Just tuning in? Don’t miss Part I of “My Injury Story” here.
When I returned to DC, I went to an orthopedist, who said after seeing my MRI, that this herniated disc I had was genetic. He said when I was conceived, I was destined to have this herniated disc at this moment in my life. Back problems like this do run in my family and I felt better knowing I could have done nothing to prevent this.
He sent me to a new physical therapist and I began getting steroid shots. The first shot was a miracle, and I could finally sit down again without excruciating pain. But it still hurt all the time and I still couldn’t run or lift weights.
I went to PT three times a week for two and a half months. While there were slight improvements, nothing really budged. I was committed to my exercises and did everything I could. Finally, I decided — with the counsel of my doctor that surgery was the only option left.
Deciding on Surgery
The horror stories started pouring in — people told me about how their friend or Dad or boss had gotten back surgery and it turned out to be the worst idea ever. They continued to have problems and surgery “only made it worse.” Well, that was scary. But, my doctor was confident this surgery was the best option. He described it as “minor” and said it would take 45 minutes and I’d be all better.
I was nervous but I couldn’t try anymore PT. At this point, I’d been dealing with this for over 6 months and it felt like it was never going to end. I chose to schedule surgery two weeks later, excited to see how it would help. I had dreams of running and CrossFit. For someone who has been extremely active since the age of 14, having to sit it out and swim (which I do not like!), the past few months had been really rough.
The day of surgery, we arrived at the hospital at 6am for a 8:30 surgery. I had never had surgery or even been in the hospital for anything so it was all new to me. About 10 people asked me what I was there for surgery on. At first, I thought it was weird they didn’t know — but then I realized they are required to ask me that just no one somehow makes a mistake and does the wrong surgery!
It was my second time ever being put to sleep so that weirded me out. They told me to think of my favorite alcoholic beverage, gave me the shot and I was out. I woke up completely out of it. There were people all over and I just felt like I was in heaven or something. They kept asking me if I needed more pain medication and I just kept saying yes, ha ha.
Back in my room, Rick was waiting for me and it’s all really fuzzy but I was dying of thirst because there had been a tube down my throat apparently. I think they brought me food but I didn’t want to eat. Mostly, I just felt high. After about four or five hours, we were allowed to go home. Being me, I was saying I was totally fine and didn’t need help. Looking back, I think I was still really out of it.
That night, I finally got a little hungry but before long I was sick as a dog. I was weak, nauseous and totally miserable. My back hurt from the surgery and there was nothing I could do to be comfortable. The night was awful. The next day was almost as bad. I could do nothing but lay on the couch, eat crackers, drink Sprite and feel bad. I thought I was invincible and would bounce right back but that was definitely not the case.
Additionally, none of the pain meds were working for me. I could take them and fall asleep but they didn’t really relieve pain and I hate being half asleep/half awake. I would rather have been totally awake and in some pain then half asleep and in less pain. So, I basically didn’t take any pain medication at all aside from the two days.
Two days after surgery, I was still really weak and kind of out of it. I had to work, though, so did my best to pull it together. I was working from home and living in sweat pants. I couldn’t wait for this post-surgery nightmare to end and had dreams of running and CrossFit in my head.
Come back tomorrow for “My Injury Story” Part III.