A Wake Up Call

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This morning my alarm went off at 5:00 a.m. and it was a reminder that a week ago today I set that alarm to prepare for my surgery.

It’s crazy to think that a week ago I was headed to the hospital to have spinal surgery. Surgery is a trippy thing to me because basically it’s something I elected to do. Oh yes please, cut me open, drill a hole in my spine and cut my disc…..that sound like a hoot! Sign me up! Insanity.

Since so many of you have emailed and sent texts I thought I’d just do a post and share this very personal experience.  And let’s face it I have lots of time on my hands so blogging about anything is like a major event!

After arriving at the hospital I was taken to a pre-op area where I was placed in a sexy hospital gown with a very revealing slit up the back. Too bad my hair and make up team never showed up or I would have looked fabulous. Especially after they hooked me up with some super awesome compression stockings and slipper socks. Then the interviews started. It was so Hollywood!!! Question after question from the two nurses assigned to me. They were fabulous ladies by the way! I didn’t make it easy on them though. My veins were still at home in bed and weren’t quite ready to be poked with needles so it only took SIX tries to get the fucking IV in. Hello! That hurts.

There were distractions, though. While one nurse was fishing for a vein I was greeted by not one but two very young and hunky anesthesiologists. Sorry but these guys looked like they stepped off the set of greys anatomy or something. (Or maybe GQ). Sorry, I’m a pig…..

It’s very weird to sign papers that say you are aware that you could die, etc, etc. I hate that part. What a downer. The hot doctors assured me they’d take good care of me. I was totally convinced. Where do I sign. Ha!

The little area began to fill up with family and then the OR nurse came in to comfort me while another specialist hooked me up with all kinds of wires to my elbows and ankles. I looked like a cyborg. Once the surgery would start they’d insert needles into my muscles and an electrode on my head. All these would monitor the nerve activity as the surgeon worked. Since the pain was being caused by a pinched nerve it has to be moved around and these keep track of normal levels so there’s no damaging any nerves. Pretty awesome.

Then came the cocktail. A little juice into the IV and I was feeling fine. I remember the nurses pushing my bed out of pre-op and the lights in the ceiling going by one by one. I entered the operating room and began blabbering with the staff. I saw a jam box and speakers and asked if they’d be listening to music while they operated. They asked me what I’d like to hear and that was the last thing I remember. I’m hoping they totally rocked out… Maybe a little Hendrix!

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I woke up in recovery to the nurses talking about their insurance agents and one of them was mine. I quickly joined the conversation like I knew exactly what was going on. They giggled at me and said ” yep, she’s back and doing just fine”. Those are comforting words because you have no idea if you would be coming back or where the hell you’ve been for that matter. Anesthesia is a scary and weird thing. I wiggled my toes just to make sure and everything seemed fine. It was immediate relief. It was over.

They wheeled me back into my room and began the usual vitals, cortisone, muscle relaxers, a pain patch on my arm, and hung bags of good stuff on the IV cart. They also wrapped my legs with compression cuffs that squeeze and release each leg one at a time to reduce the risk of blood clots. It was loud and annoying but who wants a blood clot, right?

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Just when I was getting comfy they hit me with a breathing treatment that would keep my lungs open to reduce the chance of pneumonia. That shit was awful. It made me shake like a leaf and my heart rate went through the roof. I guess it’s kind of like primatene or something. Not enjoyable.

At that point I was wide awake and super alert. Then three chefs entered the room to take my lunch order. I have to say that I told them I didn’t need the chocolate cake but they insisted (wink). So basically less than an hour after surgery I was enjoying an amazing piece of layered chocolate cake. I knew at that moment this was all gonna be okay. The dinner meal was equally good and prepared just like I would at home. The food was so delicious. Such a nice surprise!

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They had me up right after lunch to walk around and use the restroom. It was really amazing to walk with absolutely no back or leg pain. It’s been months since I had no pain. Like a miracle…. It was gone.

