We're a little crazy, about science!

A rocky recovery

Hi, it me.

It occurs to me that tomorrow will mark the one week point since I had surgery. I didn’t realize it had been that long because frankly I expected to be doing better than I am at the moment. Let’s talk about where I’m at now and tomorrow to mark my one week exactly, I’ll tell you all a VA horror story I keep mentioning, but never really told.

I haven’t been sleeping well. While I had expected the surgeons (there were two) to open bilaterally parallel to the spinal cord, for some reason they opened me perpendicularly. I normally sleep on my side, but now I’m forced into a weird half on my stomach half on my side position due to the length of the incision or I would be lying directly on one of them.

That isn’t what’s been keeping me up at night though. Going into surgery I was caught so off guard that I didn’t fight back, I sort of rolled over on the issue. Something I don’t usually do, but between the horrors of COVID, the VA, and the fact that the doctor literally laughed in my face when I expressed my concern I was a little… shall we say wanting to get it over with. My concern was that she (the lead surgeon) changed the surgery last minute. They were expected to do two different things in this single surgery. Instead, she said she was only going to do one of them.

When I explained that wasn’t what I had agreed to and that wasn’t the point, both problems were equally contributing to my pain, she laughed and walked off. Literally, laughed and walked away. The other surgeon said absolutely nothing and the fact that I didn’t press harder has been weighing on me. I had a tough recovery, was stuck in observation overnight, and instead of making my life a little less hellish, her decision means I now need to have a second surgery over the same area when a single would have been more than sufficient all because she wanted to get it done as quickly as possible.

The plan (if I didn’t mention it already) was 30 minutes open to close (first incision to last stitch basically), the scar tissue on the other hand was far worse than the CT showed (which FYI, I warned them it would be and no one listened, surprise there!). Meaning I was in actuality open for over 3 hours so the joke was on her. Or it would’ve been if I hadn’t developed an irregular heartbeat, vomiting, dizziness, and the general feeling like I could go at any minute. I’m blaming the painkillers for all that (they left me awake for the surgery, so it was a lot of morphine and when they ran out because I wasn’t supposed to be down that long, they switched to dilaudid), but you can probably appreciate the fact that I don’t want more surgeries unless absolutely needed, especially in a pandemic.

In any case, my recovery is going much slower than I was expecting. The area is still incredibly swollen and while that shouldn’t be too surprising, the story I will be sharing tomorrow will explain why the amount of swelling around the incisions is, at the very least, a little concerning. On top of this, today I have another experiment. We have three this week so I need to be on top of things a little bit more than I have been this past week. I also made the mistake of suggesting to my main-PI that I would have my grant proposal done this week.

I guess the moral is that while I’m still very grateful for the fact that I have healthcare, I really wish the marker for successful care wasn’t set at, “is he still alive afterwards.” I would prefer not to need revision after revision of basically every surgery I have.


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