The day finally arrived. April 10, 2012: the day for my Kyphoplasty treatment.
I was scheduled to arrive at the day surgery check-in at Hamilton General Hospital at 10:30 AM, after not having eaten anything since midnight, and only 250ml to drink between then and 8:30. Beloved got me up a 6 for that drink and my daily meds, so needless to say I was both hungry and thirsty. Having said that, I am pretty certain the sense of hunger/thirst I experienced had as much or more to with not being allowed as it did with actually having gone without – I cannot recall having been THIS hungry in quite a while, and I ate well prior to midnight!
In any event, I showed up at the check-in at precisely 10:30 (me and my OCD thing about being punctual, I guess), and no sooner have I told them who I am than the receptionist gets on the phone and tells someone that I have arrived. Apparently the individual who was scheduled for surgery before me was a no-show (went to the Juravinski Hospital for chemo instead… confusion is definitely part of the deal with chemo, as I well know), so I got moved up two hours. Big win for me, for sure, but the pre-op prep and paperwork were done in a bit of a frenzy: they prepped me by inserting an IV into a vein in my left hand, which then starts to drip saline and penicillin into me. She tells me I’m all set, and that soon the pain in my back will be all gone. She’s quite surprised when I tell her that there is no pain, that in fact the IV she just put in bothers me more than the vertebrae! And all the while another nurse is asking me all kinds of questions about my medical history, allergies, and the like. It was a bit busy and confusing… all good, as it kept my mind off of what was coming.
In any event, by about 11:15 I was wheeled into the operating room (OR). Dr D and his crew in the room asked each other a bunch of technical questions used to check that they were all on the same page. They actually asked me a lot of questions along those lines as well prior to me getting into the OR… I guess they are really careful about that kind of thing. Better be, eh? While I am laying there on my gurney, I look around a bit. Beside me, under the surgery lights, is a weird “bed” that’s not a bed at all: it’s a strange contraption with about 8-10 sets of what appears to be rubber clamp halves scaled to fit a torso… there is no bed, per se, to lay on. I have no idea how that’s going to work, but then, that’s really not my problem, is it!? I looked online to find a picture of the table/bed thing, but couldn’t find one. I guess a solid table wouldn’t work, though, because they use some sort of mini-MRI to see what they are doing with this procedure.
Anyhow, after about 5 minutes of this cross-checking, the anesthesiologist starts dealing with me: a nurse holds an oxygen mask over my mouth and nose and asks me to take deep relaxing breaths. Meanwhile, the anesthesiologist feeds a muscle relaxant into the IV, waits a couple of minutes (I felt nothing), and then tells me she is going to put me to sleep. She tells me I will feel a tingle in my IV’ed hand, and to think happy thoughts. Do you have any idea how tough it is to think happy thoughts while in an OR surrounded by doctors, nurses, and cut-you-up gear… and especially when they and that are all there to mess with you? Needless to say, happy-thought success was not achieved. Not that I was particularly stressed or nervous, mind… that’s been a surprising blessing, given my propensity for anxiety. Anyhow, after about 15 seconds, I felt the tingle… 10 seconds later, I felt whoozy, and maybe 5 seconds later, gonzo. I would guess the time at roughly 11:30.
The next thing I know, it’s 1:30 and I am slowly and with some difficulty finally awake enough to make out the clock in post-op. Definitely groggy, and I think I’ve been ‘dreaming’ the post-op room for about 15 minutes (though who knows how long dreams are.) A nurse comes over right away (I think she must have been watching over me) and asks me how I am feeling, how’s the pain, and so on. I tell her it’s all good… no pain at all, except for my throat, which was really sore. I’m guessing that after they knocked me out they inserted a tube down my throat. The interview anesthesiologist the week before had said that the one thing they are very worried about during surgery is vomiting, as since I have no control, it can kill me. The tube was insurance in case I lied about the food and drink? Anyhow, the sore throat was the only “pain” I was feeling, and it wasn’t much at all. She confirms that I have pain meds at home, and tells me to take one when I get there… if not, there will be some pain, apparently.
By 2:15 they wheeled me out of post-op and back upstairs into day-surgery recovery, where Beloved soon joined me, and was most eager to see me wiggle my toes. Yes indeed, my spine remains intact! After about 15 minutes nurse came in, took my vitals, and went away again… and returned about 20 minutes later and sent us on our way. By 3:00 I was sitting in the car on our way home again. Amazing, isn’t it? It was actually harder to buy that car than it was to have my back operated on… and that’s quite literally not an exaggeration!
Pain management was no real problem. I took a Tylenol 3 when I got home at 4, another at 7, and then on my way to bed (10:30), and a final one the next morning. The spots are a bit achy, especially after sitting for a while, but really nothing of consequence. Non-invasive is certainly the way to go for operations if there’s a choice, isn’t it!? Look at the picture to the right… two little bandades, for back surgery. Pretty amazing if you ask me!
Sleep, on the other hand, was not in the cards at all that first night. I only got 90 minutes, from around 11:30-1:00, and then I was awake the rest of the night. Not sure why, as I was certainly tired enough, but no sleep came. Maybe a let-go of all the anxiety? The next day went fine… Beloved and I even went on an outing to Costco. She drove, tho, as my head was not in the game yet. And then this (Thursday) morning I went on a bit of a drive to Brock U, Bikefit, and blood test, for which I had to fast 12 hrs and then sit and wait in the lab waiting room for over an hour. Came home ravenous, and the lovely salad that had been prepared just wasn’t going to cut it. Fried egg sandwich, baby! And then the entire afternoon crashed here in my lazyboy (4 hours, literally not moving… not really asleep, but certainly “nobody home”)
And that, I think, was my experience with Kyphoplasty. Back feels good. John R at Bikefit asked me to touch my toes. He knew I wouldn’t be able to, what with just having had back surgery and all. You should have seen his eyes when I casually went ahead and did so! Interestingly, a rather nasty rash (pic on left) I’d had on the back of my neck for the past few weeks has cleared right up since the procedure as well. Not sure what the relationship is, but I am OK with it!
Looking forward to Beloved letting me go to it again… a spring veggie patch waits for no man.