They released me by 10:00 am the next day and I told Richie on the way home that the hard part was just about to start.

I began experiencing horrible nausea and dizziness. I couldn’t keep my eyes open. The only thing I was on was a pain patch so I googled the thing and realized it was an opiate which could most definitely cause such symptoms. A call to the doctor confirmed it and he let me remove it. After that I started feeling more like myself and only had to take some aleve.  My sweet little girl was right there with me.  She never leaves my side. (Or rather my lap)

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I’m thinking she is actually enjoying my “recovery”.

After one week of healing I can say ( with fingers crossed) that I’m doing really well. I’m moving around a little like a robot because I can’t bend or twist my body and can’t lift, push or pull anything. That in itself is more difficult than you might think. My biggest complaint is the stiffness that come from being so sedentary. Richie was laying on the bed and the phone rang. He rolled over and leaped up like magic. I was so damn jealous and can’t wait for the day I can do the same. We take our bodies and health for granted sometimes but I know I will appreciate every move I make from here on out.

So did it work? I’m only a week in but my answer is YES! It worked.
I’m so grateful to have had access to a skilled surgeon and a wonderful hospital. I’m one of the lucky ones who woke up and the pain was gone. I thank God for that.  I even got a get well card from my doctor and all the nurses who cared for me. (Pretty good hospital PR, huh?)

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I also thank those of you who sent emails, texts, prayers and love. It worked…. And I’m on the road to recovery.

A special hug for my sweet friend Natalie all the way in Canada who sent me these beautiful flowers.

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Meeting so many bloggers from all around the world and developing such lovely friendships has been the very best part about blogging. A pretty renovated house is great but sweet and special friends make life beautiful!

Thanks to all my lovely friends. We may never meet in person but you all mean the world to me.

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32 thoughts on “A Wake Up Call

    1. Stacey Post author

      Hey Danielle! Thanks so much, I’m doing really well. Bed rest is so damn hard. Seriously… I’m not one of those people who does well with “sitting still”. HA HA! Which probably got me into the situation in the first place. :-)
      He’s been such a big help to me over last few months. I think he’s come to realize he might be on his own this summer. I’ll just be the “supervisor”. I’m sure he’ll LOVE that. (sarcasm)
      Thanks for your well wishes!!! Love ya.

      Reply
  1. Kristin

    I’m a little jealous – I really wanted to see the operating room, but was completely out of it before I even got in there.

    You look fab. 5am wake up calls are the worst.

    Reply
    1. Stacey Post author

      Hello Surgery Buddy!! I swear I don’t know what I’d do without you. Thanks for being here for me. It’s so much more comforting when you go through this with someone who totally gets it… and understands what you mean by “I STINK”!
      I actually put on some make-up and “real” clothes today and it feels good to do such a simple but “normal” thing.

      Don’t you just love that little juice they give you before surgery. Of all the things I remember that was the best feeling. You’re there but you’re so relaxed you don’t even care about what’s going to happen. I was joking and happy. That stuff is wonderful but then you’re OUT! I’m sure the staff in the operating room were happy I shut up. HA HA!

      xox

      Reply
  2. Dana@Mid2Mod

    I know those compression cuffs were annoying, but you definitely didn’t want a blood clot. I had one back in 1999…caused by driving straight through from NY to TX by myself…and I missed six weeks of work. It was NOT fun.

    It’s so good to hear how well you’re doing. Continue to get better!!!

    Reply
    1. Stacey Post author

      Hey Dana! Weird, but I actually liked the cuffs… they felt really good. It was Richie who couldn’t take it. He tried to stay the night with me but they were so loud and annoying he ended up bailing on me around 2:00 a.m.
      I can’t blame him. There was no way he was going to get any sleep. OMGoodness – 6 weeks!!! I bet that was awful. I’m sorry to hear that. NY to TX is a long stretch! So yes.. strap on the compression cuffs, right? That’s serious business. Thanks sweet friend!

