Spine surgery number four is in the books. All things considered, it went well. Before the surgery, the doctor told us Ren's previous lumbar surgeries would make the cervical fusion seem like a walk in the park. PSA: cervical fusion is waaaaaay easier than lumbar fusion. You, know, just in case you, too, find yourself in need of multiple spine surgeries.
Being a veteran back surgery spouse, I went into this last procedure with a clear plan and a backpack full of survival gear: my computer, papers to grade, a pack of mini iced sugar cookies, a southwest chicken salad, my fleece, and two rechargeable tablet devices to catch up on Netflix if things got desperate. It may have been overkill, but Ren is famous for getting out of surgery and then taking approximately an eon to wake up in recovery.
By about hour five, it seemed pretty clear that this was going to be one of the smoothest surgery experiences we've had. Then I got a text from my mom: "Pink says she doesn't feel good. Says her asthma is bothering her. Her chest is hurting."
Pink hadn't had an asthma episode in nearly two years, so when she woke up with that familiar old asthma cough early the morning of Ren's surgery, I did what anyone in my position would do. I tried to ignore the signs. Then I realized my guilt would overwhelm me (and that not taking action could backfire in a thousand different ways), so I administered her puffs and sent her to school with a note for her teacher and the school nurse about her flare.
My parents have watched the kids loads of time, so they knew what to do. They gave her puffs from her inhaler and kept an eye on her breathing. When Ren and I finally pulled into the garage after 9 hours of surgery, recovery, and driving, Pink met us at the door. She was wide awake and hyped up on the albuterol from her emergency inhaler. I could hear her wheezing and see her tummy working over time as the skin pulled in between her ribs when she took a breath, and as much as I wanted to ignore her symptoms, there was no question she was struggling to breathe.
Even though I was exhausted from a day of waiting and worrying about Ren (why sitting in a waiting room doing nothing is so darn tiring, I'll never know), none of us would get a good night's sleep unless I had Pink checked out. So, two hours after coming home from the hospital with Ren (who was now loopy from anesthesia and pain meds), I left him in the care of my folks and headed back to the hospital with Pink. We checked into the ER at midnight, and....in true Pink P fashion, she was fine by the time the doc made his way into our room. Thankfully, he gave her a couple of breathing treatments, dosed her with a steroid for good measure, and sent us on our way. It was 3:30 am.
By the time we got home it was 4, so I slept for two hours and rolled out of bed with my 6 a.m. alarm to start all over again.