Thursday, January 16, 2014

My Spouse's Surgery: One Year Later

A year ago today, my spouse had his successful back surgery.  I went back to see what I had written about it at the time; if you're similarly interested, this blog post is best.

I remember going to spin class in the morning.  Everyone was surprised to see me, but we weren't to report to the hospital until later in the day, so it made sense to me.  I knew there wouldn't be time for exercise later in the day.

Around 8:30, we had a phone call that asked if we could come to the hospital earlier.  We jumped into action, thinking that a surgery had been cancelled, and we could get my spouse's surgery over with earlier.

Ha!  We got to the hospital where we waited and waited and waited.  My spouse was wheeled away for his surgery at the time for which it had originally been scheduled.

Before his surgery, a friend at work popped by my office to tell me of her own similar surgery.  I had had no idea that she'd had a back operation.  She said, "It was the best thing I've ever done.  In the recovery room, I realized that the horrible pain was no longer there, and I cried."  I had been regaled with so many ways that surgery could go wrong.  It was so wonderful to hear about her good experience.

Likewise, my spouse was ready to get up and walk in the recovery room.  He said, "Let's go home.  I feel great."

I thought it might be the pain-killing drugs helping, but no, the pain was gone, and it didn't return.  When the doctor came to find me right after the surgery, he said, "It was a really large herniation.  He must have been enduring a lot of pain."  In fact, the herniation was larger than they expected.

We were very lucky.  We had waited a year before taking action, which meant that the situation could have deteriorated or the nerve pathways could have been changed forever.  Luckily, that was not the case.

And in some ways, it was a simple surgery.  Nothing had to be fused together or inserted.  The incision was very small; just a little over an inch.  And surgery these days is very different than it was in the late 70's, when both of our mothers had back surgery.

I was overjoyed that my spouse didn't have to stay in the hospital longer than overnight.  I know that some people get outraged at shortened hospital stays, but not me.  My spouse's roommate drove me nuts with the loud TV.  And then there was the moment when a woman in a smart suit came in to interview him:  "Have you had any additional thoughts of killing yourself?  How about killing other people?"

I had this brief vision of my spouse surviving back surgery only to be killed by a psychotic patient.  Happily, we were not in an episode of ER

I think back to that time, and I think of so many ways that people were kind.  It's not the kindness of a past, suburban time:  no one brought us a casserole, which was fine, because we had plenty of time to cook. 

No, I think of my boss who gave me flexibility:  I could work from home and pop by the office as I was able, and I didn't have to file those plans in advance.  I think of all the people at work who adjusted their expectations and helped me to meet work expectations while making sure my spouse was OK.  I think of all the people who kept us in their prayers and good wishes.  I think of everyone who told us tales of happy surgeries.  I think of all the hospital staff, every single one of whom was pleasant, no matter what was going on around them.

This morning I am filled with gratitude.  Unlike many people, 2013 was a good year for me, and that might have been because 2012 was such a very tough year.  And I see the year 2013, the good year, as beginning on the day that my spouse had the surgery which restored him to health.

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