3 weeks post op

I’m starting to recognize that this recovery is a whole lot of ups and downs – 2 steps forward one step back.  Although, I also recognize that I am constantly  making small adjustments to what I’m doing.  While I do mostly have good days, it is the overnights that prove the biggest challenge.

First off…overnight I’m in one of two positions in bed – flat on my back with pillows under my knees  – or on my right side with knees bent, pillows between my knees and feet, and a pillow behind by back.  When I’m on my back, it’s pretty easy to keep the ice pack right where it needs to be, but after a couple hours the ice pack is no longer ice – it’s body temp.  When I’m on my side, the pillow behind my back is both for a bit of support – but also to hold the ice pack in place.  It’s the best I can do, but not the most effective for keeping the ice in place.  And of course, again it’s the melting factor.  So I’m also up several times a night.  I get stiff and uncomfortable no matter the position after a bit – and inevitably the cat wants to sleep on my feet or something which doesn’t help matters at all.  So I get up and pace the hallway to loosen up the muscles – stop at the bathroom since I’m up – pace some more – get a fresh ice pack, and back to bed.  I’m blaming it mostly on back surgery – but a 15 year old cheap mattress doesn’t help the situation I’m sure.

Inflammation is still an ongoing management issue as well.  During the day I walk quite a bit – which helps to keep the blood flowing and reduce the inflammation – or encourage it to dissipate anyway.  I do a lot of walking to the mail box and back – a couple walks in the morning, a couple in the afternoon, and one in the evening as it’s getting dark out.  If I’m in town at the winery, I take a longer walk around town every 2-3 hours.  My fitness app says I’m getting between 4500-8500 steps a day depending on what I do.  My surgeon wants at least 5000 right now.  I’m also supposed to ice my back frequently and for at least 20 minutes each time.  I try and be good about sitting down every hour or two to ice.  It’s actually a good pain management strategy too, as it decreases inflammation and increases blood flow.

My surgeon wanted me to wean off the back brace so that my muscles will gain strength.  I’m mostly off of it now – although I have been wearing it when I drive “just in case”.  It gives me just a bit of extra support as I gain confidence and get more comfortable with how to get in and out of vehicles without straining muscles or twisting my spine the wrong way.

My surgeon also has me weaning off the pain pills.  I’ve managed to reduce them to half doses every 6 hours (down from full doses every 4 hours) – which conveniently coincides with the 6 hours between muscle relaxers and the 6 hours between doses of OTC Tylenol.  I’m feeling pretty good at this level, and may start dropping the daytime doses and see how that goes.   I’m still only 3 weeks post op from major surgery – and the phrase my surgeon used was “First, you need to rest, Second you need to Ice, Third you need to walk, Fourth you need to do-but not overdo. Listen to your back.”  Seems like solid advice to me, and as I’ve said before, he has a great success rate with his surgeries.

Healing takes time and work….and rest.  But I do feel like I’m doing so much better, able to do most things around the house, and concentrate enough to do some telecommuting and help out with other projects for the winery and a few church deacon things too.  I’m trying to stay positive and be a good patient who follows directions!

Day One and The Start of Day Two

Checked into the hospital at 7:15 yesterday morning.  Filled out all the paperwork and back to the pre-op area.  Changed into the hospital gown, donned the lovely compression socks and the fleecy warm socks. They took two samples for blood typing, and started the iv in my right hand.  Bp cuffs, calves wrapped up in variable compression socks to help avoid blood clots.  Some funny commentary from my friends while we waited.

When it came time to take me back, we prayed and then off I went to the OR.  I obviously don’t remember anything that happened in the OR…before I woke up in recovery.  They had me on a morphine pain pump that I could push a dose every 8 minutes.

I munched on ice chips, and a glass of apple juice.  I ordered my dinner – chicken marsala, roasted asparagus, smashed red potatoes, and  love green salad. Then the fun started…

My equilibrium was off so I got both a walker and a gait belt to keep me from toppling.  A bit lightheaded, but I did go out and walk, then transferred back into bed.  Once i got back into bed, I could hit the pain button and got comfortable.  After I ate my yummy dinner, they gave me a muscle relaxer. and that really seemed to help.  Somewhere around midnight they switched out the morphine and we started on Percocet.  and I went on another walk down the hallway.  A bit more stable that time. I was able to get a couple hour stretches of sleep so that helped.

This morning – Day 2

5 am walk down the hallway…doc popped in to see how I was doing, I ordered breakfast, and they took my catheter out. Shift change this morning, and then my breakfast came in.  French Toast, sausage and a fruit bowl…but physical therapy came at the same so out of bed and down the hall again.  A pit stop to go pee, and then breakfast. Back in bed now as it is the most comfortable place to be.  Fairly reclined and able to stay fairly comfortable.  My pain is well managed today and I got to brush my teeth!! its the simple things.

Today I’m supposed to get up and walk a little every couple of hours – building my strength.  The plan is for me to spend one more night – to ensure I can rest and build up more strength and then discharged Wednesday.

So that is generally how I’m doing. Thank you for the continued prayers.

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Checking things off the List

I am a list maker and find it very gratifying to check things off as I have them completed.  Inevitably, I also add to my list on a regular basis, so it is much like a revolving door with 1 thing checked off, 2 things added.

As I’m working down my list of pre-surgery details this week, I’m also trying to find peace about this whole process.  As you can imagine, I’ve had many conversations and have relayed information to friends and family repeatedly.  I’ve shared which hospital I’ll be at, who my doctor is, what procedure they are planning, how many nights I’m expected to be in the hospital, and what the outline of my recovery should look like.  I’ve received plenty of opinions both for and against surgery in general, the doctor I’m working with, and all the miracle remedies that people have used to relieve their own back pain – the have you considered…. statements are well intention-ed, but after a while, they do become rather draining, I must admit.

I’m firm in my decision that this is the right step.  I’m confident in my doctor and the hospital.  I know I’ll have a tough couple of weeks immediately after surgery, and I know I won’t be fully healed for many months – but this is still the right choice in my mind.  So I’m just continuing on with my list.

  • Ride to and from the hospital – check
  • Pre-op Labs and EKG – check
  • Cook and freeze – ongoing
  • Laundry – ongoing
  • Shower Chair – check
  • Ice packs – check
  • Make a batch of lotion – check
  • Set up computer for remote access (telecommuting) – check
  • Shove 6 weeks worth of work into 2 weeks for my job – ongoing, but closer every day
  • General cleaning and recognizing trip hazards in the house – ongoing
  • Clearing off the nightstand except for bare essentials – check
  • Pre-pack and packing list – ongoing
  • File nails short and trim toenails – check
  • Remove toenail polish – Saturday
  • Haircut – check
  • Clean makeup brushes – check
  • Dig out gram’s grabber tool and adjustable hiking cane – check

 

I’m sure as the next few days tick by, I’ll be adding more things to the list.  Still waiting for the nurse to call me for the pre-op call to set the time for my procedure NEXT WEEK!!!

In the meantime, I’m spending my devotional time in study for the reassurance that God’s got this, and his plan is perfect, no matter the earthly outcome.

No matter what happens, always be thankful, for this is God’s will for you who belong to Christ Jesus  ~ 1 Thessalonians 5:18

Have a blessed day, friends!