Archive for May, 2011
GEESH! It’s hard to believe I’ve written 100 posts already! WOW! And when Brian first set this website up for me I told him I didn’t think I had that much to say! HAH! I’m a woman…. enough said! LOL HOWEVER, you should appreciate the fact that I’ve not aired dirty laundry here or shared the skeletons in my closet! I’m trying to stay focused! And for me that’s quite the task! Some days I feel like that commercial for BING when you say a sentence and pick out a word that leads to another word on an altogether different subject…. you ought to hear the conversations that go on in my head! Thank God there aren’t any real mind readers!!! LOL
I hope my friends here in the States are enjoying their long holiday weekend! I want to personally thank each and ever veteran of every branch of service who either died or was mamed defending our country or who is currently serving in the armed forces. Today is also a day to remember those of our loved ones who are no longer with us. I miss you terribly mom and dad, and thanks dad for your service to our country! Celebrate with family and friends but don’t forget the ones no longer with us. And for those in other countries I trust your summer will be a good one.
Last night I had some major pain with my right leg and hip, so much so, that it scared me and I asked Greg to take me to the hospital. I never did go but I got 2 and a half hours of sleep and I’ve been resting all day… As for a festive holiday so far, eh, not so much! Maybe tomorrow. After needing my inhaler, I slammed my index finger in the track of the sliding glass door and almost cut my fingertip completely off. I think I broke the tip and I used one of my steri-strips on my finger to hold it together. It’s taken me a long time to type this because it’s throbbing! I think I’ll take some drugs and call today a total loss. I didn’t even get to walk today.
My neck is feeling really funky too. No matter how much exercising I do, it doesn’t make the lump in my throat go away! Some of the numbness is trying to go away like when you get a shot of novacaine and it starts to wear off… it gets all itchie and stuff…. that’s what this feels like right now…. I’m just a big YUCK today!
When things are this funky then it’s time for the bed to take all my cares away…. It’ll be a better day tomorrow, I’m sure of it! So until then my friends, sweet dreams and stay safe and remember to take care of you and yours!
TODAY’S MY NEW BIRTHDAY!!!! One year ago today, May 28, 2010, in just one hour, I started my journey to be well. What an amazing year it’s been! My first surgery for the 6-level XLIF procedure was scheduled for 7:30am. I chose Dr. Smith and Joe to administer to the fate of my future. My life was in their skilled hands, I was at peace with my decision. Or was it that Dr. Smith chose me? I couldn’t possibly have known just how much my life was about to change then. I still held on to old beliefs, only knowing the known, not the unknown. I was still of the mindset that after surgery I’d be somewhat out of pain, would apply for SSI and would live fairly comfortably co-dependently, knowing I could still be somewhat mobile.
As I lay in bed recovering over the next few months, an overwhelming feeling of restoration, of renewed energy and strength of body and spirit came over me. Hope is a powerful message to receive, and an even stronger one to send. I came to a point where I felt nothing but hope. With each visit to Dr. Smith, he gave me an “atta girl” giving me hope that I could do what he said I’d be able to. When I went to physical therapy, my team at MattSmith’s Physical Therapy, Amanda, Doug, Bobby and Shane all gave me encouragement, and the skills needed to overcome the obstacles in my way… turns out the biggest obstacle in my way was time and me! Each day they helped me see that it really was all up to me and they empowered me with the knowledge and then gave me the time to execute all the things they taught me. I am grateful to all of them beyond all measure.
The weeks and months all blead one into another and as they did, I became acutely aware of my body and by October was able to do something I had long given up hope doing…singing. Words can’t describe how overflowing my heart was when I realized I could sing again! What an incredible gift Dr. Smith gave me! In doing the XLIF lumbar spinal fusion procedure, he gave me back 2 1/8 inches in height. Pressure was off my diaphragm and my muscles were able to work properly. My lungs could fill to capacity enough to hold a note longer and the sound coming out of my mouth was amazing. I wallowed in that for as long as I could.
On March 16th of this year I had a 3-level ACDF cervical fusion, which stabilized my neck and eliminated the back-stabbing pain between my shoulder blades that was constant. Because my lower back pain was gone, it seemed my attention focused more on the intensity of my upper back pain a lot. I’m sure the pain was the same but it was somehow intensified because there wasn’t “other” pain to think about too.
This surgery was not without its risks. Dr. Smith was careful to explain them to me. But I guess I just didn’t calculate them the same way he did. Although he knows more than me about final outcome, I will say I should’ve asked other questions. Questions I didn’t know to ask at the time. His expected outcome was a little different than mine. And yet, not really, because he knows the results from a longevity viewpoint and I couldn’t possibly. He knows what to expect over the course of the next year for me in the healing of my cervical fusion but I’m living in the moment with it. I know in my heart he’s done all he can for me and it’s now up to me and my body to react and heal. My throat has not healed as fast as I would’ve liked it to, but then again it’s only been a little over two months. I’m unable to sing the way I once did and will have to work hard to regain those muscles and that sound back, if at all. I have no idea what range I’ll have, or if I’ll ever hit those high notes again.
On May 9th, just 20 short days ago, I went through my third major operation, a total hip replacement on my right side. THIS one blind-sided me, BIG time! A very talented Dr. Michael Crovetti, who has a world-class practice and a wonderful personality, was my doctor for this one. I have to say though, that I’m gaining the strength back in my leg nicely and I do feel more confident in how I walk now, even though I’m still rehabbing with it. I find myself not thinking about moving a certain way to avoid the pain I had in my hip or doing the bending, gardening or other things I liked to do required. I can sit through a whole movie too! That’s one of the biggest things of all!
What I’m trying to say is that I have a LOT to be grateful for today and a LOT I can celebrate about! The freedom Dr. Crovetti and Dr. Smith gave me from the life I was facing is so wonderful in so many ways, I can’t start to describe them. From now on, although my birthday is actually in August, I will celebrate this day, May 28th, as my new birthday.
