Wednesday, January 30, 2013

Two weeks old

Photo has a picture of the author's leg on the bed with black & white zebra striped satin sheets, a black, white, & grey leopard print fuzzy blanket, brown & black leopard print mary jane slipper, black & white fuzzy bathrobe, and an iPad with a green case protector.
A few things that make recovery more tolerable
Two weeks ago I had my spinal fusion surgery.  It's been surreal.  Sometimes it feels like more time has passed, and sometimes it feels like I was just released from the hospital a few days ago.  I've realized that those feelings of a weird temporal nature are pretty closely tied to how much pain I'm in, or how well I'm getting around, or how much I'm sleeping (I still sleep a lot, but I've not managed to sleep more than 3.5 hours in one stretch yet).

I am slowly getting better.  I haven't had problems with my left leg since the surgery....not a surprise as the surgeon said that nerve was absolutely crushed.  I do have pain sometimes where that nerve starts, but it's sporadic instead of constant.  I figure that's probably a sign of it healing.  I am having some issues with my right leg with spasms and numbness, but pretty minor compared to everything else.

Most of my pain is in the lumbar area of my spine or in my left glute, and it's been interesting experiencing the different kinds of sensations.  Bone pain versus nerve pain, numbness at the incision site, extreme itching on my back, stiffness in my legs, a "stuck" feeling in my low back.  The part that I'm finding the most frustrating is that I'm still relying on pain medication to get me where I'm at.  I was really hoping that I would be tapering to a lower dose by now. 

Although the pain is still barely controlled, I try to stay positive and think about the things I am able to do.  I usually walk around my home without the walker.  I can get up and down my front stairs without a huge increase in pain (although it will wear me out).  I can stand long enough to make simple meals.  I can sit in my desk chair to type blogs.  I managed to go to class on Monday for 2.5 hours (which felt good at the time but ended up being way too much as I spent most of yesterday in bed, in pain, and cranky).  I'm probably going to part of my class tonight, but tell the professor that I won't be able to be there for the entire 3 hours (I'm aiming for 1.5).

There are a few things that have really helped me get to this point in my surgery recovery.  Several of them are shown in the photo I have on this blog post, and several of them are suggestions from the surgery forums.  First of all, the satin sheets have made getting in and out of bed exponentially easier (particularly with the restriction of "no bending, twisting, or lifting").  They also feel delightful even when I was restricted from taking a shower!

The bathrobe and microfleece blanket are just snuggly, although the bathrobe is fantastic post-shower to help air dry one's body (terry is recommended, but was out of my budget).  Showering, even with the assistance of a shower chair and changing the shower head to a detachable one with a hose, is still a time consuming, pain-filled, and exhausting activity.  Having a bathrobe that can help you air dry helps to keep one from breaking the "no twisting, no bending" rule by towel drying.

Slipper socks with grips on the bottom were part of my usual at home lounge wear before surgery, but have become more important while I recover.  I have hardwood floors in my home, and slipping would be very very bad.  The grips also help get traction for changing position in bed with the satin sheets.

As for the other big thing that has helped (other than occupational therapy gadgets like the shower chair and grabber) is my iPad.  It's a refurbished first generation model that I bought last year because of my worsening spine issues, but it has become a huge help.  I have a medication reminder app, I have Netflix and Amazon Prime to entertain myself, I have audio books for those times where the medication makes it hard to physically read, I have DropBox for the pdf's I need to keep up with my schoolwork.


I see the surgeon for my first follow-up appointment on Friday.  I fully expect to be scolded for going to class without asking him first, but he knows I'm a driven individual.  There is a part of me that wishes I could have taken a leave of absence from my PhD program to focus on healing, but I think having my classes to work on (albeit independently so far) have helped keep me focused....and have kept me from trying to push too much physically (which I'm having trouble with anyhow!).

Hopefully the next two weeks bring more positive changes!

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