Tuesday, January 29, 2008

If you used to read about me here, now you should do it here.

Wednesday, September 26, 2007

nowhere man

I'm mostly here right now so as to prove myself not to be a liar. I did, after all, promise that there would be more to come. Fortunately I didn't assign myself any deadline for that event, because I surely would be long overdue by now if I had. I've meant to write, really I have. There are so many excuses to give: limited sitting-up ability, no internet access at home, dedicating my time to recovering rather than writing about it, etc. And of course there is that all too familiar problem of the longer you put off doing something, the more of it there is to be done, and so then you are even more reluctant to start it at all. Regardless. Here I am. So much has happened!

To settle the big question first, I am doing well. Quite well, to be specific. One of the sadder proofs of that is the fact that I am now at work (don't tell anyone I said that, Janae). Besides the one downside of having to again behave the part of a gainfully employed member of society, though, there are a lot of great things about starting to feel semi-normal again. For one, I get to drive my car. I did miss it. And I get to park it in handicap spots once I get to my desired destination. I'm pretty sure that little bonus is never going to get old. Plus I get to perform basic tasks like getting myself ready for the day, going to the store, participating in social interaction, and so on. I still feel like I'm adjusting--it's weird how "normal" life can feel so strange after two months of not doing any of it. Plus, most of it hurts, at least to some extent. I'm basically off of my pain medication, more due to choice than to a lack of need for it, so I don't really do a lot before I get too tired and need to rest. Still, I'm progressing.

Yesterday my mom went home. It was a sad day for me. Not only did it make it perfectly clear that I am now officially on my own, it also represented a great decline in fun in my life. The whole time she was here I always had someone to hang out with and do things with and laugh with, and now there will obviously be a lot more alone time. But that's how I'd generally preferred it for the two years before Mom was here, I'm sure I'll be used to it again in no time. Still, my mom is really fun. Seriously.

The first time I typed the thing about always having someone around, I accidentally wrote "to hag out with." That's kind of hilarious, especially as something to be said about spending time with your mom.

Okay, the intent was to write about all the millions of changes and hardships and developments that have happened in the process of getting to where I am now, but I don't think it's really going to happen. There's just too much. To sum it all up, yes getting through surgery recovery is really hard, but yes it is a lot easier when you have people helping you every step of the way. Dad and Erica came out for a while too, and it was incredible having my whole family, except some little dancing burrito that was missing, help me move and clean and get settled and make sure I had everything I need to be comfortable and happy. I'm still working on getting my back strong and healthy and not so hurty, but I can definitely say that the worst is behind me. Hooray.

Monday, August 13, 2007

cry baby cry

There is so much to be said, but unfortunately of the three main positions bodies may usually find themselves in--lying, sitting, or standing--sitting happens to be the one that is most painful and most directed by my doctors to not do. Sitting also happens to be the position most required for blog posting, so there will not be much to this.

To sum up: The surgery was about seven hours. It went about as well as it could. The stay in the hospital had its ups and downs. My pain medication type and dosage was switched a few times and at times it was great, and at others I didn't understand how anybody ever willed themselves to live through post-op procedures. Hospital food is as bad as everyone jokes about it being. Some nurses are amazing and helpful and caring and considerate; other nurses make you cry. Also making you cry = anesthesia. Hello emotions. My family and friends are completely awesome in every way and every visit or text or phone call or card or gift or online message has done a big part in helping me get through each day and feel like it's not a struggle I have to go through alone. I came home Saturday. That was earlier than expected. It is hard work doing the normal things I'm supposed to do, but good work. Chocolate is delicious. Pain meds are finicky. I've gained about two inches, as the doctor predicted. I'm officially Tall. It hurts a lot, both frequently and deeply, but the parts of me that matter most are feeling completely peaceful and happy and relieved and grateful.

Also, I'm not at work today.

More to come, I promise.

Sunday, August 5, 2007

the night before

Less than twelve hours from now I'll be in a hospital gown, in a rolling bed, with an IV in my arm, most likely having my anesthesiologist explain what's going to happen to me. It's funny, I've been really nervous and scared for months, but now that it's really finally here, I feel relatively calm. You know how half the fun of Christmas is the anticipation and the waiting for the big exciting day? I'm pretty sure the anxiety of major surgery is the same way. The worst part has been having so much time to think and worry and stress and now that it's just going to happen, I can look at it practically and feel at least a little bit ready and stop freaking out so much.

Friday I went in to have my blood taken and do other pre-admitting stuff. I had misunderstood about what the whole giving blood thing was--they weren't actually taking enough of my own blood to give it back to me during my surgery, they were just taking a sample so they could find compatible blood in their blood bank and have it ready for me. They sometimes do the storage thing for patients where they get their own blood back, and originally my doctor told me that was what I'd be doing, but apparently that plan changed somewhere along the line. I'm very fine with that. I don't do very well with giving blood in general so the less the better, plus who knows, maybe I'll get the blood of some amazing athlete or music virtuoso and have this incredible extra talent for a few days.

