Tuesday, October 29, 2013

Spine Surgery: One Week Post-Op

So an entire week has passed since I've had surgery and so much has happened how do I write it all down?  And yet...  at the same time...  so little has happened how do I find anything to write about?

How can it be both?   Easy!!   First I'll talk about the "so little".   The biggest question anyone asks me is "How am I doing?" and "How did the surgery go?"

How do I answer these questions?   I don't know, so I end up giving generic and vague answers.   The answers >I< want and care about are months in the future.   I want this surgery to fix some serious problems I have and I want to live a much fuller life with considerably less pain.   And I am not likely to know these outcomes until they arrive. 

 I know what the surgeon has told me, which is limited.  I only saw him briefly after surgery and wasn't in any condition to ask him detailed questions.  He said he was pleased with the results and confident of ultimate success.   I see him again next week and will know more.

So what do I do all day every day?   Not much.  I spend an insane amount of time in bed.   I can't stand for long unless I'm walking.   I can't sit for long.  Doctors orders.  I can't exercise, except for walking.   I'm allowed to get up and walk as much as I can, but I'll tell you, after spinal surgery it aint easy to just get up and go walking.

 Most of this first week the time in bed hasn't been too bad.  I slept so much.  But I'm all caught up on sleep and now I spend a lot of time just laying in bed bored out of my skull.   I'm actually considering taking up talking on the phone more.  Oh life would be good if I had a phone addiction!   Anyone have hours to kill talking on the phone?   (Just kidding.  Maybe?)

 The Mental Fog that plagued me so strongly is lifting.  It still hits me.  My limited time sitting at the computer isn't the most productive yet.  I find myself still just staring at it too much.  I'm usually quite the multitasker while at the computer but find it hard yet to concentrate on more than one thing at a time.

Yet I've come a long way in one week.   I walked 2 miles yesterday.  I'm not sure how many people are walking 2 miles a day 7 days post-op from major spine surgery but I bet I'm on the high end of that curve.   

 My physical therapist seemed surprised with how far I was walking before I left the hospital.  

 My occupational therapists seemed almost unhappy that she had absolutely nothing to offer me.   On my first visit with her, less than 24 hours after surgery, I was able to get on/off a toilet by myself without any assistance or aides.    On her next visit, the next day, I was able to fully dress myself, including shoes and socks, even the cumbersome compression socks they insist I wear.   I admit, getting up off the toilet by myself was not easy.  Neither was putting on those compression socks.  But she seemed so insistent that I'd need help that I was determined to do it myself.  A week later these tasks are quite a bit easier.

The day after coming home I walked a whole mile.  Not all at once.  Since then I've been walking more and I now walk three times a day and am up to two miles a day.  I hope to be up to to three miles a day within the next week.

I take very little pain medication.   Which isn't to say I'm not in any pain.  I'm in considerable pain.  But the pain meds only dull it and come at a high cost.  They contribute to nausea and make me far more content to sit in misery than to push through and get up on my feet walking.   This is the vicious cycle and evil allure of pain meds.  They convince you that you can't function without them...   yet they leave you content to function less than you would otherwise.   Not good.   I've lived with enough pain the past years that it doesn't scare me.  I'll take a pill or two, but only after I've done my walking, and only to make it more comfortable to rest.

So to answer the questions?  

How did surgery go?  It went as well as can be expected and we'll know in time if it was successful.     

How am I doing?    I am doing.  I can't say I'm doing good or bad at this time.   If it is all for a better outcome then I will look back on these weeks/months as just another part of my journey, and view them in a positive light and worth it.   If there isn't a positive outcome then I've put myself through considerable pain and torture for what?  

There isn't any point in not remaining positive and hoping and working for the best possible outcome, and that is where I choose to keep my head.   Your continued prayers and positive energy my way is appreciated!

-Ray    aka  Norm 


Thursday, October 17, 2013

Spine Surgery Update: 10/17/13

I had my pre-op appointments yesterday and it looks like surgery is a go for Monday the 21st!!   

 We're hoping to be able to restore my spine to it's original position, but my surgeon doesn't think that is likely for a number of reasons.  We're also hoping to be able to fuse just one level, but it may require going up a second level.   My surgeon wont know which route to take till he sees what's happening inside, so I won't know what happens till afterwards.

Best case scenario: Full restoration of my original spine position fusing only one level    Worst case scenario:  My spine gets fused where it's at and fusing two levels.   The likely result is probably closer to the worse case than the best case, so everyone send me your prayers, best wishes, and positive energy for as positive an outcome as is possible.

Anyone wishing to receive email updates about my surgery send an email to rayishavingsurgery@gmail.com and you'll be added to the list.   Don't expect any updates until Monday evening.

-Ray    aka  Norm  

Thursday, October 3, 2013

Spine Surgery Update

After 10 months of wishy washy doctors being unable to make a decision I am finally being seen by the Top Guns at the University Of Washington Medical Center and not only are they willing to fix the problem but I have a date for surgery!!

October 21st, 2013!!

Yes!!  This year!!  This month!!  In less than 3 weeks!

So much to do between now and then!!!    But I am thrilled!!

-Ray      aka    Norm  

Tuesday, October 1, 2013

Out Of Nowhere: Another 122 Pounds Gone!!!

It is often sad and frustrating to see and watch people who desperately need to do something about their diet and health, but who just can't or won't make the slightest effort.

I have tried many ways of approaching these people and hope to one day learn the best way to do so, without turning them off or driving them away.    But my experience in this matter mirrors my lifetime of experience in other areas of life:  You can't change people who aren't ready to change themselves.  

With this mindset my main focus is to plant seeds everywhere I go.  Everybody I talk to, every conversation I have, every situation I'm in, I try to be planting seeds of thought in people's minds in hopes that they'll think on them and stir themselves into action.   Then when I see a seed that is starting to sprout, I rush to it and give it some water!   But not too much, lest I drown it and kill it!   A little water, a little nurture, and soon a seed can be growing on it's own!

This is the best way to change people's lives, in my opinion.  And it's the only one that I've found that actually works.   I hear others who have become disillusioned  in their own attempts to change people, and have convinced themselves that it's impossible and just not worth the effort.   I think these people focus too much on trying to win converts.  On preaching too hard.  If they see someone with a spark of interest they rush to them and overload them with so much information it scares them away.   And in the end they sit by themselves in their own little world having convinced nobody to join them.    They should try backing off the hard sell and focus on planting seeds, and focus on not killing the seeds that sprout by overwatering or overfeeding them.

But there is one drawback to my approach.  Often, you never get to see the results of the lives you've influenced because you're not around when the seed starts to grow, and even though you're the one who planted it, you never knew what became of it!!

And then sometimes you're blessed!   This whole blog post is about such a time!!    I had a woman approach me before church this past Sunday and she was so excited to tell me that her entire family was focussing on eating better and losing weight, and that between them all they'd already lost 122 pounds!

Whoo Hoo!!   122 pounds!!    I hadn't even known that this lady and her family had taken anything I'd said to heart, or that they were making any efforts to change their health.   I had no clue until she came up to tell me!!

This reminds me of a woman I talked to about a year ago... She was also excited to tell me about the changes her and her husband had made and their improvement in health....   and I had NEVER even talked to this woman before!   She had merely overheard a conversation I had with someone else, went home, did some research, and started making changes based on what she overheard me tell someone else!!

This is how planting seeds works.   You hit people with too much information and it scares them away.   But if you plant little seeds of information they can think on by themselves, you never know what'll come of it!!

Plant seeds!    Plant lots of them!!   You never know which ones will sprout and will be amazed at how many do!

-Ray    aka   Norm