Posts Tagged ‘right back pain’
firstname.lastname@example.org Twitter @KathleenMosko
WELL, HAVE I’VE BEEN BUSY!
Today I launched my book on Amazon for the e-book version on Kindle. I’ve been patiently waiting until all things were done just right but, today it all came together. My medical memoir is, “BACK SURGERY FOR 2012″ That’s what you will use to search it if you want otherwise, just use this link below….
A few things you may not know:
You can download a free version of a Kindle reader for your PC without buying a Kindle.
There is a free app for the iPhone but I’m not sure about the other types of cell phones like the Droid or Blackberry, etc.
I’m still Dr. Smith’s Patient Advocate and a Patient Ambassador for The Better Way Back
Amazon has a rating system for books with five stars being the best. If you are so inclined to buy the book and read it I sure would appreciate it if you’d take a few minutes and rate the publication as you see fit. The more five stars I get, the faster it will get to the best seller list! I so appreciate all my readers from around the world who have taken the time first to read my website and to leave comments. It has made me a more humble person and a much better writer!
So much “stuff” is going on in my head right now I somehow can’t remember everything I needed to share so forgive me if you see multiple posts over the next few days as I remeber and keep you up to date on the latest information!
Until I can spend a little more time with you all, you all know what to do… take care of you and yours and we’ll talk again soon!
email@example.com Twitter @Kathleen Mosko
I’m really sorry it’s been so long. I’ve been dealing with some personal issues that have just derailed me. I did however want to recognize one of the most personally important days of my life, March 8th.
March 8th marks for me two years since I met Dr. Smith, who literally changed my life. Many people have a “hero” worship with their doctors when they cured them. I know he’s not a hero, but he’s more than that. I know he set out to change lives all those many years ago when he first started going to medical school, but I’m not sure he can comprehend what a difference he’s made in all the lives he’s touched, and in mine, simply because I’m still discovering all the ways he’s made a difference for me. I’m sure others feel the same. If I could wish one thing for him, it would be, for just one day, to be me and see himself through my eyes. Then he would know just how special he is to me.
Two years and one day prior to this Thursday, I was still facing all the uncertainty of conventional back surgery. The kind that would give me a measure of relief, but would do damage to good muscle and tissue in order to relieve me of far greater pains. Yes, I’d finally found an orthopedic doctor willing to take on my case, but with stern warnings he was limited as to how much he could help me. And, he shared he couldn’t get me completely out of pain. My spouse jumped at the chance and scheduled my surgery for me, allthewhile asking the surgeon how long it would be before I could do all my wifely duties.
In my heart of hearts, I’d always wanted a neurosurgeon to do my surgeries after reading all I did about my condition. It was MY BODY, and I had to remind my spouse of that as I waited patiently for my appointment with Dr. William Smith, Neurosurgeon. THAT’S who I wanted to see. I wanted to hear it from his mouth what he thought he could do for me. Little did I know WHO I was actually meeting that fortunate day.
Dr. William Smith has spent his life dedicated to helping others, to make their lives more fulfilling, more active, more whole. His dedication has been spent honing his skills, testing the outer edges of possibilities, learning, improvising, innovating, designing, crafting all the most modern technology possible to use as part of his arsenal in the operating room, where he is most comfortable. There nothing else matters, and everything matters. He understands full well he may hold that person’s whole future in his hands. He lives and breathes to “first do no harm” and to help mend the broken body before him the best way he knows how. His empathy for that broken life is unmatched by anything I’ve ever known. His calm demeanor, his calculated precision, and his compassion all culminate in a life saved from the ravages of inexplicable pain. I know, I was one of those patients on that operating table he believed was worth saving.
To me, it was a ”no-brainer” to volunteer at his office to speak with other patients going through the same doubts and fears. To know what Dr. Smith does not from a description but by experience has given me depth of understanding. I want others to know how much talent and dedication he has, and how much I want everyone else who needs him to trust him enough to do what he can to make them whole as well, it’s that important. I can extend to others my experiences and put their minds at ease in a way I didn’t have access to before I had the surgeries. In some small way I add to his ability to help others by showing them firsthand the results of his work, his sample on the shelf. But I know full well it all started March 8, 2010, a day I will always celebrate in a very personal way, knowing that was the day that changed my life forever.
Nothing I will ever do or become from that day forward could be attributed to anything else but the fortunate appointment I had with Dr. Smith. Without it my life would be a totally different one, and I’m guessing much less than the one I’ve got! He’s afforded me a measure of dignity and self worth I’ve not felt my entire life and he’s done it in a discrete manner, which is greatly appreciated. He’s helped to heal my body, mind, and spirit giving me hope when I needed it most.
So there’s really nothing for you my reader to celebrate except maybe for the fact that without March 8th being totally significant to me, all of you wouldn’t be able to benefit from what I share on my website with you.
I will be back at writing soon, but in the meantime, remember to take care of you and yours,
Installment 9 of Q & A for those who had or will have an ACDF, XLIF or total hip replacement and I’ve added a new one DVT! OR HOW MUCH DO YOU LOVE ME? LOL part one…
firstname.lastname@example.org Twitter @KathleenMosko
Hard to believe it’s no longer January! GEESH! The older I get the faster the time goes! The holidays were a blurr since being sick right before Christmas and losing our family Therapy bunny, Skittles, 3 days after Christmas. His bonded mate, Candi, has been just as lost as I’ve been without him, and she and I have taken some time to get to know one another again without him around. It’s been painful to watch how lost she is, it’s sad, just very sad.
Anyway, I’ve had this to do for a while but I never realized how much had piled up for this post or how long it’d actually been. I must apologize and then I thought no, I had some living to do, as you all have, and this website in an extension, not an appendage of me and mine! LOL I have several irons in the fire, one very big one, and several small ones and a couple medium-sized ones so it’s no wonder time has just flown! I really do love being busy… although, I finally learned how to take time to stop and smell the roses… they’re wonderful to smell!
Well, I went back to October and looked at my analytics to see what questions you folks were seeking answers to. I can’t believe I let it go that long! Hmmmm. I’m gonna break it down for ya into the different surgeries, first the XLIF, then the total hip and lastly the ACDF. There’s a reason the ACDF will be that last one. It’s because I’m still having some issues with mine and I’ll be doing these topics in separate posts but want it close to this one so you can have the information all together, sorta… LOL I am always surprised at some of the questions, some are similar to ones already asked and answered in my other posts, but I’ll answer them again here just in case I put a little different twist on it that might be beneficial to you in a way I didn’t cover the last time.
SO HERE GOES – XLIF FIRST!
Q: ARE THERE ANY PROBLEMS WITH AN XLIF? A: The short answer to that is, probably not. The XLIF can be explained that it’s the procedure used to get the doctor into the middle of your body with the least amount of damage to other tissue, muscles and maybe even organs. The XLIF is a procedure or technique designed to get access to the spine. What a doctor does once he’s in the middle of your body at the spine is different than that. There are several procedures available to your doctor to fix any number of problems once he gets in there and sees what’s really happening. I happen to have the good fortune of my doctor being the leading neurosurgeon in the US who not only sees your spine in 3D once he’s in there, it has been told to me he can actually envision in his mind what may be going on in the interior of the spine as well or 4D. Most doctors only need the 3D version for their work to be successful. There are few questions you may want to ask the physician doing your surgery. One, is he NuVasive trained? The reason I share this question is because NuVasive docs are trained on cadaver bodies in an intensive, extensive lab environment. They also are trained to use an advanced version of neuromapping, much like an EEG only MUCH more sophisticated. This is where wires are hooked up to your legs at critical spots and held into place with a plastic sleeve. While undergoing the operation, the doctor is trained to utilize this neuro aide so he can tell exactly what nerve is being touched, drastically reducing the chance of further nerve damage. A doctor who uses this pretty much knows exactly where he is in your spine. One other question you may want to ask is how many of these procedures has that doctor performed. I know that everyone has to start somewhere, but I was one of the last of my doctor’s first 1,000 patients. He’s now working on his second 1,000! In otherwords, he’s had plenty of experience before doing mine! That is not to say all other doctors are not as good as mine, yes, I am partial, but there are plenty of really great neurosurgeons who do excellent work. Problems arising after an XLIF procedure are usually from some other complication such as drug interactions, body systems malfunctions, or some other unknown at the time of the surgery that manifests itself post-op. The choice of your physician is a determinant here as well. I personally wanted a neurosurgeon, hands down, no ifs, ands, or buts. That being said, I know there are many orthopaedic surgeons who have gone through the NuVasive training and are well qualified to do the XLIF procedure.
Q: WHEN IS A PERSON A GOOD CANDIDATE FOR THE XLIF PROCEDURE? A: Any number of stars must be in alighment for you to be a candidate such as insurance carriers allowing the procedure, and your body systems all working as well as they can, but from a strictly medical point of view, the doctor makes the final determination about your condition from a series of tests, mostly, at the very least, an MRI. This allows him a peek inside your body and see as to what’s happening in there and what if anything he feels he is capable of doing to fix it. One look at MY MRI’s and my doctor looked back at me and said, “My God girl, you’re a mess!” (those were his exact words) He makes the determination from what he sees internally no just by you coming in with a few old x-rays and telling him you have a pain. He takes many things into consideration before suggesting minimally invasive surgery. Usually he and the insurance company want to see if more conservative non-invasive measures can correct the pain prior to using surgery as a last resort. Some choose not to go through surgery at all for whatever reason, some can’t because of other medical conditions, and still others who won’t give up smoking which pretty much takes back surgery off the table for them unless they quit. (Please referr to a couple of earlier posts about smoking and surgery for more details about this issue.) This is due to the very low success rate of bone fusion while smoking.
