Life is Only Getting Better from this Point…

Lord have mercy!

Those three words basically sum up everything I need to say for today’s post.

Tomorrow marks the two-week point after my Anterior Cervical Discectomy & Fusion (level C5-6 ) surgery. September 4th was a momentous day as my husband and I also celebrated our 20th wedding anniversary (a total of 28 years together). I figured only good things could happen if I scheduled my surgery on that day. As I look back on the last month my surgery is only a blip on the screen of events that have occurred. I had a close friend and second mother to me start chemo, a couple of family friends have had scares with what we thought initially were strokes (thankfully the final diagnosis was not as serious), another friend had to fly over to Hawaii to move her mom to a senior facility, a very close friend’s mom had a stroke and we lost her shortly after, my folks lost a friend and a cousin in the same week… another very close friend suffered a loss in her family… the hits just keep coming. It’s all a reminder that tomorrow is not promised. A reminder to live everyday like it’s your last. I can’t imagine supporting my mom through chemo or putting her in a senior facility (not even mentioning the fact that a flight is required every time you want to visit) much less suffer the loss of her passing. The fact that she is 15 minutes away and her health is somewhat stable is a blessing.

I know that my surgery in  no way compares to the life changes other folks are going through. I am going to get better. The surgery is going to make me better, whether it’s mentally or physically. By mentally, I mean I know that the pain I experience is not related to the cervical stenosis. That issue is resolved. Any pain I experience going forward is likely going to be due to my Fibromyalgia. I don’t have to spend any mental energy wondering about it. That said, I thought I would share some of my experiences with you Fibromites in case you face the same surgery. It’s not something to take lightly. I had some very difficult days post-surgery (my husband can attest to this, I think he’s still recovering from it as well). The weeks before the surgery my insomnia decided to drop in and pay me a visit. I would fall asleep and wake up a couple of hours later and sometimes I could go back to sleep, other times I would either read, just lie there and stare at the ceiling or get up and start working… nothing like starting my workday in the middle of the night!

As I started to type this the other day, I was looking at a clock that said 2:58am (ummmm when I actually typed this sentence it was in fact 2:58am). Instead of sleeping I ended up watching the Dreamgirls movie and attempting to draft this post. When I came home the first few hours were okay. Fast forward to the night and things starting to spiral… first I took a shower, which completely depleted my energy. Then my husband tried to change my bandage… this was a mistake.

Let me just digress for a moment. While in the hospital everything was okay. I had an IV that they kept shooting antibiotics, anti-nausea and pain meds in for the first 24 hours. I didn’t get much sleep the first night but it wasn’t for lack of trying – the nurses and dr.’s kept coming in every hour or so to check on me. I was sooooo tired on day 2, when the PT person came in to get me up and walking and teach me exercises – I literally fell asleep in the middle of an exercise. I had to finally ask her to come back later. Since I didn’t complete the PT, they couldn’t release me so I ended up staying another night. The second night the nurses left me alone most of the time so I slept for hours and hours. On Day 3 I woke up feeling pretty good and I wanted to come home. This, my friends, was my first mistake. I should have waited another 24 hours. I wasn’t ready.

freak-out-catBack to the first night at home… as soon as he started to take the bandage off, I started going into a full-on panic attack. I freaked out… and when I say freaked, I mean F-R-E-A-K-E-D out!! I had to literally talk myself off that cliff, use every coping skill I knew to calm down. I had so many places where they had used tape at one point or another that my skin felt raw. The pain I felt as the tape was getting pulled off literally felt like my skin was getting peeled off (sorry for that super gross reference). Okay. I know I’m being overly dramatic, but that is honestly what was going through my head. In my mind, the tape was going to pull all my stitches out and I was going to have to go back to the hospital and have them fix me up. Okay, I now accept the award for drama queen with pride (okay not pride, I’ll just take the damn award).

