A month goes by very quickly; whether you’re busy or just chill it doesn’t matter, time still flies. It’s been a month and a week after my back operation!
I posted this on Instagram after my doctor’s appointment on May 25th. It was at that appointment that I was proclaimed fit to work and ready for the world. Hehe. So I’m going back to work full-time beginning this Monday, June 3rd. Yep, all in time for back-to-school rush.
It was only while we were having brunch that I realized it’s my back’s one month anniversary. That day, I went up and down the stairs at Il Terrazzo in Tomas Morato, and then again to get to Shmily Arts & Crafts Store in Sta. Ana, Manila. The girls were excited enough to go along with me for a drive and to buy some craft materials. Oh we didn’t know exactly where the store was, the iOS map was pretty helpful and we didn’t get lost or anything. Hehe.
The girls are selfie addicts, so we had our customary shots while in the car, and right before food was served.
Just now though, I realize more how crazy fun these girls are, look at all these photos they left for me to find on my Photo Stream (taken on the iPad):
Pretty young ones, aren’t they? Hell’a crazy too. And I’m just really glad they spent time with me that day. I may have given them an awkward talking-to about the birds and the bees but I just really love these girls and I want them to make the right decisions in life, young as they are. They were still toddlers when I was their age now, and back then I spent a lot of time with them too. I love that they still like being around Tita Vera, even when there could have been a hundred and one things they could do on a Saturday. 🙂
Since our last conversation, I went back to the hospital and stayed there for 2 and a half weeks more. This time, with no bathroom privileges too. That was tough. Skip this post if you’d rather not hear about it. This post is about where April’s at so it may run long. Thank you for dropping by. 🙂
The first part of my Staycation was already for pain management and bed rest but I still forced myself to get up when I needed to do number 1 or 2, and to take showers. Of course it meant also crying out in pain after about 3 minutes out of bed, but nature calls and what can you do? The doc sent me home after 7 days with medicines and a rehab schedule. I only lasted three days at home.
Every morning I would cry out for extreme pain. It was so bad we talked about just seeing my old doctor and ask for an operation. It was really bad. On the second day we went in for a therapy session. It didn’t happen. The rehab doctor looked at my MRI plates and she was of a mind to refer me back to the Orthopedic doctor. The bulge was so big. Since the doc wasn’t due in until the next morning, she sent me back home with stronger medicines. The short ride to and from the hospital was not fun.
On Saturday, 4/13, my dad went back to the hospital with my records to consult an orthopedic surgeon. My old doctor wasn’t in, so we had to get someone else. He made arrangements for me to be admitted via the Emergency Room. Oh my gee did I make a scene when we got there. There was only a wheelchair at the ER entrance when we arrived and that was useless for me, we went straight in looking for an empty bed. Within two minutes, I was crying again. There was immediate relief once my back hit the stretcher. Not sure why it took so long but it took another four hours before we reached my new accommodations at the 5th floor. Pain medication was given intravenously while we were waiting. With the hyped pain management plan, the doc wanted to give conservative treatment another chance – let’s give physical therapy one last chance, he said. If I really don’t respond, he’ll operate.
I was to have bed rest, no sitting up, and no going to the bathroom. It was difficult for me to use the bedpan, so it was diapers for me. There was no room to be embarrassed, my Mom and boyfriend took turns cleaning me up. By then I knew I wasn’t interested in admitting visitors, it would have been a little awkward, and I’d look like crap. Hehe.
I asked for strong medicine almost every 6 hours initially before I started to feel better. Therapy was continued bedside. I could get on with only oral medication. I was somewhat pain-free for two full days, I was happy! Maybe I didn’t need an operation after all. I got daily calls from my brother, but the best thing was that he brought the little guy over to visit me. He had his iPad time of course, but we also had cuddle time 🙂
Amir visits me!
Having Amir over was so refreshing. He was his usual self, bright, smart, and noisy! He had his breakfast there, and then asked for two cookies from my stash. Takaw!
But then I had a very, very bad attack. Not sure if it was that afternoon, or the next day. My entire left leg and lower back seemed besieged by muscle spasms. It was so painful I harassed the boyfriend who was the only one with me that afternoon. The medicine kicked in after 30 minutes, after I’d cried my lungs out already. Hot packs from my therapist were a huge help too. It was so bad. Because of that episode, the doctored ordered for a continuous traction for when the pain subsides. My bed was replaced with an older model fitted with a Balkan frame.
