My surgery recovery


Sean Evans

Eric Evans ('19) and Melissa Evans hang out an hour after surgery.

Recently I had to have surgery to fix my fractured back- I had an L5, S1 pars fracture and spondylolisthesis of the vertebrae. I had known about this since February of 2018. I was in a brace for four months and another two months of physical therapy. I went back to baseball in September for a few practices and a tournament and it started to hurt very badly again when I went to Arizona for baseball. I went back to the doctor, and he said that I would need surgery to fix it.

10/30 (Day before surgery):
I was not nervous about the surgery at all because my doctors had ensured me that the surgery was long but very safe. The night before, I had to shower and prepare for surgery. I had my last meal at 11:00 p.m. that night, which consisted of two Pop Tarts and a cup of milk.

10/31 (day of surgery):
I had to wake up at 3:45 a.m. to get dressed and leave the house for Children’s Hospital LA. My parents and I arrived at the hospital by 5:15 a.m. for surgical admitting. We waited for about 15 minutes and then we were off, up the private elevator to the pre-op room. I changed into my gown and they got to work, taking my vital signs and putting an IV in the back of my left hand. They started the IV with saline and then Versed to make me relaxed. Within seconds, I was very loopy and relaxed.

According to my parents, about 20 minutes before my scheduled surgery time, my surgeon came in. He said that he might have to fuse L4 and L5 vertebrae if he saw any sign of arthritis or another abnormality once the surgery was started, along with the pre-scheduled L5 and S1 spinal fusion. In the little time we had to decide, my parents and I ultimately made the decision to go forward with the extra fusion option if the surgeon felt it was needed. I do not remember agreeing to this option even though my parents left the decision to agree up to me. The medicine I was on caused amnesia, so I do not remember responding to the situation.

Finally, we were off – the nurses were wheeling me from the pre-op room to the operating room. I said goodbye to my parents and I was wheeled through a few sets of double doors, into a weird looking operating room. I had never seen an operating room before. The anesthesiologist started talking to me, but the only thing I remember her saying was, “Are you ready?” I mumbled yes, she switched my IV out, and I passed out.

The next thing I remember was waking up in a post-op room, not knowing what was going on or where I was. I was awake about 30 minutes after the surgery. According to one of the nurses, I was very angry and loud waking up but I do not remember anything that I said.

Then, they let my parents come and see me. I faintly remember my mom and dad coming in and talking for a couple minutes, and then my uncle and sister came in. I asked my mom about 45 minutes after her brother left, “Hey mom was your brother here?”

Then, the nurses wheeled me from the post-op room to my hospital room.
I was not in any pain except where they made the incisions in my stomach and my back. The rest of this day was fairly boring because we just hung out in the hospital room.

At about 7:00 p.m., the nurse allowed me to stand up and walk to a chair for a few minutes, even though the doctor only intended for me to sit up and dangle my feet off the side of the bed.

Finally, it was about time to sleep. Once I was asleep, the nurse came in every two hours to check my vitals and turn me off my back to one side and vice versa. They did not want my back to stiffen up too much from just laying on my back.

11/1 (Day after surgery):
At about 3:30 a.m. I woke up and could not fall back asleep. When the nurse came in at 4:00 a.m. I asked if I could get up and walk. My parents were hesitant to let me but the nurse said it was permitted I got up slowly and walked completely around the 6th floor I was on. I was feeling very good the whole day.

I woke up around 4:00 a.m. again and was not in a lot of pain. I was on a lot of medicine still, including morphine. At about 8:00 a.m. the physical therapist came in. I had to walk with her up and down stairs to make sure I was medically cleared to go home.

I was released from the hospital at about 12:00 p.m. that day with four different kinds of medicines. Once I got home I was exhausted and just slept the rest of the day. Every three hours my parents would wake me up to take medicine and have me switch the position I was laying in.

I woke up at 3:00 a.m. again and could not sleep. I went on a walk with my dad at 4:00 a.m. and I was in quite a bit of pain now because I was not taking as much medicine as I was in the hospital. The rest of this day was spent sleeping and watching Netflix.

When I woke up I was still sore and in pain, but I decided to tag along with my mom and sister, who were going to church. I was in quite a bit of pain still and could only sit for about 10 minutes at a time, so most of the time at church was spent standing in the back.

I was able to stop taking my Oxycodone and Valium. At this point, I was only taking Ibuprofen and Acetaminophen. My back muscles were very sore and stiff but I was walking very well and now doing some smaller activities like going to lunch with my parents. I was ecstatic to be able to leave the house more and not just lay in bed all day.

I started driving again with permission from my doctor and was only allowed to because I was not taking any heavy medication. It felt odd driving again. I had to be careful turning corners and hitting the gas or brakes too hard so I did not jolt my back and bother it. It was a little difficult to climb in and out of my truck but it was much easier than getting into my mom’s car because it is much lower and required me to bend my back to do so.

I went back to Children’s Hospital for the post-op appointment. The nurse took x-rays to make sure the titanium rods were still set correctly. They also took most of the dermabond off of my stomach and taped the top where it was splitting open. My stomach had been splitting open at the top of my incision and was slowly bleeding.

I stopped taking all of my meds now (ibuprofen and Acetaminophen). I was able to start working out very lightly by doing light weights and exercises that do not engage my lower back.

I returned to school, earlier than my doctors had anticipated. It was very weird returning to school so early. I almost felt out of place in my classes because I had missed so much work. I received a stack of papers about an inch and a half thick of the makeup work.

My back was now feeling very good and less stiff every day. The only problem I had was with my stomach incision that was now splitting open at the very bottom. My mom called my doctor that did the surgery through my stomach and he wanted to see me again.

Once we got there, he looked at it and decided to cauterize it with a silver nitrate stick. I felt like somebody was burning me with a blow torch. He then bandaged it up and sent me on my way.

My stomach was now hurting worse than before. After my first class that day, I went to the restroom to check my stomach and realized the cauterized part had opened up completely and was now bleeding.

I went to the nurse to get gauze and tape and bandaged the open wound myself. I called my mom and told her what happened. She immediately called the doctor back and he said to come in as soon as possible for him to look at it and not to eat or drink anything. I knew what this meant: he wanted to surgically fix it.

We got to the hospital at about 1:00 p.m. and the doctor took us in right away. He looked at it and said that he should go in and clean it out. We had to wait about seven hours from then to do the surgery though because I had eaten at 11:50 a.m..

We waited in surgical admitting for four hours and then they moved us upstairs to pre-op. The process started over again: starting my IV, waiting a while, injecting Versed to make me relaxed, beginning to get loopy and slur my words, wheeling me away, saying goodbye to my mom, entering the operating room, and not remembering when I fell asleep.

This surgery lasted for about an hour. Once I woke up, I was still unaware and under amnesia while we waited in post-op for about an hour and I have no recollection of waiting in post-op to go home. All I remember was being wheeled out by a nurse to the car in a wheelchair so I did not fall and get hurt.

Once we got home I ate and fell right asleep. I was exhausted from the very long day I had at the hospital.