The ponderous wait leading up to my back surgery was pretty aggravating, to say the least. Not that I noticeably continued to decline physically, but it sure felt that way. There’s also the matter of not being able to take on big projects – all future plans seemed tentative knowing that this huge milestone loomed ahead.
The procedure itself was a complex, but well-orchestrated event. Every person I met in association with my care was at the top of his or her game. Dr. Banco is superb as an orthopedic surgeon. While I would never wish spinal fusion on anyone, his calmness and professionalism set me at ease from day one. Likewise, Newton-Wellesley Hospital proved itself to be a top-notch facility. In short, everything came off without a hitch.
The hard part begins when you leave the intricate support system of a hospital setting and begin the long, tedious challenge of transitioning to some sort of New Normal. Walking and climbing steps require concentration and focus. Various stockings and braces are needed to ensure stability. And unlike the surgery itself, identified by a unique date and time, there is no definite timetable for recovery. You get better when you get better.
Did I mention the drugs? Four days into my recovery, I find it baffling that anyone could take OxyContin and OxyCodone as a matter of choice. They don’t make me high as much as they make me disoriented and dopey. On the other hand, they are powerful painkillers that permit my body to heal, so here I am, plotting out a calendar and making a check mark every time I take one of them. Right now the plan is to be heavily medicated for the next week and a half, setting an alarm so that I don’t miss a 3:00 a.m. dosage.
On the plus side, my wife Mary has been a trooper through all of this. You know you’ve reached a certain milestone in a relationship when you need someone to help you bathe, put on clothes, and so many other things you’ve taken for granted for so many years, and they do it with patience and grace, never letting me give in to helplessness or embarrassment. I’m a very fortunate man.