Ideally I would have liked to have given a full and in-depth account of my time on the HDU however my memory does not serve me well at all. I think the combination of pain medications I was on had an effect on my memory as I can only remember snippets of each day. Nick stayed every evening and my parents everyday, well so they tell me!! I was that gone at times I wouldn’t know who was sat beside me. If you’re reading guys……I know you were always there!!!
Wednesday 13th September-
I was transferred to the High dependency unit around 10 pm, apparently I had somewhat of a comfortable night, waking on average every 15 minutes and pressing the pain pump. I vaguely remember the pain waking me and with being in HDU the room often being busy with staff putting things in my IV’s, but no real specifics the first night.
Thursday 14th September-
I recollect the pain being pretty intense and repeatedly saying “if I knew it was going to be this painful I wouldn’t have had it done” now I was still off my rocker on the medication but the pain was very real. The staff increased the dosage in my pain pump as I had asked for a smaller dose to start with due to my gastro issues. I was wheeled for a routine x-ray early doors and I really do remember giving off about the pain as we went over the bumps of the elevator in the bed and when asked to lean forward for a board to be placed behind my head I quite literally couldn’t move my head it felt as though I had a dumbbell in the back and staff had to pull me forward to place the board. I had little interest in eating or drinking anything and continued to suck on ice chips. I was struggling to swallow quite severely which was quite frightening. Dr Sandhu was called and he immediately attended, I vaguely remember seeing him and him ordering an emergency CT just to ensure the fusion was in place as sometimes if fused too far forward this can impinge swallowing. I have zero recollection of the CT scan. The swallowing team came and assessed my swallow, again I have no recollection of this. I was placed on puréed food to be reviewed the following day. I didn’t eat anything, I had no appetite and wasn’t really with it half the time. I vaguely remember trying some cranberry juice and apple sauce and having a serious discussion about how apple sauce should be consumed with pork and not on its own out of a tub!!! Sponge swabs and ice chips it was. Dr Sandhu was more than happy with the CT scan and the positioning of the hardware, the swallowing was put down to swelling and muscle spasms. I am still having issues with my swallow now so were monitoring it and at times the spasms are knocking my jaw out.
Friday 15th September –
Again a total blur, it’s a good job I’m not writing a novel about this hospital stay with the amount of memory lapses and gaps but I have to be truthful. My parents said as soon I pressed the pain pump within minutes I would be asleep. I do remember discussing with the nurse my love for cups of tea, it was even on my notes which I thought was lovely and very personal. Happy Friday people!!!
Saturday 16th September-
Another hazy day bar one significant event that got my attention. The catheter had been removed of which I have zero memory of, it then got to the 5th hour and i hadn’t managed a wee. My wonderful nurse Brian hadn’t long been on shift and asked me if I was Urinating okay since catheter removal. I informed him I hadn’t been, he came over and my stomach was quite distended. Then came quite a frightening rush of people and a portable scanner which showed I had over a litre of urine in my bladder. Before I knew it my bed was being tilted back and I was being told the catheter needed to go back in. I was shouting for my mum, who had gone back to the rental at this point as I felt a little scared as I knew that often if the bladder doesn’t work it can be an indication of tethered cord which can become more evident after fusion surgery so I was concerned this was at play and id lost function of my bladder. The catheter was placed back in which was eventful as I have a stricture in my urethra so you can imagine how delightful it was!! Soon the bag was filling up and the pain and swelling in my tummy eased. The nurse said there was a strong possibility this happened because I was still on the PCA pump which can effect the bladders functioning whilst on it and the plan was to stop the PCA and then remove the catheter tomorrow.
Sunday 17th September-
I remember being a little more alert on this day and took the brace off for the first time and got nick to take a picture so I could assess the undercut and rib situation !!!
I had a new nurse called Holly who was wonderful, literally lovely. I was sat in the same position for so many days as I couldn’t bare to lay down flat with the pain in the back of my head I’d developed a sore on my coccyx and it was so painful, Holly disappeared and came back with an inflatable waffle type cushion which she placed underneath me which took the pressure off my coccyx. I was removed off the pain pump and told I would be going onto oral meds with the view of taking the catheter out to see if I could pee myself. I was concerned about oral meds due to my gastro issues so we agreed I would have the stronger meds through my IV in my wrist to bypass my stomach. The catheter was removed again and it was a wait and see if I could pee. I felt under pee pressure!!! I remember my first pee on the wonderful commode, who knew how monumental peeing in a bucket on wheels would be!! My bladder worked yipeeee. To make my day even better the nurse brought in a sandwich bag of Yorkshire tea bags that the nurse on the previous night shift had brought in after our discussion about my love for tea. He had wanted to bring me a little bit of home, I almost cried, such a lovely gesture, what a guy.
Monday 18th September-
I could definitely tell the difference being off the pain pump, it attacked the pain at speed and in short bursts so you knew you had 10 minutes before you could press it again. Now I was on IV meds i could definitely notice the pain level increase. I managed to waddle out of the bed to the recliner chair and remember my head feeling so heavy I just wanted it resting against something at all times. Late morning we were told I would be discharged today on the premise the physio was happy I could navigate around. She came round to do her assessment, once she saw me attempt to walk and once she knew I hadn’t properly walked since before surgery she got me a walker. I really struggled to walk, I was very weak, my legs like jelly and they felt like they would buckle from under me. I walked like Bambi I couldn’t keep my head straight as my head felt unbelievably heavy. No one could have prepared me for that first walk, I cried and felt quite worried that my head would always feel this weight as I felt I couldn’t carry it. It was like learning to walk again and I didn’t feel I was going to manage it. Next were the stairs, I had to prove I could navigate steps before I was discharged. The physio supported me in side stepping the stairs as I couldn’t look down at them and told me to feel for each step whilst having someone in front and behind me for support. I then had to do a lap of the ward. Heres me after completing to ward lap-
The physio cleared me on the proviso I had a walker to take home with me and a commode, yayyy always wanted my very own en suite !! We then sat for a couple of hours waiting for discharge papers, medications, the equipment and spoke to our lovely international liaison officer. I felt quite nervous leaving the hospital, a sort of insecure feeling. A wheel chair was brought up for me and we said goodbye, i remember this picture below being taken as once I left the hospital and went outside I couldn’t see properly, it was like my eyes wouldn’t adjust to the light.
I cannot remember the journey back to the rental or going into the house!!