This section specifically describes our day by day surgery experiences.

Surgery Process

After Surgery
Day 1: 

 

Kiki: I remember waking up after my surgery and feeling extremely tired and confused. I was still under the influence of the heavy pain killers, so I was really groggy. Each nurse that helped me would constantly be thanked. After they wheeled me into my room, I slept for a very long time. The first couple of days I was only allowed to drink liquids and eat soft foods. At night, they placed me on my side, and I sat up in bed. I felt very uncomfortable and nauseous. The next couple of days I managed to sit up without a lot of pain. 

Molly: I remember waking up right after the surgery in the post- op room and I was in a lot of pain, but my mom was right there sitting next to me. The first few days I was only allowed to eat liquids, so the first thing I had was a popsicle. Then, they wheeled me up to my room where I would be spending the next few days. I pretty much just slept the first day and didnt want to see people because I wanted to relax. I was not able to walk the first day, but I did stand up.

Remi: I have a vague recollection of waking up after my surgery, but I was told that I woke up happy and greeted all of the doctors. I do remember waking up on the hospital bed in the same room I said goodbye to my mom and dad in, feeling a strong sensation in my back. I was moved up to the room I'd be staying in and taken care of by the nurses for the next few days. I managed to stand with the help of two nurses by my side that night but, I had to sit down right after due to the inexplicable pain and stiffness I felt from being on my feet. Later that night, I took medications and pressed the drug dispenser whenever I felt I needed to (the nurses told me I could every fifteen minutes). They also helped me move from side to side as I slept, because it was extremely difficult on my own. The feeling is hard to explain but, the pain in my back restricted me from any full-body movements without help. Whenever I did move, the rod felt like two strong tree trunks were digging into my spine. However, when I was simply lying down the discomfort was not so bad, so I told the doctors I felt like a 5/10.

Courtney: I woke up after surgery to see my Mom, Dad, and Mr. Skaggs, they told me that my surgery had only been three hours (which was way under the time that they had estimated that it would take), and then they told me that everything went perfectly! I was dosing in and out of sleep for the rest of the day until I woke up around 6 and then walked across my room to go sit down in a chair by the window. I still wasn't feeling well so I went back to sleep. 

Day 2:

Kiki: The day after the surgery was spent with my family. I was very tired, so I didn't get to interact with them very much. In the evening, the nurses made me get up and walk around. It felt uncomfortable, but my parents were also there, and they gave me a lot of support. That kept me motivated!

Molly: The day after my surgery was spent with my parents and family members that dropped by throughout the day. I remember being determined to stand up and walk that day because I wanted them to take the cathader out. I rested most of the day and ate soup and jello eventhough I wasn't very hungry. And then I was ready to try walking and it took a couple tries but I finally got up and walked around the hall with the nurse. I was so happy and was beginning to feel a lot better!

Remi: I spent the next day lying down (and being moved from side to side on my back), taking prescripton drugs, entertaining myself with my phone and hardly eating the hospital food because I did not feel hungry. My grandma, uncle, and aunt came to visit me, along with my parents who stayed with me the whole time. One of my family friends sent me a care package with candy and a teddy bear that warmed my heart. My best friends, Ambria and Zoe, drove all the way to the hospital to visit me and brought me stuffed animals, candy and a card. As happy as being with them made me, they couldn't stay for long because I was starting to doze off. I also walked around the floor with my nurse and it was extremely painful. Throughout the day and night, I was switched from side to side on my back and took lots of medications, fighting through the pain that was slightly lessening by the day.

Courtney: The next day, my nurses were focused on getting me to pass the physical exam they had for you to pass before you could go home. All you had to do was walk around the hospital floor and then up three steps from a staircase. I felt pretty sick the whole time I was in the hospital because of all of the drugs they were giving me so I didn't eat a lot, but I was sleeping a lot of the time. My schedule was mostly sleeping, waking up to take different medicines throughout the day, waking up for visitors, then waking up again to walk around towards night-time. 

Before Surgery:

Kiki: The morning of my surgery I woke up at 4:30. I didn't really get any sleep the night before because all I could think about was the surgery. I got up and put on leggings and a sweater, got my favorite stuffed animal, and hesitantly got into the car. I slept the whole way there. When I got to the hospital, I was very shaky and tense. I walked into the pre-op room and sat on the hospital bed, and the nurse gave me a drink to help me relax. I quickly felt more at ease as they pushed me to the surgical room. 

Molly: I remember waking up at 4 in the morning the day of my surgery, and I was very anxious and tired. I put on comfy clothes and brought a few personal belongings with me. My parents and I got in the car and we headed to Childrens Hospital for the long day ahead of us. We signed in and went through the normal procedure including getting my blood drawn and waiting in the pre- op room. The last thing I remember was taking the medicine that would make me very loopy and calm right before the surgery. 

Remi: By 4:45 a.m., I was in the car with my parents and a packed suitcase headed for Children's Hospital Los Angeles. I was wearing my sister's Penn State sweater and comfortable black leggings. By the time we arrived, I surprisingly felt calm and ready for the surgery. I remember getting my blood drawn, putting on the hospital outfit, braiding my hair into two separate ones, lying down on the hospital bed, and getting two IVs on my hand (they told me I'd have many more when I woke-up). I wasn't panicking like I thought I'd be because the doctors made me feel safe and comfortable with their confidence and positive outlook on the surgery. After saying goodbye to my parents, they told me that they were putting a drug through my IV that will make me sleep. Immediately, I felt tired and relaxed as they pushed my hospital bed through different hallways into the surgical room. They were setting up the equipment, adjusting my bed, when I dozed off into a five hour sleep...

