Wednesday, December 20, 2006

I Can Drive Again!

We saw Dr. Suh again today and apparently I am healing well. He said everything looks good (and the x-ray tech thought I'd had surgery 3 months ago, not 5 weeks, because of how well I was moving around). The doctor showed us on the x-ray where the bone graft is starting to heal and it looks like a faint halo around the screws and rods. Anyway, since everything is looking so good I am good to start work part-time on January 2nd. I can also start driving any time I like (woo hoo!). Unfortunately, I still have to keep wearing the brace for the next 5 months or so (24/7) which kind of sucks!

So that's the update for now. I'll post a picture of the latest x-ray when we get it downloaded from the camera.

Tuesday, November 28, 2006

2-week Check-in With Doctor

So we went to see Dr. Suh today for my two week follow-up. The first thing he said when he came into the exam room was "It looks like you about set the record for getting out of the hospital quickly." So apparently I am doing fairly well (OK, apparently really well), but since I have no frame of reference I am not sure what that means. When I mentioned to the Physical Therapist that I was up to walking a little more than a mile a day at about 2.5 mph on the tread mill, he kind of gave me one of those "well I guess there's not much more I can help you with on my end" looks. He made a couple of minor modifications to my exercise routine, but other than that told me to just keep doing what I'm doing.

They took X-rays and Dr. Suh explained what everything was that we were seeing. We could not get copies of the xrays, but I took this picture with my phone so I apologize for the quality. Essentially what you're looking at are the screws and rods that the doctor put in to decompress the offending vertebrae take the pressure off the bad disk in between. What you cannot see are the bone grafts that sit on the outside of the vertical rods (they're there, just faint and hard to see in the picture). The key to how long I have to wear the brace is how long it takes for the grafts to completely knit with the vertebrae.

Since my incision is no longer draining, I don't have to keep the dressings on, which is nice because they were causing pressure points inside my brace. Speaking of the brace, I think we finally found the best padding to use inside the back of it to get rid of those nasty pressure points. Last week I discovered a company near Ashville that makes two different kinds of padding materials (one a memory foam the other a gel foam)that help prevent bed and pressure sores in wheelchair patients. So I ordered a small (16X18 inch) piece of the gel foam and received it yesterday. When I ordered it, I had a brief discussion with the customer service rep and told her what I wanted it for. She was interested, and I guess took pity on my plight because when I received the padding yesterday the box had both kinds of pads (woo hoo!).

The gel foam if really great stuff, it essentially removes all of the pressure points and is actually quite comfortable, the only problem is it weighs a ton (the 16x18 pad probably weighs about 5 pounds). The memory foam is a lot lighter and not quite as good at eliminating all of the pressure points, but it weights almost nothing. This creates a bit of a dilemma, but as Lisa pointed out, both have their uses so I am wearing the memory foam during the day and the gel foam to sleep in.

I see the doctor again on December 20th, and am cleared to go back to work on Christmas day. SAS is closed the week between Christmas and New Years so I will not actually be back in the office until January 2nd and then only on a part-time basis for the first few weeks. In the mean time I will be seeing my SAS PT next Monday and probably on a weekly or bi-weekly basis for the next six months or so. I'll keep you posted on any other developments.

Wednesday, November 15, 2006

Auld Lang Syne, This Spine of Mine

Andrew is home this afternoon. I missed all the PT at the hospital, OT, and any discussions with the Dr's assistant -that kind of sucks. Initially, I was thinking that this release was premature but everyone (med staff) is telling both of us how fast he's recuperating and the fact that he's walking quicker for the first time up is remarkable. Most of the patients they see with any kind of spinal correction are much older and much heavier.

Regardless, I watched him get into bed just a few minutes ago to take a nap and I'm amazed -he's a different man than he was Monday morning coming out of surgery (God, how awful -so much pain). Heh! even a different man than he was on Sunday! His stride has changed, almost evenly -I never noticed how he favored one side most of the time and now that he's off Morphine (one useless and insufficient drug) and taking Darvocet, his pain is down consistently to 4/5 on scale of 10, not 8/9.

