Sunday, September 27, 2009

Where this year has brought me.

This week I visited my surgeon for a follow-up visit and discussed some options with him. I sat there and listened and it finally hit me that this time last year I was anxious for the surgery that would enable me to live my life without so many limitations. I had never had such intensive surgery before, so I didn't really have a clue about how much pain and how long the recovery would take. Sure I had researched the surgery and the doctor had explained everything in great detail, but the experiences I had after surgery were few more painful and stressful than I had ever imagined.

Before my surgery, my back pain had gotten so terrible that I basically couldn't walk more than ten minutes and I would have to sit down with my back curved and my head tucked between my knees. My family was very supportive by pushing me in my wheelchair during vacations and shopping trips. Looking at the world from the wheelchair and depending on someone all the time took a large emotional toll on me. My family never complained, but I didn't feel like a contributing member of our family. The surgery wouldn't take place until I had been on bone strengthening medicine for six-months, so that pushed the surgery to January of this year.

It would take pages to describe the exact surgery that took place in January, so let me just state that I now have more hardware in me than some Lowe's stores. Because of a previous surgery, the "anchors" couldn't be connected to enough stable vertebrae to keep everything in place, so another surgery was done in February to rework some "anchors" into my hip. That second surgery gave me more hope and dropped the pain from "having my leg step into a bear trap" to a level of about a two. Ten days in a physical rehab facility got me on my feet again. I started over with ALL functions from self-care to literally learning how to walk, again.

My husband came up every weekend and stayed to encourage me at the rehab center and when I got home, he was there to make sure that I had everything that I needed to get stronger (both physically and emotionally.) You see when a person has been living with constant pain, it becomes a very desperate situation and depressing for the person. I didn't start having hope until I realized that my pain was lessening as my strength and endurance was increasing. My daughter came to stay with us to encourage me as I healed and she was comforting in her "new role" of the caretaker. Friends brought me food and sweet cards, as well as gifts from the heart. I felt bolstered by the love and concern so freely given to me during this time.

Within two weeks of being home I traded the walker for a cane for stability and then no extra support was needed. Physical therapy three times a week for eight weeks and exercises helped to get my strength back and the pain medicine's dosage lowered. I had to wear a huge back brace and a bone stimulator twenty-four hours a day until this week (eight months.)

Now, I have pain that doesn't stop me from living and enjoying my hobbies, my family and friends. Walking isn't measured in twenty-feet or ten minutes increments. I park way far away in parking lots and shop until I run out of money (which usually happens quickly these days.)

I will have another cat-scan in February to make sure all the hardware is staying where it is suppose to and then we decide if we want to remove some of the screws. If everything is where is suppose to be, I have already decided that I really don't want to remover anything. I don't set off metal detectors and my old bones are kind of slow growing, so they need the extra support.

If I could clone my doctor I would and I would make sure that if ANYONE needed a smart, kind, caring doctor, they would have my doctor. He listens to his patients, he doesn't hurry when you asks for explanations, and he acknowledges the part the patient plays in the recovery process. He is a rare young man and I am so blessed to have him as my surgeon.

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