Ramblings of a Tampa engineer
Photo by Piron Guillaume / Unsplash

As the title suggests, the surgery to heal my 7-8 month chronic back pain was a double lumbar microdiscectomy for the disc between my S1 & L5 and L5 & L4. My last post talked about the entire journey until I walked into the hospital, and this post will conclude that story.

Spoiler alert - I survived and on day 8 since the surgery. For this post though, we are going to rewind the clock to 6:50am on Friday morning - April 5, 2019. Dropped off by the parents as they figure out a place to park, I walk in and asked to confirm a variety of information in admissions of the hospital. I'm wearing my pajamas as recommended and feeling pretty relaxed.

I'm asked to take the elevator to the 2nd floor and off I go. I'm greeted and assigned a bed and asked to change into a classic hospital gown as basic health heart rate, weight, blood pressure, etc is taken. A resting heart rate of 58 showed I was quite calm.

April 5, 2019 - 7ish am - Pre Surgery

Contacts out, head shaved and ready for the surgery. However, it isn't scheduled for another 2 hours. A nurse comes in, once again confirming information, but instead connecting my gown to some hot air cannon. This machine keeps pumping hot air around my body, warming me up (I presume for some surgical reason).

Employee after employee visit, including my surgeon double checking all avenues of the upcoming surgery. Around 8:30am, the anesthesiologist gives me an injection before we start traveling to the operating room. At this point, I'm starting to lose consciousness and only remember a cold room with a bunch of huge TVs around.

From this point, all information is from other parties repeated back to me post-surgery.

I went into surgery late, by about 40 minutes according to the text message my family received of "surgery starting". The surgeon mentioned a 3 hour estimate of the surgery, so my family got cryptic text messages about every hour saying - "The procedure is going as planned."

That was until a nurse came into the waiting room asking for my family members, which is never a good sign. A phone was passed to them, with the surgeon on the phone. He mentioned that my first discectomy (S1-L5) went successfully, but the (L5-L4) was worse than the MRI showed. As the disc was cut and removed, my body continued to shove more herniated contents out. Additionally, he had spotted a splash of spinal fluid and thus a leak had occurred. This would increase the duration of the surgery, due to a slice of fat needing to be cut and then glued onto the location of the leak.

We clicked into the 4th hour, myself completely knocked out and unaware of any of this. With the family in the waiting room, probably googling whatever a "spinal fluid leak" means. Though the light at the end of the tunnel came, when the message around 1:20pm local time said I was in recovery.

Waking Up

While barely remembering this, I woke around 1:44 local in the recovery room without my phone barely awake. I dozed in and out of consciousness as a family member asked me how I was doing. Apparently I responded - "Things went well, except for the alien that broke out of my chest". So it was good to hear that I was being myself, despite not remember it.

It took until about 4pm until I awoke for real in recovery. After a few questions, it was time to move me to my room. It was explained that due to the delay and spinal fluid leak, I would be forced to stay a night at the hospital in order to monitor for complications.

So it seems in the 2-5/100 people, I was one of those affected.

Once I arrived in my hospital room, sharing with another individual (who seemed quite old and sick). I got access to my phone and my first messages were out at 4:44pm local.

4:40pm~ April 5, 2019 - Post Surgery

My 2nd obligatory selfie and I learned that I had to sit still on my back until 7:30pm local. That proved to be very annoying and difficult to do, as my entire back and body ached. The nurse asked my pain between 1-10 and I said 3. There was some pain, but it wasn't anything that truly bothered me.

I started moving my toes and feet, angling them in ways that used to hurt massively. This time, there was no pain - at all. It was instant, the surgery must have succeeded. I only had to recover. Excellent staff and nurses and a long overnight stay of no sleep in the hospital was day 1.

The wheelchair pushed me out the next day and here I sit on day 8 of the recovery. Mixing between Netflix and walks around my apartment complex. I'm feeling pretty good, with a small 4 inch stitched incision on my back.

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