Recovery-An Ongoing Process

May 5, 2011

I made it home from the hospital but the recovery was just beginning.  I was wearing a neck brace.  I was still in a tremendous amount of pain.  I was having trouble swallowing.  I was tired.  But I was home and I wasn’t paralyzed so there was a lot of reason for optimism.  My mom flew in from Myrtle Beach to help with my recovery and to give Dan a little break.  Those first few days, I did a lot of sleeping and watching TV.  I was told by the doctor to start walking.  He wanted me to work up to 60 minutes per day.  Those first few days, it was all I could do to get out of bed.  The hallway in our house is about 15 paces long and that is where I started.  I would pace the hallway two or three times and have to rest for an hour.   Eventually, my mom and I made it outdoors.  I am now walking 3-4 miles each day.

There were several other issues that needed to be addressed.  I was not allowed to carry anything over 5 pounds.  Do you realize how little 5 pound is?  It meant I could not open the front or back doors.  I could not pull out the chair at our kitchen table.  I could not carry my laptop.  Everything had to be done for me.  I am what some (Dan) would call slightly stubborn and I like things done a certain way.  This was hard for me!  I had to give up all control.  There was also the issue of my neck brace.  I had to wear it 24/7.  I had to sleep lying flat on my back, but I could use pillows.  Dan was the best at fixing my pillows just right.  Wearing the neck brace also meant showering in it.  Dan and I had a pretty good system and he bought me a shower chair because I grew tired very quickly.  There was also my swallowing difficulty. Eating and taking my medicine was a challenge. My pills needed to be crushed and I found if I put them in ice cream, they tasted pretty good.  I didn’t eat much but I started drinking an Ensure each morning to be sure to get the proper nutrition.  There were plenty of positives though.  I lost weight and my nails started to grow.  I learned that a kind word can make all of the difference in the world and that my friends and family are the best!  I had a steady stream of house guests after my mom left to take care of me including my sister, my best friend, my mother-in-law and my father-in law. I only had a few down moments.  One in particular was when we had to send our puppy to live in New Jersey for a short while. But for the most part I stayed positive throughout.

Me in my neck brace

After 8 weeks, I was finally able to take off the neck brace! I was under the illusion that as soon as it was off, I would be good to go. However, the recovery has been quite slow.  I have had to be very patient.  I am still in pain and take 6-8 Tylenol a day (I got off of the hard stuff around the time my brace was removed) My neck movement is limited. I can move my head up and down pretty well but my side to side movement is limited and probably will be forever. I still have trouble swallowing. (I eat ice cream every day and have lost 15-20 pounds since this whole thing happened) I haven’t been able to work but hope to return soon. My days consist of walks with my dog, surfing the internet, Rosetta Stone, and mahjong tiles. But I am getting better. Just this week, I hit some golf balls and went to the gym. I am planning on trying to play tennis this weekend. One day soon my life will return to being somewhat “normal” I am ready for that day!

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