Friday, June 5, 2009

Here's the buzz on the surgery... and my pergola

If you have spinal fusion surgery in your future, you may not want to read this or if you could care may not want to read it either! LOL

First I'll tell you about my Pergola/Patio Sanctuary. You may recall, last year I had a stand at the Harford County Farm Fair. When I was asked to be at the fair and committed, I didn't know what misfortune was about to behold my back. So instead of buying a flimsy tent like thing, my husband, father and our friend Curt (from ~ he's about to get a new site that will be awesome btw) built this pergola in anticipation of extending our patio. We've been wanting one for a while so this worked out perfectly. It's still not finished, the structural part will be stained white, the lattice on the back will not and the decking will not either but the back wall will be. We really want to go with a loved-worn look with the entire thing, including the patio furniture. Those rockers were actually my husband's grandparents and we are going to strip them and paint them white with black seats. We also have a black wrought iron table on the patio area (just to the left in the photos) . My pot collection on the shelves will eventually be an all white on white theme (with various shades of white pots). The watering can was my mother in law's uncle's. I painted and crackled it several years back and painted a bumble bee (with legs full of pollen, if you click the picture you can enlarge it and see) an ant and several lady bugs. OHHHH and I wanted to show you my SAP BUCKET IDEA. In the last photo (you may have to click to enlarge) you can see an antique sap bucket that my husband put a pot of geraniums in (He planted all my flowers this year...he's such a good guy!). Well, the pot comes out and we fill the bucket with ice and it's a WINE CHILLER!!!! Cool huh? I occasionally have moments of brilliance even on my meds!

I'm showing you the Pergola/Patio Sanctuary because I would not have gotten through the past
several weeks even semi sane if I couldn't have spent a large chunk of it outside. I have spent hours sleeping and reading on that white bench! (speaking of reading, some weeks I've gone through 5 books in 7 days!). The other thing that kept me sane was my friends and family stopping by constantly. More often than not, it felt like a party! Although it was like I was the lone drunk there! (Because of the medication, lol)
Here's some details of the surgery, so if you want to stop reading you can, although I won't get gory on you.
As you probably know, I had a lumbar fusion on L3-4 with 2 types of instrumentation. The type of fusion I had uses titanium rods and something called pedicules instead of screws. They are like smaller rods that are inserted through holes in the vertebrae (I'm assuming these holes are drilled) and then have a cap like end put on. The pedicules hold the rods onto(into) the vertebrae and I have these rods on both sides of my spine in that lumbar area. Prior to using the instrumentation, they grind off bone from the vertebrae top and bottom and then they mix the ground bone with some type of polymer and a bone stimulating hormone to make a paste. The dried out and nasty old real disc was removed. The replacement disc
has a hole in the middle like a donut. So they slather some of the bone putty stuff they made in the middle, slide the new "disc" in between the vertebrae and than slather more bone putty all around it. The hope with a fusion is that the two vertebrae and the replacement disc and bone putty all FUSE into one big 'ole chunk. This would take care of my disc issue and the spondylosis (arthritis of the spine) of that area all at once because there is no more joint in the two vertebrae. Clear as mud huh?
My surgery was estimated at 4 hours but it took about 5 1/2 because after my neurosurgeon got in there, there was a scar tissue party going on. The scar tissue was apparently all over the place, winding it self around nerves and sending nerves places they shouldn't go and just causing a bunch of raucous! Prior to the surgery my big toe, across my foot and up my calf was numb and weak even after 100 episodes of physical therapy but there was hope it would get better. Now, because of the surgery I'm numb up to my left chubby buttock in a 4-5 inch strip. THAT should go away although the chances for below the knee have now diminished. Oh well. I just occasionally cut myself shaving! Well I'm not really shaving yet (Peyton and Callie do it for me) 'cause I can't bend yet. AND I only ended up with 27 staples and 2 incisions...not bad! :-) When I was moved to my room, I had this pump thingy that I could press every 8 minutes and it would dose me with something...I don't remember what it was. OHHH um I think it was delauted or something like that. Well, lucky for me my clock was broken in the room. Matt even replaced the batteries and it still didn't work. The nurses kept reminding me to watch the clock (duh, it's broken people) and hit the button every 8 minutes So needless to say I pumped the heck out of that pump because I never knew when it would work. I really think that's kinda a crappy method of pain relief because sometimes you'd doze off and when you'd wake up the pain would be like a greedy gnawing monster and you'd take forever to bash him away with your every 8 minute squirts of happy juice.
The day after my surgery was VERY memorable because Stephanie and Lisa came to visit me. I totally wish I had a picture of their faces for the entire time they sat with me. If I hadn't been on pain meds (real by than, not that STUPID pump thing) their looks probably would have scared the crap outta me. They both looked like they thought I was dying so I'm guessing I probably should have done my hair and makeup or tried some other method of beautifying myself! Actually, they've said they just didn't expect what they saw. Ummm. I didn't expect this surgery to be like that either. I thought it would only be a tad worse than the other two I had. I think the tip off should have been the fact that I'd be hospitalized for up to 5 days and that they recommended that I get a walker, a shower seat and a potty lift during my spine class. I walked out of that class thinking that recommendation was for the 70 year old patients not me. WRONG! LOL
All in all, everyday is slightly better than the one before. Well usually. Except rainy days do a NUMBER on me.
If you've made it this far, you deserve a medal. Or perhaps you must be really bored or at work where anything is better than what you should be doing, right?
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Tuesday, June 2, 2009