One of the things I told Dr. Smith in my first meeting was that he had one year to get me well because I was going back to Ohio for my 40th class reunion and I wanted to wear three inch heels. He laughed and said he thought he could possibly do that…well, yesterday I booked my flight to return to my hometown in August for my reunion. I thought it was only fitting that I get my ticket as my “New Birthday” present to be used around my “real” birthday! I’ll be there for ten days alone to travel as I please (I couldn’t have done this trip that way before my surgeries) and I’m sure for the last time in my life… unless I eventually do a book signing there! LOL I’ll have from now until then to find a really “Pretty” pair of three inch heels to wear to the dinner! I have some very dear friends I want to make sure I see while I’m there, so I’m going to let everyone know what restaurant I will be at on a specific day.That way I can see the most people at once. I won’t have the time or energy to see everyone individually so this makes the most sense. I’ve already spoken to the owner of Alberini’s Restaurant and he has graciously agreed to give me a room so I can meet with my peeps. I have no idea how many people will come but it’ll be fun to see whoever shows up! It’ll be a party I’ll never forget!
I could never be making those kinds of plans without the talents and skill of one man, Dr. William Smith. Too bad he couldn’t be at the very least, a fly on the wall to see the pure joy of his handiwork! I walk a little taller these days because of him, and a lot more confident because of Dr. Michael Crovetti who put the icing on the cake so to speak. They will forever be on my heart. Oh, what a difference a year can make!
So I invite you to help me celebrate today, where ever you are in this big world, raise a glass and say “Happy New Birthday” to me! I love you all and pray for good health for each and every one of you. Stay safe on this holiday weekend and have a wonderful summer! I’ll see some of you in OHIO in August!!!
In the meantime, remember to take care of you and yours, and on this Memorial Day weekend, please take some time to remember our service men and women who died and were injured to keep us a free nation. Also remember to pray for the souls of our loved ones no longer with us… ( I miss you mom and dad!)
with much love,
First off, I want to address what’s happening in the world….I recently heard that Japan was able to assess that there were 3 or more meltdowns in their reactors… I can’t even begin to imagine the fear those people living closest to the power plant must feel. The fighting for power goes on all over the world, while people are dying and having crimes committed against many humans just because they exist, and I will never understand the lack of harmony in the world.
Closer to home, many of my friends are feeling the second or third wave of the crushing blow to our economy, all while the weather takes it’s toll on countless people. Collectively, all my thoughts and prayers are with family and friends who may be suffering for any reason, financial, physical, emotional, or spiritually. I just read the obituary of the mother of one of Brian’s childhood friends, it makes me take notice. She was only 42, her son is only 23. That is certainly a wake-up call for anyone that if you’re not taking good care of your body, NOW would be a great time to do something to change that… use me as your example…
After years of neglect I’m now healing from all of it. Thank God I have Dr. Smith and Dr. Crovetti on my healing team… Without these men of vision I know I’d be in a wheelchair just waiting for the first infection to come along and kill me. HOWEVER, the changes I’ve boldly made about my health, and the commitment my doctors have made to get me well have resulted in an amazing new awareness of my body in many respects.
By taking the rehab of each one of my surgeries seriously, I’ve built back strength in parts of my body I never knew I needed. My legs are noticeably more shapely and the celulite all but visibly gone… one of the biggest pluses is that the rolls I had from the sedentary lifestyle I was forced to lead are being whittled away. I’m gaining a straight back with muscle, my overall muscle mass has greatly increased, I’m showing great promise of a waistline (LOL) and my tummy is getting flatter! My upper arms are another place I’ve noticed a great improvement. Since most of the swelling in my neck has gone down I’ve noticed I no longer have a “football” guys’ neck, you know, the straight up and down look with no chin. Because my neck is straighter, I hold my head taller, and I actually have chin definition now. I have a ladies’ neck! Nice enough now to hang lots of expensive jewelry from! LOL (I’d have to find a sugar-daddy for that, LOL) Since I change my eating habits, forced by all the drugs altering my taste, I feel much healthier on the inside too. I have more energy than I have in years. I no longer have hips to place my hands on when I want to make a body language statement and I’m developing a little shape to my butt! LOL And with the hip surgery now behind me, for the first time in like 28 years I can walk without orthotics in my shoes! What a feeling! I can hardly wait to go shoe shopping to get some pretty ones, sling backs open heels and cut out sides and toes…. all the cute ones that, for all those years, I had to pass up. My hair is in better condition than it has been in years and my nails are too. I really do feel like a new woman. There may be something to this rehab stuff I should probably stick with…. what do you think? LOL
Since my “overhaul” has had to address leg, back and neck/shoulder areas, there’s not one part of me that hasn’t gotten an overall workout. How could my body NOT be in better shape than when I first went to Dr. Smith. I often wonder what he really thinks about all the changes I’ve made. Is he proud of the work I’ve done because of his help? Does it mean anything to him that he inspired me to rise to newer heights than I thought I could achieve? Is it possible that when he first saw me, he recognized something in me even I didn’t know was still there to fight as hard as I did to get to where I am and where I’m going? I don’t know, I may never know… but I will always bear in mind he took my case when no one else would, and I never want him to be disappointed with the risk he took with me. I’ll work harder and longer than anyone to prove to him he did the right thing.
My throat is healing more slowly than I hoped, it’s numb from my chin-line down to my incision and the muscles are tight. I stretch them out daily but they are not as resilient as I thought they would be…my scar is still funky too. I keep putting Vitamin E oil right on it, a suggestion by Dr. Smith, and it has helped but I still have a long way to go with it. My butt muscles on the other hand are doing very well! THEY are healing nicely and the swelling is almost gone. It’s now only the size of a softball. It’s like sitting on an overstuffed wallet in my right pocket! LOL With the stitches out it’s easier to sit and do some of the exercises. Some day soon I may even attempt to lay on my new hip side!
Little by little I’m gaining my body back to where it should be… and because of all this I’m able to gain my life back as well. I’ll be able to garden and shop and do all the things I’ve missed out on for a very long time and I’m excited to know what’s just ahead for me. No one know really what tomorrow will bring but, I’m bringing my “A” game with me! I’ll keep pressing on, a little at a time. I’m no quitter and I don’t want the alternatives! I have hope where there once was none… I will hang onto that for as long as I can…
in the meantime, remember to take care of you and yours,
Just wanted to let you all know I went to PT today. Amanda didn’t do heat again on me but rather stretches and deep muscle massage… it hurt so good! The pain in my neck and left shoulder is subsiding… I’m still taking the antibiotic and my lymph nodes seem to be not as big. I can still feel my throat being swollen but it’s getting better. My voice isn’t as raspy but I still feel a strain when I talk some.
