To get through the first few days, you’ll be offered a variety of pain medications, of which you will need less of as you recover. Hydromorphone, morphine, Tylenol 3, Demerol – these are just a sampling of what was offered to me, either by pump, pill or poke. Some I tolerated better than others.
Post-surgery, it is important not to let the pain get away from you. Take what is on offer, bearing in mind how you react to what you are given. If it doesn’t suit you for whatever reason, be sure to let the nurses or doctor know. For example, immediately post-surgery to fuse C – 1 and C – 2 (Cervical vertebra), I was given hydromorphone. I didn’t do well with this drug; the ability to communicate was doused and seemed to smoulder like a poorly extinguished bonfire. I knew what I wanted to say, but I couldn’t verbalize it. That is frustrating enough on its own, but coupled with the pain at the back of my head and on my hip (where they removed bone), it was a situation filled with angst. I did finally manage to ask for morphine later that same day.
I found that I was able to use less medication as a result of doing the stress techniques, which is a form of heart, mind and body work. I remember the Pain Doctor—yes, the hospital had a doctor dedicated to dispensing pain medication—remarking that he was surprised to see that I hadn’t used very much morphine. I attributed it to practising my stress techniques. “Well, I don’t know about that,” was his comment.
I think he missed an opportunity to discover why what I was doing was helping me heal, which could be of benefit to other patients.
For more tips on preparing for surgery, please visit the Surgery category on this blog. If you would like to learn about a program to help manage your pain, and increase your feelings of health and wellness, please click here.
Image courtesy of Sergio Roberto Bichara.