Q: HOW WILL I KNOW WHEN IT’S TIME FOR ME TO HAVE BACK SURGERY? A: The short answer to this is, WHEN THE PAIN IS SO ALL-CONSUMING YOU CAN’T THINK OF ANYTHING ELSE! When it taints your thoughts, your sleep, your intimacy, your social and work life, yeah, then it’s time to do something about it. Afterward, if you have the XLIF done, you’ll wonder why you waited so long to have it fixed! THESE ARE WORDS RIGHT FROM THE HORSES’ MOUTH! My circumstances were such that I couldn’t get fixed until I did but I did it as soon as I could! And, it wasn’t a moment too soon! HONESTLY!
Q: WHAT IS THE MORTALITY RATE FOR AN XLIF PROCEDURE? A: In Dr. Smith’s practice, there has never been a death due to an XLIF procedure. That being said, there are certain unknowns which may adversely affect a successful outcome, such as complications of drug interactions, body systems malfunctions, or some other unknown determinant which causes death post-op. One in particular that comes to mind is MRSA infection. My particular doctor wants his patients in and out of the hospital as quickly as possible and often will perform the surgery on an outpatient basis, greatly reducing the risk of infection and possible other complications. I can only speak for him at this point, so I’m not sure what other doctor’s statistics are.
Q: IS THERE DEEP TISSUE INJURY FROM AN XLIF? A: I wouldn’t classify it as injury, but there is a certain amount of pain or discomfort from the core muscles being pulled apart in order for the surgeon to get to the interior of the body. That being said, I shudder to think of the pain associated with the actual cutting through of all those muscles in order to get to the interior as is done in the waning traditional procedures. Since the “stretching” is far less destructive, I am perfectly happy to recover from that vs actually having my muscles being cut through!
Q: DOES IT HELP TO HAVE THE XLIF DONE FIRST IF THERE ARE OTHER SURGERIES PROPOSED? A: That will strictly be up to your personal condition and how unstable one area is vs another. Often when a person, especially with a scoliotic condition, is faced with multiple surgeries to correct or improve the condition, the surgeon will take into consideration many factors such as, the area most unstable, lifestyle or activity level of a person’s work, or the acuteness of the pain. There are many others as well, one in particular is if the patient is a smoker. This is a very big issue for a surgeon when making a decision to perform surgery. (see earlier posts on this website for details about smoking) Another consideration upfront is your insurance carrier and what they will allow. If all things are equal and your surgeon is a go… in my particular case, my lower back posed the most immediate of problems, so the XLIF was my first surgery. I have known other surgeons to do a cervical correction first because the neck was more unstable than the lower back. I can’t address the reasoning for this or the particular condition of the patient; not enough information was shared.
Q: WILL A BACK FUSION LAST? A: The short answer is, YES! HOWEVER! There is evidence that certain activities will aggravate the areas directly adjacent to the fusion causing arthritis or other conditions. A modification of certain activities should be discussed with your surgeon so it is perfectly clear to the patient which activities to avoid and the ones which can be resumed after recovery.
Q: HOW CAN I IMPROVE THE BOND OF MY FUSION? A: The time to do that is long before you need surgery. The higher your bone density the more successful your fusion may be. The number 1 thing a person can do for themselves is if they are a smoker; QUIT SMOKING!!! Exercise is the second. Those who do impact exercises, even the low impact, are in a better position to have a more successful outcome. If that’s not possible, as it was in my case, then doing passive exercises to strengthen the muscles and surrounding tissue of the painful area by doing water exercises is always a plus. Additionally, there is some indication that if you can slow or reverse osteoporosis it would help in the healing of your fusion. CAFFIENE has been linked to the onset of osteopenia (the precursor to osteoporosis) or osteoporosis itself. Some studies have shown that more than 300mg of caffeine, or more than one cup of coffee per day increases your chances for those onsets. Also noted is that fact that several non-coffee related foods are high in caffeine and may also be ingested throughout the course of one’s day adding additional caffeine to their intake. Mixed in with all of this is the lack of Vitamin D which is needed for the body to increase it’s metabolizing of calcium. When a person drinks coffee, it acts as a diuretic which also increases the amount of calcium expelled by the body. Caffeine also interferes with absorption of Vitamin D in the bones. So my take away from this is, eat more calcium and Vitamin D enriched foods, and drastically limit your intake of caffeine. And by the way, that means chocolate too! ALTHOUGH TEA HAS CAFFEINE, IT DOESN’T HAVE THE SAME EFFECT ON THE BODY AS COFFEE CAFFEINE DOES! GO FIGURE! (some of this information was taken from my search on the internet)
Q: HOW IS THE BONE HEALED IN AN XLIF SPINAL FUSION? A: Once the doctor implants graft material along with a “growth medium,” it should start to take hold right away. Graft material may come in the form of a non-bodily produced agent or, like mine, was the scrapings off my ribs to insert so it was my own body supplying the material. At about 6 weeks post-op a bone growth stimulator, a simple device designed to send electrical signals to the healing area to increase the rate of stimulation of growth. As one rep put it, If you took the time to have the surgery, and your doctor suggests a bone growth stimulator as part of your recovery, it’s just one more tool in his arsenal to help you heal quicker an more completely. My particular bone growth stimulator was provided to me by Biomet. (go to www.biomet.com to learn more about the science and how it works. Aslo it gives you questions to ask your doctor about the device.) It’s a little device no bigger than a deck of cards with a case that attaches to your clothing or belt and attached to some wires with patches that have a sticky gel on them that stick to your skin where the doctor wants the healing, not where your scars are. All things being good, the total fusion takes about six months to complete. In the meantime, your body should be pampered somewhat. The surgeon will track your progress by a series of x-rays done at certain intervals of your healing to make sure the fusion is complete. Once the healing is complete, you should be able to resume most all of your old activities. I’m still learning what all I can do that I had to give up for so long.
Q: ONE PERSON ASKED ABOUT HAND PAIN POST-OP, AND ANOTHER ABOUT FOOT PAIN FROM AN XLIF… A: My take on this is that there are other underlying causes to those conditions which can only be addressed by your surgeon. If you haven’t made him or her aware of this condition, please do at your earliest chance. It may be something simple he can address to alleviate the discomfort.
Q: I HAVE PAIN IN MY LOW BACK AND BUTT AREA AFTER MY XLIF. A: This person doesn’t say how long after the surgery so I can only address it from my experience. I don’t recall having much butt pain at all but yes, there was some low back pain. Mainly this was due to a couple of things. First, my muscles were weak from non-use all those years prior to my surgery. Secondly, my back muscles were stretched and I had to allow time for them to work themselves back into place. As I increased my activity levels and my exercise regimine, my discomfort with my low back muscles became a thing of the past. So much so, sometimes I now have to really think hard how much pain I was really in.
Q: WHAT ARE THE NEGATIVES FOR AN XLIF PROCEDURE? A: I will only be able to address this as I know it from my experience with Dr. Smith. As far as I can assertain, there are none. Dr. Smith is very careful to screen his surgical candidates for the XLIF due to their other medical and physical conditions. I spoke directly with Joe, Dr. Smith’s PA to get his perspective about negatives. He shared with me that just on the merit of the condition of the patient and the quality of the procedure, one can expect to have recovery to a greater degree. There are no guarantees with any surgery and there are those cases where, inspite all the best efforts, some nerve damage is irreversable. Dr. Smith has an outstanding recovery rate, far higher than anyone, to my knowledge, performing the surgery to date! (other than Dr. Pimenta who pioneered and perfected the procedure)
Q: IS IT OK IF I PICK UP SOMETHING WEIGHING 10#? A: Depending on where you are in your healing process the answer is yes, and no! LOL For the first six months of my recovery of the XLIF, I was not allowed to pick up anything heavier than 5#. My son, Brian, jumped at the chance to get me a Coach purse, which I vehemently resisted, until Dr. Smith told me I would have to reduce the weight of my purse. Brian nagged me for two years prior to get me a Coach purse but I kept telling him no. After the Dr. Smith directive, he showed up one day with this 10″x8″x2″ purse. I have had more people ask me why I even bother with such a small purse, and it being a Coach purse and all, so then I have to stand there and explain to them it was Dr. Smith’s fault and what Brian did for me to acquire it! I don’t have a limitation now but Brian spent so much on it, I don’t have the heart to not use it. He’s told me it was ok if I didn’t but, it was such a fun gesture, I can’t put it away. It came in handy after my ACDF surgery anyway because I wasn’t allowed to lift anything but 5# or under then as well. Now it’s just a novelty! A gallon of milk or water weights approximately 8.5 pounds which, at the beginning of your healing will be too much to lift. For a while I suggest buying your milk in half gallons if you want to lift it yourself. And ladies, change the size of your purse!
Q: DID ANYONE LOSE WEIGHT AFTER THEIR XLIF? A: I can’t speak for anyone else, but for me the answer is a big fat YES! I lost 29 pounds. My doctor of physical therapy told me it was due to muscle mass loss. BELIEVE ME, if I could have gained back the muscle mass without gaining back the weight I would have given up my eyeteeth for the trade! Once you are done with your slow pace and you go back to physical therapy, you should regain most of the weight back. I didn’t take it off all at once and it came back slowly as I increased my exercise program. I have hamstrings now that actually do what they’re supposed to so I’m ok with gaining back the muscle weight. NOW, if I could only lose the fat weight, I’d be in great shape! LOL
Q: I HAVE A LARGE LUMP UNDER MY XLIF SCAR AND THE AREA IS TWITCHING… A: The lump can be one of several things, a cyst, sometimes caused by trapped fluid or blood, a growth of tisssue under the skin, or it could be the scar, which is what they call keloiding. A keloid is when scar tissue manufactures too much skin to repair itself. It’s more annoying than anything else, and it sometimes makes the scar wider than the original inciscion. If a keloid becomes unsightly, you can see a plastic surgeon to repair it. It isn’t however caused by anything your original surgeon did or didn’t do. It has to do with how your body repairs itself after a wound. In the other instances as cited above, each should warrant a visit to your surgeon to address them so he can assess what needs to be done to correct the lump, if anything. As for the twitching, although it is probably associated with the healing process of the wound itself, you may want to address it at the next regularly scheduled office visit unless you feel it’s so annoying it warrants its own visit.
