on a boulder! Do you want to know why it felt like that? Here's why:

Yep, that's my spine. There are two 12" titanium rods, 13 clips, 7 screws and 4 three inch long bolts all attached to my spine. Aside from all of that in my back I was also laying on drainage tubs and containers to catch the leakage. It's no wonder why I thought I was laying on boulders!

During the surgery, which actually took close to 8 hours, they straightened my back the best they could (there's still a curve if you look closely) then they removed bone from my right hip and fused it to my spine. The rods, clips and screws are there to make sure that my spine stays in the position they put it in. I was told that it takes 6-12 months for the spine to fully fuse so technically the hardware in my back is no longer of use. *I have thought about getting the hardware removed but I doubt that will happen*

The next thing I remember was like a dream. I was in the recovery room and I slightly opened my eyes and saw my mom walking towards me. She was talking to me but I couldn't hear what she was saying. I closed my eyes. I opened my eyes again and she was sitting next to the bed and still talking to me but again, I couldn't understand her. I closed my eyes. I opened my eyes again and she was gone. I closed my eyes. The next time I opened my eyes I saw my dad walking in front of my bed holding a stuffed animal that appeared to be a mouse. I'm sure you can tell from the picture below that it was clearly not a mouse. Drugs do weird things to you, I remember seeing whiskers on this thing I swear......

I also remember thinking that was very weird because you don't see mice as stuffed animals very often. My dad was also talking to me and I could make out him saying "I brought you something" but that was it. I closed my eyes again and the next time I opened them I was in my hospital room.

I spent the next 7 days in my room, which I shared with an elderly lady. Luckily I was next to the window. That was the longest week of my life. Yes I had a lot of family and friends visiting, but because the hospital was about 2 hours away from where everyone lived I spent a lot of time by myself.

I was in so much pain too. Luckily I had my morphine button for the first few days though, that helped. The only thing I wanted to do was sleep but that was impossible because the nurses had to come in every 30 minutes and check my drainage tubes and turn me (because I couldn't move by myself at all). On Wednesday, two days after the surgery, the doctor wanted me to get up and walk (I had a catheter so I had not even sat up in my bed until this point). I just thought that man was CRAZY if he thought I was going to get up and walk just two days after major back surgery. But he gave me a walker and I got up and walked. Oh man was it funny to be 23 years old and using a walker to walk past an 80 year old lady in the bed next to you.

The next day he had me walk down the hall with a cane. Then later that day a couple of doctors came in and fit me for a brace that I would be spending the next three months of my life in.

I continued to impress the doctors with how well I was doing. Saturday the doctor said that I would be able to go home the next day. I was so happy. On Sunday I was sent home with the following items:

*A cane (which my brother still has to this day. He calls it his pimp cane)
*A custom made back brace (which I got to sport around for 3 months)
*Drugs (well a prescription for lots of Vicodin)
*A bill for over $215,000 (not technically, but it did cost well over that. Luckily I had great insurance)

That was pretty much the scariest week of my life and I would have never guessed that it would have changed me so much. I think I'll stop this blog here write about my life after back surgery with some interesting facts about me in a blog some other day.



Kaci said...

Yikes!! I don't think I ever heard this whole story since I had Elly when you had surgery! LOL! :) XOXO

Marlene said...

Keep up the good work.