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Thursday, January 26, 2012

Did you wonder if I was coming back? Here I am!!

I had no intention of being gone for so long, but recovery from my surgery has been a lot tougher than I ever expected. There were a few problems with the surgery, as some of you are aware, so let me start there...

Surgery was on October 31, and the plan was to do a thoracic laminectomy at the T6-7 level, with rods & screws - and for me to just be in the hospital overnight. Unfortunately, I woke up over 24 hours later in neurosurgical ICU on a ventilator. Scary stuff. Apparently, the surgeon had problems getting the last screw in at the T7 level (probably due to my scoliosis below that level), so he moved down to the T8 level. Somehow, either my aorta or intercostal artery was nicked & there was a lot of bleeding. They had to call in a cardio-thoracic surgeon, and do an arteriogram, a venogram, 3 CT scans, & give me 4 units of blood before deciding that I could go to ICU. For obvious reasons, they wanted me to lie still for a time & also keep my blood pressure under control, so that's why they kept me in a medically-induced coma on the ventilator for 24 hours.

I remember seeing Gus's shadow & hearing his voice saying that I was okay and everything was going to be fine. I remember nodding & then starting to cry - and he told me not to cry, everything would be fine. When I finally "really" woke up the next day, I was still intubated - and let me tell you, it was horrible. It was really hard not to fight the tube. Even after they turned off the ventilator, they left the tube in for several hours to make sure I could breathe well enough on my own. I swear it was the longest few hours of my life. They kept me in the ICU for 2.5 days, and then finally moved me to a regular room on the neurosurgical floor. After another 2.5 days, I was allowed to go home. I was in a lot of pain, could only do a few things for myself, and I was as weak as a newborn kitten.

Those first few weeks, I relied on Gus for everything. I don't know what I would've done without him. I was supposed to shower 3-4 times/day (to help prevent muscle spasms in my back), but even with a shower chair, he had to help me. The first 4 weeks, I wasn't allowed to do much at all - which is good, because I probably wouldn't have been able to anyway. After 6 weeks, I was allowed to go back to physical therapy. After 8 weeks, I was doing better - less pain, getting a little stronger, doing more for myself.

Now it's been almost 12 weeks since the surgery. I'm still going to physical therapy twice per week, I still need pain meds, & I'm using Lidocaine topical patches for some of the nerve pain. I continue to have muscle pain as well as the nerve pain, but for the most part, the pain in my legs is gone. I have good days & bad days - and on the bad days, I tend to get discouraged. I still can't do much around the house, I can't do much work for my business, and I can't spend much time at the computer. It's difficult to deal with that.

I've seen the neurosurgeon a few times & he's pleased with my progress as well as being dedicated to helping me recover completely. I've also seen the cardio-thoracic surgeon, and my latest CT scan showed that the hematoma on my aorta has resolved, but I still have a pleural effusion on the left. He feels it's probably blood, which would be fibrous at this point & impossible to remove without opening up my lung. I've lost about 5% of my lung capacity on that side, but since I seem to be mostly asymptomatic, he doesn't plan to do anything. I'm supposed to have another CT scan in March & if it's okay, I won't have to see him again. I still can't cough very well and I can't sneeze, but they think it's due to muscle weakness & the fear of pain. Again, I don't know what I would do if I didn't have Gus to take care of me!

So that's what's been going on for the past 3 months! I have a ton of things I want to blog about, so I'm hoping that my tolerance for sitting at the computer will get better before I forget everything!!

I hope you've all been well & are having a great 2012!


1 comments:

vm said...

thanks for the updates. This certainly makes you aware of what and whom are important in your life. We love you, and hope to see you better soon.