When I found out I was scheduled to have spinal fusion, there were a million questions that ran through my head. I wanted to know details of what to expect from the beginning to end. During my experience, I learned a lot about what you can expect when you go for a spinal surgery. I’d like to share some my experience with anyone who might be anxious about having this procedure done.
First, I had a lot of meetings and appointments before they even scheduled my surgery, so that the doctors could get to know me, my body and my family. They took multiple x-rays to get a clear picture of what they were working with. I also saw all my doctors, because they needed to clear me for surgery.
A few weeks before the procedure, I took a tour of the hospital where the procedure was done and met most of the people who would take care of me. This was a great opportunity to ask any questions I had about the procedure, anesthesia, and recovery. A lot of my fears were eased when I went on the tour of the hospital.
The week of my surgery was very hectic. I had to get final blood work taken and other clearances. The night before, they gave me a special soap to shower with that smelled like cherries! This soap helped my body prepare for surgery by disinfecting it and making it feel numb. It was extremely important that I didn’t eat or drink anything after midnight the night before my surgery because of anesthesia. Because I have a feeding tube, I started my feeding at noon and ended it at midnight so the day of my surgery, I didn’t feel any hunger pains. If you have a feeding tube, make sure to eat a big dinner the night before. Because I have long hair, they asked me to put it into two braids so that way it’s easier to manage.
One thing that you should know about any surgery is that it’s okay to be scared! I had anxiety about my surgery for a long time and the best way to get rid of it is to talk about it. I got some great advice from those who had already undergone the procedure, including my fellow Q Roll Models, and that helped calm my nerves. When I got to the hospital, they prepped me in a pre-op room and gave me medication that made me sleepy. Sometimes, they might need to take blood or put in an IV and that might be a bit uncomfortable. All I remember is seeing my parents and then I drifted off to sleep.
When I woke up in recovery, I was very confused and groggy. It took a few hours for the anesthesia to wear off and to be honest, the pain medication made me so sleepy. For the first 24 hours after my surgery, I rested and slept a lot. The next few days/weeks of recovery were tough. It was important for me to sit up as soon as possible. This allowed for my spine to fuse correctly and my organs to line up where they need to be. I had my iLevel® Power Chair with me at the hospital and it was great to sit up in. I could recline as I needed to, and it felt so comforting to be back in my power wheelchair at an angle I was comfortable with.
Over the next few days, I slowly sat up a little more each day. The doctors sent me home with medication to help manage the pain, which helped a lot! Overall, spinal surgery was a lot to deal with, but I knew that it was for the best and has made my life so much better in the end!
I really hope that after reading this, you feel prepared and ready for any upcoming operation. Know that you have family and friends to support you through it all and trust that you are in good hands with the doctors who specialize in spinal procedures. Feel free to reach out to me if you ever have any questions or concerns, but just know that it’s all worth it!
About Sakina Shamsi: Sakina lives in New Jersey with her parents and brother. Although she has spinal muscular atrophy type II, Sakina lives a full and independent lifestyle. She is active in the disability community and enjoys horseback riding, baking and crafting. Click here to learn more about Sakina.