Friday, October 14, 2011

How To Enjoy Recovery From Surgery

I am finding being the nurse at home is multi-dimensional. I have temporarily taken over the things Tom used to do. I cook, tidy things up, converse, so Tom has some company, bring things to Tom that he needs, protect his environment by removing the phone from the bedroom so it won't wake him, change the dressing on his incision, make sure he has soft, yet enough, light to work by, go up and down the stairs multiple times during the day, which is teaching me to stop and think before I leave the floor I am on and all this is good.

You see, we live in a two story home with a mostly finished basement. My computer is two floors down from where Tom is. You may wonder how we stay in touch. That was a simple problem to solve. He calls me on his cell phone. It works really well. I also check on him to see if he is sleeping and if all is well. We have worked out a system that feels mutually respectful.

I know that the energy in the house is important. Good energy can't help but promote healing and part of good energy is humor. Humor heals.

Below is a video of gentle humor from this morning. Thanks Tom for being a good sport!

Thursday, October 13, 2011

Tom's Surgery Update

Tom's back surgery went really well. Dr. Kim got the piece of disc removed and now we need to see what the nerve wants to do. She couldn't tell us that. She said ... "First, the nerve needs to heal and then we will see what happens. Recovery could mean weeks to months." What I think that means is we won't know for a while whether or not the foot will change and to what degree. There is no noticeable difference yet in how high he can raise the toes on his left foot. He only has occasional pain in his left calf. He is still limping when he walks. His mood is good and I think he is actually enjoying a part of letting others take care of him.

It is easy to want an instant result and I don't think that is in the cards. I asked if we could have a referral to a physical therapist and the answer to that is, "Yes." We were both pleased with that because we had heard not all surgeons will make that referral.

Tom is home. From the time we left home on Tuesday at 8:00 a.m. and when I brought him home at approximately 8:30 a.m. on Wednesday he had had back surgery. 24 hours....from check in to check out!

Tom will be a patient of mine for up to the next three weeks. I am his nurse now and so far he hasn't fired me : ) I pretty much try to have all his needs met that he doesn't even know he needs before he knows he needs anything at all. Raise your hand if you followed that last sentence.

I have posted three pictures since so many of you have emailed or called to check in and see how he is doing. We are taking things a day at a time and honoring his need to rest and eat well and walk a little and talk a little. It is nice to take care of him and have him be so appreciative. I think there is something to one's attitude and one's healing.

Tom being wheeled away to surgery

Tom on drugs....he was happy and fun...I think he felt no pain

Tom at home recovering...notice his side table, bed tray and bed desk

The adjustable bed is the one I got when Sarah had cancer so she could recover as easily as possible. It is working perfectly for Tom as well.

You know, life is good. Yesterday, I asked Tom how he was feeling about everything. He said, "The whole experience has been ideal. We have good doctors who got us in for appointments immediately and Dr. Kim, the neurosurgeon rearranged her schedule to fit us in for surgery right away. We are really lucky."

In our new office building there is a physical therapy office on the top floor. I checked to see if they take Medicare and they do. It seems we should be able to have Tom do his PT right in our own building.

All in all, the surgery and the recovery are good. All of your thoughts, love, caring and prayers meant and continue to mean a lot. Recovery comes in stages. Right now we couldn't be more pleased or more optimistic.

Thanks everybody........

Love, Judy

Monday, October 10, 2011

Update On Tom

My last post left off with letting you all know that Tom was scheduled to see a neurosurgeon concerning his left foot drop. The appointment was last Thursday and no time was wasted getting him scheduled for surgery.

A small piece of disc, that has broken off in the area of L5 S1, is pressing on the nerve root and it is stopping the communication that tells the leg muscle to lift the toes/foot.

I would like to say we can be confident there will be a full/permanent recovery. I can't. It seems there are "windows" of opportunity when maximum recovery can be expected. We have missed the first window and are now into the second window. We may or may not get full recovery. It is possible we will get only partial recovery.

