Becoming Paralyzed [Part 5 of 6]

All in all, I underwent three operations. Originally, it was suppose to be only two, but like the old saying goes, ‘sometimes not everything goes as planned’. In my case, the doctors were a little perplexed with a mysterious bleeding. It’s a mystery because they didn’t know the cause or even where it was bleeding from. From my point of view, it was somewhat amusing. But the doctors hated the unexplained. This annoyingly delayed the final operation to decompress the back of my neck. So, they decided to reopen the front of my neck again to not only recheck their work but to seek out that mystery bleeding. That operation went off without a hitch. By the way, the bleeding that had them all worried about, mysteriously stopped.

x-ray-1The third and final operation finally took place around Thanksgiving, but no turkey dinner for me. In this operation, they cut open the back of my neck and proceeded to correct the compression. After which, the doctors added more implants. I actually woke up for a short period of time and felt the drilling of one of the titanium screws. Fortunately, the anesthesiologist was on the ball and I was back in dreamland. When I came out of recovery, they told me everything went well. Now, comes the healing process. Originally, I expected more pain and hardship from the wounds on both the front & back of my neck. Boy, was I wrong!

I actually had no problems with the wounds… no pains, at all. In fact, the hard shelled neck brace after the first operation almost drove me to madness. Don’t let me start about my entire four months stay where every vein on my arms and feet were painfully probed and poked practically everyday. (The probing was the worst part.) I think they took out enough blood out of me to supply the blood bank for years. My left arm and foot were milked so much, that I lost feeling there even up until today. Still, the technicians were good, so, it wasn’t so bad. But there was one painful experience that I have to say… that I would rather go through a hundred blood lettings… than putting on a pair of compression stockings.

After the first operation, my legs were basically paralyzed. The doctors were worried that long term immobility may lead to lack of circulation that produces blood clots. A blood clot is a clump of blood that has changed from a liquid to a gel-like or semisolid state. There was a real concern that blood clots produced in my immobile legs would travel up into my lungs, heart and/or even my brain. This was not good news. Their solution was for me to wear extremely tight compression stockings and a machine designed to massage (torturously) my legs. They did the job but the effects on me was months of discomfort and weird psychosis.

Talking about psychosis, my time in the ICU had produced some real whoppers. Whether from the drugs or my extended stay in the stark environment of my room, I had some of the weirdest dreams that carried even when I was half awake. I recalled one dream where I was trying to defuse a bomb. According to my nurse, I was telling her to defuse the bomb that was under the bed with a code hidden in my sheets. She actually played along. One time, I woke up thinking that I was suspended on the ceiling listening to my wife and my duty nurse plotting something about me. I was really out of it.

Well, those were just some of the fun times in my four months stay in the hospital.

Until the next post,

Johann Q


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