Q: I HAVE SWEATING POST-OP OF MY XLIF… A: Your body has experienced an induced trauma with the XLIF surgery, although it was a good trauma in order to fix the pain. Some people react differently to that trauma and their metabolism is thrown way out of whack. I too, had the very opposite effect, I sat chilled to the bone though it was 110 degrees outside! (Remember, I live in Vegas!LOL) I would be sitting in sweatpants and a sweatshirt covered with a blanket while the rest of the household members were in shorts, T-shirts and the air conditioning was running! It was a bazzar time for me and my metabolism but it got better as I got further out post-op! I am now back to my “normal” if one could call it that… I can sit in a room in a pair of shorts and the heat doesn’t have to be blaring for me to be comfortable. It’s mostly part of the process. As your metabolism returns to a normal state, the sweats should reduce in occurance. IF for some reason you are having sweats with a fever, by all means seek medical help immediately. There may be an infection which needs addressed STAT! Take your temp and see if it’s normal or if you have a fever, then act accordingly.
WHEW! This concludes catching up with the questions concerning the XLIF PROCEDURE asked on this website as concerns and followups to the different posts. I will return shortly with a continuation of Installment 9 of Questions and Answers to address the ACDF procedure.
In the meantime, you know what to do, take care of you and yours,
email@example.com Twitter @kathleenmosko
I bet you thought you were going to get out of the torture of hearing more about my surgeries! NOPE! I’ve got something to say about the flip side of the issue of the
“injury pain,” I need to tell you about the “surgical pain” from my XLIF.
BUT I FIRST HAVE TO ADDRESS A VERY IMPORTANT FACT…
MY CASE WAS MORE SEVERE THAN MOST AND IT WAS UNIQUE IN MANY WAYS…
PLEASE BEAR THIS IN MIND AS I DISCUSS THIS SIDE OF THE ISSUE!
OK, I’ll tell you straight on, it felt like Dr. Smith had operated on the wrong part of my body… by that I mean, immediately upon waking up in my hospital room, I didn’t have the pain I had in my back like right before I went in to surgery. I did however have some really overactive nerve endings that were jumping all over the place, and mostly in my legs afterwards. I’m gonna take you through this slowly so you’re informed, but not scared out of your mind should you be looking to have this done. I’m gonna explain the “whys” of the surgical pain for ya.
Before surgery my pain level on a scale from 1 to 10 was a 60… it was all consuming. And so was this. PLEASE KEEP REMEMBERING MINE WAS AN EXRAORDINARY CASE!
AND I’D DO IT ALL AGAIN FOR THE RESULTS I’VE GOTTEN BECAUSE OF IT!
Dr. Smith had just performed a one of a kind surgery on me with no cages, no rods and no plates but he did SIX FULL LEVELS of fusion. I have 36 setting pins and one screw and that’s it!
Here’s a little of the physiology of the repair.
The XLIF procedure is thus:Dr. Smith made three 2 inch incisions on my right side and one 1 inch incision in the small of my back. ( often times the doctor doesn’t need any other access except the three incisions on the side, but for as extensive a repair that I needed, and to have the best access to where he needed to be, he went in through the back too.) In order to do all the repair needing done, he was able to reach it all with only those four small openings. Scrapings of my own bone were taken from my left ribs to place in a bone growth medium and implanted in my vertebrae for the fusion. I could feel the pain in my left side post-op, but it didn’t last but about six weeks.
The pain at the incisions was minimal, more annoying than anything else, itching mostly as they healed, and because of where they were… right at my waistband. But loose fitting clothing took care of that. There were only steri-strips, all the stitches were internal. The incision in the middle of my back was non-existent in the greater scheme of things. I kept forgetting it was there!
When Joe Delappi, Dr. Smith’s PA, pulled back the muscles so Dr. Smith could work, he was stretching them, the outer ones as well as the core muscles. ( see earlier posts for the explanation detailing the XLIF procedure itself)
OK so, we’ve got the incision pain, the stretched muscles pain (this pain was in my right shoulder as the core muscles are attached higher on the body and also the stretched muscle pain in my right side more towards the outside at my waist,)and all SIX levels of nerve endings he released that were being pinched, AND, the sciatic nerve! Dr. Smith told me he had no clue how much feeling would come back, but he was pretty sure I’d have way more than what I had before the surgery. Dr. Smith’s a conservative kinda guy and doesn’t promise you the universe, but in the back of his mind, knows he can probably deliver the moon, the stars and the little brass ring you’ve been holding out hope to grab.
He also knows that reaching for that brass ring depends solely on what happens AFTER SURGEY! He’s not God, but rather an instrument of God, and with his talents he is able to give you relief from your pain and suffering, but the rest of your recovery and how far you get towards grabbing that little brass ring, is mostly in your hands. By that I mean, your determination to be the driver of your recovery by participating wholeheartedly in your physical therapy from the moment you set your feet on the floor for the first time after surgery, rest squarely in your hands.
It was maybe six or eight hours after my surgery that I ended up out of bed, first to go potty, then to use the walker and walk the hallway. I got to be really good friends with the morphine pump button while I was there. I just kept pushing it until it worked. If I could’ve walked the hallway that night, I’d have been released to go home the next day… barring any other complications. And there were none. HOWEVER, I had some real issues with the nerve endings jumping all the time. I ended up staying until the morning of the third day, but Joe was ready to throw me out the evening of the second! LOL
I’ve been trying to think of a way to explain the pain using a common element that most all of you have experienced so you can fully understand what I’m talking about. I’m a visionary for the most part and if I can envision something, it helps me get through an event. I try to relate a present experience with one I may have had in the past, or some thing that I learned before that can help me understand what’s going on. The more you know the less frightening an event can be.
Have you ever seen a misty rain on glass. You know how the droplets are so tiny that they just adhere to the window but as a few seconds pass, the droplets become heavier,( this is where Dr. Smith would have released my pinched nerves) which makes them start to slide down the glass? Imagine the small tiny droplets of mist as the damaged nerves that the doctor just released. Using that image, allow the flow of each of those droplets to be continuously connected from the top, and as it gains more weight from the next connection, you see the droplet get bigger as it travels. Now, note that it’s not just one droplet that’s doing this but thousands, maybe tens of thousands of droplets that are doing this all at the same time. YOU’VE GOT A LOT OF ACTIVITY GOING ON ALL AT THE SAME TIME! And in reality, the activity feels like a pin prick, which in itself isn’t too bad until you realize that, oh, I don’t know, at least a gazillion of em are all doing it at once! That’s a LOT of pricking! LOL
Yeah, that’s what it was like for me. It wasn’t that I couldn’t withstand it, it was just that I had so much damage to all of those levels and they all needed fixed at one time. And they all started to heal at the same time. It was like an electrical explosion in my legs. LOL I guess I never realized just how numb my legs were till I started getting the feeling back in em! ( kinda like sitting waaay too long on the toilet engrossed with some bathroom reading material! hahaha I know you know THAT feeling!)
NOTE: not all people experience this or this level of endurance. As a matter of fact, few do. Most experience a much lesser, or almost none of the pain I did. Remember mine was SIX levels, most patients only need from between one to three levels. Often only one! That puts them back on their feet and into life in a matter of weeks, far quicker than what I experienced!
That pain was at times really overwhelming, but, as my son so poignantly put it, “Just think Mom, once all this pain is gone, it’s all going to be gone forever!” THAT’S what I clung onto as the days passed and the meds sometimes didn’t do the trick. It became my silent mantra. I had a great many tricks I’d devised to overcome the sensation I was being poked by a million needles all at the same time.
First, I chose to welcome that feeling rather than complain about it. I knew that it was all part of the healing that was going on and in the end I would come out of this a changed person, and I have. To endure that kind of pain is only doable with a postivie mental attitude that you’ll get beyond it. That was my second trick. Just keep on thinking this is just a temporary condition at this point, and once done, there’ll be no more pain and no more need for strong medication.
You look for subtle changes in the way you feel, you study your body every minute you’re awake, and you pray that you sleep long enough to feel like the change comes over that respite. There was no night or day for me at the beginning, no meaningful time for me except when it was time for another pain med. I lived and slept according to the pain med schedule. Thankfully Brian called Joe to ask him if there was something else I could take because there was such “bleed through” pain (this is the pain that comes in spite of you being given a strong narcotic at a high dose) and it was almost unbearable.
I will tell you that Joe was AWESOME when he gave Brian the right advice to augment my meds with a particular addition which gave me the relief I was looking for. I’m not going to tell you what that was because I don’t want you trying it without your doctors’ advice. It worked for me but may be highly dangerous or ineffective for you so you’ll need to check with your doctor. I can’t tell you though, how much I appreciated the added meds. JOE ROCKS!
