Key Learning So Far

  • Understand the side effects, if any, of the drugs you'll be taking after surgery - especially possible withdrawl symptoms
  • Make sure whoever picks you from the hospital brings a paper and pen to take key notes from the nurse discharging you
  • If you have a job, organize your STD (Short Term Disability) as much as possible before surgery

Pain Chart - Post Surgery

Pain Chart - Post Surgery

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Post Survey - Date 732 (Week 104)

Pain Rating:

It has been a mixed last 12 months - hence the 1.5 back pain rating. There were times when I had almost zero pain,  but then others when it was unbearable enough that I needed to take Ibuprofen and Celebrex.

One consistent trend I've noticed is that I has stiffness and tightness first thing in the morning. As the day progresses and I'm just working from my desk, the pain dissipates. I recently purchased a 'moist' back warmer and try to apply this 30 minutes before I go to sleep and 15 minutes before I get out of bed, to see if this will improve.

Still swimming and cycling, but not running much - as there is post pain back from this. In terms of swimming, I've stopped working on my butterfly and breaststroke in an attempt to see if this is the reason for my back pain.

I think a lot of my back pain can be attributed to an active lifestyle around the house - cleaning, playing with kids etc.

Had my 2 year follow up with MRI and X-ray's last week and I have posted the images below. The surgeon (Dr V) was surprised that the L4 and L5 bones showed signs of improved health ( 2 years ago they both took a beating from the wear and tear on them). The disc is still degenerating but it's seems to have slowed somewhat.

I think the Wallis system is a long term fix for me - having that support and 'gap' between L4 and L5 will ensure the rate of demise of my back is  slowed, but it's not a short term fix.

I continue to find my physical therapy exercises are an amazing way to relive the pain and try to do this daily to improve core abdominal strength.

Below are the MRI and X-Ray images:

(MRI courtesy of BCH)

(MRI courtesy of BCH)

(X-Ray courtesy of BCH)

(X-Ray courtesy of BCH)

(X-Ray courtesy of BCH)

(X-Ray courtesy of BCH)

Monday, February 23, 2009

Post Survey - Date 358 (Week 51)

Pain Rating:

The X-Rays following my 12 month visit to the surgeon were finally sent to me and I've posted them underneath.
All in all the visit went very well.
12 months after surgery my back continues to improve. While there are the occasional bad days, they are few and far between and the pain is no longer as acute. In general, I'm feeling more confident about my back . I continue to swim and bike weekly and now manage to run 40 minutes at a time. I rarely have to take pain killers and I'm still finding time for daily core isometic strength training.

At this point, the discomfort is manageable and while I accept I may never have my full strength and flexibility back, I'm confident of a bright future.

Here are the X-rays:-

(AP- X-Ray courtesy of BCH)

(Hyper Extension X-Ray courtesy of BCH)

(Hyper Flexion - X-Ray courtesy of BCH)

(Neutral- X-Ray courtesy of BCH)

Saturday, November 15, 2008

New Flyers

There are a couple of new flyers marketing the Wallis Surgical trial. I have included scans of these below:

Thursday, September 4, 2008

Post Survey - Date 182 (Week 26)

Pain Rating:

The X-Rays following my 6 month visit to the surgeon were finally sent to me and I've posted them underneath.

All in all the visit went very well.

6 months after surgery my back continues to improve. While there are the occasional bad days, they are few and far between and the pain is no longer as acute. In general, I'm feeling more confident about my back . I continue to swim and bike weekly and now manage to run 40 minutes at a time.

Here are the X-rays:-

(AP- X-Ray courtesy of BCH)

(Hyper Extension X-Ray courtesy of BCH)

(Hyper Flexion - X-Ray courtesy of BCH)

(Neutral- X-Ray courtesy of BCH)

Tuesday, May 13, 2008

Post Surgery - Day 110 (15 Weeks)

Pain Rating:

The X-Rays following my 3 month visit to the surgeon were finally sent to me and I've posted them underneath.

All in all the visit went relatively well. At the time, my hip pain was acute and it was recommended that I take Celebrex, however since then the hip pain has dissipated somewhat and shifted more to the lower back - according to my physical therapist that is a good thing.

