RE’s Excellent Spinal Surgery Adventure: Part 2 Recap

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Published on the Doomstead Diner on September 6, 2015


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As regular Diners know, last week I AT LAST went in to have my neck carved up by the Pros From Dover, after many months of blogging on all the problems related to this here on the pages of the Doomstead Diner.

Obviously, I came through this surgery capable of still Blogging on Doom, and have not as of yet Bought my Ticket to the Great Beyond TM.  So far, it doesn't seem to have made much difference as far as the symptoms go, but at least I am not taking my final Dirt Nap as of yet. πŸ™‚

This is not the End of this Story however, it is not even the Beginning of the End.  It is just the End of the Beginning of numerous battles I need to fight to win this little personal War on Doom for myself.  It was a necessary one to go through though, even though I am still unsure of how all the bills will get paid, who will pay them or even exactly what the total bills are yet.  I am sure to find out soon enough though as my Snail Mail Box fills with bills from the team of Dover Pros who participated in carving up my neck.

This post is a recap of my experiences since I published D-Day Part 3 last Friday when I finally got in for the surgery.  Does my personal little story of Doom for me have any relevance with so much WORSE on the grand scale ongoing here as we speak?  Well, it obviously does to ME, which is why I am writing about it.  It also does have general applicability though as an example of the ongoing collapse evident in many systems, the Medical & Insurance industries and our Goobermint Social Support services.

Thursday Night, August 27, 2015

Instructions for the 2 weeks prior to the surgery were to avoid certain foods like Garlic, Ginger, Hops and a number of other things which sometimes react badly with anaesthesia.  So I had a pretty plain diet for the last couple of weeks, mostly Ramen Noodles, meat and cheese.  At midnite I was instructed to not eat or drink anything further until after the operation, to come in "hungry & thirsty".  This so that you don't have anything in there to puke up and choke yourself on during the operation.  I didn't get much sleep the night before, my friend who drove me into Anchorage was due at 4:30 AM and I also had to shower with a soap laced with chlorhexidine, which reduces the chance of infection.  After the shower I put on all freshly washed clothing as well, and then waited for my friend's arrival.

We arrived at the hospital at just about precisely the 5:30 AM Check-In time for the operation scheduled for 7:30 AM.  My friend headed back to the Valley for his work day, and I waited a short time in the lobby and then after around 15 minutes an orderly came to fetch me and we headed to the Prep area.  I got Cubicle #6 to undress, stuff my belonging into some bags they provided, although I also had my own bags with my preps for the stay in the hospital after the operation, scheduled for 2 days minimum.

Friday Morning, August 28, 2015

After undressing in the cubicle and stuffing all my belongings into the bags provided by the hospital as well as my own bags, I had a parade of Nurses and Doctors that dropped in to converse with me and answer my questions regarding the surgery.  I was assured that I was in much more danger on a statistical level in the drive from the Mat Valley to Anchorage than I would be while being dissected on the surgery table.  Nobody would give me any stats though on how often such surgeries are successful, how often they fail etc.  Nor did any Doctor know what their services cost for such a surgery, or at least they won't admit to knowing.  The Doctors are "above" such plebian concerns as to how much their services actually COST.  They don't even want to KNOW what they will cost, because that would affect their decisions on what to provide in terms of care and drugs, etc.  If you believe this shit, your anaesthesiologist has zero knowledge of what his services cost.  I find that slightly hard to believe.

Regardless of this, I was obviously committed to going through with said surgery, and after the last Doc left the cubicle, it was about another 15 minutes and an Orderly came to wheel me into the Surgical Theater.  Here I met the rest of the "Team" that would be doing one job or another during the surgery, 3-4 Nurses and 2-3 Techs besides the Docs doing the surgery and the neuromonitor ad anaesthesiologist.  This Meet & Greet was the last thing I remember prior to the Surgery.

Friday Afternoon, August 28, 2015

Approximately 20 minutes after the surgery was completed, I regained consciousness in the Recovery Room.  This timeline I got from asking the Nurse who was monitoring me how long I was unconcious after the surgery.  It is truly remarkable how well they can knock you out for such a proceedure, and yet return to consciouness so quickly.  The different drugs they use for this all have certain "half-lives", so they know how quick it will wear off.  I do not know as of yet what the drugs were that I was full of during surgery, I am trying to get that information now.

I was sufficiently "with it" however to make a video of my trip from Recovery Room to the Neurosurgical Ward where I spent the next 2 days while they made sure I was recovering OK and could be released without being liable for not doing due diligence. Vitals taken every 4 hours, check the wound for infection, etc.

I was able to rapidly get back to blogging, in  fact besides recording the Guerney Trip from the Recovery Room, I also recorded a Selfie once shifted over to the bed in the Ward Room. So this adventure did not cause much of a blip in coverage of ongoing Doom on the Diner, the chronicle continues relatively uninterrupted by this adventure.

Friday Evening, August 28, 2015

Upon arrival in my Ward Recovery Room, I was sharing it with another fellow who apparently was diagnosed with possible Brain Cancer, but during the course of the day found out that he did NOT have such a cancer and got Released.  The other half of the room was empty for the next few hours and life was quite Peaceful.  This all changed around 11PM when yet another neurological basket case got wheeled in to take up that bed.