But, that too brought on more constipation, so I had to up my stool softener to a laxative. I didn’t care. I got the relief I was looking for. Now bear in mind also the level of pain I’m discussing here, knowing in past posts I’ve shared with you that I didn’t take ANY prescription drugs for 10 years with the injury pain, so you have some idea of what level of high tolerance I have for pain.
I also kept in mind that I must keep moving. If it were up to my spouse, I’d probably still be in a walker. He encouraged me to just do nothing, and to take more pain pills, which spurred me on to do more, maybe a little too much more because there were days the activities I did rendered me incapable to do much else but sleep or lay flat for the next day or so. Stupid, I know, but I was in a hurry to get my life back. You know the one Dr. Smith alluded to… the one where I could wear three inch high heels! LOL And he even gave me a bonus, 2 1/8 inches back in height!
Some of the tricks I incorporated into my daily routine in the beginning was to use ice blankets on my legs to numb the nerve endings so the pain wouldn’t be so horrendous. I had four of them, two in use while the other two were freezing. I can only liken it to something my mother told me when we were discussing her neuropathy from diabetes. She said one of her doctors told her that as the neuropathy spread, it would be like she was in a torture chamber with no relief. He said often times patients want so much medication they would rather OD than go through it. She looked at me and said, “He was right, it’s worse than torture.” And on top of it she had muscle spasms in the bottoms of her feet that were excruciating!
I only had a small taste of what my dear mother suffered with for the last ten years of her life. That feeling in my legs only lasted for a few weeks and it was ever-decreasing as the nerves reconnected. My empathy for her is boundless. Recently, I found out they have an experimental surgery to alleviate that neuropathy in diabetic patients. I wish she’d lived long enough to get that relief and walk.
I used to envision a bunch of wires flailing around like a garden hose at full blast that someone let go, all at the same time. As the water got turned off, those wires would calm down and just behave themselves. Intense, yes, but nothing like what my mom suffered through. There was no end to her suffering. She only took 6 extra strength Tylenol a day, and, if my brother forgot to leave em out for her, she didn’t even get those. A few times mom would call me to come over and bring her some Tylenol because my brother had been gone all day and she was in terrible pain. Since all I had was Tylenol too, and not any good stuff, I took what I had to her to give her some relief.
Like I said, as the days wore on, the pain lessened and what was unique that I noticed, was that the more I moved, the less it hurt later that day… so I kept moving! At first I was only able to walk from the bedroom to the kitchen, but then it was outside to the driveway, then down the driveway, then to the next driveway, then the first light pole, then the second and so on!
I can remember it wasn’t time yet for my next round of meds and I was hurting really, really bad. It was about 2:30am and Brian had just gone to sleep. He’s such a dear son, and when I called him he got up without complaint and asked me what I thought I needed. I wanted to walk, not just in the house, but outside. I’d noticed that if I walked up and down the driveway which was on an incline, after about twenty times of doing that, the pain subsided. I was later to find out once I got into formal physical therapy with Dr. Amanda Scott, I was actually doing exactly what I should be doing to alleviate the pain! She explained that when a muscle hurts or cramps, you want to do an exercise that uses the opposing muscle to facilitate relief. WHO KNEW!? LOL All I knew was that it didn’t hurt so bad afterwards and I was able to make it to my next set of meds. By walking the incline I was actually using the opposing muscles to make the pain subside.
Let’s talk about medication. TAKE IT DAMN IT! If you’re worried about getting hooked on the stuff, you won’t! It’s that simple. BUT, your body was put through a major trauma; one of massive proportions! Don’t try to be a hero, I’M NOT JUST TALKING TO YOU GUYS OUT THERE! Your body is a marvelous organ capable of so much healing and corrective and compensating activity. But you gotta help it. Especially when the trauma you put it through was deliberate!
Time is such an ambiguous element in our lives and we often really don’t understand it or appreciate it. I’m putting this explanation here because you really need to understand that when you are in the process of healing you loose all sense of time, you often feel like you’re moving in slow motion and your healing can’t happen fast enough. I’m often asked, “How long before I can get back to my normal life?” Well, first that’s very subjective, depending on so many factors. (if there were any complications, your level of pain, your level of tolerance for pain, your injury and what you had done, how willing you are to participate in your recovery and how much physical therapy you’re willing to do.)
During your recovery phase, you lose the sense of time; AND, you’re often in a very big hurry and rush your healing. DON’T DO THAT! You are not going to be like that forever! And, you need the meds to heal long enough for you to do the PROPER healing! You are not going to be on those meds forever, and they’re strong for a reason… they are aiding your body’s natural ability to heal itself.
I am allergic to codeine so it took out a whole class of drugs for Dr. Smith to prescribe to me as pain killers. I was on dilaudid which is 20X’s stronger than morphine it was told to me. First Brian, then I, had to go through this whole ID process each time I got a script for it because it’s what they consider a “class A” drug. Only so many pills are given and you have to verify your purpose for it’s consumption each time you pick it up and you have to show your picture ID and all that jazz. Dr. Smith anticipated me being on it for at least a year. I had figured out the rate of consumption of the pills, how long it would take me to wean myself off of them and it was going to take me like7 more months… and like a few hundred pills. by my fourth month post-op I was feeling so good and doing so much physical activity I really didn’t feel I needed em. So without his knowledge, I started to wean myself off em.
I started that in earnest the last part of August. I went to see Dr. Sparling, my primary care physician and we had a long heart to heart talk about the drugs. I told him the numbers I’d figured out and how long it was going to take for me to get off them. I also said I wasn’t willing to wait that long. I had my surgery on May 28,2010, and late August put me at three months. I also knew the longer I was on them, the harder it would be to get off. I WAS AT THREE MONTHS POST-OP! In healing terms, that a short period of time to not need any medication, ESPECIALLY WITH WHAT I HAD DONE, but I thought it was more a hindrance at that point rather than a help. I wanted to do more physical therapy and I needed to know what to work on in reality, not what was masked by the drugs.
The conversation led to Dr. Sparling giving me a couple of options, he said I could go to one of the drug rehab programs they have for recovering drug addicts, I could just keep stepping it down like I was, OR, I could break myself off it cold turkey. Well, the first option was definitely out of the question. This was a condition I had to deal with without other people who became junkies by choice. And I didn’t consider myself a junkie because I took it just like Dr. Smith ordered and I can honestly say I never deviated and took more at one time or closer together or anything different than what was on the script! NOT ONCE! I knew the only person I would be hurting was myself and I also needed to set a good example for Brian. Besides, I really was to the point at three months that I didn’t really need em much.
Dr. Sparling described for me what would happen to my body if I decided to get off them cold turkey, and he said it wasn’t going to be nice. He defined for me what it was I would experience and how I would probably feel. He reached out to me with a lifeline saying he’d help me through it as much as he could. I guess there’s a drug you can take that helps with some of the side effects but I chose not to ask for that either. In my mind, cold turkey meant just that, COLD TURKEY! In Dr. Sparling’s office, after weighing all my options, I told him I wouldn’t be going to a drug rehab program, and I didn’t want any additional drugs, so the only thing left for me to do was to go with a modified program. He and I decided when, after cutting the pills in half, then in quarters, I should just stop taking them. He asked me to call in and just let one of the girls know to tell him. He also said it would take about two weeks once that was in place so I should call about two weeks later to let him know through the girls how things were for me.
All along, because of the pain, I’d developed high blood pressure. Dr. Sparling was concerned about that so he had me monitor it at those blood pressure stations like at WalMart. He gave me a number to shoot for and told me to call him if the number got beyond a certain point. I felt I had all my bases covered. And, I had an appointment with Dr. Smith mixed in that timeframe, so if I needed to address something drastic I could talk about it with him. I felt enveloped with security knowing I could have a successful outcome because my doctors cared so much about me. It really was the first time in my life I felt like someone was watching out for me and my wellbeing. I felt informed and confident because I armed myself with enough information, eventhough I’d never gone through something like this before, I understood what would happen. The unknown wasn’t that bad because of it… WELL, ALMOST!
When actors portray a junkie on TV with the jitters and the shakes and the cold sweats, and the scratching of your skin because it itches like something’s crawling on it… YES, IT’S THAT, TIMES A HUNDRED! I remember going into the kitchen antsier than all get out, my skin was crawling soooo bad. Even my head itched. I looked out the kitchen window several times, and looked back at Brian and my spouse sitting at the table. I started wringing my hands together and then scratching my head. Brian came over to me and gave me a hug, told me it’d be ok and it won’t be long before all of it was just a memory.
Greg remained seated where he said, “Just take another pill, there’s better quality of life through more powerful drugs!” And then he laughed. Brian and I just looked at each other. I didn’t need enticed to go back to where I was, I needed to get clean! I occupied myself by going for walks to the bookstore around the corner from my house. I tried to concentrate on shows on PBS that seemed interesting at the time but my attention quickly faded. I did laundry, I washed dishes, I cooked, I played mahjong on the computer incessantly. I played with the bunnies like never before! I tried to find stuff that was mindless that wouldn’t tax my thinking power as the drug got out of my system. Knowing what to expect was a great tool for me. I was able to follow my progress, knowing what Dr. Sparling had explained to me. No wonder he was voted a top family physician 9 years running!
I honestly feel I had the best of the best taking care of me! Dr. Roland Sparling, and world renown neurosurgeon, Dr. William Smith… a power-packed combination! A song comes to mind from The Sound of Music, I think it’s called “Something Good.” There’s a line in it that goes something like, “So somewhere in my youth or childhood, I must have done something good!” I must have, to deseve these two and eventually three men, Dr. Michael Crovetti, for my hip, and I have to add in there too, Dr. Amanda Scott, doctor of Physical Therapy. Without this incredible team, who knows where I’d be today. But, I am going to give myself credit too. When I first embarked on this journey, I told Dr. Smith if he was willing to take my case, I promised him I’d do EVERYTHING, EXACTLY how he wanted me to, no matter what. I wouldn’t complain, and I’d see to it I didn’t deviate one bit. I KEPT MY WORD TO HIM! And he kept his.
