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Thread: Surgery Details

  1. #1
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    Feb 2004
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    Surgery Details

    Can anybody give me a blow by blow description of surgery in as much detail as possible? Thanks

  2. #2
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    Mar 2004
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    Canada
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    blow by blow...

    Jill,

    My doc gave me a video to watch before my surgery of a girl going through all the steps of surgery. It didn't show the actual surgery (thank goodness) but it showed this girl going for her post-operation information day, and learning about how long she'd stay in the hospital, getting her blood tests, etc. You could ask your doctor if he has something like that to give you a better idea of what to expect.

    But basically on the day of, you get up wash your back with antiseptic soap (they might do that for you at the hospital, but I did it for myself) go to the hospital... they put some little electrodes all over the top of your head. You wait in a little waiting room until they take you to the Operating Room... and then they give you anesthetics until you fall asleep. Then they do the surgery. I don't remember anything until the third day in the hospital. They keep you good and comfortable with drugs, and a warm bed. They'll get you sitting up around the third or fourth day (depending on how you're feeling) and you'll sleep alot and watch a lot of t.v. I usually slept all day and then watched t.v. all night. I stayed in the hospital for nine days... and then went home.
    At home I didn't do much other than sleep & watch movies. I had visitors almost everyday which was great. I'd take a shower and be exhausted and sleep for hours afterwards. The doctor likes you to start walking around the house, and even around the block after a week or two... eventually you'll get more and more used to your new body and your limitations. Just take it slow, and you'll be fine. Any more specific questions... ask away I come here almost everyday to read the new posts..

    Godbless,
    lisanicole

  3. #3
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    Feb 2004
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    Illinois
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    Today I had my pre-op ! I never really thought about surgery that much until now, it did not seem real. What was the degree of your back? Mine is about 42. Did you get an epadermal (spelling probably wrong). My doctor said I'd get one and that was a huge relief to my mom. My mom said that when she was having me she got one and it completly blocked off the pain in her back. On a scale of 1-10 what was your pain (ten being painful 1 being not painful). Do you remember anything the first day or so....or right after you woke up for the first time? Thanks for reading this!

  4. #4
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    Mar 2004
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    Northshore, suburbs near Chicago
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    Jill,
    THe truth is that everyone's surgery is different. For example, I read what lisanicole wrote and my surgery was a completely different experience. I didn't have electrodes on my head and I didn't really sleep very much either. I was only in the hospital for six days, and I was taking walks about two days before I left. Everybody has a different curve in a different place, and each hospital handles the surgery in a different way.

    I don't know my exact degree, but it was between 55 and 60. What is an epidermal? My best advice is to get off the morphine as soon as you feel ready!!! Other narcotic painkillers can take the place of morphine, and make you feel more alert, and relieve nausea and constipation.

    I can barely remember the day after my surgery. All I can think of is being in pain and having a swollen face. The pain isn't bad when you aren't moving, but being rolled hurts. I was rolled every two hours (even during the night!) and it was always difficult to feel comfortable again.

    Good luck with your surgery - I know the pre-op tour is scary. I was so freaked out. Just stay positive and know that it may feel like you'll never get better, but you will. I hope I've been helpful.
    Charlotte

    48 degree upper curve
    L2 to T4
    Braced for 4 years
    Surgery 2/4/04

  5. #5
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    Feb 2004
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    Illinois
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    Thanks you have been helpful. One question popped into my mind when I read your message, is the surgery worse than it seems (what you were told or heard about it) or better? And epidermal, from what I heard, is sort of like an IV in your back but completly numbs you up. It is just a recent technique that the doctors are starting to use and supposidly it helps a lot. did you throw up from the medicine? And can you remember what you felt like when you woke up for the first time? Thanks for reading my questions and answering them!

