Sunday, November 11, 2012


This is a little journal I kept over the last several days for when my husband, Eric, ended up going into the hospital to have a procedure done on his back. Who knows, maybe there's other people out there who will go through something like this and it'll give them some insight as to what they should expect. 

Over the years, Erics back has always been a little achy. Some days he's pain free, others he feels as if he's been smacked by a Mac truck. Given, he's on his feet a lot and doing his thing at work, but still, he's only thirty four years old and feels like he's got a lame back. In January, he woke up one morning and he was in a SEVERE amount of much so that he was on the verge of tears. After a lovely visit to the ER, it turns out that his L4 and L5 were herniated, which totally explained his pain. 

This is an image I found online to show how his discs look. His definitely stick out further than they should!

The doctor at the time recommended that he did physiotherapy for a bit to see how that'd help him worked for a little bit, but after a while, his back would seize up again and caused a lot of discomfort. SO, he opted to try another option which involved getting a cortisone shot in the discs to relieve some of the pain. It was a pretty simple procedure..they gave him an epidural then injected the discs with the cortisone, had him chill in his hospital room for about two hours and sent him on his merry way. I gotta say, it seemed to work almost instantly for him since he was able to walk better (rather than favoring one leg) and within a week, he was allowed to start running again. The thing is, the doctor said there was a good chance that it will wear off within a year or so, but it really depended on how active Eric was in terms of physical activity. Being that he's in the Air Force, he's always gotta work out, run, do push-ups, etc etc. About a month after his procedure, he was sent off to NCO Academy (Non Commissioned Officers) for six weeks, which involves not only learning more Air Force stuff, but he also had to do a lot of physical training. Wellllll.... that seemed to speed up the cortisone breaking down because by the time he got back, he was already starting to have a lot of aches again despite going back into physiotherapy. Once the pain started to become pretty intense, we went back to the doctor and he recommended that Eric have a microdisectomy since doing a cortisone shot over and over again is really bad for you. So, that was scheduled about a month & a half ago and to Eric's relief, the day finally came for his surgery! 

August 8th -Day 1

Eric and I made it to Mariaziekenhuis nice and early over in Overpelt since that's where he was scheduled to have his surgery done. 

Once we got him all checked in, we managed to score him a private room since he was really wanting his privacy during his stay. Belgian hospitals are..err...different when it comes to patients...they tend to shoehorn as many as they can in one room. I'm really glad he had one to himself cause when we were being taken to his room, I happened to see the larger rooms on our way and they had more than one patient in them (some were 3+!) and looked overly crammed. Luckily, his room was a decent size and had everything in there a guy could ask for: tv, radio, mini fridge, wi-fi so he can play on his laptop, private bathroom and shower. He was definitely a happy camper! 

I think he was most excited about the fact that his bed had the ability to expand in length, LOL. When he first hopped on it, his feet were right up against the foot railing and his head came up past the top so he looked a little uncomfortable. When the nurse came back in from getting some of his paperwork, she was able to push a button and it popped out another six inches, added an extension pad in and BAM! You would've never known that it was an expanded bed. How cool, right? Eric was definitely a happy camper:

The nurse that was getting him all set up spoke English and was able to give me a run down as to when his surgery was going to take place and when I should roll back over to the hospital. Poor poor Eric! He couldn't eat or drink after 7pm last night, had to get checked into the hospital by 7am this morning and his surgery wasn't till 11:30a! By the time I left him, he was getting a hunger headache and getting a little cranky (can't say I blame the guy).

When it was time to go back over to see him, I brought a variety of goodies for him that he could munch on since the hospital basically gives the patients toast to eat. We jokingly call them "butter sandwiches". Overall, he was feelin' pretty good and just a little sore like you get after you've had a massive workout..oh, he was feeling just a lil bit nauseated from the anesthesia. But, he was in great spirits and was happy to have some company aside from harassing the poor nurses, lol. 

August 9th -Day 2

Once visiting hours were available, John and I popped over to harass Eric to see how he was fairing. Never mind the fact that I'm missing him like crazy! I ended up making a butternut squash & feta pasta mixture for his dinner since the hospital food AND, I made it look extra legit by packing it in a "to go" container, lol. I brought some for John and myself since we were wanting to have our family dinner together, which cheered Eric up because I know how he likes to have that time with all of us together.

