Friday, February 8, 2013
SPINAL FUSION in your near future
Did you just say yes to fusion surgery? How do you feel?
Did your surgeon answer all your questions? Or, like me, were you too stunned to know what to ask? He asked me: If you think the walker is a pain, how would you like a wheelchair? Good selling point. I wanted to be well!
He said the surgery would probably have to be done before Christmas. So I decided to go ahead and schedule. It was a relief to have the decision made.
I don't think I asked anything, just agreed to the date they announced. That date was to be forgotten and changed until the very last day.
They gave me a list of post-op do-and-don't that promptly disappeared in the mountain of paperwork from the recent hospital visits for pain injections and so on.
WHAT I SHOULD HAVE ASKED:
-Will I wake up in horrible pain? (I didn't.)
-What will I be able to do the next day?
-Will I be wearing a brace? When? For how long?
-Will I be able to take a shower?
-What clothes do I take? I didn't know that I would be wearing a brace right away. I had almost no elastic waist clothes. At the last minute a friend took me out to buy some robes and slippers that were never used.
-How long will I be in the hospital? (It's good that I didn't ask that one - the hospital stay was MUCH shorter than I hoped or expected. (Four days.)
-How long will I be in the nursing home?
-At the last minute I remembered the nurse who asked: why a nursing home -- why not rehab? I asked the doctor again about rehab and learned that I could get at least a short stay at such a facility. I wanted to move forward with getting well.
-What will I be able to do when I get home? (Since I live alone, that was going to be a big concern.)
-Will I need a visiting nurse or anyone like that? (The surgeon knew of a service that sent a home nurse and a home Physical Therapist.)
-What will the social worker do for me? (In my case, that would have been useless. The social worker I saw at rehab just wasted my time, though someone at rehab did help my daughter to get home help for me.)
I'm probably forgetting some questions, but my point is:
ASK. The sillier you think your question is, the more you may need to ask. Asking is NOT being a sissy. Asking (within reason) is not inconveniencing the doctor. Pick up the phone and get answers. I wish you well!
Back at home, some people were still trying to convince me not to have the surgery.
My religious adviser said there's no better way to get people to worry than to tell them not to worry. Someone will tell you not to worry. Give them some caramels to quiet them.
My pal Tom drove me to the surgeon's office the day I saw the most recent xrays and a date was set for surgery. In traffic on the freeway Tom was quiet and calm. I asked him to be the person to drive me to the hospital on the big day. What a difference some people can make-- to help us feel calm and peaceful! And he never tells me what to do.
You probably have friends who will tell you what to do and who will worry out loud. A few good coughs may let them know you're about to hang up the phone. In an extreme case, be braver than I was and just refuse to talk about it.
Many people insisted I must not have the surgery. (Even after the nightime ambulance ride in July.) One of them was WAY too insistent.
When I came home, they changed and were happy for me.
In the hospital, there may be one nurse who is just right. Learn her name. Give her your flowers. Order her some candy. Name your cat after her.
HOW DOES THIS END?