An autobiographical piece of my experience with my spinal fusion. Had posterior and anterior instrumented fusion at L5 - S1, with a two week hospital stay. It was the hardest thing I've ever had to do.
You wake up and wonder where you are. You wonder why you’re alone. A lady with harsh black fibres tied in a knot thrusts a waxed paper pot in your face. I’m trying to sleep, I say, and I try to close my eyes again, but the fatigue is so strong that they don’t even have any energy to snap shut. The nurse gets angry and mutters the annoyance under her breath, and she translates this to me by thrusting the pot even further into my face like she expects it to diffuse into my eyeballs. I peer into the pot in an attempt to identify its contents, but it becomes a blur of strange coloured pills. I sigh and take them anyway just so that she can leave me in peace. But she doesn’t. She rolls my poor, stitched up body grimly, her bitten fingernails digging into the crevices of my hips. I clench my teeth and a groan of a breath is exhaled. I think she is forgetting the big fat tube drain that is attached to me like the umbilical cord of a newborn baby.
Sometimes I feel like that’s the case. Having to be spoon fed soft foods. Having a stranger wash you and dress you in attire they have chosen. Having to drink beverages through a straw. Having to learn how to walk again. The weird thing about doctors is that they tell you the things that will happen to you when you’re asleep, but forget the details of what happens when you’re awake. They don’t tell you that your supply of books will be useless as the morphine makes the words spin and fuzz. They don’t tell you that you will be beyond exhausted and irritable from all the meds and lack of sleep. They don’t tell you about the lack of sleep, that if the machines beeping or contracting doesn’t keep you up, the nurses will with their brutal two hour turns, their obs which begin to seem less and less necessary. They don’t tell you about the abundance of strange pills being thrusted to you; yellow and white striped ones, oval ones, blue rectangular ones, ones so small that they slip through the gaps in your palm. Nor do they tell you about the trauma of the experience as a whole – it seems like the pain was transferred mentally to prevent me from feeling it physically. Every realm of consciousness I encountered, the emotional pain slithered from behind and striked me in little bouts of frustration, terror, depression, anguish and hopelessness.