Five days after my surgery, my doctors gave me the all clear to go home. Sadly, on the same day, I was struck with a rather uncomfortable bout of nausea and decided to stay in hospital for another day to make sure it wasn’t going to get any worse. My surgeon suggested that it may be the inflammation causing the nausea, and said they could treat it with steroids if need be. Luckily, the nausea only lasted a few hours and didn’t result in any vomiting, so I stayed away from the steroids and after one more day of monitoring, I got ready to pack up and head home.
Discharge was very easy. All we had to do was sit around and wait for them to give us some papers. I filled out a feedback form mentioning all the nurses that had been great to me during my stay (with a small side note about the deplorable food), then headed off for home.
I had taken an anti-nausea pill just before leaving to try and make the drive home easier. For the most part it was fine, although going over bumps was quite uncomfortable on my neck. When we got closer to home and the roads started to have a lot of turns I began to feel quite ill. When we got home I felt absolutely exhausted and was barely able to sit up on the couch for a short while before needing to lie down. I managed to get a good amount of lunch into me, but I felt dreadful and spent the day in bed.
The next few days were nothing but good news though. We put a small chair in the shower which I used only twice. I found that I could easily manage the three steps between the lounge and kitchen. My first walk outside of the house was short and a little uncomfortable, but with more practice and plenty of walking around the home I easily gained my walking legs again, and within a matter of days I was bouncing from one end of the house to the other.
On the 10th day since surgery I returned to the hospital to get my surgical staples taken out. They certainly felt ready to, as they were beginning to itch madly and the bottom ones were red and slightly inflamed. About two of them stung a little to remove, the rest were completely painless. I found however that they oozed a bit of lymph (clear fluid) for a while afterwards before they healed over, and got my mother to check that it was definitely coming from the staple wounds and not my surgical wound, which could signify that my duraplasty was leaking.
The day after, despite not feeling too well, we went out to test if my most disabling symptom had been cured. We went to a small pie cafe on a busy road, and as I timidly sat down in the old style booth I heard sounds I hadn’t been able to experience in years. Families were talking, music was blaring, cars and trucks were roaring by, and nothing was happening. No dizziness, no sudden emotional instability, no feeling like everything was far away. In fact, everything seemed so much quieter. Sounds that I wasn’t supposed to be listening to just dimmed into the background like they’re supposed to. I wasn’t really capable of being overjoyed yet. After years of disability, I just didn’t believe it was really happening. Plus, the pie I was eating was worse than hospital food. I felt happy, but somewhat dazed by the whole experience.
That night, however, things were quite different. Patrick took me to Newtown, one of my favourite spots for nightlife in Sydney before I became disabled. We went to one of our old favourite cafes on a busy Saturday evening and shared a nachos between us. It was so loud, I hadn’t heard anything like it in so long! I spent the whole time grinning stupidly, almost wanting to put my hands over my ears from how intense all the sound was. It was some of the greatest fun I’ve had in a long time. We then picked up our friend Jordan and went for ice-cream.
I spent the next few days going a little nuts. I had to go out every day, even if I wasn’t feeling the best. I spent over half my bank account on shopping and shouting food for people. Yesterday was the first day I spent at home since we discovered I was no longer disabled, and I found myself pacing the house in restlessness.
I’m still not over the shock of the events of the last couple of weeks. It’s hard to believe that the surgery could have been so successful. Other symptoms that so far have been absent have been the pains and tingling in my arms and the pain when I yawn, cough or sneeze. My only lingering recovery symptoms are a stiff neck and an occasionally itchy and throbby surgical incision. I also get quite tired when I push myself too much, but that’s to be expected. I’m not yet well enough to lift weighty objects, clean or go dancing, but I’m well enough to climb several flights of stairs and enjoy a day out in the city. Piece by piece I’m building a life for myself for the first time really seeing as I have been unwell since my teenage years. It’s daunting, exciting and somewhat unbelievable. I don’t think I could be any luckier.
I will, of course, keep updating as my recovery continues, but here ends the story of my surgery 🙂