Wednesday, April 30, 2014

April Happenings

My girls have been so good at taking care of me and helping me through this recovery. 
CC brought me home this delicious peach/raspberry cupcake from GiGi's.
I loved that the icing wasn't so sweet it burned your mouth and the cake part was really moist and flavorful.
CC also brought home my favorite flowers for me...tulips.
They just don't last long enough. 
I have tried growing tulips bulbs in the past and it just never works for me. I know that I don't have the green thumb that mom and CC have, so I know that is a factor, but I think the hot, dry Texas weather is just not what the tulips like. 
I have certainly been having my share of coffee. I love these disposable cups Starbucks came out with. I have a few at work and before I left for surgery I picked a few up to have here at the house. They are so convenient and can be used for hot and cold beverages.  
Since all i can do it sit all day, I've been getting in plenty of snuggle time with this fatty. 
I can't help but think of what kind of life he must have had before we found him. He was so skinny, full of worms and abandoned in a dog park. I took him home, fed him, had him vaccinated and neutered and fell so hard in love with my fat boy.
I think he was around 5 pounds when we got him. He's not over 18 lbs!
He's still so very skittish and will lay far away so that if you want to pet him you have to put in the work. 
So when he comes and snuggles up with me like this, it is HUGE! It's a giant leap of trust for him and I treasure it! 
I did manage to go outside to look at my roses. My poor babies are really suffering with out. I am surprised they survived at all. Out of the five I had, only two are left. This injury has really effected every aspect of my life. Losing my Peace rose because I was unable to care for them nearly did me in. They were a gift from Emil and the girls and this injury took that away from me too. 
Anyway, my knock-out roses are going wild. I love looking out my window and seeing the bush full of red and dark pink blooms. 
No matter how hard I try, I can never capture the beauty of the color of the knock outs. 
This bush was so small when they planted it and the roses themselves were so small at first. 
Over the years the blooms have gotten bigger and that bush is nearly out of control. I have heard trimming it down during winter is best, but I am too scared that I will over trim and kill it. 
And Emil's pomegranate tree is producing what we thought were tiny fruits. I see now when I look outside that it is actually flowers blooming that have petals the exact color of the bud. I can't wait until this tree actually produces fruit. 
Mom got this tree for Emil since pomegranates are the national fruit of 
Armenia....or something like that. He's Armenian and he tells us all the time how that is THEIR's native to their land...
So my Papa Bear has his own pomegranate tree...from my mama. 
My sweet mother in law came to stay a week with us and help take care of me. It was such a treat and blessing to have her here. I miss having a mama in my life. I think I convinced myself that I really am ok without having a mom. That I am strong and can handle anything by myself, because since Mom died I have no one to fall back on, lean on and get advice from. It's me now making decisions and learning as I go.
So, to have a mom here doting on me, cooking me soup, talking with me, hugging me, loving me, tucking me felt great. 
I really didn't realize how much I miss that.
I told Emil he doesn't realize how fortunate he is to have his mom and I admit, when I saw her hugging him and kissing him goodnight, I got a little jealous. 
I got the same hugs and kisses from her, but she will never be my mom. She can love me like a mom and take care of me like a mom but she will never be MY mom.  
I did try to venture out to the park with the girls the other day. I lasted all of 15 minutes then had to sit in the car.
All I could do was wish I was back in my recliner. 
There were tons of yellow wild flowers in the park. I wish there were more bluebonnets. 
I also went to my surgeon's office last week to have my bandages removed. I went up to their office, down a few floors for the x-ray and then back up to the surgeon to have the bandages removed. 
As I sat and waited to be called I placed one foot behind the other while sitting and felt the stones of one shoe. Now I knew that I selected the polka-dot bow shoes because they matched the polka-dots on my shirt.
Imagine the surprise when I lifted my legs and saw I left the house AND paraded around the doctors office and xray clinic WITH TWO DIFFERENT SHOES ON!
I could have died. I told Emil we had to go straight home and get me different shoes. 
That didn't happen. 
I was embarrassed....but, that's what happens when you can't look down! 
I was so ready to get that stupid bandage removed and see what it looked like underneath. 
It's really swollen here and you can't see it that great. But I am pretty sure it's going to scar up. I am devastated about that. I won't be able to wear necklaces and I'm going to have this ugly, visual reminder everyday to look at.
All because I took my girls on vacation. You don't know how many times I've wished we would have chosen a different flight time home or different vacation locale all together.
I'm telling good deed goes unpunished. 
So this is what I look like most days. This was before a bath and my hair is down. I normally have to have my hair up on the top of my head to keep it from getting in the Velcro of the soft brace...and that gives me a headache sometimes. 
I've tried braiding it, putting in pony tails, buns, you name it.
I am afraid that now I'm going to have to go cut my hair short to make life with the braces more comfortable. 
I wear this soft brace in the house when I'm ...sitting.
I have a hard brace that I wear when I'm up for longer than 15 minutes or when I leave the house. 
And the other night this cute little birdie was just hanging out in the salvia bush outside CC's window. He must have been injured because he didn't fly away when we got close and he/she let CC pet it. 
My college course have really been troubled because of this surgery. I am just barely above water in my courses. Thank goodness the end is in sight. I think classes are over the middle of May.
So that's about it. 
I wear and a brace and I sit...all day.
I am sick of watching TV. I am sick of being on the computer. 
But I am alive and that's just fine with me!

