Saturday, March 26, 2011

I am a reality-based intellectualist, apparently:

Quiz: What Kind of Liberal Are You?

My Liberal Identity

You are a Reality-Based Intellectualist, also known as the liberal elite. You are a proud member of what’s known as the reality-based community, where science, reason, and non-Jesus-based thought reign supreme.

Take the quiz at Political Humor

Friday, May 1, 2009

A thing of the past

Funny reading this again now. Seems like so long ago but it's not quite 5 months. I no longer feel like a post-op patient and with my next visit to the neurosurgeon (27 May) I'll be discharged. So, time to put this chapter behind as I don't plan to have another surgery (which is not to say it won't happen but I'm doing my best to prevent it).

On to other things to blog about. Some day.

Thursday, February 12, 2009

Holy cow

Haven’t visited in a while and here I look and my last post says “2 weeks” – today is 10 weeks! A lot can happen in 8 weeks. I can safely say that I’m nearly fully recovered. I have been riding for the last 3+ weeks, as much as 35 miles, and go through most of the day without even thinking about it. Sleeping is fine. The only lingering effect is a narrowing of my airway which is only sometimes noticeable and while I was worried about it 2 weeks ago it’s already improved since then. As long as it continues to get better and I expect it will, all is well. I am still supposed to be limiting some activity – no running or other impact activity, limit what I lift over my head to ~20 lbs, but those limitations “expire” in 2-3 weeks. I don’t go back to see the surgeon until my 6-month anniversary, where I’ll get Yet Another X-Ray (YAXR) to check titanium plate and screw placement and further evidence of bone fusion (already present on my 6-week film).

So if there’s not much more to write about the surgery, then what next? Will think about that.

The doctor is ... YOU! Online medical symptom checkers examined

Interesting article…but really this is just a test. I don’t know how I feel about what the article says just yet. Probably the Internet is very bad for hypochondriacs.

The doctor is ... YOU! Online medical symptom checkers examined

Thursday, December 18, 2008

2 weeks

Today is the 2 week “anniversary” of the surgery. I’ve come a long way since then. At this time 2 weeks ago I was still very drugged, recovering from the anesthesia, nauseous, and more than a little cranky that it took them so long to get me into a room from the recovery area.

Let me back up – they had to stop giving me ice chips (soothing to my very sore throat) and pain meds before sending me upstairs. Then there was a wait for the transport person (the guy wheeling my bed). We roll out to the main elevators; there are only 3 in the bank. First one that comes has a wheelchair in it – no room for us. The next one that comes has a bed in it….we’re waiting…waiting…finally I pipe up “this is bullshit” and ask if there are other elevators. My transport guy says something about carpeting and bumps and I say go for it – get me to ice chips and pain meds, STAT! (that last was in my head, actually). So he wheels me over a bump I barely feel, on to about 5 feet of carpet, to a bank of 4 STAFF ONLY elevators; one opens immediately and was empty. Did that have to be so hard?

When I was awakened in PACU I heard my name and in my dream-state had an image of sitting up which I apparently attempted to do before hands grabbed me and had me lie back. I was roughly it seemed to me put through paces – checking to make sure things worked (gripping fingers, pushing and pulling with my arms, raising bent elbows up against force, flexing and extending my feet). A dilaudid haze made the rest of my time a blur; the surgeon appeared for that seemed like seconds – he asked me to say “eeee” to test if I had any laryngeal complications (I didn’t) then must have run out to talk with my Mom and Susan. I say run because from what I hear it was very brief and he said some things he probably didn’t need to (“Not his last surgery” and “I have to catch a plane”). I didn’t pick this guy for his charming personality, however. My Mom did not like him.

So where I am today is pain-free, pain-med free, mostly sleeping normally, and back to driving. I need to post an updated photo of the surgical wound – it looks great!

Sunday, December 14, 2008

Holding pattern

No posts for a couple of days as things begin to normalize. There are still parts of the surgery experience I would like to write about and in particular an encounter I had during my post-op clinic visit, but for now I'm relishing some great milestones:
  • My problem sleeping was pronounced a 1-in-30 (i.e., common) post surgical "complication" for which I was prescribed a short course of steroids. My airway no longer collapses causing me to snore in scary-sounding snorts and my sleep has improved dramatically (although not entirely normal yet)
  • That same day, post-op day 6, I stopped taking the muscle relaxers as I began to wean some of the meds that were ravaging my GI system. Perhaps coincidentally, but probably not, the day I after I started the steriods I was able to stop taking the oxycodone. Since then I've taken tylenol 2 or 3 times. That was a huge milestone, leading to...
  • Today, post-op day, 9 I drove myself to the Costco and then later went to a holiday open house. 
  • The dermabond glue crust on top of my surgical wound fell off (photo to follow).  It's amazing, really, and makes it even harder to tell that I had surgery.
What I am noticing these last couple of "normal" days is that I definitely wear down. I did a lot of talking  at the holiday party, showing off my pre-decrusted-scar as a badge of honor, and realized that I had to leave because I was fading and had to drive myself home. I also have to be conscious of my activity, which is supposed to be restricted -- no lifting anything over 5 lbs, no reaching over my head, only slow neck rotation supposedly limited only by pain. That's going to be a big challenge as I continue to feel better, as it will be easy to forget at times, but I need to keep in mind the longer-term goal of successful fusing of the bone implant. 

Friday, December 12, 2008

Pre-op holding

I got to wear 2 gowns for about 30 seconds – as long as it took me to cross the hall from the dressing room to the pre-op area. They pointed me to a bed, closed the curtain, and off came the butt-crack-covering gown. This was fine as I wasn’t going anywhere after that, but think of the laundry costs to accommodate modesty…

Smiling at me through a gap in the curtain was Melissa, the nurse in charge of checking me in. She asked the obligatory questions – name, date of birth, what procedure are you here to have, have you removed all of your clothing and jewelry, is there any metal in your body, do you go by “Gary” (for when they yell at me to wake up from the anesthesia)? These are all part of the protocol to make sure I was the right patient in the right place getting the right procedure – and some or all of these questions would be repeated multiple times in different stages of the process. I wouldn’t say it gave me the warm fuzzies but I understood why it was necessary and hoped that if there was a disparity discovered that the person asking would be alert enough to put on the brakes and sort it out.

When I answered “C4-5 ACDF” to the procedure question, Melissa said “don’t tell me you’re a medical professional until after I’ve put in your IV!” but I blurted out that I was a doc. Turns out she did fine in the end.

Around me and across the way were beds filling with patients off to various surgeries. I could overhear snippets of conversations going on discussing the surgeries, risks, conversations between doctors and their patients (You’re having some more hydrocephalus? And are here for a shunt? I hear you got to leave the hospital for a day – where did you go?). These took me back to my days in med school and residency where working in teaching hospitals meant dealing with the sickest of the sick and repeat customers.

Then in wheeled “Miss Lillian” across from me. I could see her since someone in the procession of my surgeon, anesthesiologist, and nurse anesthetist that came through to see me had left the curtain open but I could hear her better – the staff were having to yell at her because she was easily in her 80s and deaf but as she shouted “they made me take my hearing aids out”. “Do you go by Lillian!” the nurse shouted, asking what she wanted to be awakened with. “They call me Miss Lillian!” she shouted back.

Eventually it was time to go – the CRNA gave me 20 mg of versed (related to valium) and I felt it immediately, and we were rolling to the operating room. I don’t remember much after that until I woke up in the recovery room.