Back to My (Spinal) Roots

Thursday, September 9, 2010 | 5 Comment(s)

So it turns out that these next few posts will not go in chronological order.  The last 10 days can definitely contend with any other set of ten days in my life for the award of "craziest 10 consecutive days."  In the last ten days i have been in 2 hospitals, 2 doctors offices, admitted once, been a best man, given 2 toasts, eaten 3 lobsters, had back surgery, and eaten 4 orange popsicles (post surgery they give you popsicles--im not saying its a good reason to go get yourself some surgery--but it certainly reminded me to pick up some popscicles).

Many stories to tell about A) "Day 2" of my back pain hospital admittance last Tuesday  B) My brother's wedding and my best man-ing.

 the happy couple
 the groomsmen

C) The successful back surgery (a discectomy) i went through today.  And while I will touch upon C, A & B will have to wait.  more important things are first called to the forefront.

I had surgery today.  On my spine.  And while i was assured that it was safe and, relatively speaking, a simple procedure, there is something just plain terrifying about having surgery.  Especially being put under general anesthesia.  And while the pain i had been experiencing made this the logical and merciful option, going to sleep knowing that someone's cutting at your friggin spine, i think could give anyone a case of the shitinmypantses. 

 a man and his popscicle

While the story itself will have to wait, the details are that i got there at 11, was into surgery at 1, woke up fixed at 3, was on the road by 5.  Seriously.  I had back surgery and was driven home a few hours later.  Around 30 years ago when my father had a very similar procedure (interestly, at the time he was one year older than i am now), this procedure was a matter of days in the hospital and weeks recovery at home.  I'm hoping to be up and running sometime next week.  It really is incredible.   (Also, some people have asked what i "did" to my back.  The truth is that i really don't know exactly what did my back in.  One doc said that this is true in the vast majority of cases.  the exception?  When it happened "on the job," everyone seems to remember the incident precisely. Hmmmm.)

But what i need this first post, post-surgery, to be about is all the love and care i was shown as i was crammed through this whirlwind of a week. 

The Nurses.   I says something in and of itself that I can't recall all of the nurses that were kind, personable, and effective to and for me while i roamed these hospitals.  Not that they weren't all memorable, but there are so many of them needed to provide the care hospitals hope to attain.  Michelle took the time to give my gf her phone number so that later she could call to find out what room i'd been moved too.  My day nurse pushed for me to get an MRI repeatedly, and got me in 5 hours earlier than i expected (allowing me to get home!).  These women (i had no male nurses that i was conscious for) all went beyond the expectations of their "role" and made me feel cared for.  They treated me like a person and not as another body in the system.  As a patient, you are put in an extremely vulnerable position, and the nurses at both Cooley Dickinson and Mercy Hospital did their best to create an atmosphere that felt safe.

(ok one little thing about the nurses' job [not them] that i find ridiculous.  There is a schedule for meds.  And that schedule is followed RIGIDLY.  So, while i am in the hospital for "pain management," they are waking me up at 5am and 6am, to take Tylenol and Advil--not Oxycontin and Percoset--Advil and Tylenol.  Here's the the thing.  If I'm asleep, my pain is managed.  It is being managed.  It's in manage friggin central.  Waking my ass up only serves to exacerbate the pain part of my management.  For what it's worth.)

The Docs.  Now i know, that having one's dad as an established physician in the area is good route to getting quality health care.  That said, I've still ended up seeing some less-than-super-competent examples in my time here.  That was not the case this time. From the first ER doc to the surgeon today, including a number of other doctors in between, including a neurologist making a "house call" to the hospital at 7:30 am just to see me, i saw me some smart and talented physicians.  And when you are in pain that severe--you really appreciate it.  I was particularly impressed that the doctors dealing with my diagnosis all took the time to try and present the different opinions on backs, and try not to tell me what i "should" do.  Like i says--these were pros.

Friends and Family.  Guys.  Gals.  Everyone.  Thank you.  I got calls and messages and Facebook "likes" and twitter comments and phone calls and a friggin basket of flowers with a teddy bear!!! (which i carried with me for this whole journey).  It's always lovely to be loved, and since i care so deeply for all of my community and family--feeling that sentiment reflected is very touching and meaningful to me.  i promise, once my gate returns to its regular buzzing skip--i will do my best to shine my particular brand of joy back into each of your lives. 

My GF.  I know that a blog where the author gushes on and on about their significant other is boring self-indulgent, and should be saved for steamy date nights in cheap hotels.  But even if my blog were to border on boredom, i would still have to tell you how much i appreciate and thank and love my lady.  My gf was such an amazingstar superhero this past week it may be hard to put into words.  From keeping me together, to keeping herself together, to keeping our lives together, to lifting everything for me, to packing the car, to unpacking the car, to repacking the car,  to videotaping my brother's wedding, to driving me everywhere, to making sure i was where i needed to be for and during my brother's wedding, to protecting me from further hurting my back, to loving me through my fear, to letting me be scared, to not getting angry or resentful of all of this responsibility, to still working her day job throughout, to missing class to take me to surgery, to putting her life on hold for mine,  thank you. 
There is no possible way i could have made it through this week as well as i did without her.  There is simply no way.  And i need everyone to know it.  Because it takes an amazing amount of character to pull off what my gf did these past 10 days, and she did it flawlessly.  She is beyond words and love her beyond my own ability to reason.
 my sneaky angel

Tomorrow is day 1 of "the 3 days of no showering."  It should be like the 12 days of christmas, but much smellier and less white. 


  1. Faaaark. I think I can confidently say that back surgery? You'd have to knock me out and then get me to sign the consent form.

  2. Love love LOVE this blog post! Last night Adam asked me if I knew what time your surgery was and if you were all done/okay and luckily, your twitter update assured us that you were home safely :) Hoping that you're feeling much more amazing now that that pesky disc isn't effing up your back :)

    P.S. I want to make you some cookies...any requests? And would you like these delivered to your house or to arrive in Tobin upon your return? :) LOVE YOU!

  3. I'm so glad the surgery went well, and of course, that you're in good hands. You're very loved, but you already knew that.


    and xox to you too. can't wait to bring you lovin.


  5. I am sorry we couldn't have met up with you two on Monday. I am glad to hear surgery went well and I hope your back heals well. I loved the three pictures on your blog. I hope we get to hang out with you and your gf soon.
    take care, Luke and Alex