Here are the X-rays:-

(AP- X-Ray courtesy of BCH)

(Hyper Extension X-Ray courtesy of BCH)

(Hyper Flexion - X-Ray courtesy of BCH)

(Neutral- X-Ray courtesy of BCH)

Thursday, April 24, 2008

Post Surgery - Day 92 (13 weeks)

Pain Rating:

My Physical Therapist found time to write the following referral note, prior to my visit with the Surgeon's assistant tomorrow:-

Pt. has been seen for a total of 17 physical therapy visits since initial
evaluation on 2/7/2008.

Subjective Findings
reports some improvement post surgically. He states that his overall
alignment has improved and general functional mobility has increased, however
intermittent spasms and hip pain continues.
No lower extremity
radicular symptoms are reported. No sleep disturbances are reported.
No medications being taken.
Chief complaint relates to morning
stiffness and transitional pain from sit to stand.

Objective Findings
Inspection: Standing
posture reveals moderate left lateral shift. Lumbar lordosis is

AROM L/S: Flexion: Minimal loss with complaints of
bilateral hip pain L>R upon initiation of movement.

Extension: Minimal loss with no complaints of pain.

Reflexes: +1 bilateral lower extremities.

Unremarkable throughout bilateral lower extremities.

Strength: No
myotomal weakness noted.

Palpation: Moderate
tenderness noted over posterior iliac crest L>R. No tenderness over
surgical site.


has made fair progress with therapy. He has been extremely compliant with
his program and I am pleased with the progress made throughout the L/S
region. I am not pleased with the continued hip and gluteal region pain
noted upon initiation of position changes. Soft tissue mobilization and
exercises have been able to reduce the symptoms, however some symptoms
Although insurance benefits have expired I recommend
continued therapy 1x/week for advanced stabilization program and soft tissue

Pt. to return to M.D.
for follow up visit on 4/25/2008.

Wednesday, April 23, 2008

Post Surgery - Day 91 (13 weeks)

Pain Rating:

Progress continues to be slow and indifferent. On some days I don't feel too bad , on others it's a struggle to get out of bed.

In general, the bulk of the pain is in and around the hip area - predominately on the left hip. Based on my Physical Therapists judgement, it appears to be muscular. The sensation is hard to describe, but it feels achy and tight. When I experience the discomfort and try to bend forward from the hips, the tension or pressure or whatever it is, inhibits my mobility to do so.

An average day is as follows:-
1) Wake up in the morning, after a good night's sleep, and feel discomfort in the left hip
2) The first hour or two after waking up are the most difficult. It's hard to stand up-right and bend forward
3) Around lunchtime, the mobility starts getting a little better and I can quite easily seat in comfort for an hour or two
4) Either walk twice a day, swim once and walk once or gentle bike and walk once: Note: After my 25min walk, it's always difficult to bend forward for an initial period , however the walk itself is pain-free.
5) Do my 15minute set of stretching exercises
6) Go to bed

Having said all that, I'm not helping the cause by over-exerting myself at times (especially on the weekend with my two boys). Also, the last few trips to the Physical Therapist have been very beneficial. He's essentially doing some deep tissue treatment on the muscles around the hip that loosens everything up almost immediately, before the symptoms return the next morning.

The general concensus still seems to be that the back is re-adjusting to the new posture and trying to stretch muscles that have tightened incorrectly for over a year and a half.

While it's fustrating to see a lack of progress, my general posture is still much better than before surgery and while I still have adjust to bend forward, the deviation is much less than before surgery.

I have another Physical Therapy appointment tomorrow (still twice a week), although there are some issues with my insurance continuing to allow me treatment.

Additionally, I have a meeting with the surgeon's assistant on Friday and another set of X-Rays - more to follow.

Monday, March 10, 2008

Post Surgery - Day 46 (6.5 weeks)

Pain Rating:

It's been a few weeks since the last post and I continue to get regular physical therapy treatment on my back. I've added a few more exercises to my back strengthening routine, including a couple of back extensions. I continue to walk twice a day for 25 minutes each, although I've started replacing one of the walks with a 25 minute swim whenever possible. Last week I was able to swim 3 times which felt great. At this point, I'm using a buoy between my legs to restrict the leg motion and the arms to swim freestyle.

