Saturday, July 2, 2016

One Surgeon, Two Overnights, Three Pins, Four IVs, and a Dash of Divine Intervention Later...

I made it!!!! I'm so sorry for the delayed response...I had a few rough days/nights and on top of that I've been completely exhausted, so I've been adding to this post in pieces. Thank you guys for allllll of the prayers and happy thoughts and emails and comments of encouragement. They were everything to me.


When my mom is nervous, she cleans. (I wish I had that nervous habit!) On the morning of my surgery, she gardened, did the dishes, polished the floors, vacuumed the stairs, swept the front porch, swept the back deck, did multiple loads of laundry, and .... well, you get the picture! Martha Stewart would have been proud; our house was pristine from top to bottom! I joked with her that she should get someone to call periodically with false bad news, let it sit for an hour or two while she cleans the entire house, and then call back and tell her that there's nothing to worry about after all. ;) 

Meanwhile, I showered, packed my bag and cuddled my dogs, and then we set off for the hospital to make it there for half past noon. 

Here's a really cool CP perk: my surgeon allows all of his young adult neuro patients to have their surgeries at the Children's Hospital, which means there are unicorn paintings on the walls and rainbows on the floor tiles, and Child Life Services gave us tablets to use in the pre-op room. 

My mom and I played a crossword puzzle app called Codewords (really fun if you like word games!! Check it out!). (We laughed when something like "PANIC" and "SYRINGE" showed up in the crossword parallel to each other.) We waited for about 2 or 2.5 hours because my surgeon was running late - but eventually he arrived and he was very responsive to our questions. He did admit that he was afraid for the surgery, because oftentimes hardware removal is one of the hardest procedures for orthopedic surgeons - but he assured us that he would give it his all. 

My mom asked how long it was supposed to take, and he wasn't sure because it depended on a bunch of factors. "But don't get nervous unless I come out 30 minutes into the surgery. That means something went wrong." 

THEN comes the part we were waiting for! My mom was allowed to come back with me, and we walked to the OR along with a couple of residents and medical students, an anesthesiologist and an anesthesiologist nurse. (That was a weird experience for me! I know it's not that uncommon to bring yourself to the OR, but in my past surgeries, they put me out before we got there!) 

In the middle of the OR was a special table meant for hip surgeries. I climbed up onto it and then they proceeded to strap down my arms and legs so I couldn't move! I was a little unsettled by that...being fully conscious in an operating room while you're being strapped to a table is kind of freaky, I've got to admit. ;) 

My mom was more nervous than I was at this point, so I pointed to the large disk-shaped surgical lights above my head and asked her if she could get me some of those for my room.

My surgeon laughed. "You want these lights for your room?"

"Well, now's the best possible time to ask because she'd probably say yes!" 

Directly across from where I was strapped to the table, my hip X-rays were displayed on the wall. After putting the pulse-ox on my finger and electrodes all over my chest, they placed a laughing gas mask over my face. 

I don't know how many of you guys have ever had laughing gas, but I'd never had it before, and I was surprised: it didn't make me laugh! I remember saying something like, "My breathing feels fuzzy and my hearing is weird" and they assured me that those are common effects of the gas. All of the voices in the room sounded distant and echoing, reverberating like a radio with a faulty signal. 

The anesthesiologist kneeling by the side of the table grabbed my left wrist and started preparing the needle for an IV. 

"They have better luck with my right hand," I said, trying hard to enunciate my words over the mask. "Can you please do my right hand?" 

"No, it's OK, this hand is fine," she said, and there was a quick, sharp sting as she slid the needle into my wrist.

The faraway voices were starting to make me feel uncomfortable, like a guest in my own body, and I shut my eyes tight to try to block it out. 

"It's going to be okay," my mom said, but there was a question mark lingering at the end of her sentence and even through closed eyes I could tell she was trying to hold it together. "You're ok." 

"Yes," I said. "I'm ok, you're ok, I've got this for both of us."

Then the anesthesiologist who placed my IV spoke again in that distant voice: "I put your IV in a painful spot, so we are going to put you under now."



PART 2: "Don't get nervous unless I come out 30 minutes into the surgery. That means something went wrong."

I was unconscious on the operating table for this part of the story, so I can only fill in what I was told. 

About thirty minutes into the surgery, my surgeon came out into the waiting room where my mom was waiting by herself, sat next to her in a chair, put his head in his hands, and sighed. 

It's bad, he said. I've tried everything and I can't get any of the screws out no matter what I do. They just aren't moving. 

He said that two of them were protruding from the bone and were definitely causing tissue damage/irritation, and the third screw was buried somewhere and bone had grown over it. 

My mom - knowing how awful it would have been for me to wake up and realize that I had gone through all of this for naught - told him to do whatever he needs to do - just get them out. 

He nodded in agreement. "Okay. I will. But it will be a while longer. And you have to promise me that you'll protect her with all you've got [because any fall would shatter the bone]." And then he said what nobody wants to hear from their surgeon: "I feel sick to my stomach over what I'm going to have to do to her.

He sprinted back to the OR to break the washers on the screws and then to "core" out my bones, drilling out the bone tissue surrounding the screw circumferences. 

But then: he decided to try the conventional way just one. more. time. 
It worked. He got the first screw out.
Then he tried the second. Success.
Then he looked for the third. Found it. Got it out.

He was shocked. 

Later he said... I just looked to the ceiling and thanked the heavens above because whatever just happened wasn't me. 

So thank you -- all of you -- for your prayers and good vibes and support...thank you for being "with" me. I really do think it made a difference. 

I'll leave it at that for now, but there's so much more I need to write! I've been so tired and still dealing with recovering, so even this post took me a couple of days to write - but I promise I will be back with post-op details soon!!! I just wanted you all to know that I'm alive and grateful beyond words for those prayers and good thoughts. xo


  1. K! I am so happy to read this blog! Though I have to admit, some parts read like a horror story.... You really do have a tremendous way with words. I felt like I was there with you, and then waiting with your mom! I was on the edge of my seat and my stomach dropped when I read about your surgeon having difficulty with the removal.

    I am SO glad that everything ended up going smoothly with the surgery. Sending you lots of well wishes. Take it easy and rest up. Everything will keep. :) <3

  2. I loved reading about your experience in the children's hospital and the fun games you were given to play. And I LOVED so much that your mom was allowed to accompany you into the OR. That is so amazing and such a gift.

    But OMG I am so glad your surgeon ended up being successful in your hardware removal. I had no idea that this particular surgery is among the most difficult for an orthopedic surgeon! Wow. Makes me even more glad you are okay!

    Tara is right - you really do have an exceptional way with words. You REALLY set the scene and make us feel as though we are right there with you <3


    I'm so happy I can barely even think of a coherent sentence to send to you, I'm just SO EXCITED AND DELIGHTED AND PLEASED IT WORKED! I think you must have some very good unicorn-angels looking out for you, and thank GOODNESS he tried that one more time in the conventional way.

    Oh, I SO hope this is the answer for you. I so, so hope it makes it all better. How utterly, utterly WONDERFUL!

    Write more when you're ready. Rest and heal in the meantime and BRAVO YOU!

    (the laughing gas? Yeah...totally weird! Very echoey and distant and like hearing life from inside a seashell you put to your ear)


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