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My Surgery and Recovery

Thursday: Jan. 6 (Day 1)

We arrived at the hospital at 7:00 a.m. and checked in at the front desk. The hospital personnel then sent me to the second floor to the same day surgery area. The nurse had me go to a room to get dressed by wearing a hospital gown in preparation of surgery. The nurse then checked my blood pressure and temperature, and she also asked me if I wanted something to help me feel more relaxed so I took her up on the offer. The doctor, anesthesiologist and operating room nurse came to talk to me and answer any last minutes questions that I had. After that, I kissed my parents and the anesthesiologist rolled me to the surgery preparation room. During my surgery, my parents waited in a designated waiting room. The operating room nurse or doctor would call my parents every hour or two to let them know how the surgery was progressing and how I was doing. While in the waiting room, my parents spoke to many other parents whose children were having various types of surgery. When I remember waking up in my hospital room, my mom and dad were there with me at my side. Oh, I was so tired and thirsty! My parents gave me ice chips to suck on. Shortly after surgery you'll be thirsty; however, don't drink too much water at this time or you'll get sick to your stomach. For the most part, I slept most of the time; I was so tired that I don't remember a lot about the first day. It was sure nice that my mom or dad could stay in my hospital room with me every night. In my room was a love seat which made out into a bed, and that's where one of them would sleep at night.

Instrumented Spine, Anterior ViewAfter the operation this is what my spine looked like from the front...

Instrumented Spine, Lateral View...and this is what my spine looked like from the side.


Friday: Jan. 7 (Day 2)

I was still very tired and sleepy; however, I knew the physical therapist would be arriving soon this morning. To manage the pain during and after my surgery, my doctor placed a very small tube into my back (called an epidural catheter) which was very effective for managing the pain and discomforts because of the surgery. Even though the medication was computer regulated, there was a cord with a small button at the end that I could hold and push if I needed a little additional pain medication. The nurses would always ask about my level of pain. They told me to use a scale from zero to ten where zero means no pain, and ten is the most pain I could imagine. During my hospital stay, I found that most of the time my level of pain was between one and three. I found out that it is always a good idea to push the button for your pain medicine about 30 minutes before the physical therapist arrives. By doing so, it helps with the pain management while you are sitting up and walking over to the chair in your room. About 16 hours after surgery, the physical therapist came to get me out of bed. However, prior to beginning therapy, the physical therapist told me not to B.L.T. This means not to bend, lift, or twist. She showed me how to properly sit up in bed, stand up, walk to a chair and sit down. She then helped me to sit up properly. When I first sat up, I was very dizzy and felt sick to my stomach. This first time I sat up, I found that my pain level increased to a level five. The physical therapist also returned later that day to have me sit up and stand. This again made me feel dizzy, and I found that by taking some relaxing deep breaths I began to feel a little better.

My Hospital RoomThis is my hospital room and all the flowers that my family and friends sent for me.

Sitting up for the First Time after my Surgery

Here I am sitting up for the first time after my surgery. I sure felt dizzy.

Saturday: Jan. 8 (Day 3)

When the physical therapist visited on this morning, she helped me to get out of bed and sit in a chair. She had me sit for a few minutes however, at the time it seemed like I sat there forever. This activity made me really tired and I went right to sleep when I got back in bed. Later that day the physical therapist had me first sit in a chair, then get up and walk to the nurses' station. The nurses all clapped for me, and I was very proud of myself to be able to do this. I stayed really thirsty this day, so my mom and dad would get ice water and juice for me any time I wanted it that was really nice. My mother would also place a cool washcloth on my face, and that always felt really good. I also watched a little bit of television on this day.

Sunday: Jan. 9 (Day 4)

The physical therapist had me walk a little further this day, having me walk down the hallway to another nurses' station. I also played Nintendo 64 in my room; this was a lot of fun. There was a small device that was taped to one of my fingernails that measured my pulse rate and oxygen level. I was having a little trouble breathing on this day and my oxygen level was a little low, so the doctor wanted an x-ray of my chest to make sure there wasn't any fluid building up in my lungs. Through the x-rays they determined that my lungs were OK, and they had me work a little harder on doing my deep breathing exercises.

Playing Nintendo in my Hospital RoomIt was fun to be able to play Nintendo in my hospital room.

Going Home after my SurgeryHere I am going home after my surgery.


Monday: Jan. 10 (Day 5)

When the physical therapist came on this day, she helped me to walk up and down a flight of stairs. I felt so good this morning that I walked all around on the second floor of the hospital. When I came back to my room, my doctor saw me and had a huge smile on his face. He told me how proud he was of me and that I was doing so well that I could go home if I wanted to. I told my parents that I was ready to go home. I sure missed my brothers and my cat. My dad went to the hospital pharmacy and bought my pain medication. He then packed my belongings and all the flowers and stuffed animals my family and friends sent to me. We then made the drive to my home.

Getting Ready to Go Home

  • Take a medication to prevent an upset stomach.
  • Prepurchase pain medications before you go home.
  • Be on the same pain medication before you go home to make sure it is the proper dosage.
  • Have a pillow and blanket for your drive home.

Be Prepared at Home

  • Soft bed sheets (I prefer flannel)
  • Extra soft blanket or sheepskin to lay on (this can help prevent getting sore)
  • Bed rail (to prevent rolling out of bed when sleeping)
  • Microwave heating pad (great for sore muscles)
  • Wedge pillow (helps to lay inclined for reading or writing)
  • Bed tray (used for reading or writing)
  • Bell or intercom (to call others in the house as needs arise)
  • Straws or spill-proof cup
  • Lotion and Chapstick
  • Breath mints
  • Bedside lamp
  • Night-light in the room
  • Make a pain medication chart to keep a record of days and times you take your medicine

During my stay at the hospital where I had my surgery, all of the nurses, physical therapists, pain management personnel, respiratory therapist and doctors were so nice to me. They also let me eat healthy snacks anytime I wanted. This was particularly nice after I felt like eating again. Everyone seemed to go out of their way to make my hospital stay as comfortable and fun as possible.

I hope that reading my story helps you.

Butterfly Kisses, Michelle

After reading this please keep in mind that all treatment and outcome results are specific to the individual patient. Results may vary. Complications, such as infection, blood loss, or nerve damage are some of the potential adverse risks of spinal surgery. Please consult your physician for a complete list of indications, warnings, precautions, adverse events, clinical results, and other important medical information.

  • Published: January 07, 2002
  • Updated: July 10, 2008