After being wheeled up to the ward after 1am that night, it was much of a sleepless night. Throughout the early hours of the morning I was sharing a ward with some older ladies who were in a much worse place than me, talking to each other in their sleep - one in Serbian and one in English. It almost made me laugh, but was so upset with the nurse as I struggled to get to sleep with the pain and being stuck on my back and had never spent a night in hospital either!
Finally morning came around, we waited patiently to meet with the Neurosurgeon to discuss options for the way forward and how I was going to recover.
We were told it was either operation or a back brace. The Dr. was so confident about back surgery, stating they do back surgeries similar to mine almost daily, that the surgery itself wasn't long, it was a quick, straight forward process.
The point which stuck most in my mind, still to this day, was when he said "The fracture is 2mm away from your spinal cord... so that is plenty of room for us to get in there and operate". I couldn't believe it, I still am amazed at how close it was to being a very different outcome for me - for which I am so thankful! He explained how the fracture wasn't very common to have the way I did it but was more often seen where passengers in car accidents that wore lap seat belts - the force of them being propelled forward with the belt holding them around their hips was what caused the chance/compression fracture. Uncommonly I had also lost 3-5mm in height from the anterior side of my spine. In the Xray below you can see how your spine is normally nice even rectangles - except for that one on its own, squashed.
So the decision was made, the operation was going to happen. We were told that whilst the back brace was the non-invasive option, it would mean putting on a brace every single day, each time I got out of bed, for the next 3 months - with no guarantee that my L1 would be healed and stuck back together. Not a very easy option that's for sure!
Now - the waiting stage. The surgeon funnily enough pointed out if I had injured myself on the Tuesday, rather than the Wednesday, they could have got everything they needed for the surgery by Friday for surgery to be earlier. However, unlucky in my case it meant the earliest they could have everything was Monday. Meaning I was going to be remaining in bed for another 4 days, unable to get up until after surgery. On the plus side, I got good at eating laying down, got good at using a bed pan, had some sponge baths, watched a lot of TV. But overall a very uncomfortable long 4 days with discomfort and trouble sleeping most nights!
There was a lot of talk about surgery and the accident over the next few days, as visitors came and went, discussing what was going to happen next I constantly remained positive and was surrounded by many loved ones. It was hard to not think about it, deep down I was always thinking how I was going to recover and what it was going to be like after surgery. With a large involvement and my passion of health and fitness, I continued to be focused on my diet (the only thing I felt like I could control with being immobile!), to ensure I was getting enough food - as hospital foods aren't that exciting and quite lacking in nutrients! We had meal prep left over at home, which Justin brought in for me daily, I ordered proteins each meal where possible and veggies, there was no way my body was going to get enough energy from just the hospital food - which was usually bland and horrible. My favourite meal being when Justin brought in a homemade pancake that he especially went to the my recipe book for. (Best ever!)
So the 5 days eventually passed, then it was time for surgery. I had never broken a bone before this, yes I thought it would be good to just go to the extreme obviously - I'd never had surgery, never had to stay in hospital. I was quite excited to finally be going up to be fixed - and what an experience that was! Surgery went all to plan - it was finished as scheduled and 55 minutes later I had 4 screws and 2 rods holding together my T12 and L2 - where the L1 is in between so it can repair.
I have some fond memories of that experience which Justin so kindly filmed for me, I saw tunnels and teddy bears and was so upset that no one told me to count from 10 to 1 before going under. That first night was as painful as the first night I spent in hospital, I had one of those big red buttons full of pain killers which helped, again another long night.
Then the very next morning post surgery, the Physio came by - and introduced me to my wheelie frame, after a first attempt - feeling dizzy and wanting to spew... I was eventually standing up and shuffling! (Not quite walking yet!) An absolutely exhausting experience after having been on my back for 4 days - the next day I was sore everywhere, abs, obliques, hip flexors - everything we use to keep us upright was working hard! My recovery had begun...
To be continued....