  6. #6
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    Mar 2004
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    Hey Jill,
    I think the first couple days after the surgery were worse than I expected, mainly because I really hadn't thought about what I would feel like. My sister's friend had the surgery and told me she slept the whole time, which wasn't true for me at all, so it was worse than I anticipated in that regard. Its pretty hard to remember why I was upset or what was so bad. Its all a blur now. I remember having breathing problems which was difficult.

    I don't think I had an epidermal. I had a hemovac, which drains blood from the back, a catheter for going to the bathroom, and two IVs (one in use and one just in case). I may have had an epidermal and I didn't know it because I do have a lot of numbness in my back. I still can't feel certain areas and its been almost a month since my surgery!

    I did vomit in the hospital indirectly because of the medicine. The morphine did make me nauseous, but it also made me constipated (gross, I know). It was the whole digestive back up that made me vomit because there was no room left for food in my system. It totally stunk because I had my first big meal since my surgery the day before I left and then it all came up again. After that I was kind of paranoid of eating.

    I had a lot of problems with constipation even three weeks after surgery, which I've heard is fairly common. The pain that caused was one of the worst parts - hopefully you will be more lucky. Again, the only thing I really remember from when I first woke up was having swollen eyes and having trouble opening them. Luckily, a lot of the hospital memories get lost soon after you leave because you were so drugged up.

    As always, I hope I've helped and good luck.
    Charlotte

    48 degree upper curve
    L2 to T4
    Braced for 4 years
    Surgery 2/4/04

  7. #7
    Join Date
    Mar 2004
    Location
    Canada
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    Jill..

    My curve was a thoracic "C" curve of 81 degrees by the time I had surgery (I was put on the waiting list at about 65 degrees, so by the time I actually had surgery it had obviously gotten a lot worse).. I was a dancer for nine years, and very active in pilates (yoga type stretching thing... incase you've never heard of it) so my spine was really flexible and that made the surgery a lot easier for the doctors.

    On a scale of one to ten, I'd say the overall pain of the WHOLE experience was a ten. I dont want to scare you, but it does hurt a lot... in a different kind of way. Not the way a scraped knee hurts, but kind of an aching feeling all over. Because they move your ribs around and stuff you feel like you're in a different body when you wake up. I don't remember much at all until the second or third day.. apparently they had me up standing the same day as my surgery and I don't remember anything about that. I had my surgery on a friday morning.. and I dont remember much until sunday or monday when my first visitors came to see me.

    The worst part of the whole experience for me was when I woke up on the day I was supposed to leave and part of my incision had come open, it wasn't a big deal and I did get to leave that day. But I had to wear bandages on one part of my incision and take really good care of the opening so that I didn't get an infection. It bled for a good week, and was like having my period out of my back! (definitley the grossest thing of my life) Taking the bandages off and putting them on was so painful... worst than the actual surgery. (mostly because my parents didn't really know what they were doing until a nurse -mother of my best friend- taught them how to properly take off and put on the tape & gauze.)

    You are talking about an epiderral I think... the type they give pregnant woman so they can't feel from the waist down so they don't experience labor pains. I don't know if I got one, but I was given a self administered pump for morphine. I was never screaming out in pain or anything.. You're going to be seriously fine. I'll pray for ya!

    All the best,
    lisanicole

    P.S. They put the electrodes on your head to monitor your nerve activity... most surgeries dealing with the spinal chord have these, but whether they put them on you while you're still conscious or after you've been anesthetized is different according to the your doctor and the hospital.
    Last edited by lisanicole; 03-09-2004 at 03:23 PM.

  8. #8
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    Feb 2004
    Location
    Illinois
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    Thank you soooooo much for answering my questions, you have been rreeaallllyy helpful!!! When I wake up I will have two ivs in my hands, one on my wrist area, one on my neck, epidurral in my back, tube to drain the fluids in my back, a cathader, finger heart rate thingy, and other stuff ! i watched this one girls story on the internet who had spinal fusion too. Before going into surgery she had this drug that was given to her through her arm muscle and she was tired and completly out of it. I think this is really good because it will calm me down A LOT! did you have something like this? If you did, did it work well? Thanks again soooo much!

