The Operation

OK. It’s been almost three weeks since the procedure, so I guess I’d better do some experience relating before I forget the details, or even that it happened. We old people forget a lot.

Arrived at the hospital bright and early as requested. A pleasant young nurse did the checking in, recording all my vitals, making note of all my conditions (macular degeneration, bulging disc in my neck, recurring lymphedema, etc), being all cheerful (because her shift was about over).

I was shown to what would be my room for the next 28 hours, a comfy little private room with the requisite flat screen TV and patient-operated bed. I changed into the stylish gown, slippers and head covering, slipped into bed, and, after suffering an IV needle insertion into the back of my hand, found myself being wheeled into the staging area near the operating rooms.

The gas passing team came in to hook up a bag of the good stuff into my IV, and reaffirm my medical history as I’d related to the earlier pleasant young nurse. I remembered something that I’d forgotten to mention to her: my acid reflux. I never think about it when it’s not bothering me, but when the anesthesiologist mentioned they’d be putting a tube down my throat, I thought back to my first lipotripsy. When it was over, my doctor told me I should have mentioned my reflux, because there was a problem when they started to put a tube down my throat. I mentioned this to my present gas guy, who made a note of it.

A few more folks wandered in and out, “I’ll be assisting the doctor”, “I’ll be with you in the recovery room,” etc., until the pre-ani made me nod off.

The next thing I was aware of was coming to in the recovery room. I was still a little groggy when the doctor stopped by. He informed me that, instead of the simple little discectomy I was expecting, he performed a discectomy on L4-L5, a discectomy on L3-L4, a laminectomy on L4-L5, a laminectomy on L3-L4, and inserted a spacer so hopefully there will be no reoccurrence of my problem. I said, “‘Kay.” He said I was allowed two activities: laying down and walking. Maybe short car rides if necessary.

I became aware of a little discomfort in the groinal area. The nurse attending me said they’d inserted a catheter into my bladder to aid in drainage. I remember asking how long it was going to stay in, because I found it to be very uncomfortable. She told me it might be an hour, it  might be a few hours, it might stay in all night. I said, “‘Kay. It’s just uncomfortable.”  A short time later she reappeared, saying “Good news! The catheter can come out now.” With that, she pushed down on about where my bladder is as she removed the catheter.

Given the choice again, I might consider leaving it in. For the next several days, I felt like like urinating constantly. When I was ensconced in my bed, I was handed a plastic urinal, which I had to maneuver into position between my legs whenever I felt the need, and I pretty much always felt the need, since they were pumping fluids into my body via the IV on a consistent basis. I was not allowed out of bed for a few hours, so I was ringing for the nurse pretty often to empty my jug.

Later in the afternoon, I was given my first taste of food in almost 15 hours, the Clear Plate: apple juice, broth, lime Jello, and tea. Yay.

I spent a literal sleepless night, with only two incidents worth mentioning:

I have already mentioned my constant urge to urinate, and the plastic jug I was using as a receptacle. At one point during the night, I felt the urge come upon me very strongly. I grabbed the jug, which had a goodly amount of previous urges splashing about. I positioned it quickly and opened the lid; but in my haste I held it at an awkward angle, and ended up dumping a cup or two of urine on myself. I’m sure the nursing staff has seen much worse, but it was embarrassing nonetheless.

The second incident was less embarrassing, but more frustrating. The apple juice gave me heartburn. Lots of it. I summoned the nurse and told her the apple juice had kick started my acid reflux, and could I get a Tums or something. She left and returned momentarily with bad news: during my initial check-in, I didn’t mention my reflux to the pleasant young nurse who took my medical info, therefore my approved meds did not include an antacid of any sort. And they couldn’t give me any until they checked with the doctor, whenever they could get in touch with him the next morning.

Hence the sleepless night: the constant urge to urinate coupled with my raging heartburn was not relaxing enough for me to get any shuteye.

When morning had finally broken, my appetite would only allow me some tea and half a piece of toast. By this time, the doctor had responded with an antacid appropriate to my particular condition, and I was told I could leave any time after breakfast.

I called my ride, changed out of my stylish gown into my sweats, and, after receiving some last minute do’s-and-don’t’s, headed back out into the world.

Coming next: Convalescence.

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