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Category Archives: Surgery and recovery

I’m Back :)

Hello again,

It has been quite awhile since I was regularly posting on here and I apologize. Starting January 1, I started another blog for my photography called Heather’s Photo a Day challenge and I didn’t expect it to take up much time and I thought I could continue with both. Somehow, my other blog has taken up more time than I thought and I had to let this one slide a bit.

If I am being honest, I have to admit that I stopped the weekly Gratitude Challenge posts because I felt like I couldn’t continue at the time. I was supposed to have surgery in December 2014 but it got postponed and I had a really hard time with that. I was struggling with being grateful for stuff when I was in so much pain and frustrated that my surgery didn’t happen. I have been in pain for so long and I was looking forward to the surgery so much that it really hit me hard when it had to be canceled. I had planned to get through the recovery and start running again in the spring which wasn’t possible due to the surgery being postponed. It was difficult. I thought I would just take a break from the Gratitude Challenge but then a break turned into a longer break and now it has been around 6 months. Part of that is because my other blog was taking up more time and was getting a better response than this one ever had. I thought no one would miss it if I didn’t post here and focused on the one that would help me get better at photography which is what I hope to do in the future.

I have decided recently that I should make time for this blog as well. I keep being told that sharing what I go through could help other people. So I am going to attempt to keep up on here as well. 🙂 I am excited to say that I have surgery finally coming up as well. 🙂 June 18. It is coming up fast. I am trying not to get too hopeful that it will be the last one but I am, despite my efforts. It will be the fourth one. Apparently an easy one too. 🙂 Hopefully no complications as well. I wish I knew why things happen the way that they do but I think that there is a reason for everything. I wish I knew what the reasons were but I don’t. I try to be ok with that. I will hopefully have a chance in the next few days to update how I am doing in more detail and what I am up to currently (other than the upcoming surgery). Stay tuned!

Thanks for taking time to read my blog!

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Posted by on June 8, 2015 in Surgery and recovery

 

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Daring to Dream

Hello again,

Since receiving the date for my next surgery, I have been doing a lot of thinking and planning and I realized that while I have many dreams for the future, none seemed very likely. I have had dreams for some time in the future and not stuff that I truly thought would be possible. This morning I started to dream about the near future. Next year. Real dreams…. or maybe goals is a more correct term. Stuff I see as a possibility of happening either next year or in the next few years. This surgery seems like it might actually be the final one. I feel like there is a chance that I will actually get my life back after this one. I haven’t felt this amount of cautious optimism before the previous surgeries that I feel I can possibly begin to make plans again.

Over the past seven years, my life has consisted of surgery, recovery, complications, lots of medical tests and then waiting for more surgery. Plus being pretty much housebound. Between the first and second surgeries, I spent pretty much a year being unable to sit up for more than about 10 minutes at a time. I didn’t go anywhere except the necessary check ups with my surgeon. It felt like hell for me. My room started to feel like my prison. The years after were not as bad but still consisted of serious limitations. All I have had the option of thinking about is basically surviving each day and trying to make the most of it. I am not trying to complain but just explain the reality I faced each day for the past several years. I would day-dream a LOT. I sometimes got through days by dreaming about the future and what I would do when I got better. 🙂 But the future always seemed so far in the distance and sometimes the future I hoped for seemed unattainable. This has been my reality and it kind of became my identity. I was this person who dealt with limitations and pain and that was all.

Now I feel I finally have the chance to be someone else. I can be the person who gets to choose what I want to do and I get to carry out those goals and dreams I have for myself. I will be able to do what I want to do without having to think about how long I can last till I have to rest my back, having to hide the pain from people around me, making sure I take pain killers on time, or having to work around the other limitations I have faced. I feel like I can dare to make plans for my future which feels like it is next year and not some time that may never come. I am not sure how long it will take to recover and regain my strength but it feels like next year will be my year to begin to do that. 🙂 I could possibly stay out for an entire day without having to deal with pain increasing to the point that I can’t sit up any longer. A whole day! 🙂

I do have to admit that I feel some fear about getting my life back. For the first time in a long time, I will have choices and options on what to do with my life and I don’t want to make the wrong decisions. I look ahead to next year and it feels wide open and full of possibility. I haven’t felt that in a long time. Facing the unknown though is a bit scary for me. For the past several years, I have had a pretty good idea that the year ahead would be more of the same. Of course I never know what will happen but I knew enough to know that I probably wouldn’t be seeing any major changes at least in the near future. One thought I have had is that I should train for a race of some kind, just because I will be able to. 🙂 It would definitely feel wonderful to feel that strength again and to cross some sort of finish line would have a lot of significance for me. I look forward to the next year and seeing where I end up in a year’s time. Or in five year’s time. I feel this is an exciting time for me and I can’t wait to start really living my life again rather than just surviving. 🙂

