Road to Recovery

The angiogram the next morning did not go so well.

I had already had 1 performed, pre-surgery, and I was expecting the same painless procedure this time. It was nice to see the familiar faces, they complimented my incredibly tangled and bloody hair as a joke and it definitely got a laugh out of me as I was wearing a surgical cap to try and hide it. The entire procedure went the same but this time it was much harder to deal with physically. When the lidocaine was first injected, I was hoping that it would give more numbing power to the right groin area that they were going through again. As soon as the needle was injected I felt the initial 15 second sting, the major problem here was that my numbed artery was almost kicking every few seconds, as if it was trying to pump blood harder through that area to compensate. The catheter was up next and my artery felt like it was being stretched to get the blunt object in… it was far from pleasant. After the catheter was in place, he began to snake the line up to my neck artery where the sprays would be injected. I started to feel deep blunt pressure, from the top of my groin to the crease of my right leg, I had guessed that it was more painful because I had no feeling on my right the first time the procedure was done. Before the doctor and his team stepped out, he let me know that this time I would only deal with 2 sprays and that I would be unhooked and patched up when they came back into the room. He reminded to stay very still and the sprays began. I had a slight smile and clenched my jaw, the first spray went through and I groaned very loudly the entire length of sensation from it. They were no longer those warm soothing sensations I wrote about earlier. This time they BURNED, like acid was being poured through my neck, into the brain, and spilling onto my face. The second spray was not as strong but it had made my automatically eye tear up significantly. The staff came out immediately while I continued to softly state my unpleasantness and rushed to get me on my way back to my room. The nurse noticed that I had a watery eye, she stroked my hair through my surgical cap while the doctor ripped out the tools and held pressure over the artery. The pain subsided some, but I still felt that blunt pressure. The way it felt to me, was as if I was sitting butterfly style and someone was pushing my knee as hard as they could into the ground. The doctor had a tech come hold pressure while he went into the office. The slideshow of photos appeared on the screen and I felt an strong wave of relief wash over me…

12 PM September 25, 2008. I remember it as if it happened yesterday. I had just been moved from my bed onto the surgical table in the OR. The doctor began to examine my neck and mark where he would make incisions while the anesthesiologist placed the oxygen mask over my mouth. I stared at the overhead lights, and although I knew it wasn’t a dangerous procedure, I still prayed. I envisioned waking up after surgery with all my problems fixed and no cancer diagnoses. At that moment an aura engulfed me, I inhaled the oxygen and my soul, not my body, but my soul was immediately put at ease. Something was in the room that made me feel like no matter what, I was going to be taken care of. In the end I was diagnosed with cancer, but also found out that day that if my surgery took place no later than a month later, the cancer would have grown through and would have spread throughout my body, causing disastrous results.

I felt that same wave of comfort come over me while I stared at the new images on the screen.

I got back to my room in much more pain. When I left radiology I noticed that my leg was back to feeling tingly numb, as if it was 60% awake. I was discouraged, but I thought, hey I had just undergone brain surgery, and if I could do that and be ok then I was definitely going to walk soon. Numb leg or not, nothing will stop me. Dose after dose, nothing was working to help with the pain. It got to the point where I had to bend my knee and have Ricardo push my leg and hip towards my left side for HOURS just to help ease some of what I was feeling. The pain finally became manageable around 7 PM, and I started to rest.

It was around 8 PM when the doctor came in to give us the results of the angiogram. He stated that if my deep artery was bleeding too much, they would have had to take the risk and operate on it, but my scan showed that I was in no grave danger, he was very happy with my recovery and he would send in the orders for me to be discharged the very next day. I’m sure I looked like the Cheshire cat again with the huge smile planted on my face.

At 10 PM physical therapy came in and for the first time I was able to walk down the halls. The therapist placed the safe transfer belt onto my waist and they helped me to stand in front of the walker. I grabbed the padded handles and began to walk to the very end of the hall, 300 feet, before I turned around to go 300 feet back, and noticed my dad recording me on his cell phone, with an ear to ear grin. I walked back into my room and it all reassured me that nothing could stop me from doing what I was determined to do, and that was to make a full recovery. I didn’t have the best balance, I didn’t know what I was doing with my leg and I couldn’t feel my right foot while I walked, but I wasn’t going to settle for a sit down job. I wasn’t going to give up interval training or any hard workout routine. I wasn’t going to be one of those people who just gave up by living a wheel chair, when they are fully able to walk long distances. It wasn’t going to happen. I had made goals for myself laying in that bed while I had no feeling. I took walking for granted, I made the goal to start running even though I always hated it. My hand-eye coordination wasn’t very good, so I was going to start playing my violin again after 2 years of it being put away. I never liked to sing in front of anyone but to help with speech therapy, I would sing any chance I could, especially in front of Ricardo, even if I know the words or not, I’ll wing it. I was told I would be weak for an unknown amount of time, but I could bend at all my joints and that was no excuse for me to not pick up weights to build muscle when I can.

You’ve seen and read those stories about people who are told they can never walk again, or fully live the life that they used to live again, or will have to find a job that isn’t so physically demanding. Some of those people had small chances of living after their accidents or were told how they may never feel the same way physically or mentally again.. and then you read how with God’s help, they proved the medical world wrong with a smile and fist held high. You read how they never gave up and how they never lost their determination to continue the struggle to get beyond where they wanted to be in their life. They have the resilience and strength it takes to get up and do what they need to do to get beyond their goals, and you know what..



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