Gratitude: A Post-Surgery Update

 

Hi friends,

 

I can’t believe it, but it has almost been a week since my emergency spine surgery. I don’t know how six days have passed so quickly when the surgery seems like it was yesterday, but I guess I’ve been asleep and dazed for the majority of that time, so my sense of time is a little off.

 

I apologize I haven’t made an update sooner…I just really have been in and out of slumber only to do things like eat, take medicine, go to the bathroom, then sleep again.

 

Generally speaking, I am recovering beautifully.

 

It’s completely wild to think about what has happened over the past few weeks. Two weeks ago I opened my heart and soul to you in a completely public and vulnerable way, and I nearly didn’t hit “publish” because I was so scared. Looking back, it’s crazy to think that from that moment on, things really began to start rolling.

 

I asked you for help.

 

And you gave me love.

 

You gave me support.

 

You sent me hundreds and hundreds of messages with prayers, thoughts, and stories.

 

I just want to tell you that your messages and notes brought me to tears many, many times, because I realized I am not alone, that even though I have never met most of you before, you still care about me (like that woman at the DC airport) because you are beautiful human beings with enormous hearts and compassion.

 

You took time out of your lives to pray for me, to think of me, and to write to me.

 

Even that very thought brings me to tears.

 

I have saved every single one of your messages and notes in a special folder in my email because I want to reply to all of them and they meant so much to me. But I also feel extremely overwhelmed by the thought of replying to nearly a thousand messages and feel that I need to ask you for grace in allowing myself to simply make a statement here and to keep focusing on my recovery.

 

I want to tell you that I read each and every one of your messages, and I actually read them MANY times.

 

When I felt sad, I read your messages.

 

When I felt scared, I read your messages.

 

When I felt overwhelmed, I read your messages.

 

Thank you from the bottom of my heart for reaching out with your kind words of love. Please know that it meant the world to me. I wish I could find better words to express how grateful I am for your messages, thoughts, prayers, and love, because I really am so touched.

 

———————-

 

Last Wednesday I posted a quick update that I was going to have emergency spine surgery on Thursday, and I am very fortunate that it happened, and all went well.

 

Many of you have asked me how I was able to complete the needed MRI after the first failed attempt. Some of you emailed me with suggestions of a sedated MRI, and this is the route my doctor took.

 

The sedated MRI was extremely difficult. The doctors conducting the MRI knew about my failed attempt two days prior and knew how much pain I was in, so the nurse injected me with the sedation medication and a “double dose” of painkiller injections.

 

A few minutes into the MRI, I had to push the emergency button to stop because the pain was unbearable (and oh, please take my word for it, I have an extremely high tolerance for pain at this point).

 

At that moment, what was left of my hopeful soul was smashed into a thousand pieces, because once again I thought, it would never end. I was trying so hard to get through the MRI but the pain was too much.

 

But the nurse came over and gave me another set of injections, and told me she was giving me the maximum legal limit of painkiller injections, and with that, I was able to complete the MRI (thank the Lord).

 

Three hours later my neurosurgeon called me, at 8:30pm, and told me the radiologist called her urgently.

 

She said I had the largest herniated disk she has ever seen in over 30 years of practice, and it was smashing and damaging nerves in several areas around my spine.

 

She was well aware that a week prior I had become partially paralyzed in my right leg and foot, and she knew that even more serious neurological damage was going to occur if action wasn’t taken immediately.

 

She and her team worked their rears off to get me into the hospital the next day for an emergency surgery. I was admitted to the hospital at 2pm, and was finally wheeled into the operation room at 10pm on Thursday night and the surgery went until 3 in the morning. The type of surgery I had done normally takes an hour but my neurosurgeon said it took a while to remove the “boulder,” heh.

 

I cannot describe in words how grateful I am for my neurosurgeon, her team, and all the nurses who took care of me.

 

They saved me.

 

————–

 

Recovery is going quite well. The first few days were really, really, really hard. I thought I was going back to the hospital, and I was afraid I wouldn’t make it there. But, my doctor instructed me to increase my medications and I made it through.

 

I am still very limited, but I am so pleased with my progress. I truly believe and hope the worst of it is over.

 

The only thing I can say I’m sad about is that the surgery was “too late” in the sense where my partial paralysis in my right leg and foot remains post-surgery. I hope and pray that eventually full functionality of my leg will come back to me.

 

If I had to bet on it, I’d say the odds are in my favor. It’s incredible what the body can do.

 

—————-

 

The recovery process will be long, as for the next 8 weeks, I cannot carry anything heavier than 5 pounds, I cannot bend, and I cannot lift anything.

 

But, I am free.

 

Yes, I still have pain from the surgery, but I feel so free.

 

I am happy again.

 

I have learned so much.

 

And I have so much gratitude for all the positive things that have come out of this situation.

 

Despite the hardships of this time of my life, it has also given me many gifts, and I am grateful for those gifts of growth and learning.

 

——————

 

I will be sharing recipes with you again soon, and I can’t wait.

 

It gives me such joy to share recipes with you and I have missed it so dearly.

 

Stay tuned.

 

With love,

Joanne