7.14.2014

The Road to Recovery, Part 4

When last we spoke, I'd just undergone surgery to repair my blown out L4-L5 disk. 

Think about the coziest, most comfortable sleep you've ever had. Now envision someone shaking you awake because it's time to go to some horrific amalgamation of school AND work, and for some reason it's freezing cold and you're already burdened by the knowledge that you'll never sleep this soundly again in your life.

That's what waking up in recovery was like. 


According to my various nurses and handlers, I took a little longer than usual to shake off the anesthetic. This is unsurprising to anyone who knows me and is familiar with the fact that I can sleep 'til 2:30p on a Saturday if left to my own devices. But I guess when you're pumped full of sedatives that very rarely cause people to lapse into comas and die, they get sort of antsy about that stuff. So they shook me awake and I mostly lied there moaning for a few minutes as consciousness slowly creeped in, tingling, from the margins of my brain.

Kat was already there, and if I'm being 100% honest did not look as concerned as I would've liked. But that just speaks to her optimism and my need to constantly be the center of attention, even when I'm obviously already the center of attention because she's sitting there staring at me as I wake from surgery. 

As I slowly became more and more aware of my corporeal existence, various little agonies crept into my consciousness. Nerve fibers began checking in with damage reports and status updates and my brain dutifully logged them all even though at that moment of time I couldn't have been bothered to roll over if I were on fire. The surgical site was still heavily-medicated and registered only as a dull, constant ache that seared into blinding brightness if I tried to shift my position. But one area was noticeably absent: all that terrible electric shock agony I'd had in my lower back, ass, and leg was gone. Completely and totally gone.

Ever waiting for the other shoe to drop, I chastised myself for a momentary glimpse of optimism; I just knew that was because I still had anesthetic coursing through my veins. Once it wore off I would still have the pain. The doctor had even warned me the surgery might not fix it all. But as I became more and more aware of my body I realized that no, there wasn't anything there lurking. I was fixed. Completely!

Well, not completely. I had a 3-4 inch incision in my back where a doctor had reached in, shoved all my fat and muscle to one side, cut a chunk of my back bone out, and scraped out a bunch of cartilage and goo. So that part hurt a bit. Lucky for me my nurse was hellbent on getting me out of the hospital immediately, so he forced me to stand and walk around the recovery room, thus demonstrating that I could be kicked out of the hospital.

But I couldn't just pop right up and stand. I had to learn the log roll. Twisting, bending, and related activities are not recommended when you've got stitches keeping your innards from blowing out your back. So I had to bring my knees up, tense my abdominal muscles, and roll while keeping my body as straight as possible to bring myself onto my side. Then more tensing and pushing myself up to a sitting position. Then a pause for breath, more tensing of muscles, and I could slowly, wincingly hoist myself to a position approximating standing. Sorta like this

It was slow and painful, but I was technically mobile. After a couple laps around the recovery room, some halting urination to prove everything still worked after all the meds, and one brief pause where I felt like I was gonna black out because I still had some sleepy-time gas to cough up, I was released and gingerly forced into the passenger seat of our car so Kat could drive me home while I winced and whined at every bump in the road because why would I miss an opportunity to make the person who loves me more than anything feel bad.

Before long I was home and right back into my normal routine. Assuming my normal routine was lying stiffly in bed and trying not to twist or bend while periodically standing to pop Percocet and try to shuffle a lap around my kitchen. I was almost back!

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