Amanda also helped me cause I’m having cramping in my butt muscle that the doctor cut through…..OUCH! BIG time!! Anyway she told me what to do so I could work it out. That way my shoulders will relax and my neck won’t hurt…
When Brian was very little, just after he had his operation and could talk he looked at me and said, “Mommy I’m a pocket basket!” What he really meant to say was that he was a basket case…. I used to tell him that all the time. And he was. When he was first born, I had a C-section so I couldn’t carry the heart monitor and him without some difficulty so I put a soft pillow in a laundry basket and put him and the machine in it. I could carry everything all at one time!
Anyway, that’s what I feel like… a POCKET BASKET! But ya know what? I’m not giving up! I’m gonna get up on those high heels yet! Singing, on the other hand, is a different story!
Well, just a quick update for now… I’ll post more when my muse is not so cold. I’m sitting right under the vent where the air is blowing right on my shoulder…. Gotta move or I’ll be in pain again. I think I’ll go lay out on my massage table, it’s only 94 now. But there’s a 14 mph breeze which is great!
Just remember, whatever else you do, take care of you and yours,
Well, I waited till today to write about this because I was hoping it was all in my mind. (not really) However, it seems it’s a little more real than I’d hoped.
Not yesterday Sunday, but the 15th of May I was feeling rather punky, thought I had a fever (99.5) but nothing I could put my finger on… went through the week feeling kinda the same punky way. Friday morning as I got ready for PT, I just didn’t feel right, my throat felt like something was stuck in there and my voice was turning raspy, but still nothing I could pinpoint. Brian took me to PT, I walked in, sat down and from across the room my PT doctor, Amanda Scott, asked me, “Are you alright?” By then I was almost straining to talk.
I told her my incision from my neck surgery was bothering me and it was tender. She took one look at it and said, “I’m not touching you today.” She further investigated the wound and saw a stitch is poking through the skin, another has like an abscess. She said I should call Dr. Smith ASAP. Because it was a Friday afternoon, I called right then and there. I didn’t hesitate to call so I could get some feedback before the weekend. Joe, Dr. Smith’s PA called back with instructions to pick up a script he wrote for some antibiotics and to see him on Monday morning. That’s why I figured I’d wait until now when I knew something as I wrote.
It turns out I have swollen lymph nodes that are making my throat feel like somethings stuck in there. And my incision’s still a light shade of red. Joe said the hip surgery complicated things because they had to use an airway on me to do that surgery as well. He seemed to think I may have gotten a secondary infection from something about the hip surgery and that it was just going to take longer for me to heal in my neck. I told him Dr. Smith said I could start doing warm ups singing and that after the last of June I’d maybe be able to start singing again. He said that may have to be pushed back a little further……I AM NOT GIVING UP!! I want to sing…DAMNIT! And someday, I want to sing with Andrea Bocelli!!! Some good just HAS to come of all this! Please tell me that I’m not going through all of this without so much as a reward???
My throat hurts when I cry, or tear up, because the muscles constrict. In order for me not to induce pain, I’ve staved off the crying for the most part, but last night I broke down. My neck and shoulder were in excruciating pain. I couldn’t find a comfortable way to sit or lay. On top of that I had a muscle cramp in my butt…. a real pain in the ass! I asked Brian to walk with me outside on the driveway at midnight. He was there for me. He’s so awesome! There’s just enough incline in the driveway it gave me a tug on the muscles I needed to walk up it. That relieved the cramping from my butt and then we went out back to the patio and I did some shoulder pulls on my pully. That gave me a measure of relief from the shoulder and neck pain. I know that almost everyone who reads this can empathize with me. Because at some point in time, we’ve all gone through this. And I’m not really trying to complain, but gosh, I’d really like to be completely healed already!
So today after I saw Joe, I went to PT where Amanda decided to not do my heat treatment or do anything with my scar. Instead we did some stretches and some light exercises, to try to loosen the muscles. She did some deep tissue massage. Each time something happens like this they take the time to explain to me what’s happening and why. They’re big on giving me a remedy for it as well. I LOVE my PT team! Bobby was explaining to me what was happening to the butt muscles and what I could do, giving me a couple other options besides walking…. with each new surgery I’ve learned more and more about my body…and I gotta say….it’s pretty amazing! Oh, and so is yours! You should learn how to treat it right if you don’t, so you won’t end up like me and have to learn the hard way! LOL
Anyway, I gotta tell you that without my “places” to “go” when I would use visualization to work through the pain, I don’t know what I would do. Shortly after my 6-level XLIF spinal fusion surgery last May, I saw a PBS special of Andrea Bocelli. Now in my world, everything is possible, I just have to find a way to get it or get it done. So I started dreaming about singing on stage with Andrea Bocelli. By October when I went to the Cathedral to thank God for the relief Dr. Smith was able to give me, I realized I could once again sing and ended up singing for Christmas Eve.
Being on stage with Andrea Bocelli was my place to run away and hide, a place I could find the hope I needed to endure all the long hours of recovery and rehabilitation. I want to say that I felt almost normal in 8 months. Then this March 16th, I had another 3-level ACDF cervical spinal fusion with the incision in the front of my neck. I spent 6 grueling weeks in a neck brace. A hard brace during the day and a soft collar at night. It was daunting to say the least.
Dr. Smith had mentioned he had a clinic in Cyprus where he performed surgeries and spoke to other European doctors, asking if I might like to talk to some of them. I did some research about Cyprus and was pleasantly surprised at how beautiful a place it was. So, as I recovered from my ACDF surgery, I found (envisioning) myself in a villa on a hillside overlooking the ocean. The villa had lush greenery and olive trees and a small grape arbor. The home itself was white stucco with Terra cotta tiles for the roof. Inside the quaint 3 bedroom single level home was a full-wall fireplace, inviting you into the room. The kitchen had white ceramic tile, splashed every now and then with a tile of many different colors. There was a brick pathway that lead to the house and around the house and a terrace with the same brick. A red railing around it pronounced the view of the water. I envisioned I would stand on that terrace and look out over the land into the shimmering blue-green and sing.
I recalled an experience I had with a fellow voice student I was sweet on back when I was very young who took me to a state park. There we had a picnic lunch and sang all day. When it was time to leave, we left the water’s edge and started to climb the hill to the roadway where our car was parked. As we climbed we burst into song…..Climb every mountain, ford every stream, follow every rainbow….. till you…. find your dream……. As our voices trailed off we heard clapping from behind and below us. There, standing in a clearing were a couple clapping at our performance! We looked at each other and started laughing, we stopped so they could catch up. They said they listened to us all day long, singing on and off, but when we broke into the sound of music they were overcome and just had to clap.