      Reply
    1. Stacey Post author

      Hi CT! I’m so happy it’s over. It’s a scary thing but the doctor said the disc was badly cracked and there was no way it would ever heal on it’s own. I’m glad I didn’t wait. Richie had a friend at work that waited 2 years before having the surgery. I’m a ditz sometimes… but I’m NOT STUPID! Quality of life is way too important to me. The resting part is hard, though. You know how I am. DO, GO, ACCOMPLISH, REPORT. HA HA. It’s hard to slow down.
      Thanks for checking on me.

      Reply
  3. sherree

    So glad you are on the mend Stacey! I have been praying for a quick and painless (as possible) recovery for you. Try to enjoy your time off :-) I know it is hard to lay around, especially this time of the year when we want to be outside doing things. By the way, I NEVER looked that good in the hospital :-)

    Reply
    1. Stacey Post author

      Thank you for all your prayers, Sherree. I know they helped make this go so well. I feel like I’m one of the lucky ones with all good reports so far. You’re awesome!
      Oh you are so right. The weather here is gorgeous and everything is green, blooming and it’s making me want to play in the dirt and soak up the sun. Patience, Patience.
      It’s the gown.. I think it’s designer. (wink!)

      Reply
  4. ScrapAndSalvage

    our bodies are crazy! it’s amazing that you could be up and walking so soon (though i’m sure it didn’t feel pretty). it must be so relieving to already feel the difference pre and post surgery. yay, doctors!! yay, medicine!!
    sorry about the needle poke SIX TIMES. that’s awful and would be just my luck, too. ew. i cringed just reading about it.
    those are lovely flowers you got and i am so glad everything went so well. rest up and enjoy what you can of it. it’s gonna be nothing but go, go, go in a minute! love you!

    Reply
    1. Stacey Post author

      I guess it’s really is amazing that they can do that and you’re home the next day walking around. The thing that freaks me out is that I haven’t experienced hardly any pain. Such a blessing! I’m with you. YAY Doctors who are good at what they do. You just have to give them the credit. As for the needle pokes, nurses always have trouble with me. My veins run and hide. They’re very shy. I’m use to that but the totally hot doctors definitely helped distract me. Thanks for your sweet emails and encouragement. I adore you, T.

      Reply
  5. Karen Lewis

    I am so happy and relieved that you are doing well. And your “sweet little girl” is taking good care of you along with Richie.

    Reply
    1. Stacey Post author

      Hi Karen! Thank you so much. It’s such a relief to have this behind me. I’m being a very good patient and following doctors orders to a tee. Every day gets better and easier. I feel really lucky.
      Hope you’re doing well and getting into some spring activities. The weather here has been beautiful. Thanks for checking on me. Hugs!

      Reply
  6. D'Arcy H

    Hi Stacey! I was just walking through the house thinking about how my hips hurt after too much gardening and golf, and then I thought of you and wondered how you were coming along. And here is your post! Unbelievable that you were up and walking and home the next day (much less taking blog photos in the hospital) ! I’m so glad you’re doing so well. Now take it easy, cuddle with your adorable kitty, and enjoy a break while you can!

    Reply
    1. Stacey Post author

      Hi D’Arcy! Oh how I wish I could have been out there with you. I’m just chomping at the bit to get out of this house and into our yard. It’s killing me that I can’t plant any flowers or spread mulch or pull weeds. Thankfully Richie is handling the weed thing because he knows it drives me crazy but I love planting new things in the flower beds. I’m going to have to live vicariously through you! Sore hips and all. HA HA! Just be sure not to stress your back (trust me on this one!).

      I’m doing really good. Every day I get stronger, have more energy, and move a little faster. It’s crazy how fast they want you “getting back”. Thank you so much for keeping me in your thoughts. I think the world of you and knowing you’re with me in spirit makes this seem like a breeze. My kitty is just “kitty” because we never gave her a name (we’re so lame!) She’s been like a little ball of healing purr. She climbs in my lap, starts her motor and before i know it we’re both asleep. I’m taking it easy but dreaming of the day I can bend down and touch my toes. Patience!