I'm Back! Pun intended! Random thoughts and tangents ahead!

So I'll be adding to this blog post throughout the day because I can't sit at the computer very long and I'm also trying to edit photos for a few friends when I can as well. I also have SO much to tell you and get off my back (again, the bad pun). I've missed blogging and I hope my friends and family have updated and entertained you as well! LOL We'll get to that later.

Yesterday was the first REAL day I went out in public for Peyton's Authors Tea. I could never have missed that! She did so awesome and spoke about why friends are important. BOY, do I ever know that (family too) but I'll be back later about my friends. Anyway, we were so proud of her! I wasn't supposed to go out in public for a month because of potentially catching, meningitis, sepsis or a staph infection. Sounds fun, huh? It's actually a month tomorrow, but who's counting?

You might be wondering how I can look semi-tan considering I've basically been
on bed-rest most of the time since the surgery. Your first thought is that I probably was in an accident in a rusty old cab that was flying down alley-ways during my exciting and exotic vacation in Bora Bora. Hence, the tan. Actually, in order to stave off extreme boredom, I've been spending oodles of my time laying/sleeping on a bench on my patio. Being outside is SO much better than being stuck inside although my husband was super-sweet enough to put a bed up in the family room for me as you probably saw a few posts back when Tina and Brandy dressed me up during one of my many medication induced hazes. If you haven't seen it, it's worth a look-see. They did it quickly while Stephie was on one of my MILLION Robyn errand runs that she has done. Stephie is my mother hen/nurse/best bud/complaint line/reading buddy/Target shopping twin, so they were afraid she'd beat them over the head with my body pillow while in fear for my safety.

I have so many friends and family to thank in the next few posts that it's going to drone on like so many Oscar acceptance speeches so be prepared. You'll just have to deal with it because my immense appreciation NEEDS to be known.