  9. #9
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    Mar 2004
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    Canada
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    sedative...

    Jill,

    Yeah when I got to the hospital (it was super early in the morning) I asked the nurse for a sedative, which was just some little pill that they put under my tongue that totally relaxed me. I slept mostly while waiting for them to come and get me. When I went into the Operating Room the anesthetist knew me cause her son went to my highschool.. I was so out of it I told her her son was super hot.. and then fell asleep under the anesthesia. Hahaha.. super embarassing, but a good story. You should tell your mum or dad to bring a little notebook to write down the funny things you say while you're on the morphine. It's seriously hilarious the things you'll come up with. At least it was for me.

    Godbless,
    lisanicole

  10. #10
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    Illinois
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    Thats hysterical, I feel sorry for you. Were you scared to see all of the doctors in the OR, I heard there can be up to 15, or were you too out of it to even care?

  11. #11
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    Mar 2004
    Location
    Canada
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    There were quite a few nurses & people in the OR but I wasn't too frightened, because they were all smiling at me and treating me really nice.. making sure I was comfortable and relaxed... My friends mum (that nurse I mentioned in a previous message) asked to be in the OR with me while they got everything set up. I was coherent enough to understand what was going on, I was just tired and ready to sleep... so it all didn't phase me too much.



    lisanicole

  12. #12
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    Mar 2004
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    Northshore, suburbs near Chicago
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    Wow, you have a lot of drugs going on! I only had two IVS, a heart monitor, a cathedar, and a blood drain. WHat lisanicole said about rib pain is totally true. That is the only part that has really been hurting me. I didn't have a sedative before surgery, but I managed to get myself into a totally calm trance. I don't know how because I'm very high strung. Just bring people who will make you feel comfortable and games are good to to keep your mind busy.

    When I went into the OR there were about 15 people, but everyone is sooo nice and even if you get the anesthesia with the face mask, it works very quickly. GOOD LUCK!
    Charlotte

    48 degree upper curve
    L2 to T4
    Braced for 4 years
    Surgery 2/4/04

  13. #13
    Join Date
    Mar 2004
    Location
    Canada
    Posts
    91

    EMLA patch...

    Jill,

    I forgot to mention, if you're afraid of needles (like I AM!!) then there are these little patches you can buy from the pharmacy counter at any drug store. They're called EMLA patches. You put a cream on the spot where you're going to get the needle and then put this little bandaid overtop. In an hour the spot will be completely numb and then you can't feel the needle at all!

    I donated my own blood every thursday for a month before my surgery so I could have my own blood transfused back to me after the surgery. So I was getting needles every week, the nurse at the blood clinic is who told me about the patches.

    Hahaha.. I even used one when I got my belly button pierced. Didn't feel a thing! I'm such a cheater.

    Godbless,
    lisanicole

  14. #14
    Join Date
    Feb 2004
    Location
    Illinois
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    How much blood did you have to donate? I have to donate only one pint. My blood type is A- and my mom is AB+ and my dad is B+ so none of my family can donate. We dont want strangers blood so we are talking to some of the people my mom worked with to see if they can donate. Does it hurt when you loose a pint of blood...how do you feel?

  15. #15
    Join Date
    Mar 2004
    Location
    Northshore, suburbs near Chicago
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    Re: Blood Donation

    I only had to donate one unit of blood - thats one pint. I didn't mind it at all. At the blood center I went to they provide lots of juice and starch snacks because its important to get you blood sugar up to make up for the blood you lost. If they don't provide snacks at your blood center I would recommend you bring some. They also make you sit down for a while after you donate blood to regain your strength.

    After I donated blood my arm was sore and I was a tiny bit dizzy and sleepy, but I really felt okay. The only part of the process that hurts is the finger prick (to test iron count). Most people think thats the worse than the needle being inserted.
    Charlotte

    48 degree upper curve
    L2 to T4
    Braced for 4 years
    Surgery 2/4/04

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