Happy be-lated Fourth of July!
I hope you had a nice holiday and were able to safely celebrate.
In case you either forgot or didn’t read the June newsletter, I had spinal surgery and a fusion of three vertebrae in my neck. And basically I was anxiety ridden, so I vented in writing to you about it.
As anticipated, my surgery went very well; the doctor was quite pleased. And I was only in the hospital for 31-hours! (Not that I was counting or anything.) My surgery was scheduled for first of the day so we got to the hospital at 5:00 a.m. and within 40-minutes I was taken back for prep.
I’m not ashamed to tell you that my inner child I wrote about last month was really scared. Actually he was freaking out. Naturally I unsuccessfully hid my anxiety by overcompensating and being a blithering idiot talking my head off to the nurse. Luckily for me she didn’t mind and we actually had a really nice conversation. And that was actually what I was hoping for. My little plan worked. Make the nurse like me so she’d be as gentle as possible when putting the IV into me. And she was very gentle.
Once I was prepped for surgery they allowed John to come back and sit with me. So his was the last face I remember seeing before I went to sleep.
I’ll tell you a little secret. After watching who knows how many TV shows that showed operations and such, I’ve always been really curious about surgeries and operating rooms in real life. So when they were wheeling me to the operating room, I was a little excited. But the last thing I remember is staring at the ceiling as we went into a room and asking the nurse where we were. She said it was the operating room and then there was nothing. No sound. No light. Not a single thought. I was unconscious that fast. So I never got to see the equipment, the doctors and nurses in scrubs or anything. I got gypped!
My next memory was being told I was in the recovery room then more of nothing. Next I was being wheeled to my room and John was walking along with us. Soon after, they gave me morphine and not much mattered after that.
So now I’m three-weeks out from the surgery and, generally speaking, I’m doing okay. I have to wear a hard brace on my neck that I can only remove for showers. Plus for four-hours each day I have to wear a harness-like contraption that stimulates bone growth. I look like I’m wearing a Star Wars Stormtrooper starter set!
The pain is still pretty intense at times. Luckily the incision has never been a problem. The pain is in the bones in my neck and because my spine is beginning to heal, the nerves in my right arm are working overtime. The slightest touch or even just the weight of an afghan is so painful I think I see God.
Since I’m so restricted in my movement, these days I’m living on the couch. I have the best caregiver. John is there for anything and everything I need and appropriately gives me an earful when I do something I’m not allowed to be doing… like bending down to pick something up. Plus I have four adorable dogs and a couple of cats surrounding me constantly.
Now we just have to be patient as I continue to heal. And it’s going to take some time to heal and to grow new bone, too. In hindsight, being patient is more difficult than getting through the surgery.
As for that inner child of mine that was so scared to be stuck with needles and cut open, well, as expected, he did pretty well, too. He’s just still disappointed he didn’t get to see the cool operating room and all the neat stuff.
A few days ago while I was out for a quick run through the cemetery (very respectfully), I found myself trapped in a cycle of worry and fear over Joe’s upcoming surgery. I kept trying to jolt myself out of it, but I found myself thinking of worst case scenarios and trapped in the fear he was going to die. In that moment I felt like I tapped into a global well of pain and sadness so deep that my heart skipped. Literally. I felt a sharp pain in my chest scary enough to jolt up my shields and bring me back to the present before I face planted on the pavement.
I immediately headed for home, but I couldn’t stop thinking about the well of pain I had felt. Bigger and deeper than I could imagine or process. When I got back to the house I wasn’t ready to go in yet, I didn’t want to take that energy back inside. So I decided to lean in, put on depressing music and cry a bit and wander the mostly abandoned back streets in our neighborhood.
I couldn’t get the catharsis I was looking for, I just felt numb. Then something caught my eye, a small patch of wildflowers growing out of a rotting stump. I know these flowers, they grew wild around my childhood home and they have most Metal name ever: Purple Dead Nettle also known as purple archangel.
