Note from the writer: Greetings, readers! It has been well over a year since my last post. When my family purchased a small market farm in 2017, many parts of my life took a back seat. But now I find myself with a lot of free time as I recover from a major surgery. I share my experience below and will follow up with some “how to” guides and helpful tips in another post.
Recovering from Lumbar Surgery
I sat in the surgery prep room, alone for the first time that day. Completely alone. What better time to talk to God? I looked up and asked Him to help me through this recovery with complete faith that He will bring me through it.
The nurse appeared and wheeled me down the hall, which was a trip I was hoping to forget. I took a deep breath as we entered the OR and looked around. The table had multiple layers and strange contraptions attached. Some of the nurses in the background greeted me and offered an apologetic smile. They seemed to hold a mysterious knowledge of everything that was about to happen to my body as I slept. As I studied their faces, I was grateful not to share in that knowledge.
The surgical nurse lightly rubbed my arm and covered me in a warm blanket as the anesthesiologist put the magical oxygen mask over my face. “Here we go, Mara,” I thought to myself and let out a deep sigh.
No one said anything for a solid 10 seconds. Then with the squeeze of my hand, the voice from behind me said in a soothing tone, “Alright Mara. Have a great sleep. We will take it from here.”
I choked back tears as I began to thank the team in the OR and everything faded away into a serene cloud of white. The emotions were real and raw in that very moment as the doctor said, “we will take it from here” because I had fought this particular disc/back pain for a solid 20 years. Every pain, every struggle, every missed event, every tear, every heartache that added up over those 20 years seemed to lead me right up to the last sentence I heard before falling asleep in the OR. It was a moment of pure release, of letting go, of leaving my health and wellness in the hands of perfect strangers.
I felt a hand gripping mine. But I woke up alone and in agony. The recovery nurse rushed to pump more medicine into the IV. She fed me, helped me put on clothes, got me juice, and tried to make me comfortable. After an hour, she moved me into a recliner. I struggled to stay awake as I watched her work super hard to get anything that would make me comfortable. In that moment, I was very grateful for her.
Finally, I made it to my private recovery room. I spent the next 5 hours fighting deep, sharp twinges and stabs of nerve pain on my right side. Any movement was difficult. The first time I tried to stand up from sitting felt like a knife plunging into my back and ripping all the way down my right leg.
It’s a strange thing, because when you elect to have any sort of back surgery, you’re aware of the inevitable pain that comes with it. But there’s NOTHING that can prepare you for the first 4-6 days of intense pain that will follow the surgery.
I spent one night in the recovery center and found myself desiring to recover at home. Due to the intensity of new right side nerve pain, it became almost impossible to find comfort. My husband was having to physically lift my full body weight in and out of the chair for the first 72 hours. Any sort of movement sent a shock of pain down my right side. With pain that excruciating, a person naturally becomes desperate and emotional.
After an extremely rough night in the living room, a friend brought me an anti-gravity chair, which is where I remained for another 10 days. There were many moments of weakness, sadness, anger, triumph, and gratitude over those first 2 weeks. But it took 3 full weeks to notice any sort of improvements in my pre-op pain.
Prior to the surgery, mornings were the worst for me and I’d wake up with pain around an 8 or 9 on the scale. This week, I have been waking up around a 4 on the pain scale. THIS is a significant improvement for me and I’m very hopeful in the future.
So here I sit… 4 solid weeks post-op. I will continue to recover and slowly improve over the remaining weeks. My doctor said that a full recovery back to normal life can be expected after 6 months, which puts us into late-November.
I have experienced many painful things in my life and some day I will look back on 2019 and remember how I triumphed over a lifetime of chronic back pain and survived a crazy painful surgery at the L5/S1 level. I know this is temporary and I have faith that each day offers another day closer to full recovery.
To learn more about Degenerative Disc Disease, click here.
Coming soon: Tips on How to Survive Lumbar Surgery
*Top image created with Spark.
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