October 1, 2010 was the day I stopped taking any pain killers for my back whatsoever. That was 16 months ago, and four months and two days post-op to be completely off them. I still had to take my BP meds and the stool softener for a while but most everthing was stopped. Bear in mind now that 10 months after the XLIF I had 3 levels of my neck fused together with an ACDF procedure on March 16, 2011 and seven weeks and five days later, on May 9, 2011 I had a total hip replacement done. I was on pain killers for only three weeks for the ACDF and two and a half weeks for the total hip…. just sayin…
Although Dr. Smith had originally said I’d be in my back brace for six months, I was able to get out of it during my October visit as well. Out of my back brace in four months! My fusion had taken hold so rapidly I didn’t need it from what he saw on the x-rays! I was exhilerated! My spirits soared. And the first place I wanted to go alone with my new set of wings was to the Cathedral… me and God had some talkin to do!
Nowdays I have a hard time remembering what that pain felt like. I got feeling back in both my legs, and even in the top of my foot. I mean, I know it from my memory, but to conjur it up in my mind, well, it’s just not inscribed in my thoughts any longer. The white noise of pain, that boombox that never shut off in my head as I did my daily tasks was no longer occupying a place in my brain. I had room to think of other things, my thinking was much clearer, I didn’t lose focus as often. I’m still ADHD and have to keep myself on task, but for the most part I now spend my days filling my head and my heart with wonderful daydreams. Mom always said, “Your days are made better by your daydreams!” So now I get to daydream a LOT!
I hope this explanation of my surgical pain doesn’t scare anyone into not taking the chance to be out of pain. Just remember Brian’s words, “Once this pain is gone Mom, it’s gonna all be gone forever!”
PLEASE KEEP IN MIND, MY CASE WAS VERY UNIQUE AND PROBABLY WON’T EVEN LIKEN ITSELF TO ANY PROBLEM YOU ARE FACING NOW.
MAKE THAT CALL TO FIND A NUVASIVE PHYSICIAN IN YOUR AREA TO GET YOUR LIFE BACK TOO.
firstname.lastname@example.org or call 1-800-745-7099
NO, NuVasive, nor anyone else pays me to say the things I’ve said… I am speaking on my own.
On that note, I’ll leave you to think about your decision to be pain free. And in the meantime, make sure you take care of you and yours.
PS: This particular post has been especially draining on me to write because I’ve had to revisit all the subject matter. But, if it helps just one person make that decision to be pain free, then it was worth the effort to relive it again!
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AND I’D DO IT ALL AGAIN FOR THE RESULTS I’VE ACHIEVED BECAUSE OF IT!
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I thought I’d engage my readership in this post…. here’s the deal….
I have two trains of thoughts about the issue of injury pain vs surgical pain…. I can give you the short, more “clinical” view of these two issues, or, I can give you the long, personal journey version which may include as many as three posts to get to it all.
I started writing the long, personal version and then I had the thought that maybe some of you may only be interested in the shorter, “clinical” version. So, I’m throwing it out there to you…
YOU HAVE A CHANCE TO VOTE
SHORT, “CLINICAL” VIEW OF THE TWO ISSUES?
THE LONG, MORE PERSONAL VERSION OF THE TWO ISSUES?
HERE’S WHERE THEY WILL DIFFER…
IF I do the short version, I will do a little research, (all online stuff, which you can obviously do for yourself) and I’ll limit my comments to just what I’ve experienced in a clinical sense according to what that research exposes.
IF I do the long version, you’re gonna have to get a cup or two of coffee and suffer through maybe as many as three different posts as I give you my background as to how I came about to have the pain, how it affected me and how I dealt with it until I was surgically fixed and what the effects of each have been in accordance with each procedure.
I’LL KEEP VOTING OPEN UNTIL MIDNIGHT SUNDAY, JANUARY 15, 2012 WHEN, AT THAT TIME I WILL COUNT UP ALL THOSE WHO COMMENTED ON THIS WEBSITE POST. THIS IS THE ONLY PORTAL I’LL TAKE VOTES ON.
YOUR COMMENTS ARE INPERATIVE FOR ME TO KEEP SCORE ON THIS…. AND I’LL HAVE A SCORECARD BY MY COMPUTER TO ADD A MARK FOR YOUR VOTE.
On Monday, the 16th, I’ll start my research if it is the short version vote that wins or if it’s the long version, I will post the first installment by Monday evening…
So make a comment, let me know what you think… what type of writing do you want to see me doing on this very important subject?
VOTE BY ENTERING A COMMENT!
This should be fun for me, I hope it’s fun for you!
in the meantime, take care of you and yours!
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Well, I thought I might tackle yet another difficult post about S E X!
As a mediator, I hold the same rules of confidentiality that a doctor or lawyer holds when it comes to clients or patients, and I do take that very seriously. I guess I convey that to the patients I speak with though I’ve never had to explain it to them. It’s almost like being in a confessional with some patients who are very forthcoming about certain issues. I feel it’s necessary to make each person feel there is no topic taboo to speak about, after all, if not with either Dr. Smith or myself, then with who? I’m ok with a no holds barred kind of atmosphere. That way if I really sense an added concern, I might bring it to Dr. Smith’s attention for him to deal with it before it goes too far. Whatever I do augments his practice in a positive way. So it came as no real surprise when I had this encounter.
I recently had a male patient ask if, at some point after his recovery, would he be able to be the “husband” he once was to his wife. He said he and his wife had talked about it at some length because it really bothers him not being able to take care of her intimate needs. She’s a very understanding partner in the fact that she lovingly told him sex is only a part of who he is to her and that his heart is so devoted to her that’s enough for her right now. WOW! That’s one hell of a keeper if ya ask me!
The vast amount of understanding that goes into a person who cares for someone who has horrendous back pain is unbelievable. So many concerns on the surface run through a patients mind about the mechanics of the condition as well as for the care taker. If it’s a spouse, they have an even bigger vested interest in your wellness. Everthing that happens to you affects them, directly or indirectly. Some good, some not so good. It’s the drug induced lack of desire that bothers many back and leg pain sufferers. And then there are all those underlying issues you hold your breath about because you don’t dare bring them up out of fear of rejection, or anticipation, or unrealistic expectations. Having back surgery doesn’t always mean you can get back to a vigorous sex life. There are other mitigating factors that need to be taken into consideration. A heart condition, diabetic medications which alters your desires, other physical ailments not addressed by your back surgery… the list could go on… BUT, for an otherwise healthy individual who just needs the back and leg pain to go away…. there’s hope.
In any case, thoughts of intimate sexual relations are there in the back of every back and leg pain sufferer’s mind. If they say they don’t think about it if they’re in a relationship, they’re lying to themselves at the very least. Intimacy is a big part of a relationship. It’s even necessary to thrive! To have gone without intimacy for a long period of time, is damaging both to the patient whose self esteem sinks tremendously just because of the lifestyle they loose, as well as those who are watching their loved one go through it who may be in the prime of their life with a healthy appetite for sexual relations. There are unspoken things the sufferer is forced to give up. Between the pain and the drugs to kill the pain, they pretty much put a kibosh on any natural sexual desires one might have as a normal, healthy adult. Given the length of time most people suffer before having anything done is yet another factor on how adverse the condition can affect one’s sexual drive.
For the ten years I suffered with the debilitating pain, I can only say I went through the motions I was required to go through because that was in the fine print of my marriage contract. It came to a point when even the obligation of the fine print didn’t matter to me. And just suffice it to say, the road back hasn’t been easy. I’m not one to discuss my intimate life with anyone, I’m not the kind that kisses and tells. So I won’t be discussing in detail here what has transpired for me. I will, however, keep it as subjective as I can to make it informative and enlightening for you.
According to the research I’ve done, barring any other circumstances or health issues, you are certainly able, once all of the healing has taken place, to return to as normal an intimate life as you can have. By that I mean, there may be some modifications necessary of positions you once did that you’ll no longer be able to do, and the return of your fullest desires may be slow. Have patience with yourself in that respect. Ask for patience with your partner. You were meant to be intimate with another human being, that’s how we were designed, but it may take a larger amount of understanding on both your parts to get back to a place of synchronized euphoria. This condition you were in didn’t happen overnight, and it’s not going to undo itself overnight either! TAKE YOUR TIME! Any partner worth their weight will just be grateful you are back in the game to any greater or lesser degree, hopefully.
At this point I’d like to talk directly to your partner, the one who tolerated your pain, who, if they are a compassionate person, suffered in many ways, though different, right along with you. Yes, I know you suffered too, as you watched helplessly your loved one slowly go downhill, loosing abilities and vitality for an extended period of time without much hope. It’s just as tough on you as it is on the person suffering some times. It takes a toll on everyone who surrounds the sufferer. As the days pass and your partner gets weaker and looses more and more hope and abilities, often it’s not such a stretch as to want to walk away from the person in pain. Sometimes, though you may want to, it’s not possible for financial reasons. Which puts the partner into a funk as well. That downward spiral goes quickly into an abyss hard to climb out of. It’s hard to stay positive for two people. BUT THERE ARE THOSE WHO DO IT, and do it willingly because of the commitment and love one has for the other.
