I had my surgery three weeks
ago today with Dr. Bertagnoli in St. Elizabeth's hospital in the beautiful
town of Straubing. Living in Arizona, I was afraid to be in the cold
but it was a snow-covered wonderland and the view from the hospital
was breathtaking (no, these aren't my drugs talking). I have read so
in the past couple of days about many of your experiences and I wanted
to share mine as well. There's something in everyone's story that will
I went into this experience with a very positive attitude. I half-joked
that I was going to Germany for a vacation and having surgery while I
was there. Sitting here now, that's about how it feels. Once I was put
on the schedule for jan. 10, I had about three weeks to get my passport
and rearrange my life, all during the holidays, but it happened. My Mother
flew from CA and was with me the entire trip, bless her. She took good
care of me. My husband did a great job of holding down the fort at home
so I had no worries there. Mark Mintzer was a lifesaver. I went to Germany
expecting to have Prodisc ADR in L4-5 and L5-S1 at the recommendation
of two docs in the US. I had a failed SED at those levels in 7/04.
I was admitted to the hospital on Monday, 1/9, the day of my discography.
Mark pushed for testing at L3-4 for a control level over the objections
of the admitting physician. Dr. Bertagnoli agreed and to everyone's surprise
L3-4 turned out to be a pain generator and L5-S1 was found to have healed
from the SED. Very important to know before surgery! So, the next day
I had my ADR at L3-4 and L4-5. The procedure lasted 1 1/2 hrs. and everything
went smoothly. I have pictures of myself post-op with Dr. B. and my Mother
at my bedside but I have no memory of it. I look happy, though. For the
rest of that day and the next, I remember the nurse urging me to drink
the awful tasting mineral water to push fluids, but not much else. By
Thursday morning, I came out of the fog and began to walk around, got
to eat some gruel, and felt somewhat normal. The hospital was so quiet
and restful--unlike any other hospital I'd been in before. The doctors
and nurses were very kind. I felt more like a guest than a patient. Hard
to believe, but true.
Stayed in the hospital until Sunday and went back to the hotel in Straubing.
Met some wonderful people (!) from the states who were also there for
surgery, as well as Anita from Dr. B's office. Got to do a little site
seeing in Regansburg. Stayed in Straubing and flew home on 1/22--that
was a nightmare. Be prepared for weather delays (taking the southern
route through Atlanta doesn't preclude them), always ask for a wheelchair
when you come home (no waiting). Be careful not to leave your laptop
on the plane, no matter how groggy you are when you get home. You may
not get it back (yet). Aside from falling twice (unintentionally testing
the discs) my recovery has been uneventful, thank goodness. A couple
more hints: If you stay at the hotel in Straubing, put a towel on the
bathtub floor before showering. And when walking into restaurants, look
down so you don't miss that last step. Watch your Step signs in German
I'm still on pre-surgery meds as I expected. Still have some tingling
in the right leg and occasional low back pain but not as bad as before.
Incision pain is gone. I can sleep on my right side again--that's a big
thing to me since I've been forced to sleep on my unnatural side for
over a year. Mainly right now I notice a change in my mental state--not
ruled by pain and uncertainty any more. Really able to focus on my recovery--mentally
Hope this helps someone. I'll keep posting from time to time and will
continue to watch everyone else's progress as well.
It's good to be home.