I'm going to share some info about my friends and family before I tell you a bit a bout the surgery.
In time of test, family is best. ~Burmese Proverb
I don't know where to begin here because the kindness, helpfulness and complete generosity of spirit from my family has not ended only because I'm feeling a bit better. They continue to amaze me everyday. Matt has been a complete steady force throughout. He makes me laugh, as always and has truly personified our vows, "In sickness and in health". He has done so much for me. Little things that mean a LOT: planting my flowers for me, making my plate, bringing me a zillion glasses of water and medications, gone to the grocery(I think he probably hates this but doesn't complain and cooked, cleaned and done all kinds of domestic things that were never on his list before! He has also done BIG things for me that mean a LOT too: put up a bed in the family room so that I wouldn't feel isolated, spruced up the patio area so I'd have a happy place to lay down outside and I could go on and on but I won't embarass him. I'll show you photos of that in a bit.
About the other family members, my mother-in-law, Ruth, my sister Brandy and both my Dad and Matt's Dad, Ron have been great. Poor Ruth has done more load of laundry than she has probably seen since her 3 kids were little! She's also been so awesome with taking the kids where they need to go, getting Peyton on the bus and being there when she gets off too. My favorite is having her ENFORE the chore list. I'd love to give her that job permanately but I'm sure she'd jump off a high cliff first! My sister, Brandy (in addition to giving you the first VERY important update on my blog) has listened to me complain, listen to me slur my words and pretend she knows what I'm saying, has made dinner, cleaned my shower, organized Peyton's room and all kinds of other needful things. My father was Matt's (and his Dad as well as the rest of the surgical waiting room) entertainment during my surgery. Believe me, getting up to be at the hospital at 5:30 am was probably NOT his favorite thing to do. He also "babysat" me one day when I still had to be supervised, he did LAUNDRY for me. I was sure the earth was going to stand still! He also brought me sweet goodies like always and also drove 45 minutes to the hospital one day to pick up a script because they can't phone in narcotics. My father-in-law Ron has also been so helpful and always has a kind word to say. I don't want to leave out Grace and Mason. It never fails to cheer me up when I call Brandy and Grace asks me how I'm feeling. Inevitably, she will then SCREAM, "MOMMY Aunt Robbie is feeling BETTER!" I also love listening to Mason's knock knock jokes even though they are always about Bolt! THANK YOU FAMILY! You are the BEST!
A true friend never gets in your way unless you happen to be going down. ~Arnold Glasow
About my friends. Again, I really don't know where to start. I'm going to start with Stephanie. As you know from her post, we met through my life-long friend Jeff. Stephanie has ALWAYS been there for me no matter WHAT it is. She's the best shopping buddy ever and we share a passion for fake Mexican food like Taco Bell and Chipoltle. Oh yeah, I have to tell you about the "fork me" episode. One day during my days of constant surveillance, I had Stephanie, Tina, Lisa and Brandy here all at the same time (I's still fuzzy). Steph and Tina made chicken nachosYUM and again because I was DRUGGED I pointed to the nachos with my fork and asked Steph to "fork me". Umm. Okay. Enough of that...I can't list everything she has done and CONTINUES to do for me. From making my room and bathroom sparkling (her momma helped too, shes so sweet as well) to having my fridge stocked and LOVELY flowers for me when I got home from the hospital. SIDE BAR ALERT One of the gorgeous flowers Steph brought me was a super cool twisted and braided trunked, pink azalea TREE about a foot and a half tall. Matt planted it for me in a pot on the patio. My angel Cosmo believed it was a lovely stick that he should unplant and zoom around the yard with. We replanted it only to have him do the same thing the next day. It wasn't pretty. Steph, please know: I LOVE YOU!
I had written this next entire segment yesterday and when I puched publish, I realized my internet was down. great. Well it's back so here we go!
I don't know what I've done to deserve to be surrounded by the MOST wonderful people in my life. I truly am blessed to have these people. My other girlies that need some recognition: Lisa, Tina and Georgiann.
Lisa and I became friends through the happy accident of becoming neighbors by moving into our homes within a month of each other. She's a petite, toned little fire-ball of a chick with more energy than I have in my pinkie. Lucky for me she has showered some of that energy on me these past several weeks. Not a day goes by that she doesn't do something helpful, needed of just plain is there when I need her. She has made us dinner innumerable times and she definately short changes herself in the kitchen. She thinks she can't cook but she is WRONG! :-) Lisa, thanks for always being just several yards away! LOL
Tina came into my life when I started watching her little man Hayden when he was just a couple months old. He's now a big guy of 4 and has been in school for a year but I still feel so close to this goofy, happy little man. Tina is a pure ray of sunshine with an innocent heart who would do anything for anyone. Her happy face has made many of my post-surg days so much better plus she's a laundry master (have you noticed a laundry theme throughout this entire post?). The fact that she's a med surgical nurse has been cool, like having a private nurse at my disposal! AND I can't wait for her to whip my flabby body back into shape with her personal trainer like skills at the gym~! :-)
Georgiann and I have been friends since 10 grade, not many freindships survive 20 years! We have so many great memories! She doesn't hesitate to tell me to "LAY DOWN" while she uses her magic in my kitchen. I've yet to meet someone who is so wonderfully domestic while still holding down a high profile budgetingsomethingorother position. Can you say wonderwoman!

Last but certainly not least are the neighbors/friends that made us delicious dinners and always called to see if we needed anything! My wonderful and giving chefs were: Julie, Cindy, Jen and Debbie! THANKS LADIES!

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