With the villa perched on the hillside the way it was, I didn’t realize there were any other neighbors, that is until one day, I heard someone clapping, just like that day so many years ago. The sun was in my face, the ocean breeze was blowing my hair and I was singing my heart out. It was exhilerating! If I never get to Cyprus or ever get to talk to those doctors, I at least had somewhere to escape when the long arduous task of wearing that brace became almost unbearable.
I was only out of the neck brace four days before I heard the words…..”you need a total hip replacement”…………. I stood there in tears. I actually felt bad for Dr. Crovetti. His first words after he saw the tears were, ”There’s absolutely no pressure as to when to get this done, I don’t want you to think I am pressuring you in any way. But from what I see on this x-ray, you’ll need a new hip sooner or later.” Then I explained my insurance situation to him. He got it.
I feel compelled to explain this all to you because now, I’m just pissed. I’m mad as hell that I’ve had to go through all of this… but I did it to myself by not taking better care of me…. of putting so many others ahead of me. I don’t regret taking care of others, just that I regret not taking care of me as well. Now, on top of all that’s gone on, I have to push back my getting back to singing….waiting even longer to know the outcome. I’ll have more months of no singing and just hoping that my voice will come back and that nothing is too damaged beyond repair. UUUUUUUGH! This waiting is going to kill me!!! When it gets too tough to handle, I’ll go to the places I know will give me peace and calm….. but my fear is, that after all the waiting and all the sacrifice, my voice won’t come back.
Most of my best memories in my private world center around singing…. I don’t know what I’d do if I had to learn a new song. To no longer be able to sing would be difficult enough but then to try and replace it with something else would be…..less. I don’t know if I could ever find that much peace and calm doing something else. I can’t even begin to imagine what that would be….
So for now, I have to stay silent a little extra longer, heal a little slower, and pray that God in His infinite wisdom allows me my one real personal joy.
I’ve shared this before…. mom always said, “Your days are made better by your daydreams.” I just have to believe in my dream!
remember to take care of you and yours….
A couple of days ago God, me, myself, and I went for a long walk to Borders book store. Along the way we talked about a lot of stuff. I thanked Him for all the blessings He’s bestowed upon my little family, and I asked Him for the strength and courage to face the things I still have to face. It’s been an unusual time in my life, I’m treading on territory I’ve never been before, three major surgeries in less than a year. It’s exciting and scary all at the same time. I’m talking about things that are within my control and things I’ll never have control over again.
First, I’m talking about Brian and Ally. On Saturday night they were in a car accident through no fault of their own. But because of the actions of someone else, they have to suffer. I always told Brian I trusted him, that he was more than a responsible young adult, but it’s the “other” people I don’t trust to do the right things So now, the car he bought for me is mangled. At first glance we thought it was OK, until Brian took it to be checked out. It turns out the gas tank straps were almost all sheared off and the tank itself was crushed. Which has precipitated him having to get a rental until the insurance company sorts it all out. And then there’s Ally. She got checked out by the hospital but is in a lot of pain. I wish I could take that pain away from her, she’s been hurting for so long about so many things that I would gladly take her pain on if I could. She’s such a fine young lady and so worthy of that kind of unconditional love. I know I have to let go at some point with Brian and let him live his own true life, and Ally the same, but it’s hard as a mother to sit idly by and watch things happen I have no control over any more and watch them play out much differently than if I still had the reigns. The good news is they’re in treatment and are doing OK for now.
All of this could be a little easier to handle if it weren’t for the fact that my husband almost, but not quite, totaled his car and because the damage is so extensive, he’s been without a car now for three weeks waiting for it to be rebuilt. He went to the doctor the other day only to find out he’s got carpal tunnel and possibly tennis elbow. The treatment for that is to isolate those muscles with a wrist brace, leaving him pretty much unable to assist me for any heavy duty type of help. And he’ll need surgery on at least one of his wrists. Right now my house is like one big convalescent home. Each of us is dealing with our own concerns.
And concerns there are a plenty. I’m still dealing with the rehab of my neck which had to be put on hold while I got my hip replacement. I think too, I’m dealing with some of the latent aftereffects of the fall I took at the center the night I had my hip done. I personally feel I should be further in my healing but I’ve been dealing with some pretty intense stiffness. The in-home health care people are telling me that I’ve got the mobility of someone three weeks out from surgery, but I’m only at one week, three days out. It will take time. I’m doing everything Dr. Crovetti has prescribed for me but some of this pain I think should be gone by now. I know it’s all in my head but I just want to be done with the pain meds and be off my walker which I still have to use for another two weeks. His surgery is like artwork, fine art when it’s done, but it takes time to make the masterpiece!
I guess I should be grateful for my ailments… after seeing the guy going to communion on Mother’s Day. His body twisted as he moved his crutches from side to side to propel him along, all the while smiling. When he fist came to sit in church before services, he chose a row a few ahead of ours. There was room for about four people just past a stuffy looking man and a lady sitting next to him at the end. When the “crippled” man motioned that he would like to sit there, the stuffy guy stood up and said something to him. The crippled guy made a hand gesture about the empty seats and the stuffy guy shook his head no and grimmaced. The crippled guy had a bewildered look on his face as he put his head down, gave the stuffy man a half smile and moved on. I have so much to be grateful for.
That being said, it still doesn’t change my situation.I feel my back has healed nicely from the six-level XLIF procedure I had. I go for my one year check up in a couple of weeks. However, I’m still working on getting the strength back in my neck. Three levels of fusion there has left me with some unusual feelings in my neck. There’s a couple of places on my left side that are still bothersome. And I still feel like I’ve got a lump in my throat. I haven’t begun to do singing exercises or any type of vocalizing until the end of June. That’s when the doctor said the swelling should be down enough that I could start using the muscles again. I’ve got a lot of retraining ahead of me to be able to sing. It’s scary not knowing if I’ll ever sing again. But that’s what me and God were talking about. I told him I was ready to rededicate myself to whatever it takes to become a whole person. The one He made me to be so many years ago. I’ve neglected my body in such a way that I’ve needed the expertise of some very talented and gifted surgeons to undo it all. They’ve done their part and now it’s all up to me. It would be a real sad statement on how I viewed the work Dr. Smith did on me if I was to ignore the rehab part of my healing. Just imagine how he’d feel if I were to tell him that although my hip was bad and needed replaced so I could walk without pain, I stopped short and didn’t have the hip replacement done. All the work that Dr. Smith did would have been for no good reason if I still couldn’t walk. I did this hip replacement for that very reason. It would be shame on me to not recognize just how much he gave me. He is a man of his word and did what he said he could do. That’s why I had the hip done now. I am a woman of my word and I told him I would stop at nothing to be well again. I know I was looking at a very small window of opportunity to get it done before our insurance changes drastically, and because of that, I chose to do my third surgery 54 days after my neck was done. No, I’m still not done rehabbing from my neck but two days ago I start back to that. As for rehabbing my hip, I will do all that it takes to get that done as well.