Sunday, April 27, 2014

Recovery: Life

Surviving recovery...that's what the title should be. I am simply miserable. I was worried what recovery would be like and now I know. It's hell...pure and simple hell. I am not one to just sit and be still and do nothing. But that is precisely all I can do....nothing. Absolutely nothing. 

Possibly the worst part of the recovery is not being able to sleep. It makes me...miserable. I don't know if it's the fact that I do nothing all day and have tons of energy in me OR if it's the fact that I practically live in a recliner and my body aches/yearns for my bed. Whatever it's miserable. I usually fall asleep around 1 a.m., wake up around 5:30 a.m., then fall back asleep around 8 a.m. and wake up for the day around 11 a.m. That sucks. It messes up my night. It messes up my day. I've tried taking my medicine earlier. Doesn't make a difference. I still have trouble falling asleep and cannot STAY asleep. 
I was the person up before everyone else, starting my day. Now I am usually the last one up and have NOTHING to do with my day. I've downloaded apps to help me sleep. I've tried reading, watching tv, literally counting sheep....nothing helps!

Speaking of help....that's all I need....all the time. Help to get out of my recliner. Help to take a shower. Help to make fresh ice water. Help getting dressed. Help brushing my hair. Help walking down the steps. Help walking up the steps. Help walking across the yard. Help to get in the car. Help to get out of the car. Help to bring my medicine when I'm stuck in my recliner at the end of the day and I am so beyond exhausted from doing absolutely NOTHING that I can't bring myself to walk to the bar and grab my medicine. Help, Help, Help. Ugh. I HATE it. 
I have NEVER been one to ask for help. I simply abhor asking for help. Yet every single day, all day, all the time I am asking for help. 

And intimacy with my husband... You can say I forgot what that is about. Before the surgery I was always in so much pain that intimacy with my husband was pretty much non-existent. The aftermath was much too painful to even try. We used to be pretty darn good on that level. Can't say more than a few days went by without it. And now....ha! Betty White probably gets more action than me. My poor husband. I am surprised he's stayed with me. This is hard on me. However, I am the one in pain and suffering with for me it's become easier to just accept it and and try to ignore those feelings. For him though, a healthy, young man...I can only imagine how hard and frustrating this must be for him.
Even just snuggling up on the couch watching game shows or The Big Bang Theory is not possible now with this stupid brace. I have to keep my head and neck straight. I can't look down. Don't turn to the side too fast. You know what??? I'll just go back to my recliner and sit. I have him push it as close to the couch as possible so we can at least still hold hands while watching TV.

That's my house now. Ok, not really. But guess what else I can't do...clean my own damn house. Can't wash dishes, or clothes. Can't sweep or mop. Can't dust. Can't do a damn thing. I love to clean my house. That used to be how I destressed. Can't do it now. No, no. I have to SIT and watch my husband and daughters try to clean the house. I just SIT and watch and HATE it! It's not their responsibility. I am the mother/wife. I should be up and cleaning but I can't. All I can do is sit. Sit and think about all the things I should be doing but can't.

So that is what I do all day. I sit. We had to purchase a recliner for me. Did I want to spend nearly $300 for another piece of furniture? No. Did I have the extra cash just laying around? No. However, I would not have been able to make it without that stupid recliner. I literally live in that chair. We tried walking to the mail box yesterday...something I could usually do and get back home in less than five minutes. It took me about 15 mins just to walk TO the mailbox. I was tired, couldn't breath. Everything in me hurt. My sweet papa bear asked if he needed to get the car to take me back home. I was only 3 houses from my house. All I wanted to do was get back to that stupid recliner and sit.
When the doctor asked me what I did for Easter? I was sitting.
What did I do for my birthday? I was sitting.
What will I be doing for my wedding anniversary? Sitting.
What big plans do I have for mothers day? Well, you know...I'll be sitting.

