Well, folks I was hoping that today would be my I’m headed home post! But…nope. I’m still here. In the recliner. In the living room. Staring at the same 7 plants in the window. I digress… let’s recap –
Monday, August 13th I went in for back surgery. I had a lumbar lamenectomy and decompression with multi-level fusion of L4-L5 and L5-S1. Pre-op I had daily spine pain, and pinched sciatic nerve pain primarily on my right side, through my hip and butt, down the outside of my leg and into my toes. Left side the pain was primarily in my hip and butt.
Day 1 and 2 I was pretty well controlled with pain and was up and walking several times, and fitted with a back brace and taught a few tricks by physical therapy. By the end of day 2 I didn’t need the walker except for getting up and down out of bed.
Day 3 brought some of the sciatic pain back, but I was managing alright. I was able to get up independently and walk independently without a walker up and down the hallway. I had a shower and was discharged. As the evening wore on, the sciatic cramping became worse – and I thought it was just the day 3 nasties. I needed much more assistance to get up and down and the cramping spread through both hips and buttocks and into the legs.
Day 4 I tried to be as mobile as I could, but I was recognizing a pattern – it was in the last 2 hours as the muscle relaxer wore off that things were the worst – because it was also the downswing time from the pain pills. Muscle relaxers every 6 hours, pain pills every 4 hours….there are 2 time slots in there when I caught them both at the same 2 hours waiting for a dose. I was only getting up every 4 hours or so to go pee, and switching the ice at that time. The muscles in my butt were cramping and pain would shoot down my legs. Add to this the painful muscles in my back from the surgery and getting up or down was very painful as the nerves were firing all crazy. Laying still felt best because I wasn’t asking my muscles to move…therefore they wouldn’t cramp. At least that was my logic.
Day 5 I called my doctors office. The cramping was so severe I was having trouble getting myself up even with the walker. I felt like I was moving backwards and not forwards with my healing. They called in a prescription for some oral steroids to start that afternoon, and they also said to ice EVERY hour….and get up and walk every 2 hours. Ice and walking would help the inflammation and the steroids would also help to keep the nerves calmed down, but the biggest thing is ICE and MOVE. And so…up and down, round and round, switch out the ice is how my day played out. I sent my nursing crew out with my picky patient shopping list and my debit card…they came back with salad fixings, berries, munching veggies, and oral steroids. They rock! I also managed another shower – leaving my dignity in the living room for the process. But clean hair, teeth, and clothes is a blessing Ill not pass up.
So today is Saturday and it’s Day 6 post op. I managed two 4 hour stretches of sleep last night. That was a win for sleep, and a moderate fail for icing. But I did get up to pee and walk a couple laps, take whatever pills were required by the alarms (pain, muscle relaxers, steroids), and get fresh ice. I’ve been up basically every 2 hours since then switching out my ice, going pee, walking laps. And most of my ups and downs are without assistance beyond the walker nurse grandma next door happened to have. It’s a lovely cruiser model, burgandy color with spinny wheels and brakes….and a seat…and a storage basket. Quite handy for transporting water bottles, ice packs, dirty dishes, etc. I don’t really need it for the walking part – I’m steady on my feet – but I’ve noticed if I use it…my nursing crew doesn’t feel like they have to shadow me a half step behind to make sure I don’t fall. So I’m being a good patient and using my walker and attempting to fend for myself as much as possible today.
The cramping has greatly subsided since starting the steroids, and the icing feels good. Little by little my strength in my legs will improve which will help with my up and down transitions and independence. My goal today is to get up every two hours to move and switch out the ice, and to work on eating good healthy (aka picky patient stuff) foods throughout the day, and continue to build strength – with no more set backs.
After my shower last night, this verse has been running through my mind.
Thank you to everyone who continues with support through prayer, texts, emails, and Facebook messages. I am told our cell service is finally restored, so give me a call if have time for a visit.
Blessings, Heidi xoxo