Thanks for reading my blog! 🙂

 
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Posted by on November 12, 2014 in Surgery and recovery

 

My Fourth Surgery Has Been Scheduled

Hello again,

Today I once again got the call I’ve been waiting for since I saw my specialist last. The call from his wonderful assistant telling me when my next surgery is scheduled for. I finally have a date for my fourth (and hopefully last) surgery which is December 8.

My first thought after the call was that it will interfere with Christmas and that isn’t fair to my family. Although I am quite thankful that my family is very understanding and our Christmas celebrations are always very relaxed and fun. So it won’t be too big of a problem this year if I won’t be able to bake the Christmas goodies that I normally bake or help decorate stuff. We may not have the goodies or have as many decorations but I am told that is OK. I also likely won’t be able to go to the Christmas eve service either. I love Christmas because it is so much fun for me to give people gifts. I also love Christmas because of the time I get to spend with my family and to remember the reason that we have Christmas. To have something interfere with my ability to do that is tough but I think it will be ok. I will hopefully be able to finally get my life back after this surgery so I rather have it sooner than later. 🙂 Plus I have next year and many more years after that to enjoy and celebrate Christmas so I think I will be ok to take it easy with this one. 🙂

Now I am in planning mode. What needs to be done before the surgery…. what appointments need to be made… what forms need to be filled out… etc. I have 28 days to get it done. Yes I counted. lol

I do have to admit I feel a little nervous. Just a slight bit. But I am not sure if I feel nervous about the surgery itself or about whether I have time to get stuff done that I want to accomplish before the surgery. I also feel sad because it will interfere with Christmas. I feel happy though too because it is finally happening and hopefully the fourth time is the last time. I was hoping the third surgery was the last one because you know what they say about the third time being a charm or what ever. lol

Just like with the first three surgeries, I start getting excited about the possibility of getting my life back and what that would mean. The thought of getting my strength back and being able to work again…. that would be amazing. To be able to be independent and not need to rely on others to do so much for me that I  can’t do myself would feel great. I would love to take a vacation….. somewhere with a beach. 🙂 I have been pretty much housebound now for over 7 years. It would be wonderful to spend time away from home and see some new scenery. I am definitely hopeful and I hope that this time is different from the first three surgeries and I can actually do these things I dream of doing.

I am going to try to blog about this and share my experience with this and maybe it will be helpful or useful to someone else. If one person is helped by what I write, then it was definitely worth it. If nothing else and no one else reads this, it might be helpful/therapeutic for me to write and share my experience. So if you want to follow me through this, I want to say thanks and I hope it helps and/or encourages you in some way. 🙂

Thanks for reading!

 
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Posted by on November 10, 2014 in Surgery and recovery

 

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An Update

Hi again,

In my last post, I mentioned that I might share more about what is going on in another post…. well this is that post. 🙂 I actually find it interesting that it seems to be getting increasingly difficult to share about my physical challenges. I used to be fine with it and could share what I was dealing with at any time and with anyone that wanted to know. Now, it feels like I need to keep it more to myself. Maybe it is the fear that if people hear me talk about my problems, they won’t want to be around me anymore. If people hear that I am struggling and not happy, they will feel I am a person they do not want to be around. But I wonder if sharing my “stuff” will help someone else who is dealing with stuff too and I think it is important to share. This is a bit long so please bear with me. I feel like I am trying to cover a lot of stuff in one single post and it makes it rather long.

Back in March, I saw my specialist about the results of my bone scan that I had earlier that month. He basically said that there was bone irritation but he couldn’t figure out why. He felt that injections might help and if they didn’t, I might need more surgery. I hate that word…. surgery…. it sounds painful to me. I have been through 3 already so I feel like I have had enough of them. I don’t want any more. So I hoped so much that the injections would work. I had to wait till June 13 though to get them. It turned out to provide plenty of time for me to worry about whether they would work or not. I wanted them to work so much because I wanted relief and the ability to have my life back again. Since early December, I have been slowly on the decline in terms of pain levels increasing and my ability to do stuff decreasing. By June, I was getting out of the house maybe 2 times a week for a couple of hours each time and then I would spend the next day or so after trying to recover from it. The pain level shoots through the roof after being in town. I can thankfully look relatively normal though with the help of painkillers but they only cover the pain for so long which is why I can only get out of the house for a couple of hours.