      Reply
  7. Cred

    Oh Stacy, I’m so glad it went well. I appreciate your comments about fear and doubt when you elect to have surgery. It makes sense that you would feel that way when it’s not life-saving or absolutely essential (this sounds odd since it seems that your surgery was pretty essential- but I guess some folks will opt out even with debilitating pain). Outsider perspective many not understand that aspect of elective surgery.
    You look great- which I think is a great indication of your health and recovery. I hope your recuperation goes as smoothly as possible. Forced to stay in bed or even just to take it easy is such a pain. Maybe you need a stack of engaging reads to keep you distracted and your butt on the sofa (unless the hot doctors make house calls).
    And I feel like grade A doofus for just now commenting. Somehow I missed the post when you first mentioned your surgery and when I read it in the next post that you were going, I felt a bit like the friend who doesn’t bother to call when you’re going through something major. I was trying to find the words to gracefully wish you well ‘belatedly’ but it sounded contrived. And before I could draft a gracious comment, you were over and out and on the mend. Please know that I wasn’t dismissive, I was psychically sending you good vibes and well wishes.
    I can only imagine how difficult it was to function with such excruciating pain- I’m so glad it was a success. Do your best to enjoy your recovery.

    Cindy

    Reply
    1. Stacey Post author

      Oh Cindy, you are so sweet! It never EVER occurred to me that you were someone who didn’t care. You’ve been the BEST! Seriously! I love that you visit me and comment and I consider you a lovely online friend.
      Please don’t ever feel bad about not leaving a comment. Good grief, I feel awkward writing such personal things because honestly I worry that people will become uncomfortable and not know what to say or how to respond.
      The great thing about this blog is that it started out about renovation but I realized it was also a way to keep track of many things going on in my life. I went back to a post I did in 2011 and it was THEN on that day that I first injured my back. I had a record of it! I’m convinced that was the beginning of an injury that I only made worse with abuse. But I was happy to have that personal entry to refer to and remember so I decided to never hesitate to post personal things if I’m feeling it. Please feel free to always leave a comment but never feel bad about not leaving one. I know you care or else you wouldn’t have been here with me through so many projects… good and bad. I love that you’re here!

      I guess it all did happen pretty fast, though. From talking to the doctor and friends, family, etc…. many people wait and wait and wait to see if it will heal on it’s own. They get spinal shots and try therapies and pain management in hopes that it will buy them time for the healing to take place on it’s own. What I found out VERY QUICKLY was that most people end up having surgery and some wait 1-2 years before doing so. I absolutely WAS NOT going to do that. I understand fear, but I refuse to be stupid. Stupid makes no sense to me. I literally had no life. I couldn’t do anything and it was awful. So I opted for surgery REALLY quickly. Wanted to nip this in the bud and get on with healing and getting my life back. I’m so glad it’s over! The doctor told me after surgery that it would have NEVER healed on it’s own. It was too far gone. It’s going to be slow but I believe this happened for a reason. I’m almost glad it happened. I could write so many personal posts on how this whole thing has changed my life for the better it would make EVERYONE cry. (in a good way)

      So for the record… I just think you’re awesome and I thank you for all your sweet words and well wishes. I’m doing so good and every day I get stronger and move a little faster and have less discomfort. I’m so freakin’ HOPEFUL!
      I’m actually trying to keep busy with reading and movie watching.. walking up and down my hallway (which is a long one… you know that!)… brushing up on some skills for my new job coming up and in general being grateful for everything.

      I hope you’re doing good. How’s the family and are you guys still thinking about moving? Still working on your house? I want all the best for you. Thank you so much, Cindy!

      Reply
  8. the home tome

    What a relief! So glad you are feeling better already! Despite this new stiffness, I’m sure you’ll be back to dry-walling, scaling your roof, and juggling dirt-cheap Eames chairs very soon…

    I am impressed by that hospital fare indeed. And it was nice of them to give you a gown with a MCM design :) All my best.

