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News on life after the L5-S1 slice and dice

I had the very necessary surgery on Friday, January 18, 2013, so here’s where I am after the bilateral discectomy now that I’m a few days post-op.

The good news is that the surgery was successful; 95% of the herniation was removed, the not-so-great news is that the surgeon found that the disc was so calcified that it had to have been herniated for at least a year (!) — I don’t remember having any back pain like that a year ago. The acute attack I experienced that put me on this path was in August 2012. Anyway, so instead of slicing away all of the herniated disc tissue, he had to chisel more than half of it out. He actually used the word “chisel” when describing it to Kate, so I imagine myself as a slab of meat on the table being chopped away on.

The fact that the herniation was there much longer means nerves may be permanently damaged. We won’t know how much for several months. I am doing OK; the major shooting pains caused by the herniation is gone.

The chop shop

My surgery arrival time was 10:15 AM. Kate and I were taken to the pre-op room, where we waited for the usual — prepping, IV insertion (in on first try!). TV was programmed on “E”, so we were stuck watching Joan Rivers and Kelly Osbourne blathering on about fashion on the Golden Globes for a while. The nurse attending to me talked about people she’s seen come in who are addicted to plastic surgery…hmm.

NOTE: All of the staff at the hospital treated us so well, recognizing Kate as my spouse. It’s worth mentioning because you can’t take that for granted everywhere. North Carolina actually has had a law on the books allowing a patient to designate health care proxy for some time; this predates President Obama’s executive order to medical facilities to treat same-sex partners as spouses if it receives federal funds.

CommunityPam's House Blend

News on life after the L5-S1 slice and dice

I had the very necessary surgery on Friday, January 18, 2013, so here’s where I am after the bilateral discectomy now that I’m a few days post-op.

The good news is that the surgery was successful; 95% of the herniation was removed, the not-so-great news is that the surgeon found that the disc was so calcified that it had to have been herniated for at least a year (!)  — I don’t remember having any back pain like that a year ago. The acute attack I experienced that put me on this path was in August 2012. Anyway, so instead of slicing away all of the herniated disc tissue, he had to chisel more than half of it out. He actually used the word “chisel” when describing it to Kate, so I imagine myself as a slab of meat on the table being chopped away on.
The fact that the herniation was there much longer means nerves may be permanently damaged. We won’t know how much for several months. I am doing OK; the major shooting pains caused by the herniation is gone.

The chop shop

My surgery arrival time was 10:15 AM. Kate and I were taken to the pre-op room, where we waited for the usual — prepping, IV insertion (in on first try!). TV was programmed on “E”, so we were stuck watching Joan Rivers and Kelly Osbourne blathering on about fashion on the Golden Globes for a while. The nurse attending to me talked about people she’s seen come in who are addicted to plastic surgery…hmm.

NOTE:  All of the staff at the hospital treated us so well, recognizing Kate as my spouse. It’s worth mentioning because you can’t take that for granted everywhere. North Carolina actually has had a law on the books allowing a patient to designate health care proxy for some time; this predates President Obama’s executive order to medical facilities to treat same-sex partners as spouses if it receives federal funds.

I was in the operating room at 1PM and my wife Kate reports that I was out of surgery around 4PM. This was supposed to be a 90-minute operation, but there was a complication once the surgeon got cut me open and took a look at the spine.

The photo at left was taken just after I was wheeled from recovery to the room that I stayed in overnight. I was still very groggy, but even then, I could feel immediate relief in my left leg, which was very numb and constantly had shooting pains that felt like electrical charges going down it. Both feet are completely numb, tops and bottoms. The bottom remained numb, I expected that since I have neuropathy that predates the herniation, I did have great relief on the tops of my feet, but it’s not a guarantee that all effects are resolved right away, if at all.

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Jane Hamsher

Jane Hamsher

Jane is the founder of Firedoglake.com. Her work has also appeared on the Huffington Post, Alternet and The American Prospect. She’s the author of the best selling book Killer Instinct and has produced such films Natural Born Killers and Permanent Midnight. She lives in Washington DC.
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