I feel obliged to do a “what I’m thankful post”. So here I go… I really am thankful for a lot of things. I think (hope) I have been pretty clear how much I appreciate my friends and family especially during this difficult time. Everyone has been so understanding, generous, kind, and loving. The walks, the visits, food, time spent, rides, laughs, crafts, listening, movies, distractions, quiet company… I could go on and on. I have some really amazing people in my life and I have never been more aware of that than I have been over the past few months.
Part of my intent for this blog was to help others in a similar situation as my own. I searched with little result to find comparable experiences. I wanted to see how others had adapted to living in a neck or back brace. While I have shared many of my experiences, and feelings on this blog, I’m not sure I’ve been very helpful so far. So today I thought I would talk about some of my new favorite things that have helped me deal with living the last 2 months in a CTO brace.
Yesterday was my second follow up appointment with my neurosurgeon since my accident. It was also the fist time I would be imaged since September 10th. My anxiety had been only increasing as the date grew nearer. Several times I had been told that I would be in the CTO brace consistently for 3 months, and would transition out of it with the help of my Miami J cervical collar for the 4th month. It was what I was expecting, but I worried about how my back was healing. My neck has been feeling really good, and the pain and fatigue I have been experiencing seems mostly muscular at this point. My back, however doesn’t always feel as good. Sneezing, even at almost 10 weeks since my accident, is still very very painful. Thankfully my sneeze count is only at 7. I also have tingling in my back when I am in certain positions which has developed over the past few weeks. I worried that it might not be healing as well as I hoped, and just generally what it looked like after 10 weeks of rest and recovery. I have never had any numbness, tingling, or weakness below my waist which has always been comforting, but I was still anxious nonetheless. The thought of possibly having to spend more time in my CTO brace than what was initially proposed was probably my biggest fear.
I found this video yesterday afternoon. It showed up in my Facebook feed, and I clicked on it. I watched it once, and immediately hit replay. I watched it twice more yesterday evening. I have watched it five more times today. I have had several conversations with close friends over the past few months about this very topic without ever realizing that it was sympathy vs empathy we were discussing. I have received both since my accident. Lots of both.
I was released from the hospital on September 15th. For the 5 days immediately following my accident, my main view had been the hospital ceiling. It felt a bit weird to be riding in a car. I was so happy to be going home, but I was nervous at the same time. My parents would still be here for a while to help, but there seemed like there were a lot of unknowns. We have unavoidable stairs in our house, how would I manage those? Would the chair we borrowed be comfortable? Would I be able to sleep? How would the brace changing go? Clothing changes, cleaning up, meals?…
I have never paid attention to my sneeze frequency until I broke my back. I sneezed for the first time 3 weeks after my accident. It hurt like a b!*@$. I sent my friend Cate a text to complain about it. This started the following conversation about sneezing:
I woke up the Friday after my accident in a lot of pain. I had slept well overnight, but perhaps I hadn’t kept up with my medication as well as I should have simply due to the fact that I was asleep. I remember in school learning about pain management, and the theory of “staying ahead of the pain” was important because if you let it get to a certain point, it was very difficult to control. I can attest to that first hand, and it took nearly 48 hours to get my pain back under control. By Friday afternoon I was feeling much better and we were waiting on neurosurgery to clear me to be out of bed based on what my x-rays looked like while I was in my brace.