My son gave up so much of his young life because of my condition. It wasn’t easy or fun to watch at such a tender age your mother, your only legal caretaker, be engrossed in such hainious pain and stand helplessly by, not being able to aford her a measure of relief. I so wish I could give back to him all that lost time. But, it’s forever lost. Pain took away the best 10 years of my life, but not only mine, my son’s. My heart still hurts when I think about how compassionate he was, how loving and caring he was, and how much understanding and maturity it took to watch what happened to me. I gave him the best I could at the time, but it certainly wasn’t the best I could have given him if I had not been in so much pain.
I once had a patient call me and talk to me about how bad his pain was and that his family had gotten to the point they no longer believed it was real. So many doctors he’d seen felt he just had to live with it or that it was psychosomatic. HOGWASH! When he finally was able to reach a doctor who properly diagnosed him, he’d come to the end of his rope with many of his friends and family who would be vital to his recovery but weren’t there for him. He shared that he took a cab to the hospital, and in his mind reasoned that if he didn’t make it off the operating table then he wouldn’t know the difference anyway. He saw this one opportunity to be pain free and took it. The family, including his mother would have to deal with it.
He came through the surgery with flying colors and the day he was released, called his mother for a ride home. He shared she was annoyed that he’d not given her more notice to make arrangements to go to the hospital instead of straight to work. She was more annoyed about being put out than her son not allowing her the opportunity to help. WOW! The coldness of some people! She went but the whole trip home she spewed forth her thoughts on how she felt it was a mistake and that she still thought it was all in his mind… CAN YOU IMAGINE SOMEONE BEING SO COLD? I actually can, and, that’s what scares me most about the patients I see. I don’t want any of them to feel they have no one on their side!
And, then, there are those who have little or no empathy for the debilitating state of the sufferer for they cannot feel the pain, therefore it doesn’t exist. Those are the most difficult conditions to be a sufferer among. Not only do you have to deal with the pain, often in silence, you are expected to do the everyday tasks your partner wants no matter how you feel. The expectations that, you are allowed to be in pain, just be able to function at normal capacity to fulfill all of your duties according to your living agreement prior to your injury, is often not possible to cope with. Depression usually accompanies pain that stays any length of time but is often taboo to discuss in many households because it makes you look weak or looking for sympathy or the “easy” way out. THAT could be further from the truth. There is NOTHING easy about being in excruciating pain or being depressed because of it. The sufferer often becomes numb, to emotions, to the outside world, to what needs to be taken care of for their own sake. HOW ON EARTH CAN A PERSON PERFORM “NORMALLY” UNDER THOSE CONDITIONS? THEY CAN’T! It’s that simple!
So how then can a sufferer be expected to perform normally the intimacy of love and at the very least “sex” as an act, if they can’t wrap their head around it. It’s been said that sex is 90% mental and 10% physical. AND THAT’S A TRUE STATEMENT. (I remember, I had sex once…. or twice! LOL) If that’s the case, and a back and leg pain sufferer is preoccupied with the constancy of the pain, HOW IN THE HELL IS IT EVER GONNA BE POSSIBLE TO HAVE INTIMACY??
Encouraging the sufferer to seek a remedy from the pain is the first step in getting back an active sex life. Once that’s behind them, rediscover on a different plain all the things you found unique in one another. Learn to adapt to the new capabilities of your healed partner. Allow time for desires to come back, give broad understanding to the relationship to accommodate the necessary changes for the sake of the pain sufferer and help them discover a new-found freedom, one that through no fault of their own was taken from them and has been graciously awarded back to them.
EXPERIMENT, SEEK OUT NEW WAYS, FIND NEW INNOVATIVE WAYS TO ENJOY THE PLEASURES OF ONE ANOTHER. You might be pleasantly surprised. Throw out all the old sexual paradigmes you once held and let your new attitude let you explore the human body through touch in a way you may never have looked at it before. The mind is limitless…. let it take you to new heights, new places of pleasure… you deserve it for all that you’ve been through, all that you’ve suffered from, all that you reached the other side from…. fill your days with wonderous exploration, share your fears with your partner, open your minds to endless possibilities but first, make sure you get permission from your doctor that you are healed enough to engage in such wanton abandonment!
REJOICE that you are back among the functional living! ENJOY your new body in such a manner you embrace all that it was, is and can be to you. TAKE CARE of your whole being, spiritually, physically, and sexually… you have a right to do that…. and if no one else has given you permission to do that…. I will… because you are worth it!
By the way, when I was done talking to this male patient, he gave me a hug and a kiss on the cheek through his tears, I’d just given him back his life, right after Dr. Smith fixes him!
And as always take care of you and yours,
I know I promised to write about Bill Walton and Nate “Rock” Quarry but I’ve been dealing with a family crisis for the last few days which has preoccupied me. They say everything happens for a reason and this in no exception. This just gives me a chance to “show” you how much these fellas mean to me.
Before I went to San Deigo, Julia called me from The Better Way Back to ask if there was anything they could do for me. I was bold enough to ask for three signed pictures from Nate for my three nephews who are crazy about him. And I asked if I brought a ball with me could I have Bill Walton sign it. She shared they didn’t have a problem with the requests but asked if I could wait to get them until after the Cheetah Ball because they were all so busy. Sounded reasonable.
Today, as I was sitting here reading through my book proposal when the doorbell rang. I answered it to find a Fed Ex guy with three LARGE packages addressed to me! I could hardly get them open in my excitement to see what was in them. I started to cry, tears of happiness. In one of the boxes was a poster-size picture of me and a quote from my video, “When I finally did sing, I sang my heart out. It felt so right and it was all because of the XLIF procedure.” It has The Better Way Back logo on it! The picture is the one I use for my profile picture on Facebook. WOW! The next box had a framed picture of me done in caricature from a local San Diego artist who was drawing us at our dinner the first evening we were there. Also there was a professionally framed picture of Bill, Nate and myself! And, in that box was an envelope with the signed pictures of Nate I asked for. He autographed them to each one by name! I got a personal card from him and the President of the Americas as well! AGAIN, WOW! The last box had a plexiglass square with an autographed basketball to me from Bill Walton! WOW, WOW, WOW!!!!! He, Nate and I are all part of an elite group of individuals lucky enough to have had the XLIF surgery and are now getting on with our lives.
First let me share with you an incident that happened to a friend of mine. Her husband saw Bill walk into the bathroom at a convention they were both attending. Her husband stopped him and asked for his autograph. Bill said he’d be glad to if he could wait a few minutes. When he came out, Bill signed his autograph for my friend’s husband who said he was very personable. And I can tell you from firsthand experience, he is. He is warm and friendly and just a real nice guy. I was talking with him back stage before we went out for the discussion panel and Bill was joking with us and running through our questions with us, just a real lay-back kind of guy. They introduced him and Nate first holding the other discussion panelist back. I was the first one of the patient panelists introduced and walked on stage. I offered my hand for Bill to shake but he took my hand and raised it to kiss. I was floored! LOL I can’t imagine the look on my face! No one, I mean, NEVER has anyone ever done that to me. <blush> WOW! What a gentleman! Once the panel was over they whisked him away and I didn’t get a chance to see him the rest of the weekend, but would have liked to talk with him in a more social setting.
Nate was next, who I gave a hug to. His strength is tempered by his gentleness, a true gentleman who even believes in opening a door for a lady and holding her seat for her and he’s not ashamed to admit it. It was a warm friendly hug, he gives GREAT hugs! I did get a chance to speak with Nate a few times during the weekend and all I can say is, he’s got a heart of gold and he loves his daughter! He has a great personality, warm and genuine. There’s such a tenderness in his voice when he talks about his daughter, it’s clearly unmistakable she is his driving force. He talked about his fighting but always adding within the context what his daughter thought. He’s almost unassuming in some aspects in that he’s not loud and braggy like I imagine a lot of those guys are.
Nate was actually the force behind the concept of The Better Way Back. He described for us his back situation and how it affected him so profoundly. He came up with the idea of The Better Way Back to help others realize their life didn’t have to be over spent in endless, agonizing pain. He proposed to the NuVasive people to wear their logo on his trunks during his comeback fight after his surgery and rehab. They agreed, he won, in a big way, and the rest, as they say, is history. He thinks fighting was a calling, and if that’s the case then The Better Way Back is his second calling. He devotes countless hours traveling all over the country doing motivational speaking and travels the world to visit our troops overseas; always promoting The Better Way Back as well. I think that even if Nate doesn’t return to the fighting cage, his name will still be in the spotlight for promoting the XLIF procedure and others like it to advance the science of back injury recovery. Kuddos to Nate for having that vision!
So today, all in all has been a GREAT day, one, for receiving all the wonderful gifts from my friends at The Better Way Back, and two, for the opportunity to relive all those special moments once again!
I want to give a special thanks to all the wonderful people at The Better Way Back who worked tirelessly behind the scenes to make sure nothing stood in the way of a perfect event! I’m not sure of each ones’ title but a very special thanks to Liz, Julia & Emily. You all did a wonderful job pulling your part of the weekend together and working alongside the NuVasive team of Melissa and Kirsten. Hats off to all of you!
One more special thank you goes to two men named Rolf Benirschke and Greg Anton who founded Legacy Health Strategies. “They created Legacy Health Strategies because they have a passion for helping patients in their time of need and as they looked at their own business careers, they wanted to make sure they left a positive Legacy in their communities as well.” I have to say both of these gentlemen know their stuff when it comes to putting together an outreach program for people to connect with the right health services. Rolf is also very much involved in The Better Way Back, if I’m not mistaken, I think he’s the director.
The reason I’m a little unsure of what his function is, is because NuVasive has done an excellent job to work in conjunction with these programs so they are seamless. Kuddos to them for such a seamless affiliate program.
