View Full Version : Memory loss about surgery

12-03-2013, 02:13 PM

I just posted, but I needed to ask another question.

I have no memory of events surrounding my surgery. The last thing I remember is walking down the hall with the nurse after she called me out of the waiting room. The next memories are the end of two and a half days in ICU. I am told I was awake and talking, that I got up and sat in a chair and went to the toilet. I have a few brief scattered memories of a nurse screaming at me in ICU, Doctors talking about me. When I woke up, I was aware that the Nurse caring for me was angry at my Doc, I heard her tell the nurse in the new area I was going to be going to after ICU that he was an awful Doctor. I did have some hallucinations, I was afraid this nurse was going to try to kill me because of the anger I felt from her.

Then last Friday I discovered a large bruise on my shoulder and I had no memory of how it got there. I asked my husband and he said you fell yesterday. I finally briefly remembered telling him I fell, but I don't remember the fall. I was dizzy from having taken a muscle relaxer the night before, so that must be why I fell, but why don't I remember the fall? Is this type of mental issue normal? Am I blocking painful memories? Sorry, I know none of you are qualified to be shrinks, but maybe you've experienced similar issues. I just read that 25 % of people who have long fusion surgeries develop post traumatic stress disorder that lasts about a year. I did a forum search before posting but didn't find anything.

And I thought I was just going to go get my back fixed, easy peasy!

12-03-2013, 03:46 PM
I think some early memory loss is normal. I can relate to it. This surgery is a major event and it does change things--so having flash backs and other problems may be very much a part of this. After all our bodies have been invaded by metal. My spine is 5 years old today--parts of it still bother me. The recovery is a work in progress all of the time. I am sure other people get bored with this--but on this site we all know how hard it is and how much it takes out of a person.

12-03-2013, 06:28 PM
Hi, Jackie,

Thanks so much! The feeling of losing chunks of time is disconcerting, to say the least. Knowing it is part of the journey for some makes it easier to deal with. I haven't gotten to the flashback stage yet, hopefully I never will.

After posting this and writing in my journal I decided to call my primary care Doc and make an appointment. I never got the big bruise checked out and it just dawned on me I am depressed. Much as I hate the thought of another med to deal with, if I need to do something about it, I will.

12-06-2013, 10:05 PM
Did you go see your doc? As I said in your other post, there is mental recovery that has to take place along with the physical.

Take care of yourself.

12-06-2013, 10:41 PM
Hi again, Debbi,

Thanks for asking. Yes, I went. He diagnosed PTSD from the surgery. He sent me for X-rays, no damage. I will go for counseling, to someone who knows about it. I read about a new study of lumbar fusion patients that states that 20% of those patients develop PTSD. Most of us on this forum have had way worse than simple lumbar fusion. And a lot of us more than once. I guess we should consider this forum group therapy!


12-07-2013, 12:20 AM
Wendy, I think that I understand that there are 2 timeframes that you are talking about. Correct? The first is your hospitalization after your surgery and the second is more recently.....correct?

Re: right after surgery, I remember almost NOTHING about the 10 days that I was in the hospital. I had 2 surgeries with 3 days between surgeries. I am not worried about not remembering.

Events that I do remember:
I was rolled into the OR and I looked around [I requested NO meds so that I could check the place out].....next surgery was 3 days later and I do not remember the three days. Surgery #2, my PO2 was 79% and I was in the area next to the OR and the female anesthesiologist was encouraging me to inflate my lungs through a breathing machine [for 1.5 hours] and the surgeon stood by impatiently ready to cut. They finally decided to "suck out my lungs" in the OR. For the next week all that I remember is: seeing bugs and telling my daughter to call housekeep as the hospital was "filthy" [there were not any bugs my daughter said, just the side effect of the ketamines], thinking that I was in a British Tavern drinking beer, thinking that I was in an Indian temple, there was a guy named Deke who was a pharmacist that visited me, my husband spent one night [actually he spent 4 nights, I do not remember the other 3], my daughter spent one night and I was mad at her because she wanted to sleep, I fell trying to get to the commode one night because nobody came to help me....and then they loaded me in an ambulance to go to a Rehab Hospital on Day 10. I attribute my lack of memory to the fantastic drugs that they gave me. I am not worried about PTSD, I honestly only remember the few events above in very little detail at best.

I do remember the rehab hospital for one week and the events there as well as the trip in the ambulance. I think that I just had some GREAT drugs as I do not remember pain, either.

Since your bruising was recently, right? I wonder about what might be going on with your memory more recently. If something like that happened only once, I wouldn't worry as I sometimes find bruises and barely remember that the slip or fall was important, but I do remember the fall.

Hope that some of this is reassuring to you.....or maybe I'm nuts and need therapy?

12-07-2013, 06:09 AM
as I was reading your previous post this morning, I thought, she has PTSD! I bet many of us had this undiagnosed after the surgery. How could we not? It was like our bodies went through a war. Good luck to you, I hope the therapist helps. Keep talking to your husband as well, and also posting here.

I think my form of therapy was this forum, my friends and husband. I am forever grateful to the folks who supported me here when I needed it first, both before and after surgery. Many of those people are no longer around this group, but I will always remember them fondly.

12-07-2013, 09:52 AM

Susan, you are right. Two different times. Could be more. I'd not remember if I forgot others. I got some great drugs, too, one of which, dilaudid, made me loopy, and was discontinued. My memory loss started well before my surgery, before I had any of those drugs. It happened as I was being led away from my husband...he spent all the time he could with me after that, until I was in surgery and as soon as I was out and in ICU. I don't remember a visit from him until day 3. I was not worried about the memory loss at all, until I realized I could not remember my fall. Doing good, I think. Very first post op fall at five months. Or at least that I know happened! I plan on going to the counselor. They will no doubt do some further testing to make sure I have PTSD. It may just be O. L. D. Disease;)! If I am confirmed with PTSD, I will continue with counseling and share my new coping skills here. That way maybe someone besides me can benefit. I would much rather go to counseling than to add another med to my long list of drugs.



12-08-2013, 06:20 AM
Good luck to you, Wendy! PTSD is something I hadn't considered, but it makes sense.
I consider this forum to be my pre-surgery therapy! God bless all of you!

12-11-2013, 07:24 PM
Hi Wendy,

I hope you don't mind but I'd like to chime in with my drug-induced haze. After my first surgery in May, my husband, our son and my Mom came to see me in ICU (like normal). I then instructed Mitchell (our son) not to pick the money on the ground. I also told him he can't forget to get red party cups...we were going to need more (for what???), and then I proceeded to sing Mr. Rogers Neighborhood to everyone in ICU. I was later told I got up and actually walked (picture to prove it :) and sat up.

But do I remember any of it? Nope. Granted, after these events is when I took a turn for the worse. After my 2nd and 3rd surgeries in September I remember nothing (again).

I believe the reason for this is because since our surgeries are so long and complex, they want us out for as long as possible but still monitoring us. I did have a "clicker" that I could push the button and at designated intervals, a predetermined, pre-dosed amount of the hard painkillers is released.

Thinking about it right now, I honestly don't think I would want to remember "right after" surgery. I'll take Mr. Rogers Neighborhood over the pain I could be feeling, anyday :)

I am concerned about your recent memory loss, though. Hope those nasty things will stop.