Wednesday, December 11, 2013

One year ago today, surgery eve

This weekend, as we visited my sister and her family in Puyallup, I recalled how emotional I was a year ago when we visited. I became emotional when we visited their church for Sunday services, and on the trip home to Portland, I had a tantrum. The kids were fighting, and I had no reserves. I asked Mike to pull the van over at an exit, and I got out and screamed for 5 minutes. I'm sure it scared the kids out of their wits. Even though I'm a veteran of surgeries, this particular one, involving the brain, freaked me out. All the stress leading up to it (because of the inept neurosurgeon practice) didn't help, and neither did the fact that it occurred right before Christmas. I worried about getting everything done for the holidays, missing events, having a lot of pain, not being able to sleep, and most of all, not being recovered enough to celebrate Christmas. The whole thing seriously affected my usually sunny outlook.

One year ago today, I went to see Kieran perform in "London Is London" on the Northwest Children's Theater mainstage, after which I tearfully said goodbye to the kids outside of the theater...even though I was grateful to my parents for taking them overnight (as the surgery check-in was early in the morning), I found it difficult to say goodbye. Tonight I will go see Kieran on the mainstage again...deja vu! Fortunately the evening will end differently. I won't have to scrub myself from head to toe in the shower with an antiseptic cleaner (to prevent MRSA infection).

I'm happy to report that after three surgeries in a little over a year, my cholesteatoma issues have resolved. Now I'm on a one-year rota, visiting my ear surgeon annually to make sure that the "speed bump" has not come back. I've also learned that I'm a complicated case--no surprise there!

One year ago I wrote about my feelings of fear, and also about the outpouring of love from my family and friends. I feel so fortunate!
  • My friend Catherine gave me a "12 days before surgery" care package, because she knew I was 
  • Flowers from coworkers and the kindergarten bear
  • anxious. So sweet!
  • My friends Kristin and another Catherine, and my sister, gave me two pair of beautiful pajamas, and they all listened to me vent tearfully about the neurosurgeon's office and gave helpful medical advice.
  • Many friends brought or sent delicious food--mulligatawny, pie, brownies, popcorn, dark chocolate, chicken pot pie, berry crisp, and more.
  • A childhood friend, who I had not seen for many years, sent CDs, DVDs, books, and cards.
  • Others e-mailed, sent cards, helped with our kids, and kept me in their thoughts and prayers.
  • A friend/coworker fasted from media on the day of my surgery so his ears could sympathize with mine.
  • Nicholas' kindergarten teacher had all of the kids make me cards and sign a Build-a-Bear for me.
  • When I had my last surgery in July (a piece of cake!), my friend and pastor came to pray with me before I went under the knife. Such a moving gift!
  • My wonderful husband held down the fort, keeping the kids' noise volume down and away from me until I could tolerate their energy, and kept me in pain meds, during and after three separate surgeries, and provided critical moral support. 
Perky ICU patient, before I could wash my hair!
Although the surgery and recovery period were far from easy (especially the post-op pain when the dilautid didn't work at all!), once I settled in, I was the perkiest patient in the ICU and healing went fine.

Visiting the ICU--so glad to see them!
While I was in the hospital, Sandy Hook happened...right after the mall shooting at Clackamas Town Center. This made me feel desperate to see my children, who we were told initially were not welcome in the ICU (not true, as it turned out). Fortunately, they could finally come visit. (Although I also learned how worn out I was when two kids at once exhausted me!)

I was able to go to Christmas Eve services at our church, which made everything better, even though I still felt worn out and in pain.
We were able to have friends over to celebrate New Year's Eve, and I weaned myself off pain meds and returned to work in early January.

One year later, I'm feeling grateful to have overcome this hurdle in my life. Even though this December feels extremely hectic (theater kids, you know), I am lucky to be able to run around and participate in the events. Not sure when I will actually be able to clean my house for Mike's family's visit after Christmas, but after what I went through a year ago, a less-than-pristine house seems like small potatoes.

Christmas 2012, less than 2 weeks after brain surgery
 (still on pain meds though!)

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