Post. Op. November 17, 2013

Pre-Op with my buddy.

Pre-Op with my buddy.

So, it finally happened: I had a cervical laminotomy, microdiskectomy and foraminectomy on Wednesday afternoon. I had been hoping hoping to avoid surgery, but after eight weeks of really relentless pain, I was glad to try something that promised the hope of relief. I won’t lie, I was nervous. And emotional. But ready.

We got to the hospital a few hours ahead of the 3:30pm surgery time. I put on my stylin’ hospital gown (very nice design, with a big pocket in the front!) and settled in to wait. I was visited by the neurosurgeon, the anesthesiologist and the OR nurse. Finally they wheeled me into the operating room. The last thing I remember was going through the swinging doors that said OPERATING ROOM on them, and then… nothing.

I woke up and there was a nurse who kept saying, Take another deep breath. Another one. Apparently I had to hang out in recovery for a couple of hours because the breathing thing wasn’t happening to their satisfaction. I had about a minute of “I think I’m going to be sick” but they shot me up with anti-nausea stuff right away and nipped that in the bud, so for the first time I didn’t have terrible vomiting after anesthesia. I was very grateful for this.

Finally they brought me up to my room where Mr. McBody had been waiting for me. I was so happy to see him. And by the time I was awake enough to notice, I realized that the arm/shoulder blade pain that has been torturing me for two months was gone. GONE. AWAY.

I did a lot of sleeping. I managed to get up, with a lot of help from the nurse and Mr. McB, to the bathroom.  The next day (Thursday), the physical therapist came by and stated we were going for a walk around the hall. This sounded very ambitious to me, but lo and behold, holding on to the IV wheel, I did it.

the physical therapist took me on my first walk

the physical therapist took me on my first walk

There was a big board in my room with all of my pertinent information. One thing they do is ask every several hours, What is your goal? (I thought this was kind of amusing). I said my goal was to go home.

Goal: would like to go home.

Goal: would like to go home.

I got home around noon on Thursday. I think I slept most of that day. Friday and Saturday I felt pretty sore in the incision area, which they said was to be expected. Even though my incision was pretty small, it was deep and a lot of stuff had gone on in there. As Mr. McBody is fond of saying, “they really raunched around in there.” He was able to get ahold of my surgery report which I found very interesting.

I had noted that there were these two spots above my ears (on my skull) that were very, very sore and tender. Then I realized that this was because my head was clamped to the table!

The head was secured with the Mayfield head fixation device

Which I suppose was a good and necessary thing. I was taken by how many times the words “careful” and “carefully” were used in the report. Like a dozen. Somehow this made me feel good. I mean, he wouldn’t say “casually” or “messily” but I liked that he made a point of being “careful.”

It became clear that there was a large disk herniation causing marked compression of the ventral nerve root at its exit from the spinal canal… the larger pieces of the herniated disk were mobilized…this resulted in immediate decompression.

Reading this, and talking with the surgeon the next day, made me feel so relieved and also like… so there was a REALLY BIG REASON I have had so much pain. He said that the nerve had basically been strangled and stretched and he was surprised I had been able to go 8 weeks in this condition. I was also so relieved that it was so straightforward – there was a very specific, physical cause for my pain and he fixed it.

So since I’ve been home, I’ve had different pain. The place where the incision happened has been pretty sore, but it mostly bothers me when I’m changing position. (lying down to sitting up is the worst) Once I’m in the new position, it kind of calms down and then I’m good unless I move too much. It’s a completely different sort of pain, and I am noticing that it is improving every day.

Yesterday, Lily came by and took me for a walk up on the trail. We went a whole mile and although it was exhausting, it didn’t make my pain worse. So YAY!

1 mile walk!

1 mile walk!

I feel like I am finally on the road to getting better. I’m still not able to drive (too much head turning) and I don’t have a lot of energy, but that terrible, awful stabbing pain has left the building.

I didn’t get to Minneapolis this week. Which was sad and disappointing. But tonight I am actually going to show up for something on my calendar. I’ll be reading from this new book tonight and I’m going to be out in the world, even for just a few hours.

Yay. Whew. Yay.

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23 Responses to “Post. Op.”

  1. Ericka Says:

    So, so, so, so HAPPY! The pain you feel now is going to go away, and surgery always sucks, but YES you are on the road to recovery…. and SOON! I’m so relieved and HAPPPPPPPYYY!!!

  2. coke Says:

    much love and continued healing wishes, susan! wow, lots…so, incrementality!

  3. Barbara Says:

    I am so happy for you! Here is to your continued recovery!

  4. kate maloy Says:

    Excellent, Susan! I really can’t imagine the relief, after so many weeks and such terrible pain–but ‘m very happy for you!

  5. Annie Bilotta Says:

    Wow, I wish you a speedy recovery! You will be back goal that you used to do soon.

  6. Annie Bilotta Says:

    In wasn’t supposed to say goal, it was all that you used to do :)

  7. Leah Says:

    I’m so happy to hear the surgery went well and I hope your recovery is swift.

  8. terrepruitt Says:

    Oh, I am so happy for you!

  9. Karen Says:

    Good to fond out you aren’t just “faking it” isn’t it! Wished they’d find a real reason for mine. Glad you are on your way better!! Dont rush. Hurry maybe but don’t rush!

  10. Jen Says:

    So glad the surgery was successful! xoxoxoxo

  11. Monika Says:


  12. Fantastic, susan. Keep up the healing work.

  13. Anne Pimental Says:

    Yea for Susan!

  14. CarolynD Says:

    Such good news. Walking a mile already seems big….and good. What is your goal now? Knowing you, it is to do everything you have not been able to do for the past 8 weeks and run a 5K…and do it all right now!!! Please pace yourself. Surgery is big and your body needs to heal.

  15. Tilly Says:

    Excellent news! I’m glad you had such great and careful(!) professionals around you. All the best with your healing.

  16. This makes my heart happy! I’m so glad you’re feeling better!

  17. So happy for you & just sending healing thoughts your way!

  18. Man…just so happy for you knowing that the bad pain is gone and the surgery pain will be fleeting, relatively speaking (hey, that almost rhymes!) Take good care my friend!

  19. Kaveh Says:

    Susan — So glad! Take good care and keep on healing.

  20. Linda Says:

    Susan, What a relief after 8 weeks of pain! So glad to have you back making a joyful noise. Your openness and honesty is always an inspiration. Hugs

  21. Dani Says:

    Sooo glade to hear that you are close to 100%. Wishing you lots of love for a speedy recovery.

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