I've been a pretty healthy guy most of my life. Two notable exceptions were when I got dry socket as a kid and, later, when I got pneumonia when I was in grad school and coughed so hard that I broke a rib. Both of those things were pretty painful. In fact, when I had pneumonia, I hurt so badly and for so long that I was prepared to die from the pneumonia. But the pain of those experiences was nothing like what I experienced on November 15, when I found myself crying in agony (yes, literally crying) from a herniated disk. I honestly did not know that a human body was capable of feeling so much pain. My physical therapist later told me that he had spoken to several women who felt that their herniated disks were as painful as labor. Only, I didn't get a cute baby in the end . . . I got a stupid cane. I went into ER, where they doped me up really good on hydromorphone (they tripled the initial dose when that didn't touch the pain) and let me go. I set up an appointment with the University of Wisconsin spine clinic, as well as meeting with the physical therapist. Long story short, after consulting with several doctors and researching my options, I decided that my best option was to go in for a microdiscectomy.
This Thursday, I go under the knife, so to speak. Outside of having my wisdom teeth pulled, I've never had surgery. I'm not too nervous yet - I'm sure that will come as I'm trying to get to sleep tomorrow night. My biggest fear isn't the surgery itself or the fact that the surgery might go horribly wrong or even that I'm going to have to deal with the pain of having been incised. My fear is anesthesia. Whenever I've gone in for dental work, they really have to numb me up but good. The "normal" dose of Novocaine never does the trick. I have to have more. Just really sensitive to nerve pain, I guess. And when my dad had his hip replaced, he was "under" - that is, unable to feel pain or see anything - but he could hear what was going on. Yeah, the saw, the crunching femur, the hammering of the ball into the femur, the whole thing. Did I mention that this happened twice, once for each hip? So I'm going to have a nice heart-to-heart with the anesthesiologist. I'm hoping he can sedate me well (I don't want to go general anesthesia - the thought of having a machine breathe for me is, well, uh-uh), we can turn on some Pink Floyd, and all will be well.
The surgeon is one of the best around, and UW doctors are fantastic. I have full confidence that he will do a great job of performing the operation. All in all, outside of the anesthesia, I'm not too worried at all.
I'll be hazy for a few days afterward as I'm going to be doped up on who-knows-what (I'm guessing Oxycodone, then stepped down to Hydrocodone ). But I'm dedicated to walking as much as I can (this helps to prevent scarring on the nerve tissue) while taking it as easy as I can.
Of course, I will be off work for at least 3 weeks. I've got a concert I want to see in Milwaukee on the 8th, which should be a good test to see how ready I am for real life again. But before then, I'll be spending a lot of time reading, editing Heraclix & Pomp, and working on a Lamentations of the Flame Princess supplement that I've been getting ready to write.
The great thing is, the doctor tells me that, as long as there aren't unforeseen complications, I should be back to running in six months. Look out August! Here I come!
See you on the other side! When it's all said and done, I'm going downtown for some Russian dumplings. Man, those things are good. And, holy crap, I just found out that they deliver!!! Woo-hoo!!