Peter describes the first month of being home as, “the worst month of my life.” He felt totally drained, but he remembered a friend who had the same surgery and told him he wouldn’t feel any progress for about six weeks, which turned out to be true. Peter is four months out and back at work part time.
I woke up in recovery and I took a deep breath and I said, I made it.
And I immediately noticed that the pain on the right side of my leg was gone. I was in the hospital for five days. Doctors are not very patient people. [LAUGH] Well, I mean, the catheter is not a comfortable thing, but... to some degree, I was relieved that I had it, because I didn't have to, you know, get up or go to the bathroom. I had a PCA. Which stands for Patient Controlled Analgesia.
Which is a machine where you can push a button and it delivers a measured amount of narcotic to you. Had a lot of pain. And it was incisional pain. I mean, I had two major incisions, so I had a long incision in my back. I had a short incision in my abdomen. I was in pain. And the narcotics make you constipated, so I... I was bloated. I was extended. Wasn't really all that... interested in eating. I was not interested in... visitors, very much.
I just wanted to just kind of like lay there and get through it. I was tired. I was uncomfortable. I was bloated. I was distended. I was in a lot of pain. I was miserable. They left me alone for the first two days. Third day I got up. [LAUGH] Just that little bit of movement was excruciating, you know. Took me a long time to... to get up, just to that I would be sitting on the edge of the bed. And walking was difficult. My legs were weak. I was still a little bit woozy. The anesthetic was probably still in me a little bit.
And they walked me. Uh, that was the first time I walked, and I did fairly well, and then the next day... uh, I went through the same thing, except they gave me a walker. And I started walking around the corridors of the hospital. By the fifth day, I was walking around the corridors of the hospital without the walker. The nurse was standing next to me, was holding my arm to make sure that I didn't lose my balance. And I started feeling more like Peter. And I was discharged. The... first month of being home was the worst month of my life.
My orthopedic surgeon warned me, You're gonna be tired. I said, yeah, that's for the other guy. I'm a jock. You know, I ride 35 miles, I run up and down hills and dales. I'm in great shape. My resting heart rate is, like, 35. Th-that's not gonna happen to me, I'm gonna be f-I'm gonna be fine in a week. Sure. I was just... t-totally drained. One of my cousins actually came out and stayed with me for a month.
I was able to get up for my meals. I was able to get up, uh, when I had to go to the bathroom. Took me a while before I could have a bowel movement, because the narcotics were so... constipating. I had pain when I moved. I had pain when I tried to sit up. I had pain when I tried to stand up from the couch, or-or the bed. At that point, the most uncomfortable aspect of my recovery was my ab-abdominal distension. I was so constipated, I just-I would've given anything to be able to go to the bathroom.
So I stopped the narcotics. I just stopped 'em. And I-I went extra strength Tylenol, I took one in the morning and one at night. I just kept... thinking that I'm gonna get up the next morning and I'm gonna start to recover. Kind of like... when you have a-a really bad flu. All you can do is lay in bed. That's all you can do. And weeks went on, and I wasn't getting my energy back. I got a little worried. And by six weeks, I was starting to feel like myself again. And I was able to take care of myself.
I had actually told the people at the hospital that I planned on being out for five weeks. Which is-now, is like, laughable. And it turned out to be 10 and a half weeks before I was able to go back to work, and I only returned to work on a part time basis for quite a while. I'm now four months out. And I feel good. I have not yet started physical therapy, because, the one thing about a fusion is that you need to make that the bone graft is actually starting to fuse.
And too much bending or lifting or whatever could delay that. I have, probably, another six weeks before I will start my physical therapy. And I have a walk that I've laid out. It's a 45 minute walk, from my house around the neighborhood. I do that every day. I look forward to that, that's, like, the best part of my day, practically. My first walk was, for lack of a better term, brutal. When I first started walking, I walked like three blocks and came back. And every day, I've walked another block, and another block, until I got to, you know, where I eventually wanted to go.
22 minutes out and 22 minutes back. And I do that, now, effortlessly. And I don't get tired. I'm very conscious and careful about what I do. I don't bend over. I kinda like bend at my knees to pick things up. I don't lift anything at all. I'm careful going up and down the steps. As an anesthesiologist, I see people during their surgical... procedure. I see them in the recovery room, and then they go home.