12 Months Post Op – This Chapter is Over.
It is almost a year since I had Thoracic Surgery to remove a T8 T9 disc that was severing the spinal cord. I can’t believe where that time has gone, so much has happened in that time.
Following TWO surgeries in which they moved the heart, collapsed the lungs, removed a rib and drilled the disc out that was central to the cord (only 80% removed on the first surgery so they went in again ten days later), 23 plus hours of surgery, 4 weeks in hospital with no movement of the left leg whatsoever, loss of muscles from both legs and sent to rehab on a stretcher with a wheel chair I progressed from bed baths, catheterisation, commode and wheel chair to walking with a frame; walking on crutches; a walking stick and the guarantee of a lifetime limp:
The outcome? I have been back at work since January 2012 - I walk up three flights of stairs to my office, I can walk for miles on a good day when we are out, in fact, being active is better than being sat at my desk or having a lazy day at home! I am still unable to run though, or indeed run up stairs which is pretty weird! I walk with no limp unless I am really tired, that was something I was determined to lose, I wanted to look as normal as possible when I am out.
My rib cage still hurts and is tender on some occasions; I have no sensation in the stomach due to nerve damage, possibly from the two chest drains; I have severe nerve damage due to the damaging disc, this affects the sensation in my right leg - I cannot feel hot or cold which I learnt very early on when bathing! It feels like it is constantly on fire and the "restless legs" are improving with medication. I have been taking Pregabalin which was a life saver in one way but increased the weight gain in another so I am weaning myself off that and trying to cope as best I can. The scars are fading well, in fact, the only really prominent ones are from the chest drains and they look like little stars J
I have fallen over a couple of times too because the mind and legs don’t communicate I can’t "fall" properly if there is such a thing! I land flat; the legs just don’t want to bend so I may need to work on that one!
In a year my life has changed completely. I can’t take for granted a body which I thought was invincible; I live every day fully (and am exhausted most of the time!) Housework can wait if there is a better offer of a day out and we fill our weekends with so many things, I actually wonder what I did before! Most of my days are good and upbeat, although I do sometimes have days when I am so moody and down about things I have to shake myself out of it, or even more, have Mark or even Laura give me a talking to if I REALLY push things! I am human after all!
Just to reassure anyone and any of those facing what I thought was the worst nightmares of my life, you CAN get better, get through major surgery or the obstacle that you face and have a normal life - you just have to change what you define as “normal” and live life as positive as you can.
I believe it was the positive attitude that got me through something I never thought I would face the loss of my legs and strangely enough, last night I watched “Harry’s Heroes” which featured people who had faced far worse disabilities and overcome them. I remember watching the first one just prior to my hospital appointment and they were inspirational in keeping me focused on what the body can achieve.
I am now putting this chapter behind me and moving on. I wanted to start this blog as hope for anyone else facing the same as when I first heard about this I had no idea what was involved or what lay ahead. I know it has helped two people, one of whom I am good friends with, Robin, and I know I will meet one day. If you would like to contact me then please feel free to do so, sometimes it isn’t about knowing everything that lies ahead; it’s the quiet reassurance that we CAN get through things and having someone to talk to.