Patricia had two laminectomies, a microdiscectomy and a cyst that was removed from the inside of her spine. She was in so much pain before her surgeries that after she had, “post-pain euphoria.” She experienced this after her first few surgeries. She then had to have lumbar fusion surgery, and recovery this time was much more difficult. Patricia knew what she was getting into ahead of time. She had to “dig really deep” to find the strength to get better.
I’ve had to laminectomies and also a micro discectomy and also a cyst that was removed from the inside of my spine. Um, those are a few of the surgeries I’ve experienced.
I found that when I went into surgery, I was in so much pain at that point that post surgery, the first day, I had what they call post-pain euphoria and I got up, I showered, I took my bandage off, which was completely not okay and I felt great. To go from pain that you don’t think you can stand another minute, to being pain free is like flipping on a light switch when you’ve been in a dark room. Then, just a few years later, I had another discectomy. The same thing—instant relief. When my back goes, I- I can’t wait for surgery. It’s very frightening, it’s very scary, but I had felt like I had already given up so much control.
When you’re in the pain and not being able to do things, I just wanted some sort of life back. It’s not easy, but I think if you have a good doctor and if post-operatively you have some occupational therapy, they show you how to get in and out of bed, how to squat down, how to, you know, go to the bathroom, how to brush your teeth because, you know, you can’t bend. You’re not supposed to be moving that area. I try to be appreciative of the gift that I’ve just been given that I’m pain free. We all get carried away and it, you know, doesn’t tap me on the shoulder, it taps me in the back and I know to slow down, to take care of myself and I’ve learned I either pay now or I pay later.
I had a very large problem arise and I had to have spinal fusion with a lot of instrumentation. And, this was my most difficult surgery. They went in through my abdomen, which required two teams, banking blood before, kind of a scary proposition. It was a big commitment, but the surgeon said to me, this is what I can do for you, but he followed it up with, but this is what you have to do, these are your responsibilities, you know. Get ready for the surgery, to recover from the surgery and he was very up front, laid it all out, for this particular surgery, I had to be in a brace for six months.
With the large spinal fusion I had, which was several levels, the recovery was difficult. For that particular surgery, I was hospitalized for four days and with the fusion that was the one that made me feel like all my power had been taken away. It crossed my mind if the hospital catches on fire, I’m not gonna be able to save myself. I’m not running anywhere. Knowing that the pain you experience is not gonna last, it’s going to get better and that had been my experience and always has been. And, you know, it’s a bitch, it’s hard and you have to sometimes draw really deep and think about what’s important and what’s not.
I try and have some sort of gratitude that I’m able to have the surgery, that I have a great doctor, I have a supportive family and I think that’s a big part of my success.