Brian just came home and was blown away with the poster-size picture of his mother sitting in front of the fireplace. He said he’s gonna get me a poster frame so I can hang it. He just kept repeating, “WOW, Mom, WOW! OH, WOW Mom!” So I’m thinking he thinks it’s awesome! LOL The basketball is already on the fireplace mantel! And the pictures are already hung for all to see! Brian just kept saying, “WOW Mom, this is AWESOME!” I think he likes the stuff as much as I do!
Well I have to get dinner ready so this is a good time to wrap it up. I’m having a hard time finding the words to express to everyone just how grateful I am for all the wonderful things happening to me. Somehow I’ll find them, and when I do, I’ll express my gratitude.
Until then, remember to take care of you and yours,
PS remember to check back on Friday, my one year anniversary for my website where I’ll be posting the first three pages of my book, For Brian’s Sake and the first page of the second book, Broken. (remember, it is copyrighted material and you need my written consent to copy or do anything with my excerpt.)
I hope while you are reading this you’re at peace with your world. There’s so much turmoil going on in other’s lives and it’s just sad. As a mediator, my heart hurts for all those who’ve died and are maimed and injured needlessly.
As I think about all the good things that have happened to me recently I’m reflecting back on all the “stuff” that goes along with it… and, I’m preparing to share it with all of you in hopes you can feel like you’re not alone. I’m writing my book proposal and should have it done within the next few weeks. I’ll send it off and say a prayer that it’s content will be met with a keen eye and a heart filled with compassion enough to let it come to fruition. I’m just an ordinary person, who recognized I was living an extraordinary life. That is what I’ll share with you in my books.
For now, I want to introduce you to the other people I met at the Cheetah Ball in San Diego. A plane-mate and his wife, Brad and Jeanette were at last year’s ball and added commentary as to what to expect. It’s uncanny how much he looks like an attorney associate I worked with in my mediation firm back in Ohio. Even more a surprise that he too is an attorney. Hmmm, maybe it’s the profession that makes them look like one another. LOL
At any rate, he and his wife were warm, friendly people who made the weekend fun. Brad had surgery on his back two years ago after having gone through a couple which were unsuccessful, to say the least. He also was a patient of Dr. Smiths (my doctor) and was met by him in one of those scooters.
Brad loves to tell the story about Dr. Smith seeing him post-op for the first time and having to ask one of his assistants who the patient was in the exam room because he’d never seen Brad standing! Dr. Smith didn’t recognize him! Brad had the XLIF procedure done on four levels. That was pretty extensive in those days. Most people get one, two or three levels done, but Dr. Smith is on the cutting edge of the most innovative technology which not only addresses the immediate issues but ones he feels that may arise in the near future.
Then came Claire, a gorgeous blond with a wonderful, bubbly personality, who, in the prime of her life was delivered a blow which pretty much put a hold on everything. At 23 she was diagnosed that she needed spinal surgery after picking up one of her toddlers at work. You see she works in a child care center and that is a major part of her job, picking little ones up and wiping away tears, kissing boo boos and reading stories to them on her lap. She could do none of this because of her injury. It tore her apart. Being highly competitive and also a runner, after her surgery was completed, she asked her doctor if she could enter an iron man competition. Without so much as blinking an eye he said yes. She again explained it was an IRON MAN competition, biking, swimming, running… grueling activities for a “healthy” person. She was interested in seeing just how far she could get back to her old life. Her doctor said he knew what they were and it was ok for her to compete. She completed it in like 22 hours. NOT BAD for a first timer, AND an XLIF patient. She has since gotten married to a wonderfully supportive young man, Stuart, and is in anticipation of starting a family some day. She wants people to know you can still do all the “normal” things in life AFTER XLIF surgery that you wanted to.
About the time I was being introduced to Claire in the lobby of the hotel along comes this really cool, big guy with a Texan drawl. “Kathleen, this is Landon, a fellow XLIF patient.” Landon was the epitome of a Southern personality, warm and genuine. He too was an attorney. As I got to hear Landon’s story it reminded me of how fragile our lives really are, no matter where we come from, what our background is, how big or small we are, how purple, white, green, yellow, brown, red or black we are…we still hurt the same way. His surgery was performed 18 months ago and he’s raring to get back to the life he had planned. Landon enjoys martial arts and I think I even saw a picture of him wearing a black belt… he’s also into wrestling… and a whole lotta other stuff! He’s young, energetic and his prior surgeries left him wanting to do the things he’d dreamed about. It wasn’t until his XLIF procedure that he even dare to dream they could all come true. He now has a very deep appreciation for his doctor, the NuVasive family we have and to the opportunity to share his story with others.
There are two other very special people, Nate “Rock” Quarry and NBA ledgend Bill Walton, XLIF patients themselves, I want to talk about but that’s for another day. For now just know that we are ALL very grateful to the dedicated men and women from NuVasive, who, without their dreams and talents, we could not be fulfilling ours!
I’ll be writing again soon about the last two members of the discussion panel Nate and Bill but for now I need to do some housekeeping.
Remember to take care of you and yours,
Aaaaah, but what a memory it will be! From the plane ride to the limo ride to the Hilton on San Diego Bay it was filled with pretty powerful stuff. As luck or fate would have it, my son, Brian, was booked to fly to Phoenix to see his girlfriend, Ally. Our gates were 19 and 20 respectively, an hour apart and it hit me, Brian was going an hour east to continue on his life journey, his future with his girlfriend and future wife, and I was traveling an hour west to greet my new tomorrow. How poignant it was to be at the airport at the same time as our lives are separating. For the last twenty-two years I worked to get him and I to a place of wellness and me to have the opportunity to get on with the rest of my life. That day arrived simultaneously, almost unnoticeable.
There were new people for me to meet, like the attorney and his wife from Vegas who were so gracious to guide me through the steps familiar to them from doing this last year. They eased a lot of fears about what was going to happen but only to an extent. What happens to patients who become Patient Ambassadors is only understandable through experience.
San Diego is the kind of town that if you never get out of your car, the sights from your window are still recognizable from pictures you’ve seen in magazines. The trolley running along the roadway and just a few feet away from the ocean’s edge, it’s all a part of the scene that’s set as you travel to your destination.
Once in the hotel lobby I was immediately impressed with how I was treated. Warm, genuine greetings are met with a surprise bag with my name on it. A welcome to our event gift. As I opened my room door I was greeted with a phone call from one of The Better Way Back folks, Julia. She greeted me and asked if my flight was ok and if my room was acceptable to me…. As long as I didn’t have to cook or clean for the next three days, it didn’t matter to me, but it was a bonus that it looked out onto the Pacific Ocean and the room was gorgeous.
As I was hanging up the phone a knock on my door yielded a young lady presenting me with a “Welcome” tray of goodies! A gift card and a wonderful snack welcoming me to San Diego. It was a really nice touch.
Soon after I was whisked away to dinner at a restaurant in the Gaslamp District with Nate “Rock” Quarry the UFC fighter and the rest of The Better Way Back team. We were ushered into an Atrium for dinner where the New Patient Ambassadors got to meet, share our stories and interact for a while. All around the room there were poster-size pictures of us with quotes from our interviews. We had dinner with Dr. Tormeh, one of the leading neurosurgeons responsible for Claire’s new-found freedom from pain. It was a time for camaraderie and communion welcoming us into the NuVasive family.
Liz St. John, Julia Saba, Melissa Kaysen, and Rolf Benirschke, a former NFL player, rounded out the evening asking us to share our experience with the NuVasive XLIF procedure. Both heartfelt and moving, each one had their story to share. But, with an exciting day ahead it was time to go back to the hotel for some rest before our big day and the ball.
After meeting for breakfast in the hotel we were taken to NuVasive world headquarters in La Jolla. There, we toured the heartbeat of an inner sanctum where talented geniuses are encouraged to think outside the box, making innovation the norm and standard to beat for themselves. A quick look at one of the doctors in action performing the setup procedure on a cadaver moved us on to our purpose for being there. A teleconference took place with us as well as new Patient Ambassadors from Tennessee and from all around the country. There we discussed some of our experiences, then Rolf explained the highlights of 2010 and what The Better Way Back wants to achieve in 2011. They want to have at least 300 plus Patient Ambassadors instead of only the 46 that are now a part of the program. As things would happen, Rolf’s dear friend Mark is to have a six-level back surgery on the 7th of February but is extremely apprehensive about it. Rolf asked if I wouldn’t mind speaking with him after our conference.
Before lunch I took the phone from Rolf and discussed in detail all the pointed questions his friend had about my experience and what he could hope to expect in the weeks and months ahead. By doing this kind of Patient Outreach program, it dispels fears and myths about all the negativity from horror stories of decades of botched back surgeries. It isn’t like that any more. Advances in technologies in neurosurgery have grown by leaps and bounds in the past few years and now with the onset of neuromapping, what was done to me eight months ago is considered obsolete as newer, safer, and more streamlined techniques are developed. It’s an exciting time to be a neurosurgeon and a patient who finally has a minimally invasive procedure at their disposal to help get the rest of their life back, pain free!
On the return trip to our hotel we were treated to a “scenic” ride back along the coastal waters, through a section of La Jolla and Ocean Beach. Back by the hotel the aircraft carrier Midway is docked to board and enjoy a lunch or tour of the ship. I chose to be let out a couple of miles away from the hotel to take in the sights before rehearsal for the evening’s events. As I walked, I could see the naval yard across the bay to Coronado Island and the Coast Guard Station where my father’s ship would come into port during the war. There, my mother would wait for him and they took in the very sights and views of the ocean as I now was. I recalled so many of the stories my mom talked about when I was little and now, I could finally put a picture to the scenes I held dear in my mind. I arrived back at the hotel with no time to spare for rehearsal, and with a quick run-through behind me, I was poised to prepare myself for the evenings’ activities.