At this point my nausea went into full swing. This was my biggest issue from the moment I got into my hospital room and they had my pain under control directly after the surgery. They had tried a couple of anti-nausea meds until they gave me one that worked. When I went home, I didn’t have any anti-nausea meds… BIG F’ing MISTAKE! Oh my Lord. My husband tried calling the advice nurse to deal with it and they gave me a prescription… for something… that didn’t work! ugh.  I called again the next night because I was miserable and the advice nurse talked to the spine dr. on call who advised me to go to the emergency room. Ummmmmmmm… that’s not gonna happen. Tip: If you are having surgery on a Thursday or Friday and you go home over the week-end… make sure you have all the meds you need BEFORE you leave the hospital.

schlaflos

The picture I finally decided to go with…

Day 3 – miserable… called the charge nurse for the spine clinic and asked for the drug I had been taking in the hospital for the nausea and my husband went back to the pharmacy for the second time in 24 hours. I also decided to back off the pain meds a bit and stop taking the stool softener (okay, I apologize again for too much information). The combination of these three things finally resolved my stomach/ pain issues and things started to get a bit better… except… except… well except for that damn insomnia. (Okay, seriously… I went to go look for a picture to put in my post to represent insomnia and as I did that I was in a group text with some friends… then for one reason or another I decided to go look at Facebook, which I never do anymore and ended up going through my timeline and sending my mom a life on one of those FB games which resulted in me actually playing the game… and then I checked my email… and then I realized I was in the middle of writing this post and I need to finish it! Geez Louise… ADD at its best!!!!! Annnnndddddd of course, the best part is I still need to find the picture I want to include.) As I was saying… the insomnia was kicking my ass.

Days 4, 5 ,6 – let’s just say that being up at 2:58am was normal for me. I would do whatever it took to finally fall asleep sometime after midnight… I’d wake up an hour or two later and basically that was the extent of my sleeping hour(s). Miserable doesn’t even begin to describe how i was feeling. Walking zombie… very frus-us-trated (that’s how my daughter used to say it) walking zombie… but I was trying not to complain because my nausea and pain was pretty much under control. I watched a lot of bad tv… walked around the house, moved from the bed to the couch to the other couch to the recliner to the couch… you get my drift (I love to say that).

Days 7, 8 – I gave up… called the charge nurse again for the spine clinic and she referred me back to my primary care physician. Ummmmmm, can I just tell you that I almost lost it on the phone with her? Not her fault, she did the right thing, but my frus-us-tration was getting the better of me. I am very thankful to Kaiser and their staff, they really do an excellent job. My PCP got back to me within an hour on a Friday… at 4:30pm… and by 6:00 my husband was back on the road for his 3rd trip to the pharmacy since I came  home. My PCP gave me two different meds to try (I love that she gave me options). I tried the Restoril out and on the first night… I slept for 2 1/2 hours. On the second night I took the Trazodone and at 4am I gave up and took the Restoril and slept again for 2 1/2 hours… this was the night I watched Dreamgirls.

Rainbow womanDay 9 – SUCCESS!!!!!! I doubled the dosage of the Restoril and ladies and gentlemen… taadaaaaaaaa!!!! I slept through the night. Everyone in the house celebrated. That’s a lie. My husband and I celebrated… all day long I walked around the house shouting, “I SLEPT THROUGH THE NIGHT!!!!!”. It was like the first time the kids slept through the night… you know the joy I’m talking about? I felt like a brand new person. It had been months since I had slept through an entire night.

So… this is a super long post, I hope you don’t mind. I’m now on Day 13 and I’ve been sleeping pretty well, managing the pain and nausea and basically feeling a bit better every day. I’m on my way. Tomorrow I get to leave my house and go in the car for the first time in two weeks. I am going for my first post-op appointment. I’m hoping they clear me to at least ride in the car for short rides. I hope to go back to work sooner rather than later (I mean in a perfect world I would not have to work and I’d just scrapbook and go to the beach and swim in my olympic size infinity pool at my beach house big enough so all my friends and family could stay with us at the same time… “and now we return to our feature presentation – Reality“). I’m not ready to work just yet, I still lay down most of the day. But I feel pretty good.

In addition, I’m proud to say that in the last month, my son got his driver’s license and started a new job, my daughter started her junior year in high school and she got her driver’s permit and I am surrounded by the most amazing, supportive, loving family and friends a girl could ask for!

Thanks for hanging in there and sharing this experience with me. Things are only going to get better from here. I believe it.

Stay cool, stay chill, stay calm and pain-free.

Gently hugz!

Tamiko

PS. Did I mention… I officially started menopause this month. Watch out family, here I come!!

Fibromyalgia, Chronic Pain, Depression, ADHD…. None of this Defines You

New year, new theme for my blog… and I am saying good riddance to 2010!! It has been one hell of a year! I am happy to see this one go, I must say. 2010 was a tough year and I am ready to move forward and start strong with 2011.