    Reply
    1. Stacey Post author

      Thanks Jocelyn! Don’t you just love the mod little gowns. That’s exactly what my husband said – “they’re kind of MCM”! As far as scaling the roof or dry wall, I think it will be a pretty long time. I told Richie it was probably good that I took a new job so I can afford to just pay people to do the rest from here on out. The thought of another injury makes me want to poke my eyes out. This has been too hard for me so I’m afraid I’m tagging OUT! HA HA!
      My follow up appt. is tomorrow so I’m anxious to know my fate for the next two weeks. I appreciate you checking in on me. You always make me smile!

      Reply
  9. Natalie

    Stacey!!!! So cool to hear all of these little details and even more to find out that things are doing well after a week (well, almost two now actually!!!). Funny enough, Alix’s anesthesiologist was also insanely cute!!! What is up with that??? How much more time do you have at home now? And when are we signing up for a marathon??

    Love of love,
    Natalie
    XX

    Reply
    1. Stacey Post author

      Hey Woman! My first week seems to have gone better than my second week…. but I “hear” that is not unusual. I scheduled two weeks off but honestly I wish I had four. My job really needs my back tomorrow because of the on-air fundraising that started today and goes through the next 10 days. They’ll be in a pickle without me so I feel so obligated to get back. Tomorrow is my follow up appt. with the doctor so I’ll just do whatever he says and work with it. I honestly CANNOT imagine driving yet so I may have a friend take me to work and Richie pick me up. (I feel like a teenager without a license).

      I’m afraid my running days are probably over. My old knees were starting to bark at me way before this happened so I guess it’s a good time to stop. I’ll cheer you on from the sidelines, though!

      Seriously, what IS up with the hot anesthesiologists? Maybe it’s a requirement to distract the female patients from being nervous. (or the moms of patients)
      I embarrassingly found myself staring and feel like a dirty old woman. (laughing) They were adorable!

      Love you!

      P.S. Yesterday I made a flower arrangement out of your flower arrangement. I pulled the wilted ones, saved the survivors and made another pretty small arrangement. It was the first “creative” thing I’ve done in months.
      Those flowers have really helped me through! And so have you.

      Reply
  10. Becky

    OMG I’m SO glad things went so well for you!! And I’m downright jealous that you had no pain right away. Such a fantastic thing to hear! I was convinced my surgery didn’t work (or made me worse) until week 4 :) You are going to make a miraculous recovery and be so happy every day you had this super scary procedure!

    Reply
    1. Stacey Post author

      Hi Becky! So nice of you to stop by. I have to tell the truth… I almost cried when I read your comment. I cannot tell you how many times I’ve read and re-read your posts on this surgery. It has helped me get through some really tough days. I also may have bragged too soon because my second week was not quite as easy as my first. UGH! The excruciating pain is still gone but I’m having muscle pain in the left leg and bottom of my foot similar to “before”. I’m telling myself it’s probably normal and that healing nerves take time. I’m so discouraged right now. I too was having feelings yesterday that maybe this didn’t work. Maybe I was delusional that first week and “under the influence” of too many drugs or something. Then your comment popped up and I felt so much better. Maybe I’m being dramatic… week 4 was your magic number so maybe it will be mine too. Something to look forward to!

      I do wonder, though. How the hell did you sleep? On your back, side? What position worked for you? I’m so stiff and sore that I’m now having a hard time sleeping because I ache so much. I want to get on all fours and do the worlds biggest cat stretch EVER! I wonder around the house living in fear that I will re-herniate. I suppose that’s pretty normal, right? Oh goodness, It’s a mind trip!

