My Micro Discectomy - Day 1 Post Op
Slowly waking up I semiconsciously check for movement in my toes, feet and legs. YES! Everything seems to function; the number one concern is taken care of. I open my eyes and can’t help smiling.
So far I am feeling fine, no nausea and only some mild pain where the incision must have been made. It has been no more than a few minutes since waking and I recall the post op blogs and youtube experiences discussing the unpleasant and painful hours immediately following surgery; accordingly I begin to mentally prepare myself for a sleepless night in pain.
At some point my body was shifted onto a proper hospital bed which is now parked in the recovery area with me in it; a lovely young nurse is watching over me. My vitals are being monitored and the people around me are making sure that I am doing well not only physically but also mentally. I vaguely remember a relaxing chat about nothing with the nurse which is cut short by a visit from my surgeon. The surgeon confirms my inner feeling (hope) that the operation went great and that confidence is high that the final outcome will also be great. As per usual no guarantees and the surgical team leaves, not too long after and my stay in the recovery area also comes to an end and I am once again on the move out of recovery. After passing more bleak corridors we get into an elevator; leaving the elevator brings a welcomed change to my surroundings, a nice change. The hallways now feel a little less like hospital and more hotel like, this must be the ward. A few more corners and I arrive in my room where my girlfriend is already waiting for me. This is home for next 48 hours until release.
Visiting hours are over and my girlfriend just left. Time to think and listen to my body for what I am feeling. As promised by the anaesthetist I have not had any morphine, the only medication I have received are two panadol and one slow release pain pill based on oxycodine. I have no sciatica and my back is feeling surprisingly fine, no nausea and just that feeling of gravel rash where the incision was made. However…
I really feel like I need to pee, badly; for the life of me nothing is happening, whats going on? A couple of minutes later I decide its time to call the nurse because this is not feeling right, I so need to pee but I can’t and it's starting to hurt. The nurse soon appears and explains that it is not uncommon to experience bladder problems from the anaesthesia and that they would do a bladder scan to see how urgent my situation really was. Things are not looking good for me with the bladder situation, the nurse is on her way to get in touch with the surgeon ASAP to enquire if a catheter should be put in. A couple more minutes go by, I am feeling very uncomfortable and pain is starting to take over. While only a few seconds earlier my biggest fear was getting a catheter it is the only thing I want. Funny how pain works on the mind.
The great thing about the catheter experience is that when you need one, you want one; pain and embarrassment be damned. The process is surprisingly quick and all things considered not too painful. Some local anaesthetic is applied and given a couple of seconds to take effect after which an instruction is give to take a deep breath.(easier said than done). Five-seconds of an intense burning unpleasantness and then: “ahhhhhhhh” relief. After it’s inserted the catheter is not noticeable and with the bladder problem taken care of, the sciatic gone and the pain meds doing their job I drift of into the best sleep I have had in month.
Disappointingly the graveyard shift shakes me awake from the deepest nicest sleep I have had in month after only two hours. Patients are monitored at regular intervals after surgery and so I am woken up several more times throughout the night. Every wake up would involve reciting the “mantra” (full name, birthdate, any allergies) a check of my vitals and administering antibiotics and / or more panadol (which I felt I had no need for). The 6:00 am checkup marked the end of the two hourly interruptions and the catheter was also removed at this time. I got through the night with little sleep but aside from the brief bladder situation I did not experience any pain worth mentioning.
After breakfast my physiotherapist introduced herself and we headed of on my first walk and exercise set for the day. Surprisingly walking around was no problem aside from a little pulling from the bandaging on my back, even carefully climbing a few steps was no issue.
Before lunchtime my surgeon stopped by on his rounds to check my dressing and asked if I had any question or concerns. He also suggested that it may be a good idea just to stay one more night to make sure my bladder problem was resolved. The number one question on my mind was what to expect in the upcoming days.
In 8% of patients the disc re-herniates putting the patient back to square one, this can happen within days to years after surgery. It’s rare but it can happen. More likely would be to expect some sciatic pain within a couple of days after surgery as the nerves are somewhat aggrevated from surgery and slow to heal. Fortunatly the pain usually resolves itself quickly. I was also not to be suprised if I experience some back pain and stiffness for sometime after the operation.
The rest of my hospital stay was uneventfull with me spending time between resting in bed and venturing out on the ward for longer walks. 10:00 am on the second day after surgery I walked out of hospital pain free.
I am planning to youtube some recovery videos at day four, week 2 and some time after that. If you have any questions or comments please jumped over to youtube and leave your comment there.