When I went in on Friday they also put two hospital bracelets on me which I've had to wear all weekend. One is just my name and birthday and all that other identifying information, and the other is the serial number that my blood was labeled with, to make sure that nothing happens to have a mix-up and let the wrong blood inside me. My blood is #UVH41176, if you were curious. The bracelets have been slightly more annoying than I anticipated they would be, mostly because they have this seemingly magical ability of letting water in them but having no way to remove said water, but in a way they have been another helpful part of making it all seem more real and manageable instead of just this vague scary thing. Plus, of course, I'm always a fan of extra unmerited attention, and wearing hospital bracelets all weekend has given me some of that. Sweet.

I'm not sure how long it will be before I can update on here, but I will try to as soon as I can. Supposedly the hospital I'll be at will have wireless internet so hopefully I can write something from there to let everyone know how it went. It might be some pretty creative writing that comes out of me those first few days, depending on how much morphine I'm on at the time. Maybe I'll be the next Lewis Carroll. Until then, thank you all so much for your thoughts and concern and kindness and support and . It has already made a huge difference in this experience and I know it is just going to mean so much more on the other side of the surgery. Thanks, times a million, to all of you.

Oh, and also, I'm very pro-visitors and pro-phone calls. Please don't hesitate.

Wednesday, August 1, 2007

fixing a hole

A blog entry, in outline form:

1. I have an appointment set up for this Friday to go give my own blood for an hour or two so that they can pump it back into me during my surgery. This makes me feel:
____a. Nervous
____b. Creeped out
____c. Like this whole thing is suddenly a lot more real. Realer? Whatever.
2. Dr. Bacon recommends fusing only the top curve for the following reasons:
____a. Fixing the top curve will by default straighten the bottom one
______i. I don't really understand why or how
______ii. I don't really care, as long as he's right
____b. Most of your movement in your back comes from your lower spine
______i. Preserve lower spine = preserve mobility
______ii. Mobility = happy!

Monday, July 23, 2007

paperback writer

I've liked Dr. Bacon from the start. I don't know if it was the twinkle in his eye, the tanned skin suggesting he appreciates time in the outdoors, or the calm and confident way he talked about my procedure, making me feel from the very beginning that it was not nearly as big of a deal as I'd previously thought. Overall I was completely satisfied and happy with my doctor and didn't think he needed to do anything to further prove himself to me.

Well, Dr. Bacon, you've outdone yourself.

So there I was, Friday morning around 7am, lined up outside my local Borders, desperate to get an orange wristband that would be the key to my being one of the first in the Provo/Orem area to obtain a copy of Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows. As I stood chatting with Mandy, I noticed that a few spaces behind me in line was Brother Simpson, a former bishopric member of mine. Sorry to any non-LDS reading this and confused by the lingo--just go with it. Naturally Brother Simpson asked me all about what's been going on with me lately and one of the first things to come up was the fact that I've had a pretty ridiculous year, health-wise. I told him about my thyroid troubles, and then told him in a few weeks I'd be having surgery to have my spine straightened, because I had scoliosis. At this, I noticed the man directly behind me in line perk up and whip his head around to listen to my conversation. Normally I'd be slightly put off by such blatant eavesdropping, but I have to admit that it kind of is a weird/interesting thing to overhear someone talking about, and I'd have probably eavesdropped too.

After talking to Brother Simpson a few more minutes about it, I managed to get a glimpse of the face of the man so obviously listening to me talking, who was now smiling about what I was saying. It wasn't just some creep who was morbidly amused by the idea of major surgeries--Dr. Bacon! I wasn't entirely sure it was him, because I've only actually seen him in person once, and apparently scrubs and glasses make a big difference in a person's identifiability (pretend it's a word). Maybe Superman's disguise wasn't so far-fetched after all.

Once I recognized him and was fairly sure it was indeed C. William Bacon, MD, I asked, "hey, are you my doctor?" to which he replied, "are you Madam Keck?" Three cheers for doctors who remember their patients names. And about eighty seven cheers for doctors who spend their Friday mornings waiting in lines to get Harry Potter books Friday nights. This is definitely the doctor for me. It was pretty funny, plus I got a free consultation while standing in line. Not bad.

Oh, he recommended that I only fix the top curve. So, there's that.

Friday, July 13, 2007

drive my car

One thing I've been wondering about my surgery recovery is when I'll be able to drive again. When I had my thyroid removed in January, I discovered that even though I felt pretty healthy overall after a few weeks, I still couldn't drive due to the acute pain I found myself in at even the slightest turn of the head. It was pretty frustrating to feel normal besides that one little thing, but to still either be stuck at home or be totally dependent on others for rides. I suppose I could have risked it and driven anyway, throwing peripheral vision to the wind, but I'm too much of an obsessive blind-spot-checker for that to have ever worked. So naturally I'm concerned again about how long I'm going to have to go without spending any good quality time with my darling Civic, and today I learned the answer. Four to six weeks. Egads! That is a long time of being chauffeured around! Granted, the majority of that time I won't want to be leaving the comfort of my bed anyway, but I have a feeling that I'm eventually going to want to be able to get up and go and my body won't want to let me. I guess it will be my own little taste of what it's like to have a suspended license. No worries about me pulling a Paris Hilton though. I promise I'll stay off the roads until I'm fully capable of looking all the way over both shoulders.