What do you remember most about 2010? This was a painful year for me… both physical and emotional. I felt the pain of fibromyalgia and the pain of losing loved ones, the pain of walking away from my house after 10 years, the emotional upheaval of changing companies after 20+ years…

It was also a year of celebration… my son turned 18, he graduated from high school and started college. My daughter is in middle school and is excelling in her academics and in soccer. They are both maturing and growing up and I am realizing that they are so independent. I am also seeing what traits they have taken from my husband and myself and it’s awesome and difficult at the same time to see. You always want only the best traits to be passed on, right? You know that’s not the way it always goes… you just pray that your children will listen and learn from your experiences. If not, they will learn on their own as you did yourself. I honestly get this, it hurts my heart to see it happening though. Many of you out there know what I am talking about. You are going through the same thing with your children.

As we enter 2011, my family just completed our annual project.

  • What are your 10 most memorable moments of 2010?
  • What are your 10 goals for 2011?

We take those and write them down and scrapbook them on a piece of 12×12 paper, frame them and put them up on the wall for the year. I will share mine (truth be told, mine is the only one that is still “almost” complete”), as I was saying, I will share mine with all of you when I finish it.

I highly recommend you sit down with your family and do something like this. If anything, it’s a great conversation.

I wanted to make sure I ended the year by saying HAPPY NEW YEAR!!  to all of you… you have all been fantastic supporters in my life.

Most important, if you take anything from my blog, take this… Fibromyalgia, chronic pain, depression, ADHD…. none of this defines you. You are defined by the values and beliefs and all the inner beauty inside you. Your pain is real. Don’t ever let anyone tell you otherwise.

You deserve an awesome 2011. I’m praying you have one!! Thanks for stopping by and I hope you come back in 2011.

Stay cool.

Tamiko

Fibromyalgia and Doing “IT ALL”… What Do You Think?

Okay… here’s the thing. I’m just going to say it. I don’t get how people with chronic pain manage to do “IT ALL”. I am sitting in the kitchen that I made a mess; because I don’t want to sit at the desk that I left a mess; because I don’t want to sit in my bedroom that I left a mess. Honestly, there are not that many rooms left in the house. My son’s room smells like something or God forbid someone died in. My daughter has friends jumping around, hopefully not breaking the furniture in her room, and it is extremely loud in there so I wouldn’t be able to concentrate. My one sanctuary room, “the living room” in a very deep booming voice), I kind of have not allowed myself to go in so I don’t ruin it… you know the room I’m talking about. When you were growing up, it was the room that had the plastic covered furniture in it. The room no one was allowed to actually enjoy themselves in. Only grown ups were allowed in there, and only on special occasions. Sooooooo, when I grow up, I will let myself go in there! Until then, it’s just for special occasions… and I haven’t yet forced the plastic over the furniture… don’t push me, I might just go there! (if I was reading this out loud to you I would say “

Back to my topic… I can’t even stay on topic, much less do “IT ALL”, which of course IS my topic! whew! This is starting to confuse me (which as you know is not too difficult to do…). So! Since the holidays, I have had one hell of a time finding time to

  • tweet,
  • blog,
  • work my full-time+ job,
  • eat right,
  • spend time with my family,
  • exercise/ do my physical therapy,
  • read,
  • research fibro,
  • spend time with God (which should be #1),
  • spend time with family/ friends
  • paper craft

Obviously the must do’s always get done because they have to. Once prioritized, I thought it looked like this:

  1. work

Then I sat here for a while… and I decided I would rearrange things a bit. One priority just sucks… and it’s selfish and stupid, not to mention it’s not much of a life and I refuse to make that my life (did you say that in one breath?)! At one point in my life, that is actually how I lived… yes, I know, it is very sad, but true. I refuse to let that be the case now!

So, here’s what I will work on… AGAIN (because I keep forgetting and hopefully this time I will pay attention!): IN THIS ORDER…

  1. God
  2. My health
  3. My family
  4. My job
  5. My papercrafting

In between those things, I will tweet and blog. I will do my best and I will accept I can’t do it all. If I’m successful, I will get less and less of those looks from my husband where he’s shaking his head like I’m crazy because I’ve just taken on the world. If I’m successful… I. Will. Be. Content. Because I am content, I will have less flare ups… you see? I do get “IT”, I just have to accept that I am not Wonder Woman and I can’t do “IT ALL”. Those are two totally different things. But seriously, if I was Wonder Woman… I would totally dig that plane she had.

What do you think?

Thanks for reading. Stay cool!