Year 2010 I had 50+ back surgeries
It was around the middle of my fourth grade year I had visited my neurologist for a follow up with my scoliosis. I had taken x-rays and he was going to go over them with us (meaning me and my mom) and talk about how my spine is looking. My neurologist Dr. Gerardi explained how my scoliosis had gotten worse with the curvature of my spine. He showed up before and after x-rays and you can see how it went from being a little curvature to now looking like an S. He then went forward with the conversation and started talking about how we should consider having a Spinal Infusion because it was now crushing my left lung. I broke down crying because I knew I needed to have it done. We scheduled the surgery date for March of 2010. I forgot the actual date but I never forgot the month or the year of having this surgery. Once my surgery date was scheduled we told the family. My cousin Raymond who we call Booboo and my other cousin Natalie had picked me up a couple of times prior to this for the weekend and we would play Mario Party and watch movies. They heard about my surgery and took me out for another weekend to spin the night. They took me to Build-A-Bear at the mall and I made a dog dressed in a firefighter outfit with his jacket, helmet and boots. I even was able to put a little bark in him before we sowed him. I still have this dog to this day. After the mall we went out to eat and then to their house playing Mario Party and watched a movie before my cousin Booboo carried me upstairs and into bed. It was the next day and I got admitted, get an IV put in, and here comes my nurse along with the doctors and team who will all be involved with my surgery. I felt okay at first. My aunt Della came to be with me before I had gone in along with my grandma and other family members. After speaking with everyone at the hospital the anesthesiologists had scared me the most. They have to give the worst case scenario but also be very honest and specific so you know exactly what it is and can happen during the surgery. Once he left I started to panic and asked to speak to Dr. Gerardi again because I was now scared. He came and we talked, making me feel at ease again. He told the nurse to give me something to help calm me down and it was a liquid that I had to drink/ take a shot of. Whatever it was surely did calm me down, but I now was acting a fool of myself. Who knows it might’ve been a shot of Vodka now that I think about it.. just kidding. I was in the gown they give you before going into surgery which means I was in my birthday suit underneath. I pulled myself to the side and was showing off my behind with everyone having them all cracking up with my sillyness.
It was now time for me to go in and at first I was calm and okay, but once they started to roll me away I have my family giving me kisses saying “I love you I’ll see you after okay?..” Once they started to cry, that's when I started to get emotional too. I said back “I love you too, I'll be okay.” And I was now in the operating room. I get asked “what is your name?..” okay. “What is your date of birth?..” then my anesthesiologist asked me “do you like orange or cherry?..” and I said “orange!” Before he put the mask on my face for me to breathe to put me to sleep I asked “can I see Dr. Gerardi first?..” Dr. Gerardi was a great doctor and always made me feel at ease. The main reason I asked this is because I wanted to make sure they had the right patient. After we talked I looked up and saw my anesthesiologists start to give me the mask to put me to sleep. “Take a few deep breaths..” he told me. I inhale a couple good deep breaths. “You might feel a little sting with your IV. Can you count back from ten for me.” I start counting back “ten.. nine.. eight.. seven..” I was out! I woke up after the surgery and my mom was right next to me. I tried to talk but couldn’t because I had a breathing tube in my mouth helping me breath. I asked my mom “how long was the surgery?..” she says “you were in there for fourteen hours.” I look over to my other side of my bed and see two huge big bags of blood running through my IV. The nurse comes in and she starts to pull out my breathing tube because I was breathing and doing well. “Are you in any pain?..” I respond “I’m okay right now.” I tried raising my bed up and this is when it hit. I started crying and screaming because I couldn’t move. Not even a little bit. The nurse rushed to get and give me pain medication through my IV.. after a few minutes of me staying still the pain medicine started to help relieve my pain a little. My mom rubbed my head telling me how everything had gone great! I asked her “why is there blood running into my IV?..” she said “you had lost a lot of blood, but you’re okay.” I had to have two huge bags of blood transfusions because I had lost so much blood.
