It’s been just over a week since I had my back surgery. I figured that while I still don’t have any other “updates” to give, I might as well keep track of how my recovery is going. Kind of like when I’m training for a marathon and I want to be able to look back and see how much and if I’ve made any progress.
Full disclosure: if I had written this post 24 hours ago it would have a very different tone. I was pretty low. But I’ll get to that.
My surgery was scheduled for 2:20pm last Monday. That was a struggle. For anyone that is contemplating any kind of surgery that can be scheduled, my first piece of advice is to try to have it first thing in the morning. I was required to start fasting at midnight the night before. That meant that I had to go 14.5 hours without eating OR DRINKING anything. While breastfeeding a six-month-old. This was hard. I always get super thirsty after feeding GT in the morning. I had to keep myself busy and distracted or I might have mindlessly started to munch on something or drain my water bottle. Luckily I didn’t have to sit around waiting since we had GT’s six month check up.
We packed up and headed to the pediatrician’s office for the 10 o’clock appointment. It was actually really nice to be able to ask his doctor about the anesthesia and its affect on my ability to nurse, as well as the safety of taking pain meds post surgery. She reassured me that most pain medicine is perfectly safe to take while breastfeeding.
After the appointment I double checked my overnight bag, grabbed my MRI films, and headed to the hospital with my dad.
I wish I could put in to words how amazing my experience was at the hospital. Everyone from the volunteer that checked me to the pre-op nurse, anesthesiologist, OR nurse…they were all so gracious and compassionate. I was taken back to the pre-op area and changed into the paper gown and footies with the grip strips on the bottom. My nurse came in and went through all the questions that they have to ask: name, birthday, what procedure, etc. She did such a thorough job, I immediately felt at ease. She also offered to give me a shot of lidocaine before she put in the IV to help keep me comfortable. So, my second piece of advice for people getting ready for surgery is to ask for the numbing shot! It was a great decision. I HATE needles and the only other time I’ve had an IV was for my C-Section. I didn’t even know she was done!
After that the other various people paraded in and out asking the questions that they needed to. Just before they gave me the sedative, I was able to pump one last time. The last thing that I remember is handing my pump to my dad and saying that I’d see him on the flip side. Then she gave me the sedative and the next thing I knew I was waking up in the post-op area.
That part is pretty fuzzy. I remember my doctor stopping by briefly even though I don’t really remember what he said. A friend who is a CRNA at that hospital stopped by to say hi. Then they wheeled me into a recovery room. They had decided that the procedure had gone smoothly enough that they would not be keeping me overnight.
I kept breathing deeply and started to feel more “with it” within 40 minutes or so. I asked to put my contacts back in and immediately started to feel more stable once I could see things clearly. I was pretty shocked at how good I felt. It wasn’t long before the nurse suggested that I get up and try walking. I swung my legs off the bed and pushed myself up. I can’t really explain how my legs felt other than saying they felt robotic. It didn’t feel smooth. I also felt like I was having to think a lot more about moving them than I usually do. There was some tingling. I did notice right away that my leg, which had been in pain for 6 months, didn’t have any of that nerve pain.
By 7:00 dad was heading out to get the car and I was being wheeled downstairs. Crazy, right? 2:20 I was asleep on an operating table, and by 7:00 I was on my way home. Modern medicine, huh?
I felt pretty great that first night.
The next day my leg continued to be pain free, though my incision was quite painful. I faithfully took my pain meds and got up to walk around a few times.
By Wednesday, I was feeling good enough that I logged into work and caught up on emails and worked on setting up meetings and other simple things. I thought that I was starting to feel some familiar twinges in my leg every now and then, but was just calling them phantom pains. I figured that it was just my imagination playing tricks on me.
On Thursday, I started reducing my pain meds because I was feeling like I didn’t really need it.
Friday morning, the nerve pain in my leg was undeniable. It was less than before the surgery…but it was really disheartening to feel like the pain was coming back.
Saturday morning, I went to church and immediately regretted that decision. My leg was hurting and I knew that I would be bombarded with a million questions. It was really hard to admit to people that I was still in pain and that it seemed like the surgery didn’t work. I tried to stay positive and said things like, “It’s feeling good, not great,” and, “we’ll have to wait and see,” and, “still a long way to go…” I was feeling completely discouraged. We got home and I went straight to bed. Well, I took some pain medicine and went straight to bed. It didn’t help that I just wanted to hug and snuggle my little dude and couldn’t.
Sunday I decided that I was going to take it as easy as possible. We went to the farmer’s market and hung around the house most of the day. I recommitted to taking my pain meds on a regular schedule to try to stay ahead of the pain.
Monday there was a little more activity. Mr. Dawn joined some friend in their celebration of Labor Day and my mom kept me and GT company. I was feeling slightly better but was still acutely aware of the nerve pain in my leg.
This morning, I feel like I’ve finally turned a corner! [someone be sure to remind me of this the next time I'm freaking out about the surgery not working, mmk?] I woke up and before I took my morning pills already noticed a huge difference in my leg pain. It’s still there, but it’s very minimal. It makes me feel like the nerves are starting to sort everything out. I understand that nerves don’t bounce back the same way muscles do, so I know we have a ways to go still. But I am feeling so encouraged by the change today. I still took my medicine on schedule, but I noticed that I wasn’t counting down until it was time for the next one like I had been doing all weekend.
If you don’t want to see my incision, I encourage you to stop reading now!
Here is my incision a week ago compared to today, looking much better!
And, just cause he’s the cutest thing in the whole world