Some people say I’m a strong woman. I don’t feel like I’m extraordinary, just that I’m living an extraordinary life. I take what life offers me and find a way to get through it. No one promised me easy. But early on in my life I knew I wanted a full life. One with adventure and engagement and wonder. I’ve had that, and so much more. And I feel in some respects, I’m just getting started. There’s still much in life I need to learn and experience. And in a lot of ways it’s by adversity that we learn the things we need to know. So I’m gonna live my best life by not giving up and throwing in the towel. I have a lot of people who look to me for encouragement, insight and wisdom. Strangers who approach me on the street and in the grocery store and in the line at the theater. I can only gain those things to share with them by experiencing them myself.
That’s a big task to take on but if I do it one step at a time, rededicating myself to the causes which concern me at the moment, then I can do anything I set my mind to. My dad always said, “Can’t never did a thing unless you tried.” So I’ll keep trying, and failing and with the grace of God I’ll keep succeeding so others can follow in my footsteps. I don’t think the rehab of my voice is going to be easy by any stretch of the imagination or for that matter the rest of the rehab on my neck and hip, but I accepted this healing and there’s no turning back. Even if I have to do this alone, I know God will still be with me. He’s never let me down before. I must trust Him more now than ever before.
I know that many of my friends are suffering with their own set of trials, and for that I pray your pain is lessened by the prayers I have for each and every one of you. I want you all to know that you are on my heart and that I’ve not forgotten you. Though we may not talk often, I still feel the connection of our friendship.
As part of my facebook profile I wrote:
I’m a mediator, singer, homemaker, baker, designer, author, chief cook and bottle washer. I kiss away boo boos and wipe away tears that fall. I make others feel better with my words and know when to be quiet and listen. But above all, first, I am a woman. I have feelings and dreams, just like anyone else. I don’t envision the rest of my life sitting on the sidelines, and I want others to know I care, about them, about the environment, other cultures and traditions, but most of all me. Because without caring about me, I can’t do any of the above.
I have to take this time in my life because the opportunity has presented itself that I can. If I take this time to care about me for a while, then I can continue to care about others in a deep, profound way. It breaks my heart to see my friends suffer from what life throws at them. Some are stronger than others to cope and weather the storm. I’ll say this to all of you, if I have to hang in there, then so do you. We can do this together! I’ll make a pledge to you now, I ‘ll pick you up when you are down, even if you aren’t able to do it in return. I know that someday you may be able to and when I need you most.
On that note I will just say one more thing, be kind to yourself, and remember to take care of you and yours,
Sorry Brian didn’t post anything this time….KIDS!
It’s been a few days since I had my total hip replacement done and had time to sort through it all. WOW! Those were 55 of the most intense hours I’ve spent in a long time! Intense, exhilarating, exhausting, fulfilling….all rolled up into one!
Dr. Michael Crovetti is one class act! I’m gonna have fun describing to you how my week’s gone. It actually started last Friday when Kathy the “Patient Concierge” called to ask what some of my favorite foods and beverages were and what kind of magazines I read and TV or movies I watch. She’s in charge of making sure each patient is kept as happy as humanly possible. The theory being if they’re comfortable, they’ll heal better.
As I arrived at the surgical center, I even saw a Tropical Smoothie cafe on the premise. Throughout my stay I ordered several different ones from there. Walking through the door on my right, Kathy met me taking me to the registration area. They were so organized and quite a happy bunch, laughing and smiling first thing in the morning!!! Kathy took me to my suite to settle in. Now, I have to explain this room to you… yes, unobtrusively sat a BP monitor and thingy to hold my bags of medicine… but there was a big comfy leather recliner and a desk and a flat screen TV and a champagne flute with chocolate kisses and a small bucket with snack bars and about 10 different CURRENT magazines on the desk. Even my favorite flavor of Cliff Bar was there! There was a recliner for the patient which was MY seat! and two other chairs for visitors. I felt like I was coming into someones’ home. The actual bed was a pull down with a tempurpedic mattress! I LOVE THAT BED!
I do have to tell you about the hallway. The flooring is green tile to look like grass but it’s marked off like a football field. My room was at the end of the hall where the bright yellow goal post is, just in front of the hand painted mural of a stadium with fans holding signs to cheer the team on. The goal post is actually there for patients to steady themselves on to do their leg lifts and other exercises. Just above there was a ceiling track with a boom that comes down to hold up a patient. You’re put in it within hours of coming out of surgery. The theory is the sooner you work those muscles the doctor had to cut through, the less muscle mass you’ll loose. Your arms are strapped in with a seatbelt like belt so no matter what your legs do or don’t do, you’re NOT going to fall!
When I got dressed into my gown and booties, which by the way was the only time I was in a gown, the rest of the time I wore my own clothes, I was introduced to “Ebony and Ivory,” two of the OR nurses. Both of them were named Jennifer but as you can guess, had distinct physical characteristics which set them apart! One was blond and the other…..well, you get it! They call themselves the “twins.” LOL It was so great to keep the mood light, my heart’s been very heavy lately so this was such a welcome relief. Another surprise was they actually had two sets of twins (not real sets)… two Lauras! They were just as cute and perky as the first set! During the course of my stay I was able to interact with them all, a really cool thing, since you know you don’t have to convey your condition or your story over and over again. You just pick up the conversation where you left off. I’m a people person so yes, they are people I’d like to continue a friendship with after all is said and done! Especially if we have any of the same interests, which I discovered we do.
