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3 days post-op

I need to get down to the hospital so I'll give you a quick update on David.

The surgery on Friday took longer than expected and did not accomplish everything that was hoped. They were not able to remove all of the worst of the herniated disks so David will probably have only partial relief from the pain on his right side. They were able to enlarge the area most effected by the stenosis.

Unfortunately, David had leakage of spinal fluid during the procedure. That required him to remain flat on his back for at least 48 hours. This was greatly complicated by his obstructive sleep apnea which makes lying flat on his back during sleep dangerous. They used a forced air machine (BiPAP) to help him breath. Gratefully, he was in and out of consciousness for those two days, and mostly unaware of the discomfort.

On Sunday, the doctor came by and said it was okay to raise his head up 30 degrees and let him try to sit upright. The PT people worked with him three times and were able to get him upright pretty much on his own power, with some clever use of biomechanics. Even though it was cool, it was torture to watch, I have to say. They kept him on the central line of morphine that delivers on a schedule and he can boost the effect himself through a patient controlled delivery system to augment the meds when needed. His pain is largely under control for now.

We know that the spinal fluid thing pushes recovery back but no one knows if it means he'll be in hospital an additional two days or just somewhat longer. The PT will commence in earnest as soon as David is not feeling whoozy when he sits upright. They have to get him to the point where he can walk a normal house distance, up and down 20 steps, and able to attend to his bodily functions before he can be released to home. This may roll out quickly, in the next two days or so, or not. That's where they decide on the use of a rehab hospital for intermediate term care.

Probably more than you wanted to know but that the picture up to this morning!

Alex and I will be heading downtown in a little while to see how David is doing. It's amazing how exhausting this process can be.

I will say that Brigham and Women's Hospital has been a friendly environment for a family member. There are lounge facilities on every floor for our use with water coolers and TVs and tables and chairs. There's a big Au Bon Pain restaurant in the lobby that seems to be open almost around the clock. There's a valet parking service that is not too expensive (all things considered, this is Boston...). There's also a dedicated family center with a library and a bank of computers for our use. Clearly, B&W's is a well-run, well-funded hospital that gives more than lip-service to the concept of patient care. Just for a distraction, I wonder how this experience might have gone at PPTH? ;)