Monday, February 25, 2013

Day 2

I won't do every post day-by-day as later on they get pretty similar and that would be incredibly boring. I know, I know, it's a horrifying thought to think you might miss out on details like the fact that I got WeetBix, scrambled eggs, toast, AND yoghurt for breakfast but only ate the yoghurt yet every burp tasted like eggs, but I don't want to drone on and on.

Day 2, however, is a post of it's own.

Day 2 sucked! Day 1 was bad of course but the anesthesia still running strong in my body kind of protects you from feeling every little discomfort. You know you are in pain, but there is like a hazy blanket that makes you so unaware that its helps.

By Wednesday morning I was a bit more aware of my surroundings and every little ache and pain as well as the nausea, sweating, and headaches. I know I was still pretty out of it and often couldn't respond much but I think it's more of a case that it is too much to interact with the world around you. As long as I had Anthony next to me, and he could tell me our boys were happy and enjoying being with their Aunty and cousins, that was all I really needed. The rest was too much.

I spent the Tuesday night in ICU and when my morning nurse checked my leg strength (this was done CONSTANTLY), she had some concerns. She shared this with the ICU doctor who came over and had a look at my legs and felt my right leg was significantly weaker. My surgeon was contacted and came in. He said he was hopeful it was related to the pain and swelling, but wanted an MRI just in case. He knows my history and with a wry smile said;

"I knew you were trouble when you walked in."

I assume he wasn't referring to the Taylor Swift song as he doesn't really strike me as a fan, but then again Anthony was a Spice Girls fan so you never can tell.

I had to get moved from my bed to one that could transport me to Radiology and then once there, transferred onto the MRI bed. It was horrible. I know my body HATED being moved because I threw up after each movement. On a side note; throwing up whilst lying down - not easy.

I have had about ten MRI scans in my life. My eyes were shut for the majority of this one as it was too much just to keep my eyes open still. For anyone who hasn't experienced the joy of an MRI, you go into a very narrow tunnel and have to lie still while there is lots of loud banging. It takes about 40 mins. I imagine it's a claustrophobics nightmare but with everything else going on, the worse bit for me was just being moved to and from each bed. The trip back also consisted of vomiting - fun fun!

My surgeon checked the scans and said it appeared the swelling was likely the cause as he couldn't see anything glaringly obvious. For this I am very thankful as any other causes would send me back to theatre.

Later that day, I got to be transferred to a ward. The darkened and much quieter room was a welcomed change.

I was still struggling with not being able to keep awake or interact much but it was more peaceful.

A physio came in and asked if I was ready to try standing. He was very cheery and friendly, but not my favorite person at that moment. So with lots of help, I sat up, felt horrible, stood up, felt worse, took a few steps, and went back to bed. My new nemesis said his goodbyes and left me to rest.

Later that evening, after visiting hours had been over for a while, it was time for Anthony to go. I knew he found it hard leaving and I didn't like it when he wasn't there. I told him I wished it could be over and that 4 years ago I said I didn't want to do this again. I said I believed miracles can happen and that's what I wanted - to wake up and it be over. I think the drugs made me a bit irrational ;o)

He leant down next to me and told me what I needed to hear. That I was strong enough for this. That it would be hard but I could do it. That tomorrow would be a bit easier and the day after easier again. I felt at ease and settled for the night.

I remember making a new resolve to try my hardest so that I could get better. To be positive and know that it would improve each day. I know it isn't a big thing, but that chat with Anthony helped in a big way and from the next day onwards, it started to feel like a challenge I could cope with.

Once out of ICU, Anthony was allowed to take photos so here are a few that I was too out of it to know were being taken.

My arterial line was taken out just before I left ICU so one less tube - Not that I really noticed
Holding tight to my Fentanyl button - it never left my hand!
Wound drains - gross!  Just be glad there isn't a catheter bag shot ;o)

Saturday, February 23, 2013

Day 1

Well, I'M ALIVE!!

Made it out the other side of the operating theater. Thank you to my wonderful husband for updating my blog and for staying by my bedside. I can now vaguely remember waking up in ICU and the nurse asking me if I was ok and about pain. I had an oxygen mask on but burst into tears and somehow communicated that I wanted my husband. She called him and next thing I knew he was whispering in my ear.

That single act alone of knowing he was next to me made a would of difference. It didn't stop the pain or confusion or discomfort, but it brought peace to my drugged, confused little mind.

