Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Free at last!

Great appointment with the surgeon yesterday. My x-ray looked great. Everything where it is supposed to be, my new disc nice and centered in between my vertebrae. All in all, I am ahead of schedule in terms of healing (an overachiever, obviously) and so the doctor said I can start leaving the house in "small doses," as long as I promise not to overdo it. Which as you know, for me, is quite difficult. But I've done pretty darn well staying house-bound and not losing my mind for almost 3 weeks here. I'm even impressed with myself.

So maybe I will start to see you all out there in the real world in the coming weeks. In the meantime, enjoy the above photo of my x-ray that Chris snapped with his phone. The brighter white thing towards the bottom of my neck is my new disc. I'm officially bionic!

Friday, February 18, 2011

Two Weeks Down

In some ways I can hardly believe it's been 2 weeks since my surgery. In other ways it feels like it has been 2 years, mainly due to the whole "house arrest" thing. I like my house and I can always find things to do, so it's the not the boredom it's really the lack of freedom and independence and even more so the lack of interaction with people. As Chris was upstairs working the other night and I was downstairs watching TV he called down and said,
"Were you trying to say something to me?"
"No," I replied, "I must have been talking to the TV."
To which he says, "Yeah, you've been doing that alot lately."

You cannot help but laugh at what happens on a totally unconcious level when a person is home alone for such extended periods of time. I talk to myself regularly anyway, but talking to the television (was I talking to the characters on the show? Did I think they could hear me?) is a new low. Don't get me wrong. I'm laughing as I write this. It is pretty ridiculous.

But then yesterday I found myself getting truly angry - at the weather.
Yes, the beautiful, un-winter-like, high 60s, not a cloud in the sky weather we've had this week. Which would be perfect, if I could get out and actually do something - even drive around in my car with the windows down and the music blaring sounds amazing.

But when you are under doctor's orders to not ride in a car, all you want is cold, rainy, gray weather that doesn't make you feel so bad about being stuck inside. I could drink lots of tea, work on my puzzle, watch movies. So I woke up yesterday pissed off and finally forced myself to put on real shoes and go for a walk around my block (which is one of the few things I AM allowed to do!) And it improved my mood.

My goal is to make it to Tuesday, when I go to the doctor for my follow-up x-rays and visit. We will make sure everything is holding up, staying where it should be and I will ask what he thinks of me leaving the house some by the end of next week. Two of my first Triple Threat Theater students are starring in "Beauty and the Beast" at Pace next weekend and I really want to be there to see them!

In the meantime, I have a lot of awesome people who have made these 2 weeks bearable:
To the many meal providers: Barbara & Paul, my sister Bets, Mandy, Patty & Johnny, Kimmy, Van & Rebecca, Louie & Ray, the Holders, the Wiseners, the Dieterichs, Aunt Mary, Jeanette & my Greek family - thank you!

A big thanks to my "personal shopper" Peg, who has made 2 trips to Publix for me and brought me a much needed frappucino yesterday!

And to my many visitors who have come by (or are still planning to come by) to cheer me up and cheer me on: Angela & Kenney, Mom, Dad, my sister Erin and my nieces and nephew who made me cards and cupcakes, my pilates instructor & friend Marci, my voice student Hannah who brought soup and stayed for tea...I know I'm missing people but you know who you are and you have all kept me sane.

Thank you to my Mom who woke up at god-only-knows-when to get to Northside Hospital at 5:15am so Chris and I wouldn't be alone and who stayed until after 5pm to make sure we were okay. And to my Dad who arrived almost as early, stayed through my surgery, went home and came back with my stepmom that night to check on us.

Thank you to my mother-in-law Barbara who brought much needed sustenance and cheer to Chris and my parents in the waiting room. And thank you to my stepdad who not only visited me in the hospital (and I know how much you love hospitals, George) but has called often with gossip and stories to cheer me up. Thanks to my grandparents for calling to check on me and for making me laugh - crucial to healing!

And a big thank you to Tiffany St.John and the folks from one of my favorite restaurants, Muss & Turners who brought over food yesterday as their get-well-soon gift to me. (So now you all have to go eat there seeing as how they are so generous: or their other newly opened place

And one last interesting bit of useless knowledge. Apparently the "retail price" of the new Synthes Cervical Pro-Disc in my neck: $16,500. Yep, that's right. My neck is now worth more than both of our cars combined! Granted, there will be "insurance adjustments" and whatnot but how insane is the MSRP on an artificial disc?!? We are extremely blessed to have good insurance and I am extremely blessed to have a husband who works so hard at his job (and at taking care of me) so that we can have good insurance, a decent income and a nice house in which to spend my house-arrest. I love you Christopher.

Thursday, February 10, 2011

The Long and Winding Road

I am experiencing deja-vu as I sit here and write that "Recovery is not a straight path." While my surgery went really well, turns out that the physical pain and mental anguish associated with recovering from neck surgery - well, it's not for the faint of heart.

Trying my best to manage the pain both around the actual incision and the pain towards the back of my neck which I imagine is from the digging around they had to do to find the disc, pull it out and then make room for the new one and tightly wedge it in there so it doesn't move. At least that what it feels like happened. My neck is still swollen, not too bad visibly but swallowing is slightly difficult. I have take small bites and tilt my head a certain way and even then it is pretty uncomfortable. And as luck would have it, apparently nerves have a long memory, especially for pain, and sometimes even after the actual pain-inducing object has been removed, your nerves still can flare-up and remember the torture you put them throough for 2 long years. At least that's what my doctor tells me is happening as of a couple days ago when my nerve pain returned after a nice long holiday weekend off.

I'm not really worried long-term. I do think the surgery worked and this is merely the climb back down the mountain which can sometimes be harder than the climb up. Case in point: we were watching this tv show called, "Everest: Beyond the Limit" or something like that last night and they say there are more people who die on their descent down Mt. Everest than those who die trying to make it to the summit. Which is to say, coming down the moutain sure ain't easy either. Yesterday and today have been really rough between the fatigue, the surgery site pain and my old nemesis nerve pain. Living with it all at once is not a lot of fun. Again, I'm not worried about the long-term, but the short-term is just, well, crappy.

Mentally speaking, just like being in an MS relapse, recovering from major surgery is very isolating. My surgeon first told me I was not allowed to drive or even ride in a car for FOUR weeks. We told him that was impossible, since Tysabri beckons to me every four weeks and I am due for my fix of it on the 28th. So I think now I am under house arrest for three weeks, essentially.
One week down, two to go.
Here's hoping I don't lose my sanity or that Chris doesn't divorce me before February is over.

Thanks for the visitors who were able to come by this week.
If you didn't get a chance to pop by, don't worry - you still have at least 2 more weeks in which I will be here day or night, rain or shine. So if you find yourself in the area or want to drop in for a cup of tea, I'm here...working my way down the mountain.