To my surprise, he was back in his house clothes and no longer in a hospital gown since the doctor and the physiotherapist said it'd be a good idea for him to start putzing around the room a little bit in order for them to see how his back is fairing. So, after they checked him out, they gave him the go ahead to change out his clothes (he was MORE than happy to do that) and suggested that he get up throughout the day to stretch his muscles, plus it won't allow his back to get too stiff from laying all day.

While we had our dinner and caught up on everything, he was telling me about how his evening went the night before because, apparently, things got a little interesting for him.After a little while, Eric wanted to get up and walk around a bit (without help) so of course I needed to make a gif of his effort getting out of the bed. When he injured his back earlier this year, he had a pretty rough time trying to find a seat in the house that'd be a little helpful for him to get some sort of leverage in order for him to get vertical without straining anything else. Sorry the gif is so choppy, but he did manage to get out of bed really well (sort of how he had to get out of our bed with his first injury) and was rather proud of himself, lol

qHTBXa on Make A Gif, Animated Gifs
make animated gifs like this at MakeAGif

Oh, he lovingly refers to his IV as his "disgruntled girlfriend" since he has to always tote it around with him. He's very happy to break up with her pretty soon because she's becoming a rather annoying pain in his side...errr...arm.

Since he was up, I was able to see how the incision was on his back..and it really wasn't that bad! It's a little over an inch long and he has about eleven staples that he'll have removed in another week or so. He says his back basically feels like he has a massive sunburn rather than feeling like a train wreck, so that's a plus...right?

The funny part is that his antiseptic stains looked like he was assaulted by the fake tan monster.  When he had his cortisone shot done, the antiseptic color was hot SUPER pink, so I think he's trying to go for a variety of different colors to see what looks best with his skin tone ;)

After visiting him for a good three hours, we parted ways since he was getting a little sleepy and I still needed to clean up the kitchen from making dinner. The "to go" dinner worked fabulously and he asked to have it again yay for good planning!

August 10th -Day 3

Here's a wonderful example at the type of food Eric was getting in the hospital. Bread wrapped in plastic and two individual pieces of bologna, lol. He was sort of at a loss when it showed up, especially since there wasn't any mayo or anything to kinda add some flavor to the food. Luckily, I brought him his dinner so he didn't have to suffer with the sandwich.

BUT, he was a big fan of the tea :)

At this point, they took him off his IV line and he was allowed to walk around every hour to loosen up his back. Understandably, he was a little stiff the first couple of walks, but once he got moving, he was shufflin' with the best of 'em.

August 11th - Day 4

Eric's officially home now! YAY!!! In the midst of getting all his paperwork together, the nurse handed us a STACK of prescriptions we needed to get filled the following Monday since they were already closed (Eric was discharged on a Saturday). In addition to that, we were told to get him set up for a home nurse to visit the next two weeks since he needed to have his bandages changed daily, have the incision looked at and also have a shot in his belly for Thrombosis. He definitely wasn't a fan of the shots since he'd already experienced them while in the hospital. 


Over the course of this last week, he's gotten more and more mobile by walking around the house, even going on short walks with me up and down the street while walking Cole. He even ventured up to the Commissary with me since he was wanting to pick up some new movies. I think there was only one day where he was really exhausted and took it's toll on him, but other than that, he's got tons of energy and doesn't really have any pain in his back (thank gawd!). The first night he was home..well..wait....the first morning he got up, it was kinda rough on his back since he was so stiff from sleeping flat verses being at an angle like he was in the hospital. Getting out of the bed was an issue, but now he's practically pole vaulting out of it without any problems. The nurses come every day and check on his healing to make sure there aren't any sort of infections. In fact, he actually went back to work today for a little bit since his convalescent leave is up. Then in the afternoon, his staples were removed since the skin had healed up pretty well. 


November 11th - 3 months post op

Since Eric's surgery back in August, his back pain has improved MASSIVELY. His back really doesn't like cold weather (it'll tighten up and get rather stiff), and if he sleeps wrong, he definitely knows he made a mistake. Other than that, having the procedure done was one of the best decisions he's made in a while regarding his health!

Here's a picture of his back scar. I refer to it as his "piggy bank slot"