That first day is a blur now. I remember being taken to theatre. I said my goodbyes to Anthony and was wheeled into Operating Theatre 10. The anesthetist saw me in the little pre-op room and explained that he was only going to put in a little canula to put me off to sleep and would put in the rest of the bigger ones once I was out of it. I love him for that as I have a few nice big bruises and my arms where the bigger needles were.

He gave me something that he said would make me feel 'hazy' and I thought it was a relaxant and then I would be wheeled into theatre and get the general anesthetic injected like I have in the past.

Instead, I remember feeling hazy and then it was lights out!

Next thing I recall is waking in ICU. I actually didn't know where I was - I thought it was perhaps a recovery bay or something. But I knew I hurt! And that I felt horrible and couldn't stay with it at all. For some silly reason, one of my priorities after regaining consciousness after a surgery is knowing the time. My eyes can never focus but I always try to find a clock around me to see the time. Stupid considering I will be out of it again in a minute and not remember any of it when I wake once again.

My nurse swapped the oxygen mask for nasal prongs and gave me a button in my hand to push for Fentanyl whenever I felt pain. This was always - but the machine had a 5 minute lock-out so you can't overdose.

Fentanyl really knocks me out and I would doze off for a brief few moments only to be woken a couple minutes later with the pain worsening again. That and all the machines beeping and alarms going off in ICU make it tough to actually sleep. But to be honest, I doubt I would have been getting much sleep regardless.

For anyone interested in the details, I had three IV lines in, a catheter, two wound drains sewed into my back, a blood pressure cuff on constantly, little finger oxygen/heart rate monitor, and leg compressors which rhythmically inflate your calves to keep the blood moving.

It's all a blur (thankfully) but it's over now and I feel good in comparison to that day.

Anthony obviously wasn't allowed to take photos in ICU, but I will post the photos he has taken when I get to those days.

Once again, my thanks to everyone for their well-wishes and prayers. It's pretty cool having your own little cheer squad!

Tuesday, February 19, 2013

"And how is Jo?"

When I catch up with people it's always a fairly predictable exchange. They ask 'Hey, how's it going? How's work? Did you see the game?' Normal everyday chitchat sort of stuff. My mumbled responses usually receive a polite smile in return. I imagine most people's small talk is pretty similar. Over the years I have noticed a pattern in these little chats. There is a change that occurs which shifts the conversation from being quick pleasantries to something more meaningful. These conversations usually change tone when I'm asked: 'And how is Jo?' It changes because I can see genuine interest. I know that a mumbled, superficial answer isn't what they are after. I see the expressions of people who ask and they are faces of genuine concern.

I try my best to respond honestly. When I say she is struggling a bit, people usually express their disappointment by wincing and shaking their head. They don't like that she is doing things tough.  When I say she is doing well it makes people happy. Their eyes brighten and their smiles beam (I'm not trying to be poetic here, it literally happens this way). It's amazing to me that people feel so happy and relieved that she is doing well. The contrast in these responses are day and night yet they both show me how much people genuinely care for Jo.

The surgery that she had today was tough on her but it went better than we had anticipated. She had some of her broken rods and screws removed but her surgeon could see that she had some bone development which means that her spine is finally fusing. She is in the intensive care unit today, obviously very sore, but in good spirits. The hospital staff are amazing and are making a challenging process as smooth as it can be. So far there have been no major complications which is a miracle in itself. She is awake and aware most of the time and is able to control her own pain medication.  I'm so proud of her, when I first saw her after the surgery a small smile came across her face and later in the day I even managed to get a little chuckle out of her!

Thank you all for you support.


Sunday, February 17, 2013

Here I go, once again

Room 80 of the East Wing is my room. Most likely just for tonight as tomorrow I will be in Intensive Care and later in a different room.

I have my wristbands on, obs are taken, hospital gown laid out for morning, and pretty much answered every question about the goings-on of my body that I know.

I am first up on the surgical list in the morning. I think it's because I'm the best. Or maybe just that my surgery could be rather lengthy.

Probably the first one though ;o)

By 7:30 am tomorrow, I will be dead-to-the-world in the operating theatre.

I really want to express my sincerest gratitude for the kindness that has been shown to myself and my family. Whilst I really hate going through surgery, the whole experience is made so much easier by the assistance offered to us. My mind is put at ease knowing my children are being loved and cared for and as a mother, that is what I need most to feel ok.