It just so happened that this week’s NURSES WEEK! The anesthesiologist was making some cruel joke when I said he better be nice to the good nurses he works with. He said, “I will when I come across one!” GRRRRRR! There is such a great chemistry between all the staff, it was noticable and delightful! But then again, so is Dr. Crovetti, he knows his stuff but isn’t arrogant at all, and he’s very pleasant. He has truly surrounded himself with a great bunch of very talented people who know their jobs well enough that they can be more than just an employee. A RARE combination indeed!
It seemed like only minutes until I was wheeled into the OR and out like a light. That was right after Dr. Crovetti came in to sign my butt next to the “X” I placed on the proper side that was to be operated on! Swift and efficient is not a bad way to handle the some 14 procedures he was juggling that particular day. His record is 16! WOW! The man is truly gifted, and he’s aware of it, but he always says that his favorite surgery is the total hip replacement. He’s got over 4,000 of em under his belt! I think he knows what he’s doing.
Dr. Crovetti implanted a “ceramic” hip. He explained it that they’ve been using them for about fifteen years now and they have no way of telling a patient when they can expect to have to undergo the operation again for replacement. My mom had a plastic lined hip replacement back in the seventies. They told her she could expect to have that one wear out in about ten years, depending on how much wear and tear she placed on it. Dr. Crovetti said the ceramics have no end date yet because there hasn’t been one that’s failed. I trust this will take me to my end, at least another forty years! LOL Technology is advancing so drastically that no one should have to suffer in pain the way they once did! I do plan on getting some use outta this one as I’ve already signed up for dance lessons! I have four lessons waiting for me as soon as I get the ok! I can hardly wait!
Back to the room and the care…. I was expected to get up and walk around a second time the evening of my surgery. So, after going to the bathroom I decided to take on the hall once again. By then the night nurses were there. Grant, a Canadian who, just four months earlier, had been in my very room as a hip replacement patient attended to me. Kim, the other nurse, was busy with some of the others. I just can’t say enough good about all the people willing to assist me, asking me how they can help and wanting me to do well. They wanted all my post-op surgical needs to be met! Grant was encouraging and so was Kim even in passing. I wore a small bag around my neck that was full of a novocaine-type med which blocked the pain to the nerve running down the length of my leg. That was so I could get up to walk without so much pain.
It inadvertently worked a little too good and made my knee like jello. On my third lap, my knee wasn’t strong enough and I went down. I fell on my left elbow and my left butt cheek. My head never hit the floor. Amanda, my doctor of PT from Matt Smith’s taught me how to fall, and how to get back up off the flat floor. I was so grateful to her at that point for having taught me those moves! I had hoped I never would’ve needed em but am damn glad I had that knowledge! My ability to know what to do was invaluable to my confidence. As I lay on the floor getting my second wind, I was explaining to Kim and Grant exactly how they would need to place their hands in order to pull me up. As Amanda taught me, we did it in two steps. They were AWESOME, and it went without a hitch. I was up in no time!
I have a good size bump and bruise on my elbow and a scrape on my knee but I didn’t feel like I’d damaged anything in my neck or back. Remember, I’ve only been out of surgery for my neck for 54 days! I was to have follow-up x-rays on Tuesday anyway and they would tell if I’d damaged anything significantly. I think I would’ve known because I’d have been in more pain. Grant kept me company for a short while, I’m sure to see if I’d have any effects from the fall, but it was a pleasant visit nonetheless. He said he had Dr. Crovetti replace both his hips and he’s doing fine and back to work full time! Our visit was over and I needed to get at least a few hours of sleep. That mattress is worth a million bucks! It enveloped all my aches and pains and made them all disappear! At least for a short while!
The Coronado Surgical Center has six suites, with a ’round the clock nursing staff. I never thought surgery could be so comfortable. But then again I did have to pass a rigorous list of criteria in order to have my surgery done there. I have no underlying medical issues and nothing that would warrant any high tech back up just in case. I simply needed a hip replacement but was otherwise in good physical health. They have a pharmacy on the premise as well and I had all my needed drugs already in a locked cabinet in my room. There’s no way to mix up anothers’ meds if the only ones there are yours!
Kathy would come around to take my food orders and it was delivered from an Italian restaruant next door. REAL FOOD! It was amazing! I don’t know who got it but we even had Hagan Daas ice cream one night! Kim felt so bad that I fell she made me a sundae with vanilla ice cream and chocolate sauce over it! YUM! I even took a picture of it on my phone. Kim and I, it turns out, have a love of cooking, so we spent a while talking about some cool stuff! She wanted my opinion on a convection oven vs conventional oven. I was typing into my computer recipes I’d come up with for an upcoming cookbook…stay tuned for news about that too. I got to visit with Kathy while she was in my room and found her to be the most wonderful, caring person! She loves her job and it shows. Her genuineness is only superceeded by her pleasant demeanor. I’m sure she has her days as we all do, but it wasn’t evident while she was around me.
Kathy explained to me that the center was a one of a kind in the country and there’ve been plenty of doctors who’ve already toured the facility to see if they could duplicate it where they’re from. The most unique feature that no one sees is in the operating room itself. It’s setup and design is specifically for orthopaedic surgeries. Dr. Crovetti spent a lot of time in thought about how he wanted the OR to be configured giving him the optimum advantage during the course of even the most difficult procedures. It could become the wave of the future in surgeries, especially since Kathy said it’s like 20 or 25% cheaper to have a procedure done there instead of the hospital. I am one of the “charter” members since there’ve been less than 100 surgeries done there yet. That’s ok, Dr. Smith was my referring doctor and I trusted him with my life twice. I don’t think he’s going to put me in the hands of someone he didn’t trust to finish me up with. It wouldn’t look too good on his part. So I trusted his judgement about Dr. Crovetti.
As for Dr. Crovetti himself, I didn’t have a whole lot of time to investigate him or vett his career but, I must say, that no matter who I dropped his name to, they had nothing but good things to say about him. I asked the very poeple who had to deal with his aftermath, the physical therapist and not one said a bad thing about him. They said that all of what they heard from Dr. Crovetti’s patients was satisfaction!
