Surgery might not be uncommon, but for a 20-year-old, it can be pretty overwhelming. I saw mine coming a few years before I actually got it, so it wasn’t necessarily surprising. But nonetheless, it was still a difficult and strenuous experience.
It all started out with my family and I deciding whether or not I was going to get the surgery. While it wasn’t an emergency procedure, for me, it felt like one. It took a fair amount of reassurance from the surgeon to get my parents on board, but they understood I needed it and supported my decision.
Next came all of the pre-op tasks. Between getting all of my tests done on time and getting everything in order, there was a lot to get done in a small amount of time. And just to add on to the to-dos, we did this all in the middle of finals. Whichever days I didn’t have an exam was packed with doctor’s appointments and visits to the hospital.
Then came the day of surgery. Every time I encountered a doctor, a nurse, or a hospital attendant, I was met with shock and questions, asking why I was getting spinal surgery at such a young age and why could I possibly need this at 20 years old. Then my surgeon found me, and I met my anesthesia team and the rest of my surgery team, and I finally felt comfortable. I got a few warm blankets, a few needles poked and prodded, and then we were off to surgery.
If I learned anything from the whole experience, it’s that no one can judge the pain you experience. Those around you can’t understand what you’re feeling and what you’re going through, which makes it so much more important to advocate for yourself. Be your own proponent to get what you need, and don’t worry about what others think and say because they can never really understand. Stand up for yourself and remember to stick it out, because in the end, it’ll all be worth it.