Anthony is going to update my blog for the next few days to let you know how things are going. Please excuse any rugby, Jay-Z, or UFC references.

Thursday, February 14, 2013

Token Valentines Day post

Being Valentines Day, a love post seems tokenistic, but tough! I'm doing it anyway!

My valentine asked me in the car today what I thought the greatest love song was. It didn't take me long to answer; 'God Only Knows' by The Beach Boys. I LOVE it!

He quickly answered and said;

"Ha! That's the same song I was going to say!"

It's a complex song! It only has two verses but it's got great layer, tune, and lyrics.

In case you aren't familiar....

"I may not always love you
But long as there are stars above you
You never need to doubt it
Ill make you so sure about it

God only knows what I'd be without you

If you should ever leave me
Though life would still go on believe me
The world could show nothing to me
So what good would living do me

God only knows what I'd be without you"

I know it seems contradictory, and I may be completely wrong, but I read it as saying sometimes things may be tough, but I will love you in a way that you know you are everything to me.

I guess I find that genuinely romantic. The kind of love where even in those moments where you may be disappointed or angry at one another, you still know how loved you are. Not that those moments of anger or disappointment should be frequent, just that you are shown love so often and completely that those moments are just that - moments.

Falling in love is easy. It doesn't take work. Staying in love can be work at times. But I am fortunate enough to be able to say that 99 percent of the time its work I can do with my eyes closed.

Love you my boy xxx

Tuesday, February 12, 2013

The stranger in the waiting room

I met a miraculous woman today. She was a stranger, but she has experienced a true miracle.

I arrived at Westmead Private Hospital for my Pre-Operative Clinic this morning. There was another two women there for the same clinic. We sat in a little waiting area where we would be called in to meet with a nurse for our blood pressure and medication details. After this we all had different tests depending on the surgery we were having. Of course, I got every test possible assigned to me, so I knew it world be a long day for me. I has a blood test, blood transfusion consultation, eeg, chest x-ray, ultrasound to check for blood clots, physio, and anesthetist consult.

The first woman went in to see the nurse and I was left with another lady who was sitting next to me. She seemed nervous and after a few minutes I gave her a smile and she said;

"I have no idea why I am here. I mean, of course I know I am here for surgery but I don't know what the pre-op clinic is."

I explained to her that I haven't been to this hospital before either but that I have been to a pre-op clinic before and it's usually just lots of tests to check for any conditions that may cause surgical complication or cause problems after surgery.

We got chatting - as women often do when they are put together in pretty much ANY situation. Turns out we are both from the Central Coast. She lives on a farm and breeds German Shepard's. She has four grown children, two of which live at home still. She then told me what had brought her to the hospital that day. It's a pretty amazing story!

A little while ago, she travelled to Melbourne for a dog show. Her husband and children stayed back here in NSW. While at the show, she suffered a sudden heart-attack. Completely out of the blue. Her heart then stopped beating.

Incredibly, there happened to be two different nurses also at the dog show that day with their dogs. They performed CPR on her for 48 minutes until help arrived and they were able to start her heart again.

Her husband received a call while she was on the floor at the dog show being administered CPR by one of the nurses. He was told his wife had just had a heart attack and they couldn't start her heart despite trying for over fifteen minutes. He was told he should come to Melbourne ASAP but to expect the worst. A little while later he received another call to tell him they had managed to revive her but to be prepared for anything as it was very likely she was brain damaged as brain damage occurs after 3 minutes without oxygen and her heart hadn't properly been beating for 48 minutes.

To cut a long story short - she survived and after a long stay in ICU, there was no sign of any damage to the brain. She was kept in hospital for a fair while but they couldn't find any cause for her heart attack. She ended up having a defibrillator inserted into her chest due to the seriousness of what happened to her. She is unable to drive now and said she feels like her family 'babysits' her now as they are so worried she will have another sudden heart attack.

Some time later, while having a routine Xray to check her defibrillator was still doing ok, a mass was found in her abdomen. It was 9cm long and growing fast. This is why she is here - to have to mass removed.

She commented on how she had been feeling frustrated that she has lost some of her independence despite being well now, but that her perspective has changed now. She now feels that without that heart attack and being so closely monitored as a result, the mass may not have been found. It has grown so quickly that if it does end up being something of a malignant nature, she may not have found it til much much later. Perhaps too late.

