Note: The date of this post is Feb. 16, but my surgery took place on January 29. Better late than never!
So today (January 29, 2009) marks my “ground zero,” if you will. Everything associated with my recovery from ATR will be measured as a period of time from today.
My doc told me to show up at the hospital at 6AM. When I got there, I changed into gowns and waited on a bed in the pre-surgery waiting area. A few nurses came by to see me, take my heart rate and blood pressure, etc. Then the ortho resident came by. He asked me which leg they were operating on. I couldn’t help but think, “you don’t know by now?!” But it turns out that his question was standard protocol. At least 5 different people will ask you which leg (right or left) they are operating on today. It’s not a laughing matter (think airport security and that sign about not joking about carrying a bomb)! Then the anesthesiologist came by. He thoroughly explained the sequence of events for administering the I.V. and which drugs they’d give me while I was in the operating room. Then the surgeon came by. He marked up my leg with a Sharpie pen.
I entered the O.R. at 7:30AM. They inserted the I.V. and administered the spinal tap. The damn resident screwed it up at least twice, so they brought in the attending anesthesiologist who finally got it right. They flipped me on my stomach and then I was face-to-face with the residents for the duration of the surgery. The anti-anxiety drug they gave me (Versed) did wonders. I felt like I was in a bar putting down a few beers and chatting it up with people I just met. I was completely oblivious to the surgery being performed a few feet away.
The surgery ended at 9:30AM. They flipped me over to my back. I couldn’t feel a thing below my waist. Not even my twig and berries. If you’re a guy, this is the scariest feeling in the world. The nurses told me it would take about 6-8 hours for the pain block to wear off and by then I’d regain control and movement of my legs. They said they wouldn’t discharge me until I could control my bladder. I just had to sit there and wait and wait and wait until I could pee in a cup.
Finally, around 4:30PM, I pee’d and they let me go home. I was in a huge plastic cast with gauze and ace bandage wrapped around it (not a molded cast). There was a vacuum drain inserted into the wound that served to drain any excess blood or discharge from the surgery (I know - disgusting!). I had to go back to see the doc the very next day. At that time, he removed the drain (ripped it right out of the wound, but surprisingly, it didn’t hurt) and gave me a new dressing (same cast).
When we left the hospital, I sat in the front seat (big mistake - you should sit in back and elevate your leg) and the pain just RUSHED to the wound. It took 30 mins to get home, but it was the longest 30 mins when your leg is throbbing and all you can think about is Willy Wonka & the Vicodin Factory. :) I popped two vikes when I got home and that made me really drowsy.
If you’re wondering, the pain I felt in the couple days post-op was never as bad as either the day the injury occurred or the days leading up to surgery. Of course, I didn’t have the luxury of having vicodin pre-surgery, so don’t quote me on that. I only took vikes AND advil for 3 days post-op (vikes for the pain and advil to reduce swelling at the wound), then switched over to just advil for 4 more days post-op before my first post-op appointment.
Getting sleep was another story. It wasn’t so much the pain that kept me from dozing off as it was the cumbersome cast and the elevation of the foot on two pillows. That definitely took some time to get used to.
Well, the worst of it is over. I suffered the injury. I had the surgery. I still have to go through physical therapy, but I will be uber-motivated to get through that after sitting on the lazy-boy for 2 straight months!
I honestly think that for someone as averse to hospitals and doctors and the sight of blood as me can get through this, anyone can.