Thursday, April 10, 2014

Surgery and Recovery

Friday, April 4th, I went in to the hospital at 4:30 a.m. to have my first surgery ever, an anterior cervical discetomy and fusion. To say I was terrified would be an understatement.
I had so many thoughts and fears running through my head...
would I die during surgery and my girls be without a mom?
would I be injured during surgery and possibly paralyzed?
would I be nicked during surgery, causing a need for a blood transfusion that I would never take (again leaving my girls without a mom)?
would I experience complication afterward that could be life threatening, like a blood clot?]
will I ever be able to wear necklaces again since I will have a scar smack dab in the center of my neck?
will the pain finally be eased or will it only bring on a new set of issues?
will I finally get to be me again?

Weighing the benefits versus the risks were hard. Relatively it's a safe procedure with few complication. 
Everyone knows anything can happen.
For someone who has never had anything worse than the flu this was a majorly emotional and mental stressful situation.

So I went in and was taken to a admittance room where they did a few basic tests, urine sample, blood pressure, me in a hospital gown.

Then around 6 am I was moved to the holding room where they put my IV in. The anesthesiologist came in to go over what he will be doing and answer any questions I may have. My surgeon came in and went over the procedure with me and my girls and answered any last minute questions. I was terrified and there may have been quite a few tears shed.
My poor sweet Lena kept looking at me with this longing look in her she wanted to soak in every aspect of me...the shape of my eyebrows, the curve of my nose, where the freckles lay on my face, the crease in my neck, the rise and fall of my case she didn't see me again. 
This broke my heart.
I had no control over the situation.
And I was terrified. 
I was wheeled into the operating room fully awake. My nurse tried to make small talk with me to stop the tears that fell unaided from my eyes.
I was then moved to the cold operating table with the large lamp ahead of me. The anesthesiologist told me he would give me some medicine now to put me to sleep and they'd wake me up later.
I closed my eyes, took a deep breath and fell asleep in prayer.

I remember hearing a nurse telling me foggily that the surgery was over. I felt an excruciating pain on the lower right side of my neck and surmised this must be the incision site. My throat hurt like hell and I felt like I was going to vomit and poo at the same time. The only word I could get out was "sick". I'm not sure how long I was in recovery or exactly where recover was. Previously I was told that I would be taken back to the holding room where I had spoken with my surgeon to recover.
I just recall having some of the weirdest dreams you can imagine.

They got my girls and around noon moved us to my room. My throat hurt so badly. I felt a huge lump in it and it was just easier not to talk.
Most of the day I just laid in bed with my eyes closed. 
They brought me broth to sip. It felt good on my sore (from being intubated) throat but each time I swallowed it hurt from the front to the back of my throat.
It hurt to open my mouth very wide. It felt like the entire inside of my mouth hurt. My whole neck hurt. And each time I swallowed it felt like the substance had to cross over a lump to make its way down my esophagus. At the same time, each swallow produced this pain across the back side of my neck.
The pain was so bad it caused me to draw my shoulders up, hold my breath and almost think it easier not to even try. 
It was miserable trying to find a comfortable position. It hurt to lay down, it hurt to sit up, walking completely winded me. I had a drainage tube coming out of my neck. My butt was numb from sitting so long. I was miserable.

When I went home the next day I couldn't find any comfortable place to lay or sit or lounge. Finally my husband brought his beach chair into the house and fixed it up for me to sit/lounge/lay in. This worked for a while. 
At the end of the day I was in tears because I was so physically, mentally, emotionally exhausted. I felt like I just couldn't go on like this. But I was thankful to just be alive. 
After two hard nights we had to go purchase a recliner for me to lay in. Since I'm going to be in this position for 6-8 weeks we better make it comfortable. Did we plan to have to spend money to purchase a new piece of furniture? Absolutely not. But when you can't move your neck and you have to recline 95% of your day, you do what you have to do.
One bonus...the only real that Micah has been spending so much time bonding with me. I'll never know what his story was before we got him, but it took two years for him to even lay close to us and he is still so skittish. I think this recovery will bring about alot of close bonding between us. 
So while this is not a flattering picture of me...this is me...everyday...all day. Just sitting in my chair, watching tv and being loved on by my cats. 
I finally get to take my first bath today. I am beyond excited. I have never felt so dirty. The soreness of my throat is starting to subside. I don't eat as much as I used to and what I do eat takes forever to do it. Drinking still makes me wince in's just not as painful as it was the first few days. I think this morning was the first morning that I was able to take a drink without drawing my shoulders up all the way.
By night I am usually in tears. I am so exhausted from doing absolutely nothing. Muscle relaxers and Hydrocodone have really helped me sleep. My sleep hours are so messed up. I wake up at all times of the night, which means I sleep at all times during the day. I guess this is good..sleep helps you heal.
I have my two week follow up next Friday. 
But most importantly...I'm alive!
And I get to shower today!