My Experience of NHS Posterior Lumbar Decompression and Interbody Fusion

For the non-cyborgs, I had posterior lumbar decompression and interbody fusion (PLIF for short). There is an animation of the procedure here.

February 13th 2018 – Day of Surgery

We arrived at the Queen Elizabeth University Hospital (AKA the Southern General) bright and early. We went to the admissions area and got “checked in” and then headed to the surgical receiving unit.

When I arrived in surgical receiving it was clear that the nurse who I had met previously at my pre-op assessment

had communicated my needs very well. I was led to a small room to prepare for surgery. This little room would be my home for the next few hours. It was quiet and away from the hustle and bustle.

Adorned with the traditional bracelet, gown, hair cover and paper pants haute couture, and I was asked all the same questions a few times. It wasn’t in any way as irritating as it sounds if anything I felt like they were thorough. For the next hour or so we were left to our own devices. Which led to the discovery that the hair cover looks a lot like a jellyfish when thrown in the air and allowed to float back down (it is even more authentic with the word “bloop” thrown in for good measure… Yeah – this was before any medication). My anaesthetist was a strange but knowledgeable lady. I’m still recovering from my TMJ surgery so being intubated was a concern of mine as I still have some limitations to in how wide I can open my mouth, but she assured me that there were ways around that.

At around 0830/0900 we went down to the theatre area which was a series of bays with beds. James was allowed to come with me into this area which I was so grateful for as by this point I was beyond nervous. We sat and chatted – I have no idea what about – Then it was my turn.

My anaesthetist had round glasses, short hair and a calming presence – always a plus. I don’t remember the second lady other than she was there. And then I was asleep.

Coming round from anaesthesia is like swimming to the surface from the bottom of a deep lagoon. It’s dark and quiet, and then you gradually float to the surface.

The first thing is always the realisation of how bright the light is. It’s blinding. Someone said my name. Then pain. A lot of pain. Expected – but my still a shock to the system. Like a red hot poker firing up my spine.

My surgeon visited – the surgery went as well as it could.

The next few hours I was in recovery – being given pain relief and water and having my wound checked and changed a few times as it was leaking. The care was outstanding. My nurses Alan and Lynn kept me calm despite the pain. They were both so reassuring. And they never left my side.

Once I was stable I was taken to my room…






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