About a week went by and it was time to go home. I felt sore but looked great! Prior to this surgery me and my doctor have built a great relationship. I had gone home and was sitting straight! When I say I was sitting straight I was sitting straight! I felt super tall. A few days went by and my showering days were over because I didn’t have a customized handicap shower/ bathroom. My cousin Danny was off work being my caregiver during this time and my mom had taken close to a full year off of work to be with me for my recovery. I had to start being sponge bathed which sucked! The way my mom sponge bathed me though was as if I was in the shower because she would soak my bed making sure I was clean. A few days or a few weeks passed by since my discharge from the hospital and one morning when I was sitting up my mom noticed a quarter sized blister in the middle of my lower back. I said “DON’T TOUCH IT!” Because I was scared and now in fear of more pain. She took a picture of it and uploaded it to Facebook. JUST KIDDING about uploading it.. did I get yah? She took a picture and had me send it to my doctor. A few minutes later it bursts! You were now able to see about half and inch to about a full inch inside of my back. My doctor calls and they talk for a little about it and he says “don’t have him eat or drink after midnight.” Once I heard him say that we both knew I was going back in the next day. My stitches started to rip against my skin too and I strongly feel that it was because I was overweight that had to have played a factor. The next day I was right back at the hospital my mom was signing the papers to get me admitted again. I started getting prepped for another surgery to go into the operating room and my aunt Della showed up right before I had gone in. She came before she had gone to work. She worked at a military base for the United States Air Force so she was in uniform. Everyone who was going to be involved in this surgery had come and talked to us letting us know what they were going to do and who would be doing what when I was in the operating room. Since I lost so much blood the last time the risk was still very high plus with my SMA we all knew the possibilities with my respiratory. Dr. Gerardi looked at it and talked to us about what his plans were. Prior to him walking in they took blood tests and then gave me an IV. The blood tests came back positive for two major infections. I had no other option but to now have a Spinal Debridement because my mental rods from my spinal infusion got infected from being exposed and open in my lower back. I asked to have that calm down shot medication drink to help. I was okay but of course really scared. This was my first surgery I have ever experienced and the pain was no joke. They took me and again my mom and aunt Della gave me kisses telling me everything was going to be okay and how much they loved me. I am not in the operating room and again gets asked “what is your name?.. What is your date of birth?.. do you know what type of surgery you’re having?..” I confirm their information was right. Everyone in the room did their best making me feel comfortable as much as possible. Dr. Gerardi came into the room and said “everything will be okay Buddy.” Anesthesiologists started to put the mask on my face but this time it was Cherry scent. Anesthesiologists said “you might feel a little sting in your IV.” Then says “can you take a couple deep breaths for me and start counting back from ten.” I fall asleep and wake back up in the ICU having a little bag of blood transfusion and a tube in my throat helping me breathe. The nurse comes and pulls it out. (It feels so weird and leaves your throat sore for a while).
After I woke up I had this weird feeling like a sock was behind my back. This surgery was around six hours. What they had to do was do a spinal debridement (meaning take out the mental rods) and had put a sponge in the middle of my lower back right where the blister was. They stitched me back up from my upper neck all the way down to my behind crack. What this sponge did was connected to a machine and it helped suck out the bad bacteria and also would help with the healing to help close my back. Having this sponge in my back was gross to see the blood and was very uncomfortable. Everyday Monday through Friday I had to go into the operating room going under anesthesia for them to clean my back and swap out the sponge. I remember after a couple of times going back and forth in and out of the operating room I started to get angry with everything that was happening to me. I was completely over life and hoped I wouldn’t wake back up. The pain was so bad nothing worked. The only thing that helped relieve my pain was sleep and sleep was the hardest thing for me because of the pain. The doctors had found a solution to give me to different types of pain medication and that worked wonders for me. It helped relieve so much. I started counting how many times I would go into the operating room for my back and stopped counting after number 48. I was in the hospital for two and a half months.
Since I was in and out of the operating room a lot my IV’s would go bad very quickly and I was a really hard poke. Over the time I was there I had a couple IV’s, a picc line, and also had a mediport. My record getting poked to start an IV is 14.
The day had come to get my sponge removed. I go in for the last time into the operating room for my back and come out having a transparent tape covering my back. I even had stitches but the tape helped keep my back closed and together. Again I feel it was because I was overweight.. I started to get out of bed driving around the hospital going to the playroom doing arts and crafts and playing board games.
During the time of me being in the hospital I had to miss my big brother's high school graduation and his graduation party. I’ve never been one to show his emotions but it truly does get to you when life throws certain things your way leaving you to not understand “why me”. Life has forced me to “swim against the current, not with it.” My godmother had taken the time off work to be with me in the hospital so my mom could go to my big brother's high school graduation and also be there for his high school graduation party. My mom recorded the whole thing so I was able to see it. Seeing the family in the video and hearing them say “we love you wish you were here Victor” truly did mean a lot to me. My cousins and my aunt Alice had come down from Texas and they all visited me in the hospital too. My cousin Albert came down this summer and we were close. We would always talk on the phone and play games online growing up. The entire time he was down here in California from Texas he would stay there at the hospital with me and my mom. My mom never left my bed side and if she had to go do something I always had one of my aunts or cousins with me. My cousin Albert never minded to stay overnight at the hospital with me playing board games and watching TV.
Two and half months had gone by and it is now time for me to get discharged! WOOHOO!.. The hospital staff is clapping because I was finally able to go home. I was all happy. As I pull up into our driveway my dog Misty is wagging her tail being excited to see me again. She probably was thinking to herself “I knew there was someone that sat in a chair with wheels who lived here!” I get off with the help of my family hooking me onto the hoyer lift and bringing my wheelchair down from the back of the truck. I got in my wheelchair and it was hot from being in the sun when we drove on our way home. I start talking to Misty being all excited making noises that don't make sense to us humans but the dogs love it. I’m petting her. She's licking me, giving me the welcome home love.
I had a long road of recovery and was put on home studies for my fifth and sixth grade year. I was on antibiotics for an entire year because I still had the infection. Taking these big horse looking pills sucked, but it did cure the infection which was what counts. Also after the surgery I don’t really see it as a complete waste or having regrets I even had to have it done. The pain and unexpected infection sucked but “there is always a positive in every negative.” Since I had the rods in my back for a little while it did straighten me out. Once they took out the rods from doing the spinal debridement I was sitting straighter than I was before I had the surgery. Which was a good thing because it got me off of my lungs and had bettered my health in the long run.