Pretty amazing huh! A sudden heart attack, no heart beat for 48 minutes, making a full recovery, then as a result finding a mass you likely wouldn't have found without such a serious event.

I would call it miraculous.

I don't even know her name, but I wish her the best and pray her miracle isn't over yet.

Sunday, February 10, 2013

The count down is on

Tomorrow I head down to Westmead for the day for my pre-op clinic. I don't know much about what I am doing there but they said to allow a minimum of four hours so I'm guessing its a whole bundle of tests.  I plan on taking lots of painkillers, chocolate, and a book.

This time next week, I will be heading to hospital to be admitted for my surgery the next morning.  I'm not too nervous yet, mainly because it still feels a little while away.  I know when I will be nervous though. It ALWAYS hits me when I am being wheeled down to the operating theatre and have to say goodbye to Anthony (or when I was younger it was Mum).  I guess it has something to do with being very aware that the next part I have to do alone.  I know I'm technically surrounded by people, but their concerns are getting in IV's, putting on electrodes, monitoring my vitals etc.  They are there to work.  But none of them actually know me.  Kind of reminds me of how people say you can be in a crowd of people and still feel lonely.

I get nervous in the little room you go into before the operating theatre. The anesthetist is always there getting things sorted and with spinal surgery you seem to require extra IV access so a few more "sharp scratches" occur in this room.   Everything becomes very real here and I know that in a matter of hours, I am going to wake feeling like I have been hit by a truck (or at least wish I had been).  It's not fun!

The one moment I do enjoy about surgery is being put to sleep though. Once they inject the stuff into the IV, I get this funny smell and despite my efforts to try and stay awake as long as I can, the peaceful haze comes and then it's 'nighty-night'.  It's a really nice feeling. Thank you to whoever came up with generation anaesthesia.

I will try and get Anthony to take some photos and details and will do my best to keep you updated, but I'm just wondering - how much detail/gore do you want?

Baring it all

We have a lot of nudity in our house.

Now get your mind out the gutter - I mean my children.

These past summer holidays have made me realize how often I am yelling the phrase;

"Where are your clothes?"

Our boys get dressed in the morning but normally within about an hour their shirts are off, later followed by their shorts, and in Carter's case....well let's just say by lunch he dons his birthday suit.....all year round.

Toddlers are famous for being tough to keep clothed. We went through this. But nowhere in any parenting books does it mention this stage for 5 and 7 year olds!!

So when you see our children out and they are clothed, know this is like playing dress-up for them. Ten minutes after arriving home, those clothes will be scattered on the floor somewhere throughout the house! Perhaps I need to start taking photos for blackmail during those teenage years :)

Monday, February 4, 2013

Playing in the Sunshine State....without the sun

We made it. We arrived in Brisbane Tuesday around midday and were picked up by my sister-in-law Alex, who kindly drove us to my sister Jade's house where we would be staying that night. Tony and Carter were very excited to get to see their cousins Savannah, Pacey and to meet their "boy cousin" for the first time - Leo.
Mr Carter with Pacey
Tony happy to have arrived
Bush boys with little chubba Leo
"Now I am the Aunty that will ALWAYS have lollies in her bag"

Andrew and Alex and Savannah came around for dinner and it was nice to just be able to relax and spend some time together.

The next day we had arranged to go to the NEW Wiggles concert that was being held at Dreamworld. Carter still loves the Wiggles and has been somewhat fascinated by the concept of three new Wiggles - including a girl Wiggle. The kids LOVED it and it was great to be able to be so close as in the previous concerts we have been to in Sydney, you are so far away unless you get the best seats.
It was so fun just watching the our children enjoy the experience and dance and sing. Little Miss Savannah certainly had some funny moves and kept me very entertained.
After the concert we were slow to get moving and were some of the last there and as we were getting ready to leave Lachie (new purple Wiggle) and Emma (new yellow Wiggle) came out to meet some of their friends or family who had come to the show. They were changed out of their skivvys but the kids still recognised them and went down to meet them. Carter had this funny look on his face the entire time - I suspect it was almost shock at being so close to them in real life.

The boys went back home with Jade after the concert and Anthony and I headed to catch up with our friends Kurei and Rachel before heading out to dinner for Kurei's 30th Birthday. They were kind enough to come over in October for Anthony's birthday so I was glad we were able to come to celebrate with them.