On Tuesday I was to have physical therapy twice. I walked up and down the hall three times and did leg lifts and shorts squats. By Wednesday I learned how to walk with a walker and cane and was going up and down steps. Also I was required to walk outside around the whole building! It was a gorgeous day here so Ididn’t mind at all! The sun was shining and there was a slight breeze and the temp was about 86! Just a perfect day! They were monitoring my fluid intake and I had to drink a couple of extra smoothies! Oh Darn! I had a cappachino and a mango magic! When you leave the center you have to make one last lap in the hall and have to pass a test of five questions about some of the things you and Rob, the physical therapist, has talked about during your stay. You have to get four out of five! Then right before they all walk you out, you have to make a touchdown with a small football they give you that has your surgical date on it. You have to throw it through the goal posts at the 30 yard line. (it’s more like 20 feet). Then you’re allowed to leave. LOL They all said they’d be checking on my and I have no doubt they will be. They made me forget my pain…and they gave me the courage to go through the rest of my healing with confidence. They’re such a great bunch! Dr. Crovetti should be proud, they should be proud.
Before I got to the center, something told me I should make a card for my healing crew. I’m so glad I did. First because it was nurses week and second two of the ladies are avid card maker/scrapbookers. When I gave them the card they both walked in and wanted to know how I’d done the techniques I used on the card! I think I’ve found some pals to share my cardmaking inerests with. I told them about the conventions I go to here in the city and about some of the other places I know about and they were very excited to know more. Yaaaay! I can hardly wait to drive! I’ll be able to meet them for coffee and maybe even a get together to do some cards! Maybe even on a regular basis!
So for as quickly as this surgery came upon me, I’m looking at it in a positive light. Not something I wanted to do so soon after my neck but now it too is behind me…so to speak. I’ll be getting my 11 staples out somewhere around the 19 to the 24th. and I’ll go back for my followup on June 2nd. My biggest assignment for rehab with my hip is to walk. So I’ll be doing plenty of that in the months to come!
Enough for now, I have to take a pain pill and chill a little… but I’ll be back on soon to talk to you more. I’ve got lots to share with those who are willing to read. For now, thanks for taking the time out of your busy day to be with me…. and whatever you do,
remember to take care of you and yours,
It’s almost five o’clock in the morning and the house is quiet. The hour that’s past since my awakening has been very productive. I played with the bunnies, packed and started the last of the laundry. I’m sitting to rest for a few moments. I have a couple of things more to do before I go. I have to be at the surgical center at 9am this morning.
In the still of the predawn I’m taken back to 24 hours ago. I arose at almost the same time yesterday but with much anticipation. Breakfast with my family then to Mass with them at the Guardian Angel Cathedral on the Strip. I love the beauty of that church. Very 60ish. It reminds me of the church I grew up in, built in the 60′s also. It feels like home. I saw a few of my choir friends telling them I’d see them in a few months. I was very happy to see them.
I was home for just a short while when Brian told me we’d be leaving for dinner around four, just after I packed Greg his lunchbox and sent him to work a double shift. Brian and Ally informed me I would need to be dressed for the evening, not but church clothes. When I asked where we were going he answered, “On an adventure.” Ahh, the manipulation of his childhood has come back to haunt me. I used that same line on him while he was growning up when I wanted to surprise him when we were going somewhere special. That’s ok, I don’t mind.
The kids drove separately to mass as they had somewhere else to go right after. We beat them home by a long shot but when they walked in, he was holding this card measuring 3′x2′. Maybe a slight exaggeration, but not by much! In it was an adorable card with 3 tickets to the evening’s performance at the Palazzo to Jersey Boys! It’s the musical about the life of the Four Seasons. I grew up on thier music and better still I used their songs to practice when I sang. But first came dinner.
Imagine my surprise when we walked into “Table 10,” an Emeril Lagassi resturant! OH MY GOSH! I could certainly get used to that kind of service! I had the butter braised sea scallops, Ally had a fillet, and Brian had shrimp. Each of us LOVED our dish, and the service was amazing. The addage, you get what you pay for applies here! We got “top shelf” service. THANK YOU Brian, I didn’t have to cook and I didn’t have to do the dishes! NICE! I think this is one of the best parts of having children! LOL
On to the show, and what an AMAZING show it was. I can’t help but see a show like that from the perspective of the writer. And no wonder it’s been such a big hit. The author of Jersey Boys crafted it in such a manner as to catch the “essence” of an entire career in 90 minutes. An ominous task at best. Touching on the “high” points in their career it was easy to follow, especially as it was dotted with some of their biggest hits. I was drooling over their offerings in the gift store when Brian came up to me and handed me a bag. In it was the night’s program. I was WOW’d. He gently put the CD back on the shelf and told me if he got that it would be too big a temptation for me to sing to yet. I could get it in time, there’s always my birthday and Christmas, he said.
When last I saw my back surgeon, Dr. Smith, we discussed in detail when I could start doing any singing. He told me to wait till all the swelling went down. I could do a few vocalizing now but not to do anything big until I worked up to it and not until at least the end of June! UGH! It’s gonna kill me to wait that long. But then again I waited ten years to be able to sing anyway, what’s a few more months! When I spoke with Debbie my chior director, she seemed to think I shouldn’t do ANYTHING until the end of June. I’m sure she knows more than I do, so, Dr. Smith gave me the parameters, and Debbie is putting the finishing touches on it. She said that once she was done with the ordination mass she’d have time to spend with me and that would put us just about perfect to be on target for the end of June.
I went online and researched how they do my hip replacement… a pretty cool operation minimally invasive ( a four inch scar vs a ten inch one. I’ll be having a ceramic hip put in. Go to www.crovettiortho.comto see my doctor and see the suite, “room” I’ll be staying in. It’s like a hotel suite. There’s a surgical “concergie” on staff. She called me on Friday to ask me what my favorite food and beverages were. She asked if there was some “special” magazines they could have onhand for me to read as well. She even wanted to know what my favorite snacks are.
So, although it’s really crappy I have to have this surgery at all let alone so close to the last one, which by the way, is coming right along, I think this is going to be an altogether different “hospital stay” than any other I’ve ever had. I’ll be wearing my street clothes shortly after surgery they say and I’ll be showering as well throughout my stay. I’ll be there until Wednesday barring any complications. He has the perfect setup. He does his surgeries on Monday then lets the patient heal by the end of the week, so he gets his weekends off to be with his family!
If you ever wondered where some of those college athletes go after their glory days, well I’ve now run into a few and know exactly where they went. Dr. Michael Crovetti once played collegiate sports until an injury took him out of the game. It was then he decided to dedicate his life to becoming a “top notch” doctor in the field of orthopaedic medicine. And if Dr. Smith felt comfortable enough referring me to him, I’m ok with that! I’ve done some asking around and I’ve not heard one bad thing about Dr. Crovetti. Who better than to ask the people who have to work with his patients but my Physical Therapy team. Not a bad word to say about him, not a cautionary tale at all.