Courtney: My mom had woken me up at 4 am the morning of my surgery, the surgery was scheduled for 6 am. I got out of bed and put on leggings and a T-shirt for the car ride over. I remember being in the parking lot waiting for the elevator and I was so scared for what was going to happen next. My mom kept wanting to take pictures and I got frustrated about it because I was so nervous. I went into the waiting room and they put numbing cream on my hand because that's where hey were going to put the iv line. When they moved me to a bed and connected me to the heart monitor they could see I was really nervous because my heart was beating so fast, so they came back into the room with some sort of medicine they asked me to swallow because they said it would help relax me. The red syrup smelled like cold medicine so I swallowed it as fast as possible, then I laid back down and closed my eyes. The next thing I remember is waking up in my bed after surgery.

Day 3:

Kiki: During my third day at the hospital, I was very tired, but I was feeling a lot more comfortable. Two nurses made me walk a little bit farther and eat a little bit more. Later in the day, I had service dogs come and visit me in my room; they gave me support to walk up and down the halls. After I was done walking, I laid on my bed with the service dog. That was really comforting! In the evening, some of my friends came and visited me, and I was super happy to see them.

Molly: On the third day of recovery, I was feeling a lot better! I was able to finally eat solid foods, so I was living off of Lucky Charms and McDonald's because I didn't like any of the hospital food. This day also consisted of me resting, watching movies and doing lots of walking around in the halls. Also, my family came throughout the day and brought me presents and kept me company. 

Remi: I don't remember my days at the hospital very precisely, but I do remember them becoming a routine. I'd force down the hospital food even though I felt full and luckily, I never threw up unlike other patients. Then I'd take hourly medications, switch from side to side when I was resting on my back (with caution of my several tubes/IVs), try my best to walk around the floor (with the help of nurses), stay in touch with family/friends and be accompanied by my loving parents and nurses. The nurses told me I was being very strong because they persistently asked me how my pain was from a scale from 1-10 and I always said a number less than 5. Because of this, they told me I was ready to go home tomorrow and knowing that, I went to sleep that night extremely peaceful and happy. Day 3 was also the day my body was functioning better on its own and my extremely uncomfortable catheter was removed.

Courtney: By 11am on the third day they had removed my drain and all of my iv's and I was in the car on my way home. Late that day I walked around the block with my sister, Caleigh. Caleigh had to push the wheelchair for me because I got really tired really easily so I needed to have the wheelchair with me to sit down in after a few minutes of walking, then get back up and walk until I got tired again until we got back home.

Day 4:

Kiki: On my fourth day, the nurses told me that I could go home. They took out my IVs and tubes and made sure everything was normal. I was scared that when they took out the IVs it would hurt, but I did not feel a thing. Before I left, they put me in a wheelchair and wheeled me out to the car. As soon as I got home, I felt more comfortable, since I could wear my own clothes and sleep in my bed.

Molly: On the fourth day, I did a lot of the same things as the day before. I ate more, relaxed, and a couple of my friends came to visit. We were able to catch up and talk which was really nice. I would recommend having as many people visit that you are comfortable with because it keeps your mind off of what you just went through. I also continued to walk around with the nurse which helped me recover faster. And I was looking forward to going home soon.

Remi: By the fourth day, the nurses told me I was well enough to start recovering at home, because it's best for me to be independent in my recovery from now on and to be in a comforting environment. This day, I had all of my tubes, the drain, and IVs removed from my body (please email us if you have further questions on the specifics) and was wheeled down to the first floor of the hospital. The car ride home was extremely painful and uncomfortable, because I had to deal with the constant bumps on the road. By the time I arrived back home, I physically felt the same, but being in my own bed and home made me feel a lot better. My family and friends were being so supportive and wished me well. I was ready for the next month of recovery.

Courtney: On the fourth day post op, i went to the beach with my mom to go look for sand dollars. We walked over the jeti's in el porto looking for pretty shells and pieces of sea glass. I went home with three sand dollars and as soon as I got home I took a nap, walking that much was exhausting!

Day 5:

Kiki: On my fifth day of recovery, I slept the whole day and watched TV. My parents pushed me to sit-up and walk, since that would help my recovery process. My back felt so much better that I was looking forward to helping anyone who would be going through the same process. 

Molly: The fifth day was my last full day in the hospital. I continued to keep busy by watching TV, talking to family and friends, and doing exercises with the nurse to get me back to normal. At this point,I was tired of the hospital and couldn't wait to get home, but I was going to miss all of the nurses because I got very close to them. I was told that day that I was going to be released the next morning. I was so excited to finally be going home and couldn't wait to get back to school and tennis!

Remi: I don't remember specific details about my fifth day of recovery, but I mainly rested on my couch, watched television, talked to my friends, and spent time with my mom's side of the family who visited me. I fell asleep constantly throughout the day and tried my best to push myself to sit up on the couch. Comparing the way my back felt then to now, I realize how far I have come and want to be there for people who are and will be experiencing the same. 

Courtney: The fifth day after my surgery was the first day I had started walking slightly normal. Before I had walked really stiffly and even if my slow gaint laughable, it felt nice to get outside and walk around.

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