The Backbone Diaries


This blog entry is going to be a little bit of a different from my normal style and is going to be a diary reflecting the spinal surgery that I have just had.

3 Days before Surgery – Tuesday 8th November

Today is the pre-op and the meeting with the anaesthetist. All went well, they managed to get blood so that good and makes a change. I have been told today that I will be in hospital until Tuesday, TUESDAY! That’s 5 days in hospital. I am sure my surgeon said all being well it would only be 1 or 2 days. What on earth will I do for 5 days. It is all starting to feel a bit real now and daunting on me how big this operation is.

2 Days before Surgery – Wednesday 9th November

So, as we head towards Friday, the day I have spinal surgery, I must confess I am getting more and more nervous, which is unlike me for operations, after all this is the 19th surgery. This one certainly feels like it is a big one though and so I have been subconsciously channelling my nervous energy into over compensating with getting ready. I have bought new PJ’s for hospital and for afterwards, in long and short trousers to cover all eventualities. I never know what to wear in a hospital situation, sorry for the overshare but my normal little silk / lace nighties are really inappropriate, unless its ‘carry on doctor’. PJ’s for me are a safe option as people can access the wound with the ability for me to still keep a little covered up. I also checked the other day, whether or not there will not be a catheter after the surgery, thankfully there won’t be so PJ’s work. I also don’t know what to expect afterwards and I am not saying I am a control freak but I am not good in situations where I have minimal input into what happens. So I go into overdrive controlling the areas that I do have input into.

1 Days before Surgery – Thursday 10th November

I am all packed and ready to go. I have enough things to entertain me for 5 days, which by the way my husband thinks is completely reasonable, I have told him I want to be out on Saturday. Somehow, he managed to get me to promise to do as I was told. The kids know what is happening and are sorting themselves out on Friday nights, I shouldn’t call them kids they are 18 and 20. Noodle, my little sausage dog is sorted and is going to the dog sitter on Friday morning. So that is it, I think everyone and everything is sorted, I am ready.

Surgery Day – Friday 11th November

Well I am all checked in to the hospital and now it is a case of waiting and waiting and a bit more waiting. Usually once I get to hospital that is the time I start getting nervous, maybe I have done all my worrying in advance as I fell asleep while we were waiting. I mean seriously, who naps with the prospect of spinal surgery looming over them. I really think I might be starting to get too blasé about these things. My anaesthetist and my spinal consultant has popped round to see us and told us that I can go home whenever the pain is under control and I am ready and Saturday is a realistic expectation, well you can imagine not only my relief but also the dance of victory as I said ‘I told you so’ to my husband J. After arriving at 11:30, I finally went up to surgery at 5pm and I was back in my room about 10:30pm, the surgery was long, which was not unexpected after all its complex spinal surgery – I don’t want him to rush it! My consultant managed to place the screws, bone grafts and rods into the correct position and stabilise the fractures, it is now a case of waiting to see if the bones in my spine will grow and fuse with the grafts. My lovely consultant even popped downstairs to let my husband know how things had gone whilst I was still in recovery, he also saw me briefly in recovery. The immediate pain post op was immense and the anaesthetist threw everything at it to get me comfortable and I mean everything, it should have knocked out a rhinoceros. Before the drugs kicked in to manage the pain I gave everyone a scare and stopped breathing, thankfully the anaesthetist and her team managed to get that little blip sorted out and once I was stable I was taken back down to my room. Due to the respiratory depression (the not breathing incident) the nurses kept a really close eye on me, so the lights were partially kept on in my room, the door open and obs were taken frequently.

1 Days Post-Surgery – Saturday 12th November

Well it is 1am and I am awake, I am managing to doze in short bursts but I am uncomfortable so it keeps wakes me up and of course everyone is keeping a close eye on me so that interrupts my dozing. Though I am very pleased they are keeping an eye on me, so not complaining at all. I managed to get back to sleep around 3am and woke up at 6am so at least I got a decent amount of sleep in one go. The pain is much more under control now and I have even been up and walking to the bathroom and managed to clean my teeth. I now have a cup of tea so I am starting to feel human again. Breakfast was actually lovely and I was really hungry by the time it came around, scrambled eggs, bacon and mushrooms with toast and tea, yum. My husband came in about 9:30am and I started to get ready to come home. I was discharged about 11:30 and we made our way home - I believe I felt every single small bump in the road. Once home I went straight to bed. The pain has been a bit harder to manage since I got home but I prefer to be in my own surroundings and my husband has the next few days off work to look after me.

5 Days Post-Surgery – Wednesday 16th November

I have spent the last few days on the sofa being waited on by my lovely husband, who has been doing a great job of looking after me. Today though, he went back to work. I had a rough night with lots of chest pain so I didn’t get much sleep, so everything feels like hard work today. However, I have created a nest in the lounge, where I have pillows to get comfy and plenty of entertainment within arms reach. The hardest thing for me is leaving things, I can’t bend over so after my breakfast I have to leave my bowl on the side for my husband to put away in the dishwasher. I hate it, it feels so lazy to leave it for my husband who has been working all day when I have been sat on the sofa watching box sets.

6 Days Post-Surgery – Thursday 17th November

Months ago I booked tickets to see the comedian Russell Howard at our local theatre. We were lucky to get tickets as they sold out in a day. He is a big comedian so for him to be in our little town it was amazing. Anyway I was determined to go. So armed with a cushion, painkillers, a stick and my husband and daughter for support we actually ventured out of the house - for me it was the first time in almost a week. It hurt just to have normal clothes on, I have been living in PJ’s. However, it was amazing to be out of the house and Russel Howard was brilliant. They were testing new material before a world tour and both he and his support act were just hilarious, we laughed and laughed and it was utterly worth the pain.

So, there we have it, a fortnight of what it is like to have spinal surgery. I am more mobile than I thought I would be but I am using a frame to help me stand and I am taking it easy. I haven’t been out the house again since Thursday and I am back in comfy PJ’s but little by little I am cutting down the pain killers. Of course, I still have all my other issues to deal with and my angina has been particularly bad in the last week, this could be a post op thing or it could be because it is always worse in winter. There is also the delights of the Reynolds and even this early on into winter I have already lost one toe nail. So, little by little I am starting to get back to normal, whatever that is anymore!

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