Balkan Frame on my bed
We didn’t get to maximize it though. The belt for the traction wasn’t big enough for me and it took days to get a new one. By then the doc had decided to do the operation. The pain may have subsided, but I wasn’t improving. I started to feel numbness from my thigh down to my toes. There was some peace between that worse episode and the actual operation. Watching movies distracted me. The nurse was right to tell me to focus on something else. Sometimes it just wasn’t easy, but most of the time I would wake up to a good morning. Oh I did use the thing to hoist myself up for shampoo time!
I availed of the service only twice in my entire stay because I learned a week late that it was available for a fee. By then I had lost a lot of (falling) hair and I had so much yucky dandruff! Yes, I get them but only if I don’t wash my hair everyday. Ugh.
Once in a Lifetime – Cathy Kelly
Reading the books I had brought with me helped. I finished Cathy Kelly’s Once in a Lifetime pretty quickly but I couldn’t go type up a review just as fast. Even blogging on the iPad mini wasn’t so convenient when you had to lie down on your side all the time. Later, I picked up A Game of Thrones, book 1 of the series A Song of Fire and Ice. I alternated watching season 1 and reading the book. I’m done with the book, and still a couple of episodes left for the first season. Can’t wait for the next.
And of course, I crocheted. No photo of the work in progress though. Maybe next time.
The operation took place on the morning of April 25th. I was wheeled in to the operating room already drowsy. The last thing I remembered was having difficulty breathing, and passing out. Next time I was awake my mouth was parched dry and my chin was sore. I was out for close to five hours. When I was transferred to my old bed I realized there was a catheter attached to me (thank God it wasn’t painful).
I was wheeled in to my room and my special visitor was there, all cute and charming. He said my name a few times, and referred to ouchy (IV line). He was upset when the nurse came in but only because he thought I would get hurt. He touched my toes, my hands, and he gave me kisses. He walked all around the room. I wish I could stay awake and just watch him. But it was time to get more sleep. Sleep was vital to recovery after all.
I appreciate the good job the doctors did. I was not in much pain after the operation. Almost none. I am vaguely aware of a plate on my spine though. Strange feeling, that. Hehe. What I didn’t like was the shot of Demerol. Before knocking me out I felt it wash through my body like it was some poison. It made me extremely uncomfortable and I threw up. And throwing up after you’ve just been cut open could be an ass. So I thanked the prescription for keeping me pain-free that day, but I told the nurse not to give me another dose. Please, no.
The doctors expected a fast recovery because I was such a good patient. I didn’t meet their expectation of sitting up by that same evening though. I didn’t even try to stand up the next day, did I? But once I started sitting up two days later, it got easier and easier. What really surprised and upset me was that I still have numbness on my left foot – until today. It felt weak and I didn’t trust my leg to carry my weight. Doc says its normal because the nerve that got caught between the discs was damaged really bad. It was flattened, and only time can tell if it recovers fully. It better.
But really, there’s almost no pain now. And that was what the operation was all about. So I am happy now. Still taking it easy though.
So if anyone asks me what April 2013 was about, I’d say it was about pain and overcoming it. It was about keeping a positive attitude even when the world is reduced to one bed, and a room. It’s about how lucky I am to be born into this world as daughter to Laura and Danny, and sister to Vlady. It’s about knowing the love and support of a good man even though he can be a dick some times.
It’s not about becoming neck-deep in loans because I used up and exceeded all my medical coverage. Not even. I will have to payoff April 2013 for a long time yet, but I don’t mind. I gained more than I lost.
So hello there May! You kinda crept up on me. Let’s go. 🙂
I have long wanted to go on a staycation. To book a weekend stay at a nice hotel in the city, have a fancy dinner, order room service, and veg out on comfy beds and luxe sheets. Inside a cool room all day long. Well, Alfred would say that I finally did it, and for an entire week too.
Problem is, I didn't spend the week in a hotel. I've been a patient at the Capitol Medical Center.
My rehab doctor advised bed rest, stronger pain medication and twice daily therapy to manage the pain. They also did an EMG and an MRI. Both tests basically confirmed an impinged nerve due to slipped disc. That's no news to me. I am going home today although I can still hardly sit up nor stand for too long. I guess they can do nothing more for me and they haven't advised surgery just yet. I go for two more weeks of thrice weekly therapy then I'll see the doctors again.
I will also need to seriously lose weight. Being heavy is making matters worse. Like that's easy, no?
Alfred is my bedside nurse, though he sleeps a lot, he's been helping me get a proper bath.
My parents have kept me company here, too.
My nieces and nephew have also been by.
FaceTime with my nephew was a regular happy event. 🙂
Hospital food wasn't bad at all. Actually, I feel like they should have deprived me a little.