Right now, he's got a slight fever and his blood pressure is a bit elevated, but I'm hoping that with some rest at home and not so much loud commotion (as in the hospital), he'll return to a normal state of peace.

Thanks again and we'll let you know when the Mandrew is up for company -I want him to dictate to me his needs. :)

Andrew's Surgery: Day 3 - Possible Discharge

Called Andrew at 9 this morning as promised.

*He was visited by Dr's Assistance, Michelle. She indicates that everthing looks very good and strong possibility of discharge today.
*PT & OT are coming by this morning and afternoon to work with him and qualify his status.

Will call Andrew before I leave the house to visit him to get another status report of his progress.

Update: Andrew called me at 12:10 indicating that he will be infact, discharged today as soon as I get there. I do wonder if it's a day premature...

Tuesday, November 14, 2006

Andrew's Surgery: Day 2 - Morning

Auld Lang Syne, This Spine of Mine

We were up-and-down all night due to natural cramping of the immovable body. If he rolled, he'd get nauseous. This morning, he'd get sick due to just being checked out -poor guy. PT should be in soon to fit his brace that sits in the spare chair like part of albino gladiator armour. Nurses say he'll feel 100% better when he does get up, but I get nauseated just thinking about his body coping with the physical adjustments he's going to make just to relearn to swing out of bed.

The surgeon's assistant and nurse were in this morning to confirm that Andrew's progress is extremely well. My version of extremely well is a superhero whose skin mends right before one's eyes, but I guess that only happens in the movies. Anyhow, they're going to yank all of his dependencies on drugs and everything else. I'd like to photo the 'everything else' but I may miss it due to all the wincing I'll be exhibiting in the corner. I can't help it, I've got a morbid sense of curiosity!

Additionally, they indicate because Andrew is doing so well, that they anticipate discharging him tomorrow.Yee-haw! I'm now getting queasy at the fact that I need to form strategy to get him from the car to the house by way of our steep driveway that only spells disastor. I may want to employ the help of a couple large men to assist.

Family thought I was tired yesterday -ain't nothing like today- need to go home to freshen up and feed the boyz.

Monday, November 13, 2006

Discogram = Human Pincushion: A New Experience

So I had my discogram October 6th to understand my problem and discovered the joys of Versed. Luckily I don't remember a thing and judging from all of the needle holes in my back I'm greatful. According to Lisa, the doctor told her I was talking away all the way through ("a real trooper"). Yeah I must have been a real trooper to not remember any of this. My back looks like I have several dozen holes in it. The good news is that it's really apparent now where my pain is coming from.

Just as a reminder - the discogram places needles into the discs at all levels (at least the lumbar levels in my case) and injects dye into each of them consecutively in order to confirm which disc is causing the pain. Sounds relatively straight forward, until you realize that the discs in your back are in front of everything else in the spinal column, meaning that they have to be accessed either from the front or the side. Needless to say, the doctor apparently went in from the side since there were all kinds of organs and stuff in the way from the front. Judging from the needle marks on my side I'm guessing that Dr. used needles that were about 6 inches long -ouch!!!

Update: Discovered the Dr. used 12"/ 18 gauge needles, just for kicks and giggles.
Results: The Discogram reveals that I have spondylolysthesis and Pars Defect as a result of spondylolysthesis

Check out Bad Zeut in the center.

Andrew's Surgery: Day 1 - Afternoon/Evening

Andrew's First Day - Not Real Pretty
Hopefully, this is the first and last of the miserable days Andrew has to endure -he can only get better, right?

The Surgery Specifics
Two incisions will be needed: one for the actual fusion and the other is on the hip. Apparently, since I have spondylolysthesis in a weird place (L3-4) he will have to make a second incision to get to the top of the pelvis. It is more common for the condition to occur at L5-S1 and at that level he justs retracts the skin and muscle over a bit and gets to the pelvis that way. I'm not sure which is better or worse.

According to the Physical Therapist at the spine clinic we will have to be a bit careful that the brace does not rub on the hip incision. If it does, he recommended adding some foam padding which we already have at the house.