During the week the back doesn't feel too bad, however at the weekend I continue to be too active around the house and with the kids and therefore put unnecessary pressure on the lower back. According to my physical therapist, most of the stabbing/hip pain that I feel is from muscle spams and not nerve or surgical related. At this point, I'm my own worst enemy at weekends and need to let my back heal slowly.

Just over a week ago, I had my first physical follow up, as part of the Abbott Spine sponsorship of the surgery. As such, I had a series of X-rays done, a quick physical and a lengthy questionnaire to fill out.

I'm definitely at an interesting point in the recovery process - with the inflammation around the surgical area almost gone and with the opportunity to start limited exercising, I feel like I'm moving forward in the recovery process. At the same time, it seems that as the back is adjusting to it's new role, it's having to re-align all the muscles, spine and hip position that my pre-surgery posture had created and because of this I'm experiencing some of the previous pain symptoms.

I've included the various X-rays that were taken of my spine last week, as well a composite image of post and 6 week hyper extension positions.

(AP- X-Ray courtesy of BCH)

(Neutral - X-Ray courtesy of BCH)

(Hyper extension - X-Ray courtesy of BCH)

(Hyper flexion - X-Ray courtesy of BCH)

(Comparison of hyper extension - X-Ray courtesy of BCH)

Sunday, February 17, 2008

Post Surgery - Day 24 (3.5 weeks)

Pain Rating:

Well, it's been almost a week and a half since my last post and for the most part things are moving forward nicely. While I've had a few spasms they're few and far between. That being said the spasms are still intense - the only difference being that prior to surgery, the spasms would be short and intense whereas post surgery the spasms come on slowly and seem to linger longer.

I did travel last Sunday (around 2.5 weeks after surgery), flying around 2 hours to Chicago and then subjecting myself to meetings all week. Surprisingly, my back felt great throughout. I was able to walk around every 45mins on the plane and stretch my legs and fortunately my hotel was around 25mins from the office, so I was able to get both my walks in each day - followed by the back exercises at night. Since I'm not supposed to lift more than 10 pounds, I did ship all my clothes and heavy work items ahead of time to the hotel - this made the aviation part of my travels much easier to manage.

I haven't taken any muscle relaxants or pain killers for over a week and a half now. I have my first physical theraphy follow up on Wednesday of this week - almost 4 weeks since surgery.

Tomorrow morning, I plan on swimming for the first time since surgery (3.5 weeks since surgery), we'll see how things go. Finally, based on a recommendation from my parents, I also bought a spina-bac back support that should help with my posture while I work and travel.

Thursday, February 7, 2008

Post Surgery - Day 14

Pain Rating:

Another good nights sleep. Went for a 15-20 minute walk this morning. Had a very productive appointment with my Physical Therapist this afternoon, the upshot being:-
  • I should be prepared to experience some difficulties or issues before my back has settled, but at the same time I shouldn't get too down about these, they should be temporary
  • I will need to do a series of basic isometic strengthening exercies once a day
  • I should walk twice a day - starting at 15 minutes each and incrementing by another 5 minutes after 3 consecutive days, if no discomfort
  • I should use ice on any tight muscles
  • Need to focus on back posture while sitting
  • No hyper-extension or hyper-flexion until able to lift weights > 10lbs
  • While flying, shouldn't sit for more than 30 - 45 minutes thereafter I will do a series of exercises and short walk up and down the plane
  • No more than 30 - 45 minutes sitting at any one time, for the near future
Well, I guess the Physical Therapist was right about one thing, later in the day I did experience some discomfort in my lower back - unfortunately I got a couple of sharp stabbing spasms that I experienced prior to surgery. Since I haven't had this sensation since surgery - for almost 2 weeks - I have to attribute it to all the work the therapist was doing on my back today. I'm sure it didn't help that I was a little too over active today afterwards - I decided to clean up my office - and that probably aggravated the already sensitive muscles and nerves. Hopefully a good night's sleep and a less activity tomorrow will help.

I've also decided that I'll make these blogs weekly from now on - ideally on a Thursday or Friday.

Wednesday, February 6, 2008

Post Surgery - Day 13

Pain Rating:

Finally a good nights sleep. Since recovering from the bout of diarrhea I had last week, today was the first day that my bowel movements returned to normal.