I decided it was the omen I was looking for so I picked a small bouquet and took them home to Joe before looking up the symbolism:
Purple Dead Nettle ~ is associated with happiness, cheerfulness, determination and tenacity. It can grow just about anywhere, even when the soil is of poor quality or practically non-existent.
Grow everywhere with happiness, cheerfulness, determination and tenacity.
The Summer Solstice is fast approaching! We’ve had such an odd year that it almost seems as though we didn’t get a Spring this year. To be fair, with the weather we’ve had, we really didn’t have much of a winter either, it practically went from Autumn straight to Spring. And now Summer’s here.
This year has already brought us all some major challenges, but there’s a new challenge that John and I are about to face. To be quite honest with you, while the adult in me knows it’s gonna be fine and everything will turn out well, the inner child in me is pretty scared of this challenge. Okay, so is the adult in me.
On the 17th of June, I’m scheduled to have spinal surgery. I have severe cervical stenosis with myelomalacia. What it boils down to is that between three of my vertebrae in my neck (C5 & C6 and C6 & C7 – if that matters to you) the disks have become severely compressed and are pushing against my spinal cord. According to my doctors, it’s somewhat unusual to have the kind of impingement I have and it can be quite serious.
After being referred to and meeting with a neurologist, rather than rushing into surgery, I was referred to a pain management specialist as a first go-round. The usual procedure is to inject some kind of fluid into the spinal fluid where the spinal cord is being compressed. However, when I met with that doctor, she refused to give me the injection stating that since the impingement is so severe, she felt there was a strong possibility that the addition of more fluid could lead to paralysis from the neck down.
Needless to say, that’s not an outcome I could get behind.
So back to the surgeon I went.
Originally surgery was scheduled for this past April, but for obvious reasons, it was postponed and has now been rescheduled.
The procedure is pretty straight forward. They go in through the front of my neck, remove the two bulging disks, replace them with cadaver bone, which in time will fuse together, and attach a plate and screws to the three vertebrae involved. It only involves one night in the hospital (if it had been only one disk, it would have been out-patient surgery).
See? Simple and straight forward.
But here’s the catch. I’ve never had a surgery of any kind and have only been in the hospital to visit someone. So I’m kinda scared. Plus there’s that whole anesthesia and slicing into my neck thing. Oh, and the plate and screws.
Here’s an additional fear that I have to face: I am severely allergic to metal. While the overall use of titanium plates and screws is safe, even in people with metal allergies, it’s still freaky to know I’ll have metal inside my body. However, there’s always a chance I could have an adverse reaction. And yes, we did ask the surgeon that, should – God forbid – I have some sort of reaction to the metal, could it be removed. The answer was yes, because it’s really only in there to just hold the vertebrae motionless while the bones fuse together. But who wants a second neck surgery?
Yet another factor is that I’ll have to go through the whole surgery/hospital stay alone. Because of the pandemic, new rules have gone into place at hospitals. Only one family member can be there during the surgery but only until the doctor goes out to tell them the surgery is over and that it, presumably, went well. Then that family member has to go home and not come back until it’s time for the patient to go home, too. No visitors of any kind.
That inner child inside me is wanting to be comforted. No one to hold his (my) hand. No one to smile at him (me) and say it’s okay. No one there that loves him (me). Boo hoo for him (me).
I’ll be laid up until the end of July. After the surgery I have to be as still as I can be for four-weeks. I’ll be in a fitted brace and not be allowed to drive. I can live with that okay. Buy I also won’t be allowed to bend or to twist or to pick-up anything over ten-pounds. Do you have any idea how tough that’s gonna be on a dog-lover like me who has a wonderful 80-lb dog and three very active, playful and big puppies? It’ll be murder, I tell ya!
So, there you have it. My big drama and it’s leaving me a bundle of nerves.
