Thursday, March 1, 2012

The Difference Between Heaven and Hell

It's been a long 36 hours but I am home from the hospital.  The surgery I underwent yesterday was significantly more drastic, longer and more difficult than the other 2 surgeries I have undergone within the last 5 months.  Despite the difficulty of the surgery, it was the best surgery in terms of it's impact upon me.  The difference in this case was the excellent work done by the anesthesiologist. 

(Main entrance to LIttleton Adventist Hospital - hopefully I don't have to go in there any time soon!)

My head and heart were filled with trepidation as I anticipated this surgery.  There were a lot of reasons for my trepidation.  I didn't sleep at all on Tuesday evening, Zack woke up in the middle of the night and stayed awake for most of the night and Lex was sporting an injured leg and was also awake for a good part of the night.  As a result, Tuesday night wasn't a good and it left me feeling anxious and full of anxiety in anticipation of the surgery.  Once I arrived at the hospital things started off in a bad way.  The nurse who was doing my pre-op preparation was very good, however the first attempt she made to insert an IV into my left hand went awry when the vein burst.  There was blood everywhere and I have a very large hematoma on my hand.  On top of that - she then had to use my right hand for the IV, which made some movements difficult because I am right handed.

After that, everything went perfectly.  I spent about 15 minutes talking to the anesthesiologist about the last time I had surgery and as a result she really worked at getting the medications right.  As soon as they started moving me on the gurney from pre-op to the operating room, I received a dose of Versed which is used as pre-medication for general anesthesia.  Once we got to the operating room I got another dose of Versed and after about 1 minute the next thing I remember was waking up in the recovery room feeling very good!  The surgery took 3 hours but to me it seemed like no time had passed since the second injection of Versed and me waking up in the recovery room.

During my last surgery I developed a large hematoma within my spinal column.  To prevent that from happening this time the surgeon put a large drain into my spinal column so all the excess blood and fluid would drain out.  This worked well as I experienced no pain from the drainage.  Given the amount of manipulation that the surgeon did with my root nerves I was very surprise at how little pain did experience.  However all the toes on my right foot are numb.  But that will go away.

After 1.5 hours I was taken from the recovery room to a room on the 4th floor of the South Wing of the hospital.  Once I reached the room, I called my brother and let him know I was alive and through surgery and then I promptly feel asleep for 3 hours.  I was still so out of it that I didn't even remember talking to him.

Once I finally woke up, I had many phone calls and text messages to send.  I needed to talk to all my family members and a bunch of my friends.  I got on the phone around 4:30PM and just kept talking unless I some came in the room to do something (take vitals, give me pills, etc.).  I had one visitor that took me totally by surprise.  A good friend of mine who I had been romantically involved with a while ago came to visit me.  She works in a medical office right near the hospital so she wanted to come and see how I was doing. I can't really describe the joy I felt at seeing her.  I had no idea she was going to stop by and her visit was really special to me.  It was definitely the high point of my day in the hospital.  She sat and talked with me for well over an hour.  It was a great conversation and visit.  By the time she left I felt as if my head were spinning. 

After my friend left, I was constantly on the phone until almost 9:00PM at which time I started watching a Matt Damon movie - "The Adjustment Bureau".  The hospital has a really cool TV system that offers you the ability to watch movies on demand and to access the Internet.  So I took advantage of that by watching this movie.

Unfortunately after watching the movie I attempted to sleep and that just didn't work out.  Throughout the day I had received five 10 mg injections of Decadron - a very powerful steroid.  Given how much of this steroid I had in me and given how uncomfortable hospital beds are - I was not able to fall asleep.  Steroids tend to keep you awake and very much on edge.  I lay there in the dark for several hours until I decided to call my nurse and ask if there was anything that she could give me to sleep.  Intravenous valium was on the list of drugs I could have so the nurse gave me an injection of that and I finally fell asleep around 3AM.  Unfortunately I was awaken at 6AM so that the nurse's assistant could get my vital signs and empty the drainage container.

Since it was 6AM I just decided to remain awake and hang out waiting for the surgeon and physical therapy to make their rounds.  Physical therapy and the surgeon both showed up at the same time - around 9:45AM.  Of course the surgeon took priority and we talked about the surgery and how I was feeling.  His assessment was that I could go home that day.  So he left and began the paper work to release me.  While he did that the physical therapist did her assessment of me to make sure I could take care of myself when I got home.  She also went over how I should be moving and doing things like getting in and out of bed to minimize the strain on my back. My brother was able to come and pick me up around 12:30PM.  I got home, caught up on some work and have been resting since.

What I feel like this evening now that I am home is I feel kind of like I am in heaven.  I have been bothered by constant pain for so long - since my stress fracture last March, that to really live without it is amazing.  The constant hell I was in has been replaced by a feeling of ecstasy - a feeling of being in heaven.  Lastly my emotional feelings are the same - I can't believe some of the hell I have lived through in the past. Now I feel like there is a distinct possibility of change and hope for a good future.  It's hard to describe - but that is the way I am feeling.  This feeling is caused by the fact that the pain is pretty much gone and also the visit from my friend.  That visit has just given me a different perspective on life and made me feel much better - it's hard to describe but that is all I can say for now.

Tomorrow I will try and get life back on a good footing.  I do have to be up somewhat early as I have a critical conference call I need to take part in at 7:00AM, so I will definitely be up early.  I also have a bunch of other critical things to finish for work by EOD tomorrow - stuff I have to catch up on for missing 2 days of work.

This weekend is going to be spent doing a lot of research into cabinets, colors, wood flooring etc.  I have another meeting with my kitchen designer next Monday and I want to bring some good ideas to the table for our discussion.

Zack had today off from school along with tomorrow.  It's one of those Cherry Creek things as the district gives them a ton of time off. 

Thanks for listening to my ramblings today as I don't know that they are that coherent as I am still somewhat under the effect of all the drugs I had pumped into during the last 36 hours.

Thanks and peace to all! ~J.

1 comment:

Johanna said...

Going through hell tends to make heaven that much sweeter.

So glad to hear you're doing so well.