The Bionic Woman

I grew up in the 1970s, watching such TV delights as Starsky and Hutch, Charlie’s Angels, The Six Million Dollar Man and its spin off The Bionic Woman. How little did I know, as a skinny ginger-haired kid, that I would too be bionic!

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I closed my gallery for Christmas on Christmas Eve and I was, by then, totally exhausted. I couldn’t stand for any length of time, and I couldn’t walk at all without pain.  I was hoping for a surgery appointment in the Christmas holidays, but with no date appearing,  I rang the Admissions Clerk a couple of times and explained that, as a self-employed person, I needed a date and an early one at that! Having been given (and then turned down) a date previously which fell in the week before Christmas, my by far busiest week of the year, I didn’t want to keep my gallery closed any longer than necessary. To their credit the date came through the fairly quickly after that.

I won’t bore you with the details, but watching this video explains the surgery I had.

http://www.spine-health.com/video/spine-fusion-surgery-video#vm_A_569b6008

Short story – I am now bionic. Fact.

I don’t remember much of the aftermath; I went from recovery to the high dependency unit thanks to low blood pressure. I do remember trying to focus on details of the room, which changed as more and more lights seemed to be put on around me, but I don’t remember much other than the constant nurse checks. Once my BP increased everyone seemed to relax!

I came out of hospital four days after being admitted. All I had to do was prove that I could walk to the toilet, go to the toilet and navigate the stairs. It was a little earlier than I’d anticipated,  my husband had even booked work for that day, but the junior doctors seemed happy.

People now seem split into two groups on discovering that I’ve had surgery; half think I should be in bed all of the time and the rest think that’s you fixed,  why aren’t you in the pub?

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Truth is, my recovery consists of walking, sitting and lying down. I am currently paying the price for over-estimating how much I can comfortably walk. I thought it was more, my body says no! So, without pain afterwards, I can probably walk a third of a mile without issue. I can sit down for up to an hour and a half in total, yes in total – in a day! The rest of the time I’m lying down. I might be doing abdominal exercises, I might be resting on my side, I might be posting on Facebook or doing my blog. I might be sewing, doing my diary or watching TV, but all of those things I can do lying down! What will change over the next few weeks is how much more walking and sitting I can manage.

Some things I’m not allowed to do at all, like anything involving bending. I can’t put on my shoes. I can’t hoover. I certainly can’t load and unload the washing machine, make a bed or put my socks away in the bottom drawer. I can’t drive. I can’t catch a bus. I can’t put the dog’s lead on, unless I can coax the dog to jump to a surface at my hip height!

This will all improve and by 8 weeks I should start physio again, appointments permitting. I should be starting back to work at that point too. By then I should be able to walk three miles. That’s a lot of shoulds.

My only worry at the moment is that besides the back pain, which is understandable, I also have nerve pain on my outer lower left leg. I can’t bear to have it touched, or for the bed clothes to even brush it. If I wear close fitting leggings or long socks, it’s bearable – but it’s there. It feels as if a layer of skin is missing and the nerves are exposed. I’ve got the same thing to a lesser degree to either side of the surgery site. I’m hoping that this is temporary. In any case it’s better than I have had and I’m grateful for that.

Does anyone else have experience of spinal fusion?

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

My world just got bigger!

My poor husband has put up with my agonisingly slow attempts at walking for months now, walking patiently by my side and supporting me when I inevitably needed it. We’ve passed up chances to go to places and do things that last year we would have jumped at doing. We were no longer going to places where I would need to walk any further than from, say, the car to the house. Shopping had become almost impossible, often with me (especially at the end of the working day) having to sit down at regular intervals around whichever store we were in or standing, stork-like, when choosing things from shelves! My world, our world, had shrunk beyond recognition. I was doing what I had to do and sitting everything else out. We were increasingly spending more and more time apart and neither of us liked it.

I had had a taste of being pushed about in a wheelchair and I hated feeling vulnerable and out of control. So I came up with a compromise; I would buy a self-propelling wheelchair, one that the occupant pushes along by hand. I’d seen a few on ebay and had done a bit of research, but decided to ask a care expert.

On Friday afternoon hubbie came up to the my gallery in Dumfries and we walked, slowly, across to The Care Shop on Great King Street. I said pretty much what I’ve just written and was told, in no uncertain terms, how difficult it is to push yourself in a wheelchair! Dumfries is a hilly town and even to take my advertising board from my gallery on Irish Street to the High Street means me going up a fairly steep hill. Going up hills is something bursitis makes very painful for me, and trying to push myself up one wouldn’t be easy. So, after a bit of convincing, I finally ordered something I never thought I would:

I needed something that I could quickly and easily dismantle and put into the back of my car. The Colibri is shorter wheelbase than most and breaks down into five pieces. It fits perfectly into my car boot!

I went to doctors last week to chase up my MRI scan. It’s been requested, but the waiting list is about 3 months long. It could be another month before I even get the scan, despite my doctor offering to chase it up. In the meantime I didn’t intend to carry on the way I have been. I can’t walk any distance without discomfort. I find that by the end of the day I am sore and unable to even stand for longer than a minute. I’m just about managing to get through a work day and school days have been tougher because I spend too many times getting in and out of the car with the peripatetic role I have. Cooking a meal, or standing for a shower are virtually impossible by the evening.

So I’m actually embracing my new found independence. I don’t much like the tuts I get from people who think I’m getting in their way, when in reality I spend a great deal of time and effort ensuring that I don’t get in anyone’s way, or being ignored by people who don’t acknowledge anyone smaller than their waist-height! I went around the supermarket yesterday, accompanied by my hubbie, actually focusing on what we needed to buy, rather than wanting to grab as much as I could as fast as I could, so that I could get out and back to the car and a seat! I went to the pub and didn’t have to stop on the way down and sit on the wall before restarting the painful journey ( we live a quarter of a mile from the pub!)

I spent a day without pain etched on my face.

I still struggled when cooking the tea; I still stood like a stork, in an effort to take weight off my left leg and leaned heavily on the worktop, but I had accomplished two other things which I had previously dreaded.

And I don’t even care if people are now calling me ‘Madge’ and offering to top up my spray tan. In the words of Madge…

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Just joking!

And talking of funny things, here’s a taste of Madge on Benidorm if you’ve got three minutes to spare!