Seventeen years ago, I found myself dealing with idiopathic scoliosis and two major spinal curves: one was 74 degrees and the other was 55 degrees. It was the severity of my condition, and the fact that I really had no other option, that pushed me to undergo surgery. For so many reasons, having surgery was the best thing I could have done, but even still, there are a few things no one told me.
Here’s my list:
1. When the morphine began to fade, I freaked out.
By the time I had surgery, I had dealt with spinal pain for a good three years; I was convinced I could handle any pain. I thought I could deal with anything. Boy, was I wrong. It hurts. It hurts like a sonofabitch. The level of pain is astronomical. As soon as my magical morphine button was taken away from me the devil itself came out of me. I was seriously freaking out. I was not in control of my body, my mind, my pain, and it was tough. I couldn’t sleep. I thought I was going to die from the pain and discomfort, and it got so much worse before it ever got better.
2. Death by sneezing.
Sneezing, I think, was one of the worst things that happened to me after having surgery. Before I had surgery, I had this super vicious, lion-like sneeze. I would sneeze and you could definitely hear it, you knew I had just sneezed. But after surgery, sneezing felt like someone was sawing at my ribs and lungs. It. Was. The. Worst. Feeling. Ever. Naturally, to avoid the horrific pain I felt every time I sneezed, I simply held it in as much as possible, which led to my current mouse-like sneeze. It is so pathetic most people do not even realize I am sneezing.
3. I had to go #2 before I could go home.
It is a terrifying experience trying to poop after having major spinal surgery. I don’t care how many stool softeners they give you or how much prune juice your mama makes you drink; you will feel absolutely certain that you are going to die on the toilet. But you can’t leave unless you go and my doctor was super intense about this, too. It was particularly difficult for me. I get so stressed out when I feel pressured.
6. Then they pulled out the fucking arterial line from my neck.
I don’t recall my doctor ever mentioning, “Oh, by the way, we are going to insert this giant tube in your artery and then remove it once you are fully awake.” Lucky, for me, I was totally passed out when they put it in, and in fact, I didn’t even realize it was there until the time came to take it out. I remember the nurse telling me that I shouldn’t feel a thing. Yeah, right. As she tugged and pulled it just kept coming up. It was like a worm that had started attaching itself to my artery was being ripped out. To put it bluntly; you definitely feel it.