Kept a low profile again today, but did manage my first 15-20 minute walk in a few days ( a couple of snowy and icy days limited my options). The key event today was seeing my Surgeon (Dr V) for the first time since surgery - almost two weeks ago. Before I got a chance to talk to Dr V, one of his nurses asked some key questions about my health and well being over the last couple of weeks, she also did some strength and sensation tests and took a look at my incision. When I finally had a chance to talk to Dr V, we talked about the last 2 weeks and looking ahead to the upcoming weeks. This was my general take away:-
  • No swimming for a least another week
  • Got the general okay to travel for business next week, but to listen to my body and take breaks accordingly. He didn't anticipate any issues with flying and air pressure
  • Agreed a "return back to work" date of Feb 11th - next Monday, but to start off with 1/2 days for the first week.
  • Keep away from lifting anything over 10lbs for the next few weeks
  • Cycling on a stationary bike should be okay, so long as the body is upright
  • Gave me the okay to see my physical therapist tomorrow for my back
  • Re-affirmed my belief that the Wallis device might be a permanent solution (at this point there isn't enough imperial evidence to determine how long the device can function, but as I understand it, it has been implemented in Europe for over 14 years with continued success)
One slightly scary event today ... the only parking spot available at the surgeons office was over a partially icy area and when I exited the car I did slip and begin to fall. Fortunately I was to control the fall, but in the process I did feel a sharp spasm in lower back.

Looking forward to seeing what my physical therapist has to say tomorrow.

Tuesday, February 5, 2008

Post Surgery - Day 12

Pain Rating:

Didn't get a particularly good sleep last night - I was restless until about 3am, when I finally managed to get 3 to 4 hours sleep.

Today, once again, proved to be a positive day. I limited my amount of movement (as opposed to yesterday) but kept myself busy with a couple of chores. For the most part, a pretty uneventful day - which is a good thing :)

Monday, February 4, 2008

Post Surgery - Day 11

Pain Rating:

Another more positive day, although I was probably a little too active around the house. Looking forward to my first follow up meeting with my surgeon on Wednesday and subsequent appointment with my physical therapist a day later.

I've decided I feel good enough to go on my one week business trip to Chicago all of next week. Since I'm not supposed to lift anything more than 5lbs for 4-6 weeks, I've decided to ship a box of clothes, computer accessories and toiletries (basically everything except my work laptop) straight to the hotel, so I can really travel light through customs and on the flight. I managed to mail this off today, so I'm really hoping the surgeon gives me the okay to travel.

I also spent quiet a bit of time today organizing all my Wallis related documentation including hospital receipts, signed documents etc into an organized folder.

As I promised myself, I managed to pretty much avoid any work related interaction today.

At the end of the day, I did notice the muscles in my back felt a little sore and tender (another indication that I probably did a little too much activity today), so I'll try and take a little easier tomorrow. For the first time since the surgery, I also experienced a slight spasm in my back when I got up a little quickly from the couch.

Sunday, February 3, 2008

Post Surgery - Day 10

Pain Rating:

Although I didn't get the best nights sleep, I did feel more positive about myself in the morning. We took the boys to the recreation center and I enjoyed being out of the house with them. One of my neighbours called around and wanted to see if I wanted to run some errands with him, again it was nice to get out and about and share my thoughts with someone. I'm pretty confident the bowel movements have subsided, as I started the day with my regular breakfast and 2 cups of espresso and still nothing.

By mid afternoon, I was feeling much more up-beat and altogether more positive. Since I haven't been on any drugs for 2-3 days now, it gave me a chance to think realistically about the state of my back. Since surgery, I haven't felt any stabbing or sharp, intense pains in my back - my back feels stable and in control, which is highly encouraging. Although I have to admit, I am my own worst enemy - as much as I try to follow some of the key rules of recovery, it's not always easy to do so. For instance, I'm not supposed to lift anything more than 5 lbs for 4-6 weeks after surgery. Today I was guilty of lifting my youngest son (2 years, and definitely more than 5lbs) down two steps, amongst other things.

We spent late afternoon and early evening with some good friends watching the Super Bowl, which capped off a much improved day.

On the drive home, my oldest son (5 years old) asking me lots of thought provoking questions about the origins of live and how inventions come about - a perfect reminder of why I have so many things to be positive about.