But like I said, I know it’s all going to be fine. I know it’ll be over in the blink of an eye. Everything’s going to turn out swell.
My head knows that. My inner child is wanting his mommy.
So keep a good thought for me on June 17th, will you please? Any and all energy, prayers, love, good thoughts and kindness will be greatly appreciated.
And please send some to John, too. Afterall, he has to play nursemaid to me and do everything around the house that I would normally do. He’s gonna have his hands full!
With the pandemic, we’ve all certainly had to make some major adjustments in our lives. And we continue to do so. One of the things we at Great Conjunction are doing is moving to a more virtual setting.
What does that boil down to? We, too have had to adjust how we can all get together and learn from one another. We decided to jump on the “online bandwagon”, as it were. So, now we’re doing workshops in space.
I was twelve years old when The Muppet Show premiered (yes, I am dating myself) and all I can hear is that deep voice echoing the title of a recurring muppet skit called “Pigs In Spaaaace”! And now we need that announcer’s voice for our workshops!
In May we hosted our first online workshop with much success! Rev. Rachel Hollander’s workshop, “Who Booked This Trip?” was wonderful… thank you again to everyone who joined us and to Rev. Rachel. There were quite a few people who wanted to attend but were unable to do so. But since we met on camera, we were able to record the entire workshop and we’ll have it posted on our website for anyone who still would like to experience it.
We’re really excited to continue on the virtual plane. Our next virtual workshop will be held Tuesday, June 16th from 7:00 pm to 9:00 pm eastern time. All you have to do is go to our website and register for the workshop. This is going to be a fascinating evening learning about “Healing Through Nature” with Erin Commendatore, M.AEd/CN, ERYT.
I’d like share with you a few factors I’m happy about with these virtual workshops. To begin with, we don’t have the same kind of cost overhead as before in renting space large enough to accommodate attendees and presenters for the workshops. And that makes a direct savings for you! We’ve been able to lower the cost of attending these interesting experiences dramatically.
The second great aspect of these online events is that we can record them. So after the actual live event is over, we’ll be posting these to our website and anyone who was unable to be with us “live” can still “attend” the workshop to learn from our amazing presenters.
There’s one other factor to these virtual workshops that I’m most excited about: anyone from any part of the country, and even the world, can attend! We’ve many friends in other states and in other countries who’ve wanted to participate in Great Conjunction events and now it’s possible.
Ain’t technology amazing?
So, be sure to join us for our monthly virtual workshops, and when you can’t, you can catch ‘em a little later.
See you in cyberspace!
We’ve all been on a wild ride this year, haven’t we? Hopefully you’ve all been staying safe and are well.
We’ve been staying as safe as possible. In our household two of us are in the higher risk category; my 81-year-old diabetic father and me. I was scheduled to have spinal surgery in the middle of April but that’s going to be rescheduled when things are a bit safer. So, John has been the only one to venture out into the world and do our shopping. And we’ve taken extra precautions.
It takes a lot of effort and can be inconvenient, but it’s certainly worth it.
This has been a trying time for all of us and some folks are having tougher times than others. Tragically a lot of people have lost a loved one. Many people are getting a touch of cabin fever while sheltering in place. Most everyone is, in some way, feeling the financial pinch. But quarantining can leave a lot of people are feeling isolated and feeling lonely. While nothing beats the human touch, social media has been able to play an important role in keeping us connected.
When it’s time to “reopen the country”, I just ask that we all do it with patience and caution. Let us slowly begin to go back to “normal”. But honestly, I don’t really think that life will be normal – or the way we knew it – ever again. I think quarantining has had a big impact on us all.
In the relatively short time we’ve been self-isolating, we’ve been reminded of what’s important… humanity – of how we’re all one, family, togetherness, kindness, patience and love. I think it’ll be a long time before this lesson is forgotten. I hope never.
So until we’re together again, literally rather than virtually, stay safe. Let’s take good care of ourselves and of each other.
See you soon!