Come Thursday we headed off to Dreamworld! The boys have never been to a themepark. I LOVE rides and it has been a big disappointment for me not being able to go on rides with my back being as it is. I decided to not go crazy but to take the opportunity to go on some of the tame rides while I have the opportunity and if I cause any damage, I felt ok knowing I had surgery in three weeks time anyway.
By the end of the day I was really feeling it and was in a lot of pain but knowing I would be lying in bed a lot in a few weeks made it all worth it.

Tony is our little thrill seeker. He was so concerned and of course asked a million questions while we lined up for each ride but I could see how proud of himself he was once he had been on each ride. His biggest accomplishment was that he went on the Tower of Terror. Pretty cool for a little fella!

The next two days we spent close to the Gold Coast at Kurei and Rachel's house. This was about when the bad weather began and it pretty much rained non-stop. They have two sons close to our boys age as well as a one year old daughter. Despite the rain, the boys were content to play on the Wii and DS together. Us adults also got to play Settlers of Catan (and by play, I mean WIN in my case).
Friday we got the kids out the house and went to Timezone in Surfers and let the boys be boys for a few hours. It amazes me that with all the technological advances in games and simulated rides, our boys still love Air Hockey and Pinball best. See....they should have been 90's kids I tell you.

Even though the weather was rotten it was actually ok in my case as it meant we got some lazy time which I needed.

Come Sunday morning (and by morning I mean 3:45AM), we were heading off to the airport again to head home. It's always a little sad to leave a holiday but I was also looking forward to being home again too.

I'll leave you with a little video of our trip that my sister Jade compiled with the footage she had. Thanks Jade! Just follow the link :)

Sunday, February 3, 2013

The worry wart travels

The last time we took our boys on a plane, they were 1 and 3. They really don't have any memory of it. I recall I sat next to Tony and Carter was on Anthony's lap with the infant seatbelt attached to his own.

Well, he was supposed to be.

Our little Michelin man didn't fit the infant seat belt. They even brought some kind of extension belt for him but he was still too big. In the end the cabin crew admitted defeat and gave our little butter-ball a seat of his own.
I remember Anthony saying how funny he looked being so young and sitting in a seat all of his own.

                                           (Take note of his rather rotund build here at this age)

This time we were well prepared. We had lunch boxes packed for the boys, a DS, books, and an iPad.

We thankfully had a 10:30am flight so we arrived by 9am and checked in then got something to eat. After the all important bathroom trip, we got ready to board.

We were really lucky and got the seats right at the back of the plane. Anthony and Carter sat in the two seats in front of Tony and I and we both had empty seats next to us. We even had the toilet directly behind us for easy access (always a plus when traveling with children).

While everyone was boarding, there was the announcement which encouraged passengers to take the time to read the safety information card in the seat pocket in front.

Tony takes this kind of stuff seriously and studied the card intently. I almost wish he hadn't. As soon as he did he had a MILLION questions asking me to explain what each picture was, then he placed the card back and pondered what he had just read.

A little while later I got a tap on my arm and Tony told me he was nervous. I asked him why and he pointed at the safety card and said;

"I'm scared we are going to crash."

I did my best to reassure him and told him we will be fine and that planes hardly ever crash and that Mummy and Daddy wouldn't have brought him on a plane if we didn't think it was safe (blah blah blah, you know typical parent rubbish).

Unconvinced he said;

"But planes can crash right? Why aren't you worried? Is it because you have faith in God?"

I stifled a giggle and said;

"Well....yes, but that's not the only reason. I just think there isn't a very big chance that the plane will crash. But yes I guess I do have faith that we will be just fine."

Tony then closed his eyes and began chanting to himself;

"Faith in God. Faith in God. Faith in God."

I felt like I was sitting next to a religious nut!

After we took off, someone went into the toilet behind us. As they flushed the toilet, Tony stiffened in his seat and obviously panicked asked;

"Is that the oxygen masks coming down? Should I get my life vest?"

The rest of the flight pretty much consisted of Tony looking anxious at any bump or noise between games on his DS.

When we landed in Brisbane an hour and a half later, we were closest to the back so were front of the line to exit the plane. We waited for the stairs to be brought over and I told Tony to look out the window to see the stairs being brought over so we could get off the plane. With an incredulous look he said;

"Stairs? What! I though we get to leave the plane on the big orange blow up slide!"

By that point all I could say was;

"No that's for if we crash. See, at least there is something good about crashing!"

                                   ( Note the source of all my problems in the bottom left corner here)

Next post - actual holiday info