Saturday, February 2, 2008

Post Surgery - Day 9

Pain Rating:

By some miracle, I managed to get a decent nights sleep -although not the most comfortable, my mind was filled with negative thoughts.

Started the day with a bowl of soup and some crackers, along with weak tea. The last visit to the toilet was around 9.45am, and since then I've managed to hold down a couple of bagels, some toast and a couple more cups of weak tea.

Unfortunately, I continued having very negative thoughts throughout the morning until it got to a point when I began to feel signs of depression. At this point, I went for a long walk (probably too long given that I'm still in recovery, but I just needed to get outside and clear my head). During my walk, I became more convinced that the bouts of diarrhea and negative thoughts are related in some way the drugs I've been taking. I wonder if the diarrhea stemmed from the constant supply of drugs my body has had to deal with over the last week and a half and then once the diarrhea started and I stopped all the drugs, prehaps I'm getting some type of withdrawl symptoms from that - hence the negative thoughts.

I'm going to try and keep my mind active and be involved as much as can with family matters today.

I managed to get through the rest of the day without any more bowel movements and even "tempted" my stomach with a chicken pastie for dinner. Starting to feel a bit more positive about things. I was supposed to have dinner out with my wife and some neighbours, but didn't really feel in the mode of the socializing - instead I put the kids to bed, watched a movie and went to bed in a slightly better frame of mind

Friday, February 1, 2008

Post Surgery - Day 8

Pain Rating:

Had a rough night last night - not sure if was the continual dosage of pills, or the excessive walking, or too much time spent infront on the computer working, or perhaps the late night snack that I ate - either way, I was up most of the night with stomach cramps and diarrhea. These continued first thing in the morning, but by 10am had settled down somewhat. I finally ate some breakfast around 10am.

Unfortunately I spoke too soon. The
diarrhea continued for the rest of the day, along with stomach cramps. Basically on a diet of toast and water right now. Felt very tired and weak all day. Before going to be bed I decided to take an imodium pill, when that didn't seem to help I popped another imodium pill shortly after.

Definitely the worse day so far.

Thursday, January 31, 2008

Post Surgery - Day 7

Pain Rating:

Woke up at 4am to take the painkillers, otherwise a good nights sleep. My back felt pretty good this morning, so immediately after breakfast and my usual dosage of pills, I went for my longest walk yet (around 20 minutes). I also managed to do some work from my computer as well - at this point I'm relatively comfortable sitting for an hour or so, but after that I need to get up and move around.

The area on my back where the surgery was done is starting to itch today, as the pain seems to wears off. The muscles still feel tight and tender.

Found out today that I should have completed my STD (Short Term Disability) forms prior to going into surgery. Apparently I'm entiled to use 5 of my "sick days" for recovery and after that I need to claim STD, which is 75% of my salary. I hope to have the relevant people (surgeons, company representatives etc) fill these forms out with me by the end of tomorrow, so that I can fax these to the insurer, who will hopefully then verify that I'm covered for STD.

I managed another 20 min walk in before dinner, before heading to bed around 10pm.

Wednesday, January 30, 2008

Post Surgery - Day 6

Pain Rating:

I neglected to take my painkillers at 4am this morning and I'm certainly feeling a sore today - worse than yesterday. During breakfast, I took my 2 painkillers and muscle relaxant.

Finally had a bowel movement this morning (which might explain the stomach pains last night) - it appears my bowel movements are every 2 days or so - given my combination of prune juice and painkillers).

Back started to feel better once I was back on schedule with my painkillers.

I managed to get two long walks in today.The rest of the day was pretty un-eventful, although I did have another 2nd bowel movement around 8.30pm that evening

Tuesday, January 29, 2008

Post Surgery - Day 5

Pain Rating:

Back feeling slightly better this morning, so decided to get 3 walks of 10 minutes in today. Did my first walk around 9am - bitterly cold out. I took a 2 hour nap just before lunch and then walked for 10 minutes after lunch. Back is definitely not as painful, however the muscles surrounding the surgery area feel tender and aggravated. Still drinking prune juice and taking all the medicines.

Just before dinner, I took my last 10 minute walk. At the end of the walk, the back felt slightly strained --- I have a feeling I might have pushed it a little too much.