It’s getting light out now, I should go take my shower and pack my computer. I don’t know how coherent I’ll be but I’ll try to post as soon as I can. Brian said he’ll post here on my website for those who don’t follow me on facebook , he’ll be posting something there as well.
I”m ok with this latest development but, dang, I want this all behind me so I can get on with the rest of my life! Until I’m able to write again, have a wonderful week, and whatever you do, remember to take care of you and yours.
hugs and much love,
Brian is upset with me that I haven’t been writing on my website regularly…. but I’ve been trying to wrap my head around the events of the last several weeks… I can’t write about it unless I have a grip on it and believe me, it’s been hard, really hard to get a grip on this….
Some people don’t go through all of this in a lifetime, and in less than a year, I’ve gone through more than I ever thought I possibly could….
Time is a precious commodity. We all know that some good things take time. We know that bad things take time to dissappear or forget. We know that within the course of a year, many things can change. And so is the case for me.I’ve gone from not being able to walk or breath or sing, to being two plus inches taller, to having two operations to transform my life, to discovering I cannot sing the way I want to and may never again.
My healing is coming along, they say I’m doing remarkably well, all things considered. There’s been just one little glitch left to deal with. My hip keeps popping out of it’s socket. Some of you may remember me speaking about it in one of my older posts. On and off it’s been very painful and debilitating. Sometimes I can walk real good doing my daily routine of exercising, and then it might be a week or two before I can get back in the swing of things. Since my insurance is drastically changing in a few weeks, I decided to have it looked at. I’m at almost 100%, meaning the insurance is now paying for everything at 100% due to my bills from my back and neck surgery.
On April 28th, last Thursday, I saw an orthopaedic specialist with my x-rays and MRI in hand. The good news is he recognized the problem right away. But as he spoke the words, “You need a total hip replacement to fix it.” They stung. I thought I was done with surgeries. I just got that aweful neckbrace off four days prior. The words were spinning around in my head…I started to cry, but trying to hold back the tears. The Doctor said it was totally up to me when to have it done but that I would need it soon. SOON. That word was something I wasn’t prepared to hear. I have to gasp for a breath even as I type it. “Isn’t there some way you can just fix it without having to replace it?” I asked him. He gently took me over to the picture hanging on the lightbox. He pointed out the cyst that had formed and where the lining was worn away. He said in all liklihood it was because my back was so misaligned that it wore the hip the wrong way when I walked. It didn’t help matters either that I had fallen and took the full impact of that fall on my right leg. The fall may have jarred it out of place. No matter what the speculative reason is for the present condition, the fact remains… it has to be replaced.
He allowed me time to digest this information, but was as upbeat as he could be as he guided me to his surgical scheduler. “But I have visitors coming in from Ohio I haven’t seen in over five years. I can’t do the surgery until after that!” She nodded and looked at me. “With what you’ve described about your insurance, the sooner the better.” He does his surgeries on Mondays, May 9th is the soonest I can get you in.” AGAIN, the words stung. May 9th??? That’s the day after Mother’s Day and the day after my visitors leave, I thought. I cried the whole time I was signing the papers. I wasn’t being forced by the doctors’ scheduler or doctor, it was the insurance company! I have to have the surgery and all the followup done before June 30th. July starts our new physcal year for our policy. The policy is changing so drastically, I have no choice.
So my friends on May 9th, just six days from now, seven and a half weeks after my 3-level neck fusion, I’m going in for a total hip replacement. This time I’ll be in the hospital for three or four days. I’ll be up walking the same afternoon of surgery to learning how to walk all over AGAIN!!! I DID THIS ALREADY! LAST YEAR!!
I don’t get to ask the question, “Why me, God.” I already know that answer. There’s a lesson I’m supposed to learn in all of this and it’s up to me to figure it out and learn it. That’s the way it’s always been for me. And I feel in some ways He’s designated me as a messenger that once I’ve learned the lesson, I am to share it with others through the books I’m writing. From what I’ve been through so far, with Brian and myself, His message has been HOPE. To never give up hope and to give it everything you can, no matter what it is and no matter how bad it is. Quitting is never an option.So I guess I’m almost out of time to get my body fixed. Our insurance changes so drastically as of June, that I don’t have the luxury of healing from my neck before I undertake yet another healing.
The body is an amazing organ. It tries to repair itself, it heals from the brusies we cause it to have, and some abuse it so badly in such a way like smoking, that it works non-stop to make sure you can still breath. It’s fascinating for me to think how uterly broken my body has been and has still let me perform the every day tasks that I’ve asked it to. More amazing yet is the fact that there are men of science who have the intellect and technology to “fix” the broken things in my body. The allur to the sciences has always been a big part of my curiosity, but in the last couple of years it’s almost become mystical to me. How, can these learned men, EVER fix a body as broken as mine, and, let me live as pain free as I do? I”m in awe of their intellect, their vision, and their abilities beyond all measure.
The world I was facing before I started this quest. was one of agonizing pain, shot full of mind numbing drugs which altered my state of being, in a wheelchair, on some type of government assistance, co-dependant to someone else for all my personal care. So I say to the men of science in charge of repairing this broken body, thank you from the bottom of this humble heart. Thank you for freeing me from the chains of pain, the wheelchair destined to become my coffin, from the relentless cycles of drugs that eventually would make me an addict, but most of all, from the life of co-dependancy. To relinquish all of my freedoms because I was so broken, and then be able to walk with my head held high, with a clear mind, ready to take on the challenges of the rest of my life, is an incredible feeling. But first, I have to get through May 9th, and the healing just beyond. I have plenty of plans for these legs of mine, exercise, dance, travel, oh the places they’re gonna take me! I have to apply all that I learned while healing from my back to keep it strong, and I MUST keep working towards the goal that I can one day sing again.
So although my friends, I don’t have any choice right now in this matter. I do have the hope that one day I will dance among the stars, and sing with Andrea Bocelli, because in my world, all things are possible. Never, never, NEVER give up hope!
I understand that a lot of my friends are going through their own personal situations and I pray for all of you that you don’t give up hope. It’s the one thing that give us the will to go on. There’s always hope.
I may post one more time before my next surgery, but in the meantime,
just remember to take care of you and yours,