The bed and the room does not feel new. But the A/C works just fine and I have a refrigerator, cabinets and my own small toilet and bath. The nurses have been nice and friendly, so is my therapist.
But they don't have Wi-fi so I rely on Globe for connectivity. Rather than spend so much time on my gadgets, I read books and crocheted. Mostly though, I'd been sleeping.
So anyway, that's how and where I've been. How about you?
I don’t think I’d ever looked forward to the First of April as much as I did for today. April 1 couldn’t come too soon for me. It was the first day of my fourth set of treatments for lower back pain.
Last treatment was early December, so I am still thankful for over three months of relatively minimal pain. In the last two weeks though, pain started to escalate. On Thursday night, I dared say that it was nearly as bad as the first time I experienced it back in August last year. The pain killers just don’t seem to work anymore. I knew that it would just get worse until I could get some therapy.
I wish I could say that there was relief right after the first session. So far, things are the same. But I have full confidence that soon, things will be better. Currently, I am wearing sacro-lumbar support – it’s like a corset that you strap on. But I’m so big that I need another person to help pull it just to get it on. The boyfriend is just the perfect person for it – muscle man (without the muscles)! Hehe.
So… I know did not end on a high note, but it’s no reason to be fearful for what’s to come in April. Besides, how can it not be a good month, when you’ve got this little angel ushering it in?
Amir and his parents were here for the long weekend. He ran all around our little home, and I just watched him from the couch because I couldn’t run after him, haha. He fills our days with so much joy whenever he’s here. They left on Easter Sunday which was the only time the entire Holy Week that the house got quiet.
I finished my second round of Physical Therapy sessions over two weeks ago. That meant I have completed 24 sessions of the back strengthening program. Was it successful? Well, it helped me. Definitely. I can stand straight and walk, I sleep better.
About a week or so before I finished with my sessions, the pain started coming back, and more often too. I told my therapist about it, but she couldn’t offer me anything really. I decided to just take it up with the doctor when I see him. Then I remembered that I will need to go see a different doctor; my HMO no longer allowed me to have outpatient services at St. Luke’s QC (the hospital a stone’s throw away from home, and where I was born too).
So seeing the doctor took awhile. I only went in to see the new doctor last week and only because I’d been complaining of the pain more and more lately. My new doctor looks very respectable, and credible. But he made me wait four hours. Today, I waited almost three hours. More reading time for me. So he’s good, I think he is. He asked me if I was ready to have my back opened, I said no. “Of course”, he said, “I think we can try another combination of medicines.”
He gave me what I call Pain Medication v.2. Instead of one tablet of Arcoxia daily, I now take Cerebrex twice daily, with Lyrica. Lyrica, I was told, desensitizes my nerves so I don’t feel pain too easily. If the pain is still a little too much to handle, I get to take Dolcet upto four times a day. So far I’ve only had to take Dolcet twice (just took a pop while typing this). Lyrica also tends to make one drowsy. So I’ve been sleeping a lot, which maybe also tricks me into thinking my back hasn’t been painful, because I’m not awake to feel it. Ha!
His advise also includes losing 30-40 pounds. That would likely allow me to escape the need for an operation. Like it was that easy! Ugh.
I was advised to check myself into the hospital in case the pain persisted until Saturday (first visit was Thursday), otherwise I was to report back to the clinic on Tuesday the 27th. I was also to take an LOA from work for one to two weeks pending treatment. That was the toughest advise, I think. Although I love any excuse to stay home, I just can’t leave work for very long. But I wasn’t about to argue with the doctor; I don’t want my back condition to worsen.
Saturday came. I wasn’t in too much pain so I decided to stay home. Tuesday came and I headed to the hospital early. 30 mins prior the 10AM clinic opening hour, I was already there. Armed with a book, I waited. Almost three hours later, I met with the Doc again. He obviously read my file already, and he said that it looks like the combo of medicine was good for me. After all, I didn’t rush to the hospital on Saturday. I said yes, it seems the pain level decreased. When I felt pain, I just adjusted my position.
The verdict: keep taking the meds, but I shouldn’t take Cerebrex for more than a month. After a month, I’ll have to rest before taking it again. I should also go back for more PT. After the sessions, the rehab doctor can give a recommendation for fit to work (although I think I’ve already decided to go back after only a week and a half of rest, we’ll see). If after another round of therapy I still am not happy with the results, I am to go back to the Doc with the PT’s assessment.
If after this third round I am not happy, I’d seriously consider an operation. Ugh.