Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Home Sweet Home

We have made it up to Paso Robles and being home seems to be the best medicine for Mom. She is no longer taking the heavy pain medication that they sent her home with and she seems to be even happier now that she is back in Paso. She still has ups and downs throughout the day, which is more than expected at this point in the recovery process, but overall she is doing far better than anyone ever expected just four weeks post surgery.  She is even feeling well enough to write a guest post, so here is a message from the patient herself:

My dear Friends,
I asked Julie if she would mind if I did a blog update.  I do not write nearly as well as she does, but thought I’d give it a try.
My mother has said that I need to close this blog and tell everyone who has been following it that I lived ;). Well, I decided to tell you a bit about what I have been up to over these last couple of weeks since Julie did the last update.
First and foremost, thank you from the bottom of my heart for all your kind words and thoughts. After about a week in the hospital, once I was a bit more lucid, I would wake up in the middle of the night to read what Julie had written and your comments. It really helped to know that I have such caring and thoughtful friends.
When I finally accepted the fact that I was going to have to have this surgery last January, I had no idea what to expect. I was in severe pain 24/7 and could feel myself literally collapsing. My right ribs touched my right hip bone in certain positions, my stomach was being squished and I could feel bone on bone within my spine when I moved. I had shrunk over 3 ¼ “ (a total of 4” by the time I had the surgery).  We were in the middle of building our dream home so I decided I could not have the surgery then. Once the house was done I had to have my family visit for the month of July. Then, of course, I could not possibly put off our annual motorcycle ride in August (beautiful Wyoming this year). Next I just had to make one more visit to NC to see my darling grandsons – who knew when I would be able to visit again? Finally, The Three Speckled Hens, who are dear friends, had scheduled their Fall Antique Show for Oct 1 & 2. Since I am a Speckled Hen Wannabe, I just HAD to be there.  Obviously, life seemed to get in the way, as it always does, and I finally had to surrender to having the inevitable surgery in early October.  That only took ten months – longer than a pregnancy ;).
As time grew near for the surgery I became more anxious about the unknown. I have been told to expect a recovery time of six months to a year (bones need time to fuse) which was another reason to have the surgery at this time of year. Not much happens over the late fall and winter here so it is a perfect time for me.
My big surgery was four weeks ago and I am doing so much better than anyone every expected. I can walk on my own (without a walker!), I can put my brace on my by myself, I can get in and out of bed and I can even shower on my own. I stand 2 ¼ “  taller than I did a month ago which gives the illusion of great weight loss (love that part ;)).  The shape of my body is very unfamiliar to me – I have a lumbar curve where I have never had one before, my hips used to curve out (think saddle bags) which they no longer do and my torso has been elongated.
 I have been off narcotic pain meds since week two, which seems to shock most everybody. Most people are on them for three months, but I just can’t seem to stand the awful side effects. Additionally, I don’t feel that my back is in severe enough pain to require them. The strongest non-narcotic I can take at this time is Tylenol. Naproxen (Aleve) and Ibuprofen (Advil) are not allowed because of the potential to bleed. 
Since I am doing so well relatively speaking, I am having a very hard time taking things slowly and I really want to be able to go back to my life as it was. Pilates 5x a week (which I am 100% convinced is the reason I am doing so well), taking care of my goats and chickens, and getting my garden ready for winter among other things. Julie has to constantly remind me how well I’m doing in such a short amount of time – I just seem to have trouble keeping everything in perspective sometimes.
The incision on my back is very tender (as you can imagine) and I am starting to have severe nerve pain in weird areas of my body. For example, there are times it feels like I have a hot needle going into my right thigh or the end of my toe.  Julie and I feel like my nerves are starting to come back to life after the trauma of the surgery, but who really knows why this is happening – it’s just part of the healing process I suppose. 
While my back pain is pretty well controlled, I find that I am weak and get dizzy easily. I have to be careful how quickly I get up. Getting in and out of the car or the bed or off the sofa is a challenge to say the least. I am only allowed to sit for about 10 minutes at a time otherwise I have to be lying down, reclining or walking around.  These restrictions make me a bit stir crazy from time to time, so I’m working to establish a routine that will allow for a good balance between rest and activity. 
Another challenge I am dealing with is turning over in bed.  In order to do so in the middle of the night, I have to wake up and carefully “log roll” (keep my shoulders and hips on the same plane) to another position. I am slowly getting used to doing this and I hope it will become second nature soon! Additionally, there are times it seems like I can actually feel some of the screws in my back. I have been told that it is common to be in more pain seven weeks post-surgery than I am at three weeks post-surgery. I sure hope not!
My biggest complaints these days are my stomach and my left foot. I have had stomach complaints since day one. I feel as if there is a brick of fire in my stomach at times. If it does not improve within the next two weeks I may have to have an endoscopy to rule out an ulcer. My left foot has had 4 surgeries for various things and now it gets so very swollen within 5 minutes of me being up on my feet. It is quite painful and feels as if I have a large rock under the ball of my foot that I am walking on.  Unfortunately, at this time I am unable to take anything for the pain. This presents an issue as I am supposed to be walking around as much as I can so my back can heal faster. I guess I’ll just have to address one issue at a time.
All in all, I can tell that this surgery is going to be worth it. I am in far less pain than I was pre-surgery and once this year is over I have a feeling I will be even happier that I had it done!
Thank you again for all of your love and support through this journey!

1 comment:

  1. You have had and are having an unbelievable "journey"! I compliment you for your always positive attitude and with what you have been through, that isn't easy. You deserve a "big lemonade"---with a little vodka? Love U--CarlaXO