I took another ambulance ride from Sierra Vista Medical Center to the San Luis Opispo airport. From there I flew to San Jose International airport and was driven to Kaiser San Jose where I was admitted to the ICU. I was in my room for most of the day and was not sure if I was ever going to get into surgery. I finally met the surgeon and he said they would try to squeeze me in by the end of the day. I went down to the basement and had a pre-surgery MRI. I then was prepped for pre-op around 9 PM. I had to sign my life away and was very scared after reading the anesthesia waver. It took about 2 hours to get ready for surgery. I was rolled into the operating room and it was a very cold, industrial looking room in the basement with high power lights, robotics, joy sticks and other high tech machinery. I would love to take a tour sometime when not under anesthesia.
Everyone in the room seemed to be actively doing their jobs like a well oiled machine. They were going over check lists, calling out tasks and double checking the equipment. It was a very lonely place for a patient undergoing such a major surgery. I remember being very scared after being moved in. One of the nurses saw the fear in my eyes and took my right hand. She began squeezing and caressing my hand to help calm me down. She didn't have to, but it really meant a lot to me. Sometimes its the little things that make all the difference in helping a patient feel better. The anesthesia kicked in and then I was out.....
The next day the surgeon came to check on me and give me a run down on what he did. My spine was dislocated at T11 and T12. The surgeon had to grind down the bones in my spine to get it to pop back into place. My spine was re-aligned and fused from T9 to L2 with 2 titanium rods and 10 screws. He took bone grafts from my right pelvis and slathered the injury site to help form a solid bond. The surgeon said the surgery went as planned and said I had strong bones for the screws to bite into. He then asked what I was doing lying on my back. He said he did not have his best crew work on me so I could lay around all day. He reached down, pushed a button and I began to sit up in bed. I had been laid out on my back since the accident.
Later, the physical therapist paid me a visit and got me fitted with a Thoraco-Lumbar Sacral Orthosis (TLSO) Brace. The TLSO is basically a plastic and foam clam shell which covers me from my abdomen to my chest and wraps under my arms. It is used to keep my back straight after surgery. It was very uncomfortable and severely limited my range of motion. After my TLSO was put on, I was transferred into a wheelchair for the first time. WOW, what a feeling to actually be sitting up again.