Well, here I'm home from the hospital almost a week now. The hospital was predictably awful, but there were a lot of really nice nurses that did their best to make up for it. This is NYU Hospital for Joint Diseases. Nurses Faye, John, and Rasheeda in particular were awesome. The aids too were awesome, but unfortunately I can only remember Irma's name. Oh wait, as I write this, I'm remembering there was a gentleman named Phil who worked nights who was also a saint. And a clerk named I think Sharmin (sp?) Seriously, these people are unsung heroes. The work 12 hour shifts, on their feet constantly, and still, every moment of their day is focused on caring for us and figuring out how to make us comfortable. Some of the most compassionate people on the planet. Their kindness more than makes up for some of the negative things I experienced. I know it's the drugs talking that heightens the intensity and emotion of it, but there was a nurse manager whose name I will not mention who was not easy to work with. As I think back on it, I realize she was just doing her job, but I felt she was patronizing and wasn't communicating well and did not treat me like an adult. I want to focus on the positive rather than dredge up unpleasant memories, but I have to get this off my chest: Dr. E has a fellow who lied to me and caused me extreme unnecessary stress. I met her the day of my surgery, and at first I was glad to see a female fellow. I've met many of Dr. E's fellows over the last 4 years, and all of them have been male. In fact, on the day of my surgery I met 2 female fellows. The first one seemed perfectly nice. The second one had a gleaming smile, but looks were definitely deceiving. In our first meeting she told me 2 lies: she said the surgery would only be 2 hours (it was not, and several other people involved gave us different estimates, but none were quite so overly optimistic.) She also said, and I quote, "You should be able to go home tomorrow." She said this to me as I was getting ready to go into the OR. I knew right away that was a lie, as Dr. E, and another one of Dr. E's fellows, had both told me I would be in the hospital 3-4 days. So why would she say that? And why would she expect me to believe that? You don't go home the next day from spine surgery, even if it's just a revision. While I was recovering in the hospital, she came to see me each morning at an ungodly hour. Dr. E came to see me as well, and his visit is really just a hazy memory of his silhouette backlit by morning sunlight, which is a crazy memory, believe me! I have the man built up to godlike proportions anyhow, and I can't remember a word of what he said except for him repeating, "You are not fragile. You are not fragile. You are not fragile!" And he called it out again as he receded out the door like an apparition. I'm being overly dramatic. But you know how it is when you're on heavy painkillers and everything seems a fog. Anyhow. So this female fellow came to see me every day, and the issue of my drains was a frequent topic. During my last surgery, I had three drains coming out of me, which were annoying and slightly painful, but they finished up draining by my 3rd or 4th morning in the hospital, and they were removed and I was sent home. This time I had 2 drains, and I was told right away I couldn't be released if they were still draining, and at some point early on, that story changed to, "you will be sent home with the drains if the are still draining." I can't describe to you how much stress this caused me. At that point I was still feeling a lot of pain, and I didn't think I'd be able to make it back into the hospital to have the drains removed. Let alone I wasn't sure how I was going to empty them. I had made a vow to myself that I was going to "go along to get along" during this hospital stay in order to make it more pleasant for both myself and my caretakers. But I was adamantly against going home with the drains. I had to put up a fuss. So much so that I became the topic in a nurses meeting, but they listened to me, and kept me another day so the drains could keep doing their thing. However, a nighttime aide who was a sub from another floor, kept closing them up improperly when she drained them, not creating a suction, which prevented them from draining for about 8 hours, which put me behind schedule in the drainage department. Anyhow, so this female fellow in question kept repeatedly telling me I was going to have to go home with the drains. She was really eager for some reason that I go home ASAP. She told me that my husband would be emptying the drains for me (which at the time seemed to me a horrible idea, but I came around it, and that part did work out fine.) But then she told me that my husband would need to be the person to REMOVE the drains! She said he would need to "clip a few sutures" holding the drains in, and then pull out the tubes. Mind you, one of the drains had literally 12 inches of tubing embedded deep in my body. Even the nurses agreed with me that asking a non-medical-professional to remove the drains was something they'd never heard of, and could lead to infection. Why on earth would this woman say that? It caused me so much anxiety. Granted, I was on drugs, and wasn't in my right head. But I became hysterical, which I had told myself I wouldn't do, and now I'm rather ashamed. It's to the credit of the amazing nurses that they were able to calm me down. But I blame this horrible smiling lying fellow for blithely pushing ideas that were so incredibly overly optimistic that they were basically lies. Anyhow. Eventually they did send me home, with the drains, and my wonderful loving husband was able to empty them for me. I went home on Friday, and those kind wonderful nurses had scheduled me an appointment with the plastic surgeon responsible for my incision and drains for the following Monday morning. And boy, when he pulled that 12 inches of tubing out of my back, I felt it! There's no way a layperson could have done that. Personally, I think this female fellow is dangerous, and shouldn't have patient contact. I'm still so upset about it. I should put it out of my head, but dealing with her was fairly traumatic.

So, anyhow. Now my big job is weaning off the painkillers. I'm due to start working from home in about 4 days, but I'm wondering if I'm going to need an extra day or two. At first I thought my only hurdle for getting off the oxy would be the withdrawal. I have a bad track record in that department, so I'm trying to take it slow. But I'm now at the day where my plan is to be at only 15 mg total for the day, and I'm suddenly realizing that there's actually some pain going on underneath all that drug induced numbness! Uh oh. The incision all along has been rather painful, especially at the top, and as the drugs leave my body I'm feeling it more. And the drain sites are especially sensitive. But I'm also feeling this incredibly strong pressure in my back, like an elephant's sitting on me. And I'm especially feeling sharp strong pain in my left shoulder. After my walk yesterday I spent the entire day laying in bed because I was sick to my stomach (I think from my body adjusting to lower doses of painkiller.) So I'm wondering if the shoulder pain is related to spending way too much time yesterday flat on my back. So today I'm going to try to spend more time sitting up. The walking is going fine. I'm very weak and I get tired easily, but it's a great relief to feel that the "broken rod feeling" is now gone. The shoulder pain seems weird since my revision is way down in the lumbar area.

Anyhow, so, I'm starting to go a little crazy here at home, and I think non-stop about my painkiller decrease schedule. I'm like ultra-focused on it. Writing this has been very therapeutic. I'm sure if I read it later I will cringe, but for now, thanks for letting me vent.