Man last week was such a strange week. I have to start out talking about the previous Friday. Here in Northern Arizona, we had three snow storms pass through and in a span of six days, we had 4 canceled school days due to snow and ice and a total of 37 inches of snow, which is slightly over 3 feet. All of this was leading up to my husband’s spinal fusion which took place on the last canceled snow day, (Wednesday of last week). I thought for sure all the forces in the world were trying to prevent us from being at the hospital on the morning of his surgery, bright and early at 7 am.
But with the help of some amazing people in my life, we got there on time…early even despite the fact it was still snowing the morning we drove to the hospital. My kids stayed with friends and enjoyed their fourth snow day from school, sledding, eating pancakes, and drinking hot cocoa. Scott was in pretty good spirits. Actually, he was chipper, joking around and impatient for his surgery to begin. Many people would be a little nervous or afraid. But not Scott, even sitting there in that pre-op hospital bed he was in pain and knew that the surgery would take that away and that is what he wanted more than anything.
His surgery did start about 40 minutes later than scheduled …or should I say he was wheeled back to operation 40 minutes after it was supposed to begin. That was the last time I saw him until a nurse kindly let my into recovery when she wasn’t supposed to.
I do have to say the waiting was the hardest part. I found myself in the cafeteria ordering breakfast and continually looking at the clock. I posted updates on Facebook for family and friends to see, replied to text messages and just sat there alone for what seemed like forever. I went back to the pre-op waiting room for a little while until my sister-in-law, Shannon, texted me and told me she was here. We sat and chatted for a little while until I saw on one of the patient screens that Scott had been moved to recovery. It was about 2 hours after he went to OR, which made me nervous since his operation was supposed to only take an hour. I was so excited to see the screen information change that I jumped up from that table and could hardly grab my things fast enough to go back to the OR waiting room. My sister-in-law had to tell me to calm down and take my time.
When we got to the OR waiting room we had to wait for another 45 minutes to see Scott. But I eventually got a phone call in the room that told me in five minutes I could wait at the entrance to the OR and follow them up to Scott’s patient room. We waited for way more than ten minutes outside the OR until a nurse met us at the double doors and kindly let us come back to see him even though it’s not really allowed.
Scott was incoherent but talking. I could tell he was in a lot of discomfort but very hungry, asking for steak and lobster. Having been through a spinal fusion before, I knew the man wasn’t going to be getting steak or lobster anytime soon. When they do any kind of surgery, you usually start off with hospital jello, juices, and broths.
They were finally ready to take him up to a patient room, so I said goodbye to Shannon and followed behind his bed into the elevator and up to the orthopedic surgery patient rooms where he’d stay until he went home.
Now it’s kind of funny. Scott has seen many of these people who work at the hospital on a regular basis while fixing computers installing devices etc since he is employed there. So many of the nurses that worked on Scott thought he was familiar, and when he told them, I work here, then it rang a bell with them.
The afternoon after his surgery I was finally able to bring the kids back to the hospital to see their daddy.
We didn’t quite want to leave daddy for the evening, but we knew the kids would outgrow their welcome soon since he was sharing a room with another patient, so we went down to the cafeteria, had some dinner, then back up to see daddy for a little bit before heading home, close to 8 pm. Braidy was so sad to leave his daddy. I think it was hard to see him in that state.
When it was time to leave, Braidy didn’t want to leave and cried all the way home and wouldn’t stop crying until we crawled into bed and snuggled.
With Scott’s surgery, other than starting late and lasting longer than intended, his surgery went very well. There were no complications and he was able to leave the hospital about 30 hours after he got there for pre-op. The worst of Scott’s pain was on the ride home and his first day out of the hospital. His pain has been mostly at his incision which was done through the front just below his belly button.
People have been curious as to why spinal fusions are often done through the front and not the back, and it’s really about weighing the risks. If you have a spinal fusion done through the front, the operation might be slightly riskier during the procedure, but the recovery time tends to be quicker. If you go in and do a spinal fusion through the back, the risk is working around the spinal cord which encases all the nerves. Going in through the back increases a risk for paralysis. There’s also increased swelling on the nerves going to the arms and legs and involves a three-day hospital stay. It’s very interesting how they do it.
I’ll share a little bit of technical information on how they fuse the L5, S1 vertebrae through the front, right here:
After spending two days in bed, Scott was able to move to a chair most of the day yesterday (Saturday). His pain has been mostly at his incision which hurts pretty bad when he coughs or uses his stomach muscles to move, like getting out of bed to use the restroom or taking the short walks he’s supposed to take to make sure he’s recovering well. Today, he does have some severe pain going down his right leg, but before his operation, it was down his left leg. But he has no back pain, which is what we’ve hoped and prayed for. A co-worker of his, (who had the same surgery) warned Scott pre-surgery that he’d have pain down the opposite leg for a little while until it subsides. So currently everything Scott is dealing with is completely normal post surgery.
I really can’t thank the doctors and nurses enough for such a smooth surgery. My friends who watched my kids for two days were amazing and put no restrictions on the times I needed childcare. They were totally supportive in anything I needed. These same friends have set up a meal train for us and have brought us dinner every day since Scott has been home and it’s been really great!
Scott can’t drive or go anywhere for two weeks and is out of work for six weeks, but to see him with no back pain is nothing short of amazing four days post Op! It just lets us know that we made the right decision going through with this surgery. Thank you to all that prayed for us as well! We had a team of prayer warriors praying for the surgeons and nurses and for a speedy recovery. Thank you, everyone!
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