Ths fellow was in absolute AGONY, moaning and groaning in pain at the top of his lungs.  He also was pretty DEAF, so the various Docs and Nurses had to also yell at the top of their lungs for him to be able to hear them.  It took several hours for them to load him up with enough drugs he quieted down some.  I got virtually no sleep the entire night due to this pain fest, and I felt positively LUCKY that I was only suffering moderate pain that was more or less under control with the Morphine Drip.

Neither on Friday Night nor on Saturday did I find out exactly what this guy's issues were.  I only observed a non-stop parade of different doctors going behind his curtain, catching snippets of conversation and discussions of what kind of drug to feed him next to try to get this under control.  By midday Saturday they loaded him up with enough drugs to put him to sleep for most of the rest of the day, and things were more or less peaceful on the Ward once again.  I will get to what his problems were in the Sunday Episode here.

Saturday, August 29, 2015

Late Friday Night and Saturday morning I finally was able to PISS, but not before the Nurse on Duty on Friday tried to slip a catheter up my dick to unload the vast quantity of piss held in my bladder at that time.  I unloaded about 500ml, which was enough to be pretty sure my bladder would not explode before the next morning.  4 hours later, I unloaded another 800ml, which basically showed I was able to piss OK, and this would not hold up my release on Sunday.

Around noon on Saturday I had them pull the IV Morphine drip to go on Oral Pain Killer meds, Percocet mainly.  1 of those every 4 hours has been more or less sufficient to keep the pain down to a 3, which I can deal with.  Above 5 it gets bad if it goes on for any length of time.  Occasionally I will drop 2 of them if I have been moving around a lot, even with the neck collar on a lot of movement gets the pain going stronger.  I have found in the following week I need to lay down for about 20 minutes out of every hour to keep the pain from escalating through the day.

I also had visits from Physical Therapy and Occupational Rehab, and every last person who came to visit me had me do the same things over and over again, flex and point feet, try to lift arms etc.  Not a whole lot of difference here after the operation from before.  The Occ Rehab guy had me demonstrate I could get myself in and out of the shower OK as well.  I passed all the main tests and was scheduled for Discharge on Sunday.

Sunday, August 30, 2015

Saturday night-Sunday morning was mostly quiet, my roomate was being kept pretty well drugged and I got decent sleep.  By morning though he awakened and was once again moaning in pain at the top of his lungs, and now I finally found out his issues, listening to the Doctors discussing what to do about controlling the pain.

First off, he had both brain and spinal column issues, but the real problem was WITHDRAWAL.  Not from one drug, but from 3 different ones.

First off he was a heavy smoker, 2-3 packs a day.  They had him on their strongest Nic Patch, but it wasn't enough and he was constantly BEGGING to be allowed outside to grab a smoke.  Next, he was such a serious Alcoholic that part of his Meds was a shot of Whiskey in the morning and afternoon and before bedtime.  Finally, he had been seeing a Doctor (who has apparently since lost her license) who was prescribing him huge doses of Morphine every day, and he was morphine addicted.  The amount of morphine that the Hospital Docs were giving him was just not enough, he needed about double the dose they were giving him, which was about 5X what I had been getting.

He had a totally unrealistic idea of being released, there was just no way this would happen.  Oral meds were not enough and he needed constant care from the whole team of docs and nurses on the ward.  Nobody as far as I can tell ever mentioned to him that his pain problem was one of Withdrawal from all the drugs he loaded himself with every day for the past few years.  I can't see how he will ever get out of at least some kind of Assisted Care Living situation.  The cost of course is enormous for this stuff, and this fellow is just one small example of what is going on everywhere these days.

Sunday Afternoon DISCHARGE!

Around 3PM on Sunday I got discharged with a sheaf of prescriptions to pick up on the way back to the Digs.  So I ended up with pretty much the short-average stay for one of these proceedures, slightly over 2 days.  My friend came to collect me, and we drove back to the Valley, stopped to pick up the meds and I got back to BAU reporting on Doom here on the Diner.

In the week following discharge, so far I haven't seen much in the way of improvement, and some things like the pain are worse.  With the operation now out of the way, I am now on the task of trying to get my SSDI bennies, which apparently have been held up because SS either lost or misplaced my Form 827 medical release, and they did not inform me of this.  So I have now re-sent that via registered mail-return receipt to both the Anchorage Office and the Main Office in MD. I'm trying to locate an SSDI specialist lawyer in the area, but so far not too much luck with this.  No Newz on the Workman's Comp case either, so still draining the savings to keep going here.  If nothing breaks my way and I can keep the Bill Collectors at bay, I'm good through the winter up here and then I'll move into the bugout machine and make a last cross country drive, assuming gas is still available in the Spring and I can still drive the thing.

Far as the stay at Providence Hospital is concerned, overall I would give them high rankings, it's a nice facility, the staff were all helpful and courteous, and the food was pretty good for institutional food.  The menu was pretty complete and they served from 6AM to 9PM every day.  It took about 45 minutes from when you ordered until the food arrived at your bedside.  Here's a sample of my meals at the hospital:

Breakfast: Omellette with green peppers, onions, mushrooms and cheese, English Muffin with eggs, cheese and Canadian Bacon, low sodium Bacon, Bagel with Cream Cheese and Cranberry Juice


Lunch Spinach Salad with Feta Cheese, Chicken and Dried Raspberries


Dinner Alaska Cod Fillet encrusted with sesaoned bread crumbs and tomato, red potatoes with sour cream

Alaska Cod Fillet


Here's some shots of the helpful Nurses and Aides who made the stay reasonably tolerable:



And finally a few of RE cruising around the Neurosurgical Ward πŸ™‚