At 8.30pm I took my very last antibiotic (4 pills a day for 5 days) - thank goodness, that was a big pill :)

Read for about 30 minutes before going to sleep. My bowels felt tender all night - I think it's the fact I haven't had a bowel movement for a couple of days.

Monday, January 28, 2008

Post Surgery - Day 4

Pain Rating:

Woke up a few times during the night to urinate and had the sweaty spells as before. Probably got the most sleep of any night since surgery. Had a light healthy breakfast (oatmeal and toast) and another glass of prune juice. After breakfast, I finally had another bowel movement (almost 2 days between this and the last one). Went for a slightly longer walk this morning (probably 12 minutes). The pain seems to have subsided slightly and it's more soreness and tenderness than anything else.

Took a very much needed 3-4 hour nap today and again took the full dosage of pills today.

Later that evening I had my 2nd bowel movement of the day. Went to bed around 9.30pm and read for about 45mins. Given the sweaty spells from the previous night, I had the ceiling fan running most of the night. I woke twice to urinate, but didn't have the sweaty spells. Turned the ceiling fan off after the last visit to the bathroom

Sunday, January 27, 2008

Post Surgery - Day 3

Pain Rating:

I woke up 4-5 times last night to urinate and noticed that I was sweating quite a lot as well. I continue to wake around 2.30am to take the painkillers, with crackers and water.

My back feels a little better this morning. My wife made the whole family a full English breakfast (bacon, eggs, sausages, toast, beans), which went down a treat. I also took one glass of prune juice.

Spent a couple of hour during the day taking power naps. Since there still hasn't been a bowel movement since yesterday morning, I'm taking an extra glass of prune juice today.

I continue taking the prescribed dosage of pills throughout the day.

Temperatures were in the 60's today, so went for a very pleasant, albeit slow, 10 minute walk. Since I didn't feel a lot of discomfort during the walk, I decided to repeat the walk later that day.

Took another glass of prune juice before bed , along with my assortment of pills.

Saturday, January 26, 2008

Post Surgery - Day 2

Pain Rating:

While I did get a better nights sleep last night, I did wake a few times in the night and noticed that I was sweating quite profusely - again I decided to put this down to my body fighting the pain.

We set the alarm for 2.30am to take the painkiller pills and make sure I had some crackers and water nearby.

Around 8.30am this morning, I finally had my first bowel movement. It was slightly painful, but was most definitely loose.

"When it rain it pours" , bowel movement #2 around 9.30am.

My back is definitely a lot soarer today than yesterday. I did manage to get a few 2-3 hour power naps in today and did the same 10 minute walk.

Spent most of the day either walking around, sitting on the couch and writing this blog or sleeping in bed.

Since my initial bowel movement was pretty painful, I decided to take less prune juice today.

I took my first shower today - unfortunately limited to 3-4minutes as per the nurses request - but felt good. Actually managed to read in bed for a while before taking my last dosage of pills

Friday, January 25, 2008

Post Surgery - Day 1

Pain Rating:

Around 3am the day after surgery, I woke up in some discomfort. While I had the painkillers and water available next to my bed, I had neglected to bring up any snacks (it is recommended to take the painkillers with food), so I decided to work through the pain. In hindsight this was probably a mistake as the pain intensified. Finally around 5am I asked my wife is she could grab some crackers from the kitchen and bring them upstairs. Having taken the painkiller with food, I was finally able to get some more sleep around 30 minutes later. From now on, I'll leave some crackers by the side of my bed.

There is definitely more discomfort in my back today than yesterday - I have a feeling this is due to the morphine finally wearing off. Given that I'm 6'3" and weigh around 195lbs, I've decided to take two painkillers every 6 hours, instead of one. I've also started the rather large antibiotic pills and I'm taking the muscle relaxants too.

The hospital called around 9am to confirm that everything was okay and wanted to know if I had any questions. Since I haven't had a bowel movement yet, I wanted to know if this was an issue. I was told I should expect this to happen in the next day or so. As a precautionary measure I have some muscinex ready to "accelerate the process".

Most of today has been spent writing this blog and watching TV. My plan is to walk around during the commercial breaks on TV, to keep my back active.

Since I'm taking a myriad of pills at various times of the day, my wife put together an Excel spreadsheet to keep on top of things i.e.

The nurses at the hospital had mentioned the importance of loose stools, so I also started drinking plenty of prune juice as well.