Fast forward to June 13. Lucky Friday June 13 to be precise. lol I am not a person of superstition so it doesn’t bother me. The injections went fine and they used freezing first which was great. The freezing lasted most of the day which was also amazing. I nearly passed out when I got the injections but that seems to be a regular thing with me and needles. lol No big deal. With the freezing in, the pain level dropped right down and it worked even better than my usual painkillers. 🙂 I felt like I could do anything! But it didn’t last. The pain came back with a vengeance and I really hoped that the injections would still kick in despite that. I was told that it could take up to 5 days for them to work. But with each passing day, I got more nervous. They ended up not working. I was so discouraged. I cried a lot because it felt like it would never end. I felt like I could go through yet another surgery and end up still in pain. I don’t want to keep living like this because it isn’t a life.

As it turns out, it seems to mean something to my specialist that the injections didn’t work. He seems hopeful which helps me have some hope. I need to go see him to talk about what is next but I can’t get in to see him until September. So I wait. I don’t know what is next. I am trying to remain positive. But it can be hard when the pain level is so high some days that I can barely get myself out of bed and make my breakfast.. It is so painful to do simple tasks like getting changed or washing my hair. I am struggling to get the painkillers I have to work enough that I can still go in to town once a week for a couple of hours. I feel like I spend a lot of time cooped up. On the bright side, I am getting to sit outside some and enjoy the fresh air, flowers and birds. I have one of those zero gravity chairs that I can lean back and be ok for a bit. I get to read as well. But it seems to come with a price. I struggle to bring meaning in to my life most days because I can not accomplish nearly as much as I want to be. I am trying to enjoy the moments I can sit outside and not feel guilty about it. I tell myself that when I get my life back, I will be so busy that I won’t have time to just sit so I should enjoy it while I can. Sometimes that logic works. 🙂

I realize this is really long but I feel that I covered an awful lot of stuff. I am hoping that by sharing what I am going through, it might help someone else. I don’t know how but maybe it will. I have found it helpful to read stuff other people share about going through and then overcoming their struggles so maybe sharing mine will help someone else. If it does, it feels like it brings some meaning to it all. I hope you have not fallen asleep from boredom yet. lol I appreciate you taking the time to read this post and joining me on this journey called life. 🙂

 

 
 

An Update on my back recovery

Hello again,

In May of this year, I had my third back surgery to fix a broken rod. Recovery has been a bit of a challenge as I expected but easier than with previous surgeries. It has been difficult emotionally as well because I had thought this was the year I would finally get my life back. Instead I spent a large part of the year in recovery mode again. As you can imagine, this whole surgery recovery thing is getting rather frustrating and tiresome after 5 yrs of going through it. I keep getting fed up with it and wishing I could just move on with my life.

Recovery typically takes up to a year and I had hoped this time around would be quicker since I should be getting good at it right? lol Joking aside, this was a rather simple surgery replacing the broken rod and wasn’t very invasive. The first part of the recovery went very well and quite quick which gave me hope I would be on my feet again very soon. But this was not to be.

Sadly, I hit a bit of a roadblock in my recovery I suppose you could say. I continue to deal with pain that should be getting better which has left my specialist scratching his head. He told me (much to my dismay) that I may need another small surgery but only if it would fix the problem. I could end up getting by with just spinal injections as well depending on what the problem is. I need a ct scan to help him figure out what is causing the pain. So I am currently playing the waiting game again and I am not sure when I will manage to get in. So until then, I try to deal with the pain the best I can.

As for how I am doing in terms of pain and mobility, on a good day, I can manage to be up for a 1-2 hours maximum before the pain gets too intense and I need to rest. On a bad day, 30 minutes up and moving around is about all I can manage before needing to lay flat and rest my back and then repeat. Lately the bad days outnumber the good but I try to just deal with it the best I can. I have to admit that emotionally it is very difficult because I often feel like my life is slowing passing by and I am not accomplishing nearly as much as I feel I should be…. or as I want to be. I push myself very hard to do as much as I can because I feel it is very important to live each day as fully as I possibly can because it will never come again. I don’t want to look back and have regrets that I didn’t take advantage of each day I have been given. So I do what I can which is all any of us can do. 🙂

Thanks for taking time to stop by and read my blog. 🙂 I really appreciate it! 🙂

 
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Posted by on December 9, 2012 in Surgery and recovery

 

Pictures of my hardware!

