One Patient’s Experience with Open Spine Surgery (Part 3)

leaving hospital after spine surgery

One Patient’s Experience with Open Spine Surgery (Part 3)

Note: this is the third in a four part series written by a back pain sufferer who underwent open spine surgery. Read the first two entries by clicking the links below:

Leaving Against Medical Orders

I don’t recall the walk down the hallway to the elevator, or taking the elevator to the main lobby. My t-shirt was very tight over my stomach (still very swollen from the surgery). I had on shorts and a pair of unlaced sneakers. There was simply no way I could manage the physical strain of lacing up my shoes.

My wife had gone ahead of me to get the car. My first recollection of leaving was saying “hi” to a colleague while I walked out. She was startled and didn’t return my greeting. I got outside and walked right into the rain. It felt amazing. It was the first sensation I had experienced since surgery that didn’t make me wince in pain.

The Getaway Car

My wife finally showed up with the car after a few minutes. Getting into the car was unbelievably painful. I shut the door, and we drove away. My inpatient stay was over within 15 minutes of my decision to leave. After chatting about leaving, which my wife was 100% against, and stopping to gas up the car for a long ride ahead of us, I began to experience something else I was deprived of in the hospital – silence.

Sitting in the passenger seat was very comfortable. The sun began to peak through the clouds that had brought the morning rain. The rhythm of the car on the road was soothing and a welcome replacement to the chaos and noise I had just left behind. Exhaustion and the deprivation of any consistent rest pulled me into a very deep sleep. It was at this time that I stopped breathing.

I couldn’t have stopped breathing for more than a couple minutes as I awoke to a gasp of air with my wife yelling my name and shaking me. The sun visor was down in front of me, and it had a mirror attached to it. It was odd to see a blue face with very blue lips staring back at me.

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