Each of the New Patient Ambassadors was seated at a different table giving more people an opportunity to interact with us on a personal level. This event is held to award the NuVasive army of sales reps with the year’s best and brightest and to allow the co-mingling of thoughts on how best to represent the company as it grows bigger and brighter on the world stage.
As I spoke with my new Ambassador friend from Las Vegas about the evenings’ events, he didn’t do the night’s affair justice when describing it to me. It’s one of those things where you just gotta be there to really understand the scope of it.
I was seated at the table with two of the board members, and the Executive Vice President and General Counsel of NuVasive. I had no idea who I was talking to as I put my mouth in gear… you’d think that after suffering from hoof-in-mouth disease for decades, I’d learn to tread lightly. But no, I spoke right through better judgement as I explained to Jason, whom by the way only introduced himself as Jason, that I had a meeting with a producer and ghost writer last weekend about getting my memoir written and that I was in need of funding for the project! Nothing like talking about it with the right wrong guy! LOL It wasn’t until much later in the evening, when he was announced to go up on stage that I realized who I was sitting next to. Geesh! I should have been handed a booklet with all the big wigs’ pictures and names so I wouldn’t have sounded so foolish!
As the evening progressed and dinner was served, I was tapped to head to the stage, just after I saw my surgeon get an award for being one of four doctors in the world to have performed more than 1,000 XLIF procedures since its inception. Backstage I patiently waited to be called while Nate Quarry assured me that he would escort me down the steps once we were done so I wouldn’t fall. I am still having some hip issues and I wore brand new two inch heels with my dress. I was the first one introduced and was greeted onstage by Bill Walton, ex-NBA star and now fellow XLIF patient himself. Once we were all seated, three patient advocates and two doctors, a series of questions were posed to each of us. A two minute video of each one of us was played as an introduction leading up to the queries. The questions were a sampling of our experiences and our stories giving a face and character to the metal parts designed and sold by the members of the audience.
Alex Lukianov, CEO and founder of the NuVasive company is an out of the box visionary with a playful streak. He himself is an XLIF patient so he well “gets” what he is doing for people everywhere. There was a performance with a troupe from Circ de Sole, and a 28 piece band with dancers and singers for our dinner entertainment. With a playful heart, Alex let down what little hair he still has along with COO Keith Valentine to do a number of small skits. There was, interspersed during the evening, videos about the company and how it came to be. Hats off to Nadia Scott and Jerry Hana for their professionalism to pull those videos off making us look so good and to add to the variety of media to convey the overall picture of the company as a whole.
It was really cool when I was escorted off stage by Nate Quarry to be warmly greeted by Dr. Smith who conveyed he was totally shocked to see me there. His friends at NuVasive had not shared that tidbit with him. He was also a little surprised because I’ve changed so much physically since he’s seen me in his office. He didn’t recognize me that morning when I spoke to him as he politely breezed swiftly passed me. A little slighted at first, I came to realize my appearance had changed so much he didn’t know who I was. LOL See what he did to me!
I felt like Cinderella and told others as much, not wanting to know when it was midnight! After our discussion panel on stage, people were coming up to me thanking me for sharing my story with them and motivating them to be the best they can be because they have a name and a face to the reason why they do what they do all year long. I was the one who was so overwhelmed with the outpouring of love and camaraderie. I’ve mostly felt like I was the one on the outside looking in and for one of the first times in my life I felt a part of something truly unique and that I belonged.
This past weekend has filled an empty place in my heart that hasn’t known the kind of love and compassion it has long been looking for. It was comfortable. And I liked it. A lot. I achieved something so personal and got to share it with people who understood what it took to get here. That kind of validation isn’t often rewarded to others but I’ve now had the unique opportunity to know what that feels like. All of their love and support are motivation enough for me to continue on my healing journey, and to share with as many people in the world as I can to help them lighten their hearts too.
As I was leaving the ball I was met with a young man from Germany. Standing in the hallway with my shoes in hand, he and I had a lively discussion about the company and the world view from our personal perspectives. It is a conversation I will not soon forget. Once we said our goodbyes, some forty minutes later, I had to pass the Odysea Bar to get to the elevators. It dawned on me I was standing for that long without thinking about looking for a chair!
Of course I was hailed over to speak with others and for the next two hours had yet another lively discussion with a young man named Pete and his wife. Pete was absolutely convinced by the end of our talk he was in the right profession doing the right thing, as his contribution to the bigger picture so people like me and hopefully millions more will have life changing stories to tell as well.
By that time I’d been up for 23 1/2 hours and it was time for me to rest. But before I went to sleep, I sent a message to my ghost writer and told him to brace himself… I had an earful for him and his producer friend, and he better be ready to jump on board for a full steam ahead ride!
This is the capsulated version of a very wonderful evening and weekend that will be forever etched in my mind. It won’t be the last you hear about this weekend because I still have to put my impressions and feeling down in print as well. Since I’m using this website to chronicle my healing journey, there is still much more to come. I’ll keep you posted but for now, I have thank yous to design and get made to send.
I can’t even begin to know how to thank all the people who made this weekend happen and to allow me this opportunity to be a small part of their big picture. I hope I can be of service and am grateful for the trust they’ve placed in me to represent them on a personal level to the world stage. I’ll forever keep that in mind as I go about the task I have before me to get the word out.
I’ve been asked to do a second memoir after I’m done with FOR BRAIN’S SAKE, my journey to my son’s healing, to share MY personal journey about the experience of getting my body back to wellness. It’s an exciting time to be me!
For now I’ll pause to reflect on the past few days to get it into perspective enough to convey my inner thoughts and feelings about what just happened to me. It truly has changed my world forever.
Remember in the meantime to take care of you and yours,
HUGS & Love,
I hope this finds everyone still in good spirits although, as life goes on, my friends have dealt with some emotional blows already in this new year. The declining health of parents, the loss of a parent or dear pet, the questioning of one’s ability to just go on…. it breaks my heart to know my friends are suffering in such a personal way.
Life is a personal journey, unlike any other. The best we can do is share our journey in the hopes that in sharing, we can help someone else lighten their load on their own as they travel. Sharing makes us feel less alone and more like we may be doing some good for someone else, which is rather uplifting. In doing so, it lessens our burden by knowing we’re not alone, and, for whatever reason, we can take comfort in knowing others understand.
I feel that by sharing my journey with my back and me ultimately overcoming a whole lot of odds, I can inspire my friends and readers to know the message….you are NOT alone. Once I got that, it was a lot easier for me to deal with what I had before me. We each have something different to learn, that’s why God puts different things before us to challenge us. But always keep in mind, He will never give you more than what you can handle, and if you look to Him, he will guide you through.
Having said that, I want to share what’s coming in the near future, like Tuesday! A producer and cameraman are coming to my house to interview me for “The Better Way Back” program. This program is designed to assist potential surgical candidates and ones who’ve already gone through surgery. I’ve become a “Patient Ambassador,” a person who has already experienced the XLIF procedure who can talk with other patients and ally some of their concerns and fears. By sharing my experience, there is an assurance to the candidate that I totally “get” where they’re coming from. And believe me….I do!
Most of all, I want others to not be afraid of this new procedure. The horror stories I’ve heard from friends and strangers about their neighbors’ uncle who had back surgery that was useless and unsuccessful is NOT my experience. There is a BETTER WAY to do what I had to have done! I can only tell what my experience was and it was no horror story. As a matter of fact, on the 28th of this month, (my 8th month out of surgery) the NuVasive people, (they’re the manufacturer of the hardware in my body), invited me to go to San Diego where I’ll be part of a patient discussion panel, sharing my experience with fellow patients and doctors from around the world.
I’ll have the opportunity to connect with others whose healing is further along and I can ask questions about what to expect in the months ahead. I can share with those who haven’t yet had their surgery to dispell any fears they may have about the success of the XLIF procedure. I can hardly wait, it’ll be such an amazing time for me.
Right now though, I’m excited that they think my story is worthy of film time! I’ve always known I was living in a movie, and those of you who know me personally who are reading this can attest to that. Some of you just shake your heads when I tell of the next “thing” that comes by me without solicitation, and you are amazed how so much could happen to one person. One person who virtually has not ventured out into the world to get “into” things, as it were.
At any rate, that’s what I’ve been up to for the last few days, preparing for that, plus spending quality time with Brian and his girlfriend, Ally who stayed with us for 10 days to celebrate Christmas with us. We had a wonderful old fashioned Christmas just like when Brian was little with all the “stuff” that goes along with it. He wanted their ”first Christmas” to be special. I think he pulled it off! I have two more days left to clean and get all the Christmas decorations packed away. Then I’ll be meeting up with some people to help me finish my book, along with swimming.
I’ll post about how my time with the film crew went after Tuesday and keep you informed about what else is happening. Then I think I’ll be down for a while until after the Cheetah Ball (I’m gonna feel like Cinderella) at the end of the month. They have a dinner after the discussion panel. Gowns, Tuxes and all! I can hardly wait! I’m going to meet some pretty exciting and interesting people there I’m sure, so I’ll have LOTS to share with you when I get back.
Aside from all that my friends, know that I keep you in my heart and prayers that God gives you the strength to get through whatever challenge He’s put before you. Trust in Him and He will get you through whatever your challenge is. He does for me.
I’ll talk with you all soon,
Just remember to take care of you and yours,
PS: I still may be having another surgery in the spring to address my neck issues too.