Check in time is 8:30 a.m. and surgery is scheduled for 11:00. My daughters, Sarah and Kara, will be spending most, if not all, the day with me. That is how we do it. We do these things together. I know our son, Adam, would be with us too if he weren't so far away. He has kept in close touch by phone.

Please send your thoughts, love and prayers for Tom, me, our family, the doctors, nurses, anesthesiologist.....all those who love and care for Tom. I believe in the power of prayer.

I will post as soon as I can to share the result of tomorrow's surgery.

Tuesday, October 04, 2011

Judy Explains

It has been almost two months since I last posted. I feel bad. I have had so many wonderful people who supported and encouraged me over the last half year as I trained for the 3 Day for the Cure.

I want to explain why I haven't posted. I thought it might get easier, but in fact, it is getting harder.

I walked most of the walk on Friday. With reluctance, but with cheers from my team mates, I hopped a short ride in the sweep van. That gave me a little time to cool down and rest up. I walked Saturday morning, but believe I got dehydrated, so did not walk Saturday afternoon. I joined the ranks of the cheering section along with Dave, Davey, Derek, Jackson and Tom.

Saturday night, I drank gallons of Powerade and got a good rest. By Sunday morning I was raring to go. As we were walking a sidewalk somewhere in St. Paul, my cell phone rang. It was Tom. He told me my dad was in the emergency room at St. Francis hospital. Sarah was a little ahead of me, and as she looked back to see what was happening, knew instantly this was probably about my dad, and said, "You're done!"

As soon as Tom could come get us we headed to the hospital. We believe he had a TIA, small stroke, and I spent the rest of Sunday and Monday at the hospital. Sarah was able to go back to finish the walk and share in the final celebration.

He is old. They can't do anything. Anything they could do would be too risky and could change his quality of life. So, we were sent home to take good care of him and spend as much time enjoying him as we can. It is hard. He looks so good on the outside, but things on the inside are wearing out. It is hard to let it in that our time is limited.

A week later, on September 4, we had a 99th birthday party for him. Following the party, the focus shifted to moving Tom's and my office, which I have been working on for probably four + months.

Everything that has happened seems to be happening so close together, it seems they are happening simultaneously. And, they all have emotion attached. There was no time to recover from the walk. I guess maybe I kept right on walking. I kept walking into the next life changing event or transition.

I haven't had time to feel. I knew if I wrote I would feel. I knew I had to feel. I just didn't know when.

Last week, I thought...ok...things are slowing down...coming to an end...the office is coming along...that was the last big thing that needed my attention....I can relax a little and do a post...I felt like I had abandoned the people who cared about me...I wanted to write and explain once I felt I could take some let go and let down...

It didn't happen. I am doing a post, but not because I can let down. I am doing a post because if I don't, I don't know when I will be able to.

While we were moving, Tom got some hip pain. The pain moved down his left thigh, left calf, left ankle and then his left foot dropped.

He had an MRI last Friday and our primary doctor urged us to make an appointment with a neurosurgeon. With help from our doctor, a neurosurgeon has made room in her schedule to see Tom this Thursday, October 6.

I don't know what will happen. Our doctor was adamant we get in to a neurosurgeon ASAP. She said, if the neurosurgeon looks at the MRI, time will be made ... and it was. my dear family and friends and all who read and follow my blog...I wanted you to know why so much time has gone by since my last post. Life just got big. Then, it got bigger. And, it seems it is still getting bigger for now.

I got to have a few tears this morning. I held it together until I said thank you to the nice girl, named Holly, who called from Dr. Kim's clinic. She has a nice voice and she gave me good news. "We have scheduled Thomas for this Thursday, October 6, at 10:30."

Sometimes a job is so much more than a job. Amazing the gratitude and relief I felt hearing an appointment had been scheduled. I will tell Holly what a nice voice she has.

I will write more. I will write again. I promise. I will write for you and I will write for me.