In the afternoon, I decided to go for a short walk outside - thankfully I took the walkie talkie with me as the surgeon called a few minutes into my walk, and my wife notified me via the walkie talkie. Dr V (Villavicencio) wanted to know how I was feeling and if I had any questions. Since I wasn't completely sure about the length of surgery, he told me it took only 45 minutes. He also re-iterated the importance of not bending from the hips and not lifting anything that weighs more than a gallon of milk

After this conversation, I went for a 10 minute walk outside -- it felt good to get some fresh air.

Around 9pm, I did start getting some chills and I put this down to my body fighting the pain, as it didn't last long. In the evening, my wife removed the dressing from my back and I took my regular dosage of pills before going to bed.

Day of Surgery

Pain Rating:

My wife and I arrived at the Outpatient department of Boulder Community Hospital (BCH) around 10.30am and were taken to a Pre-Operation room. Here I un-dressed completely and put on a hospital gown. As required, I also removed my wedding ring (as no jewelry was permitted) and put all my clothes in a plastic bag with my name on it.

The nurses then proceeded to put compression stockings on my legs as well as compression straps - this would be used to simulate blood movement around my body, while I was under general anesthetic.

Around 11.30am, an IV was administered into my right forearm - it was placed in this location as I would be laying on my stomach for surgery with both my arms facing forward. A saline solution was added to the IV (as I hadn't drunk or eaten anything for almost 12 hours) and a bag of antibiotics made ready for use with the IV.

Around this time, Dr V's Clinical research director and representatives from Abbott Laboratories appeared and answered some questions I had regarding hospital costs, surgical procedure and recovery information (The representatives from Abbott Laboratories would be present during surgery itself to assist in anyway necessary - this was done since I was one of the first patients to receive this treatment at BCH).

My surgeon, Dr V (Villavincencio), was running late with a prior surgery so my surgery time was put back until 12.45pm. At this time, the Anesthesiologist appeared and explained about the general anesthesia that was going to be administered. In addition, since I'd had prior heart surgery and because of my low resting heart rate, the Anesthesiologist explained that electrical pads would be stuck on my body to force the heart rate if necessary. Before being wheeled into the operation room a sedative was given to me, through the IV, that would relax my state of mind.

Around 1pm I was taken to the operation room, still in a conscious state. Around ten minutes later the anesthesia kicked in and I have no recollection of anything else until I woke after surgery. As I understand it, the surgery took about 45 minutes - from incision to stitching and I was moved back to the post operation ward at around 3pm.

Example of surgical procedure with Wallis Device
(Image courtesy of Nicholas Boeree, FRCS)

At this point, my wife was notified that the surgery had been preformed successfully. Around 3.20pm, I woke from anesthesia and the resident nurse confirmed that the surgery had gone well.

Since I seemed to have recovered very well from the anesthesia, they took me to the X-ray room at around 3.30pm to take several X-rays of the back and confirm that the device had been placed correctly. Below is copy of that X-ray:-

(X-Ray courtesy of Boulder Community Hospital)

Since I was still experiencing some pain from the surgery itself, I was given a dose of morphine to help relieve the pain.

Between 3.30pm to 5pm, I continued to drink plenty of fluids and perform some deep breathing exercises to help oxygen circulation. At 4.30pm, my wife and kids came to see me and the nurses finally removed my IV. At 5pm, while I was given clearance to go home, one of Dr V's assistants wanted to review my condition before releasing me. Around 5.30pm, we left the hospital, with the following conditions:-
  • I was to take one or two painkillers every 6 hours, whenever necessary
  • I was to take a one muscle relaxant no more than 3 times a day, whenever necessary
  • I was given antibiotics to be taken 4 times a day, for 5 days
  • I was not to bend forward from my hips, while the pain persisted
  • I was allowed to walk around as much as tolerable
  • No lifting of anything over 5 to 10lbs for 4 to 6 weeks
  • No sitting on hard surfaces
  • No sitting in general for more than 2 hours
  • I was to start on light foods and move to more regular foods, if everything was tolerable
Once at home I lay on our couch and ate some chicken noodle soup with a bagel and drank plenty of fuilds. Around 10pm that day, I was able to urinate for the first time. At approximately 10.30pm I went to bed.

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