Friday, November 15, 2013 its an allergy then.....

Some time ago, while in hospital, I was given tramadol and within about 5 minutes of taking it I had been sick and apparently looked about as grey as a grey thing can get. Within 10 minutes my blood pressure started to drop like a stone and it went from something like 119/72 to 60/40 and kept falling. People were worried..... They gave me IV fluids and later several units of blood because my blood count also fell through the floor. They didn't give me any more tramadol and told me I was 'sensitive' to tramadol and should avoid it.

This recent hospital visit, I spoke to the anaesthetist before my surgery and told him I was allergic to penicillin and sensitive to tramadol. He asked me what happened if I took it and I told him what I've just told you. "Hmmm," he said, "tell you what, I'll just try you on a tiny bit and we'll see what happens" Now, I'm not so sure that I really wanted to be the subject of his experimentation and don't think I look particularly rat like, but I nodded sagely and thought 'well, he's the expert!'

So...he tried me on a 'tiny bit', which I'm sure is a very technical medical term. Guess what? Good news, I wasn't sick (although they did give me an anti sickness pill too, so I'm not sure that counts), but my blood pressure stubbornly fell to around 60/40 again (albeit a bit slower) and I ended up needing 2 units of blood too.

Doctor came round later and studied my notes... Conclusion? I am apparently officially allergic to tramadol...

...I'm still not sure if that was what the experiment was supposed to prove, or if the anaesthetist just wanted to tinker with drugs balance if things weren't 100% easy just to stop him getting bored.....!

Wednesday, November 13, 2013

Is it just 2 weeks?

2 weeks ago today, I was lying in a hospital bed, attached to all kinds of machines, quietly beeping and delivering drugs and oxygen. After my surgery, I had not gone to intensive care and rather than moving me into the high dependency unit as expected, they moved some of the machines, and a nurse, into my own room. I guess it was a measure of just how well I was doing at that stage really, but in my drugged up, press the happy button (PCA pump) mind, I didn't realise it. The nurses came in to roll me every few hours and encouraged me to breathe deeply, since my scoliosis had compromised my lung function in the past and I didn't need to get any infection, thank you very much!

I had actually spent about 6 weeks properly preparing for my surgery. I had been to the gym to get stronger through my arms and core, I had taken a months worth of vitamins and iron, I had been drinking 'good bacteria' for my tummy and I had been mentally preparing myself. In the early days when your blood pressure is low (and boy, was mine low!), and everything seems to be just happening to you rather than you interacting with the world, you don't know if your preparation has been a success or not. Its now, that I am feeling it though. I know I feel stronger than I have any right to and my recovery progress is going well. OK, so it takes me from 7:30am to about 10:30 to have breakfast, get dressed & get to the lounge and I still need an afternoon lie down, but seriously, 2 weeks? You'd expect it to be worse, wouldn't you?

Monday, November 11, 2013

Home James....

Well, I'm home....

I managed to make it home in 10 days, which wasn't bad considering how the first 6 of them went (see my earlier post, which I wrote but didn't publish at the time!). How am I? Well, I'm doing really well I think, although my natural impatience is wondering why I'm not better already and my sensible, pragmatic side is telling me that I've had major spinal surgery and I can't expect to be running any marathons any time soon!

Regarding the surgery, my consultant told me beforehand that he was going to put a cage etc in the bottom, but at the top of my original fusion, where the bone graft had failed, he was going to wait until he was in there before he decided what he would do with me. He actually said to me that it might only be 2 screws and a bit of bone graft, so because I am naturally optimistic, I thought that's just about how it would go. Yesterday I saw my not just 2 screws.... To support my failed bone graft I now have 2 extra metal rods and 10 - yes 10 screws fixing them in place on either side of my spine. My fusion extends 2-3 levels above where the original one finished and looks amazing. My original fusion always looked a bit 'wobbly' where they stopped in a hurry last time and you could see a 'lever' point around which I have been trying to bend for the past few years. Its what has added to my pain levels. That point has been fixed and smoothed out (as much as metal can smooth anything out) - it really is astounding what he has achieved. At the bottom I have 4 new screws too - taking my total from my original 8 (yes, that's all there were) to 22! The incisions on my back run fairly much from the level of my armpit to the base of my spine, with a small gap in the middle where he didn't want to cut through a bunch of scar tissue that I have there. I also had 17 staples in the incision in my tummy used for the bottom section (gruesome I know, but they went in through the front to fix a couple of those screws in) - all in all, hubby reckons about 20" of new scars.

So, for all I'm sore and taking time to do stuff, if I sit back rationally and compare this to last time, 14 screws compared to 8 and around the same amount of incision length, I feel I'm doing incredibly well. I'm older too.....which is bound to have an impact.

So, sorry for such a 'technical' post but I thought you'd like the nuts and bolts of it all (so to speak).....

Monday, November 04, 2013

Just a little list of my post surgical days

Most of the time I feel pretty good, well rested and incredibly well looked after.
Sadly some of the stuff is more challenging so I made a bit of a list to look back on and remind myself just how far I've come.

Post op. Day 6.
Lying here exhausted. The physio made me change beds to a lower one so that if the day ever comes I feel like getting out of bed, at least my little feet will touch the floor.
She made me stand too until I felt ill - I don't think that was her intention, but the longer I stood, the sicker I felt.
I struggled back into bed determined not to give up and fall in a heap on the floor because it looks so undignified. I managed it, but I still think I looked undignified.
I have been blergh ever since.
Not sure if I regard today as progress and think my physio is frustrated with me.
Some of them are good days....and some not.

Post op Day 5
Woke stiff and sore (so what's new?)
Had breakfast all crunched up like a little wizened gnome but grew with every mouthful.
The BMB visited with a nice (funny) gift
The relief physio came, got me out of bed in record quick time, I hurled myself up, full of confidence, only to nearly pass out as most of my blood stayed behind on the bed and the rest fell into my slippers.
Rest and a bit more rest.
Felt happy & cheery and remarkably well.
Chef made me the most fabulous ham, eggs and chips for tea.
My bowel decided it wasn't ready for good stuff like that and laxatives were prescribed.
They did not work....

Post op. Day 4
It's Saturday. Yay!
My drugs are working well.
The physio gets me to stand.
Its tough, but done and I feel as tall as a tall thing.
I rest...and rest some more.
It's Saturday and the Strictly Halloween Special.
I had 3 proper meals - yum but they're not going anywhere.

Post op Day 3
I am allowed to eat
It's only been 5 days since my last food so I struggle with a heavy meal of soup.
I'm sore but actually feel pretty good.
I can now only house a small African nation in my belly, rather than the whole continent.

Post op Day 2
My bowel doesn't work
I appear to have a belly shaped like that of a Woman having octuplets.
I can no longer see my feet - indeed, I'm not sure I can see the other side of the room past the bloated, gas filled thing that used to be my belly.
I start to use twitter to tell everyone in the world just how fabulous I feel and how well I am doing - its easy to stretch 140 characters you know!

Post op Day 1
They roll me
They give me drugs
They constantly check my blood pressure and stuff
I lie there and occasionally whimper...

Post Op Day 0
They hit me over head with large hammer to knock me out then use Meccano and a school woodwork class toolkit to fix more metal to my spine.
They screw my spine to my pelvis from the front.....and from the back...
They replace/add 4 levels of metal at the top.
I will be officially bionic once they add the servos (joking)
I have 3 incisions and a couple of other small holes - I don't know how big they are as most of its behind me...!