      Thank you again! I see pictures of you enjoying your life “after surgery” and I have such high hopes for mine. Patience. Patience. xo

      Reply
      1. Becky

        Hi! Sorry I didn’t see this reply! I slept almost the whole time on my back with pillows under my knees. It helped to take the pressure off my back. Right before the surgery I couldn’t sleep AT ALL, and right after the drugs certainly helped. But even now if I’m ever even slightly sore from regular back strain, I just pop a pillow or two under the knees.

        And wanting to stretch so bad it’s driving you nuts?? I was there. Just don’t do it. Wait till the doc clears you then you can spend the rest of your life stretching every day :) Don’t forget to take ibuprofen or aleve for the pain…you need it!

        I am still slightly afraid of reherniation but that fear majorly subsided after about 6 months. I’m still careful and try not to do things I know strain my back. But we’ve got to live life!! Can’t be afraid forever. PT helps get you over that hump.

        Hope things are even better this week!!

        Reply
  11. Kristina Gulino

    Stacey!!! Oh my goodness, so sorry to hear about all this mess. Thank goodness all is well – you are definitely your happy, perky self once again :) I have missed reading your little corner of the web. I’m finally back in mine. Can’t wait to catch up on all your posts. Praying for continued recovery!!

    Reply
    1. Stacey Post author

      Hello Stranger!!! Boy do I understand how time flies and life gets crazy. I’m happy to hear you’re blogging again and I look forward to the day I can get back to doing more of it. It’s been a struggle and I miss it so much!
      Thanks for the well wishes. I’m getting better daily. I have 3 more weeks of “doing nothing” until I can get back to very basic things (like loading the dishwasher). You can imagine how happy my husband will be when that day comes. (laughing). Looking forward to reading your posts again. You’re blog is so lovely!

      Reply
      1. Kristina Gulino

        Well thanks so much! I’m sure you’ll be back in no time (but not too soon – milk the chocolate cake all you can) ;) Hope you have a refreshing week. All my best! I’ll catch you here again very soon!!!

        Reply
  12. gemma@thesweetestdigs

    I’m a new-ish follower to your blog, and first time commenter, but I just wanted to let you know how glad I am to hear that everything went well! Take good care of yourself – lots of rest!! Though I’m sure you’ll be back to your house projects before too long!! xo.

    Reply
    1. Stacey Post author

      Hi Gemma! So wonderful to meet you and thanks so much for your well wishes. I’m sort of embarrassed because new followers are getting the shaft. HA HA! Since this stupid back injury I’ve done nothing to the house (really, nothing– PERIOD!) And my husband is trying to keep up with everything. So please forgive the spotty, less than interesting posts around here. I so look forward to getting back to all the projects I have sitting half done.
      It’s so dang frustrating. I do appreciate you reaching out to saying “hello” …. I’m so happy you’re here. So sweet of you! I look forward to checking out your blog, too!

      Reply
  13. Kristin

    Stopping in to say hi, and saw your response to Becky. I hate these middle weeks -they suck. I will say that y fifth week post-op I was a like a new person. Not whole, for sure, but like I might actually stop cursing my decision to have the surgery every other second. I know our surgeries are different, but the more I talk to people, the more I’m realizing that there’s just a good month where the body is recovering from the trauma involved in slicing and dicing and stitching and mending. I’m in week six now – and I can see the light at the end of the tunnel. Or at least the light in my physical therapist’s office.

    I’ll take it.

    Take care.
    PS I think it’s going to take a lot longer to recover from the screwed up sleep schedule. It’s just been this week that I’m able to shift in my sleep without coming fully awake – and adjusting pillows, props, blankets as required. That does a number on your sleep (and sanity) for sure.

    When do you go back to work? Or new work, I guess…

    Reply
  14. Alex

    Hello! Worst friend ever here. My God. You. Surgery. ARGH!! I should have written to you the day this happened. And no you do not want a blood clot. I had one 10 years ago and they are not fun. Words cannot express how much I hope this works for you and you’re on the road to recovery. And yes please don’t over strain yourself in any way. The house can wait. We’re not going anywhere. XO

    Reply

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