Friday, September 26, 2008


Al has returned from the world of the anesthetized better, stronger, faster.

On Tuesday, 9/23 I went in for spinal surgery. I had a very big piece of the L3 disc removed. This herneation has been the source of my problems, and it had reached a point where surgery was necessary. I was numb on my left side from my abdomen to my ankle. I would get strange, tingling / electric shocks down the side. My muscles were weakening, and I was having trouble controlling my leg function on the left side.

I had a laminectomy / diskectomy (microdiskectomy) done to remove the herneated disc material. The pic above shows the basic procedure, although the surgeon I used has a less invasive procedure so my incision was smaller than above.

Today is Friday, and I am up and walking about and doing well. I think this is because I went into the surgery in very good shape. Although I haven't been able to run since May, I've been biking and swimming and walking and doing some "modified" weight training.

The surgery was a long one (about 3 hours). I don't remember much from Tuesday. I do remember being up all night Tuesday with discomfort and NOISE. The discomfort is a common thing with spinal surgery. It is hard to sit or lay down. Walking about seems to be the easiest thing for me. So I just shuffled around most of the night/next day at the hospital. And, with all that time on my hands in the hospital, I came up with a few ideas to improve the hospital experience:

1) Hospitals are fucking LOUD. I guess if you're a rich fat cat you can afford a private room. Dude's like us get four to a rooms. Every five minutes (NO EXAGGERATION) a nurse or doctor or orderly was coming in to do something ALL NIGHT LONG. So my first improvement is a small hard plastic divider system I've devised. It keeps things quiet, keeps you separate...nice.

2) Signage is very important in the hospital, I noticed. I was in the "neurology" recovery area. Mostly, there were stroke victims and other neurological patients who were "recovering." I say "recovering" because they appeared to me to be going the other direction. Not pretty. Anyway, every patient had multiple signs over his/her bed:
Strict Monitor I/O s
Monitor / Measure Urines
and my personal favorite
Nothing by Mouth

I guess this all makes sense. You've got changing shifts, different nurses, different doctors, troupes of residents coming through. Clear signs make safe patients. So I got on board and made my own sign to post above my bed:


With all those pumps and hoses and gung ho RNs I figured I couldn't be too careful.

So now I'm just recovering. I don't have much pain, just the previously mentioned discomfort. My doc tells me I'll be lightly biking in a few weeks. I start weight PT about that time too. For now, I'm pacing and healing. All is well.

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Rumors of Al's Demise

have been greatly exaggerated, fyi.