Hello again,

Today marks one month since my surgery and it seemed like a good time to share photos of my hardware in my back. 🙂 The piece of rod that I have is actually what was removed and it isn’t the same as what was put in but it gives me and anyone else an idea of what is in my back. 🙂

First I would like to share a bit about the rod before I show the photo. I could only be given part of the rod for some reason but that is ok-I still got a piece of it! It is weird holding it and knowing that this piece of metal has been inside of me for 4yrs! It is from the second set of rods that I had in my back. The first set of rods I had were apparently a LOT larger than these because they had to hold my back in place while my spine fused together. This second set was much much thinner because my spine was already fused. They were sort of insurance I guess that they would be there if something went wrong maybe? As it turns out, they were not very helpful because the one broke from the pressure put on it. These rods are made of titanium so I am guessing there was a lot of strain on them for the one rod to break! Anyways here is a photo of the piece of rod I get to keep as a souvenir sort of. 🙂

a piece of the rod that was removed from my back.

Next up is a picture of the screw that I have which hasn’t been in my back before but it is what was used in my back. As far as I understand, it was one that couldn’t be used for some reason. So I was lucky enough to get to have it! Apparently one of these screws costs about 700.00!!!! I have 9 of them in my spine holding the rods in place! My back is worth a lot I guess? Although I suppose they are worthless once they have been used and contaminated. My second surgery was done because one of these same screws pulled loose out of my spine. Once you see the photo, you can probably imagine how much force it must have taken to pull it loose. It was also quite painful and led to me being pretty much bed ridden for almost a year as I waited for another surgery. These screws are quite large in my opinion considering they are screwed into my spine. Anyways here is the photo of the screw. 🙂

I would like to finish by saying thanks for taking the time to read through this post. 🙂 I know time is precious so it means a lot that you take the time to read it. Thank you.

 
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Posted by on June 27, 2012 in Surgery and recovery

 

First Follow up appointment

Hello again,

This week I had my first follow-up appointment for my third back surgery. It took me a couple of days to recover physically from the trip though which is why I left writing this post till now. The whole trip took about 8 hrs and half of that was travel time. It really just wore me out and left me very tired and in a fair bit of pain with my back.

My mom and I left home at 6 am which is pretty early for the both of us. We got to the Glenrose hospital for x-rays at 8am and I was done getting x-rays by 8:30. The nurses doing the x-rays couldn’t believe it had been such a short time since my surgery because I am moving around more like someone who had surgery 2 months ago. I think it is all because the surgery was much less invasive than the other back surgeries I have had. I really wish my first 2 surgeries had been like this!

The next stop was the Royal Alex where I have my appointments with my specialist and where I also had the surgery. I really don’t know why the x-rays have to be done at another hospital but they do. We got to the Royal Alex at about 8:45 and we hoped that we would not have to wait very long. Sadly, we had to wait about 2hrs before I was able to see my specialist.This was definitely a test of how long I could last and it was definitely difficult on my back. If I hadn’t been on strong painkillers and me being able to rest my head against the wall behind me, I wouldn’t have managed to last so long.

The actual appointment was maybe 15 minutes and it is actually kind of crazy how the entire trip takes 8hrs to have a 15 minute appointment with my specialist. But I guess that is what happens when you live in a different city right? I am happy to say the news was all good news! He told me how he found a crack in the fusion of my spine that wasn’t visible on x-ray. As I understand it, this crack led to strain on the rods which caused the one rod to break. He also thinks that the crack in my spine is what was causing the pain in my back that I have needed spinal injections for. If this is true, that would mean that I will not need any more injections since he fixed the crack in my spine! Basically the rod breaking ended up being a blessing in disguise if this is the case. This made me so happy I almost hugged him. LOL I was able to restrain myself which is good because I am pretty sure that would not have been a good idea. I am cautiously optimistic so I do not get disappointed if I still end up needing injections.

I do think that it is very likely that I might actually finally recover and have a much more normal life but I also think that a lot of stuff pertaining to my back is a wait and see type thing. So I shall wait and see. 🙂 I really hope that everything heals and I am not dealing with the level of pain that I have been experiencing for so many years. Thank you again to everyone who has offered support and encouragement because it really means a lot to me!

 
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Posted by on June 16, 2012 in Surgery and recovery