Post Surgery
After surgery, the Dr spoke to me indicating that the surgery went very well and that he's confident that recovery is going to be quick for Andrew. Boy, I hope so. He's miserable and it's difficult to watch him struggle for that morphine button. It's 5pm and he's trying to rest, although it doesn't seem very restful. Wires dangling, coming in and out of him, lights blinking in the dark and it's only 5:20pm.

Andrew got turned for the first time today just before 5 and I knew that wouldn't be pleasant for him. I'm trying not to become a PIA to the nurses, but because I spend very little time in places like this, I don't know what is a normal request vs the hourly complaint. I do my best to cope, but it's Andrew's welfare I'm concerned about and I will become a pain if I don't think he's being served.

Oh well, as soon as I get this quagmire figured out, we'll be out of here. I am glad we don't have friends and relatives coming and going -it would be too stressful on Andrew and I know I can use the peace not having to answer the same damn question 1000 times 1000 different ways.

Love my friends, but I think the blog is a good way to keep rapport without the physical intrusion.

I'll keep y'all posted.

Andrew's Surgery Updates

Monday Morning: O'Freaking Early

Got up at O'Freaking earling this am to drive to Durham Regional. No traffic, clear, relatively easy arrival.Andrew walked in, changed into his little gown and waited for prep. We joked as I walked to keep warm -I guess the darn mini-rooms have heat and cold pumping in every several minutes -quite uncomfortable.

We had the nurse talk to us and ask if we had any Wills or some such issue -boy are we glad she reminded us! Of course, Andrew found a source online to complete his Will, POA, & Health Care and we needed it notarized. Thankfully, a Notary was summoned and she gathered 2 unsuspected witnesses to sign, sign, and sign s'more.

After hitting the cafe to forage a bit of breakfast and do a little work, I returned to the waiting area hoping that they were half way done -they had just started, dammit! Their fist incision was 8:12 and everything was going well -jeez, I'd hope so! Anyhow, it'll be after 10 before I hear anything -I presume.

God, people are noisy around here. I'm going to tell them all to shut up so I can blog!!!

Monday, July 31, 2006

Chez Hayden Theatre: Tonight's Feature

Truman Capote (Hoffman), during his research for his book In Cold Blood, an account of the murder of a Kansas family, the writer develops a close relationship with Perry Smith, one of the killers.

Chez Hayden B&B Launch Knit n'Bitch Club

Chez Hayden B&B Launch Knit n'Bitch Club

July 29, 2006 - Raleigh, NC - Chez Hayden today announced that it will be hosting a newly formed club called Knit n'Bitch. The Knit n'Bitch Club is a clique that is co-hosted with the Madam who will provide instructions and guidance to newbies of knitting. Those wishing to join can do so at any time just as long as their surname begins with an 'S', an 'H', or an 'O'.

"I am thrilled to have become part of Chez Hayden's founding clique called Knit n'Bitch," said Madam, self-proclaimed Matriarch of SHOFamily. "I am also utterly surprised that my ADHD allows me to teach to those less fortunate in knitting than I. After all, I have had well over 60 years of knitting experience -which makes me a natural tie-in to becoming co-host of this exclusive clique. I was never supposed to drive, but I could knit fabulous seat covers for our vehicles. "

Parties interested in joining Chez Hayden Knit n'Bitch can contact Chez Hayden through this Web site or Madam directly.

About Chez Hayden
Tranquility, luxury, and elegance is the bedrock of the Chez Hayden experience for today's traveller. Created for the appreciation of serenity and indulgence, staying at Chez Hayden is perfectly compatible with sophisticated aesthetics. A great place to renew oneself through enjoying the soothing peacefulness of the deck, to the adventures of the domestic serengeti, a region of wood and rug that includes the entire structure and 4 tabbycatus. The cuisine is an esoteric base provided by the Chez Hayden gourmand, enlivened with impressive entrees and dessert. This is all preceded by the legendary Splash TimeTM introduced by our special guests: Madam & Dr. Bob, founding parents of the tradition.


Sunday, July 16, 2006

Summer Solace

Finally, after a hectic and extremely busy Spring, we've had a chance to enjoy the deck. A balmy 91ยบ and a bit of breeze made it perfect.