The Healing Is Coming Along Nicely

Today, marked a milestone for my husband as he continues to heal.  He walked to the top of the hill near our house and back home again.  A forty-five minute walk in the neighborhood was quite an accomplishment for him as his back surgery was just twelve days ago.  As we began the walk, he said his legs felt weak, but he had no pain.  By the time we finished the walk, he said he felt stronger than he had when we first started out.  This evening, we walked around our block twice.  I continue to marvel at how well he is doing.  We had a full day of having the car serviced and dinner out.  He said today he felt the best he has in a very long time.  This is excellent news!

It is so good to have my man back at my side for our daily walks.  Even better, he is no longer suffering and in pain when he walks.  For the most part, our roles have reversed somewhat.  I now walk the dog, and he carries the poop bag.  (Someone has to do it.)   I told Boston there would be a new sheriff in town just before "The Boss" had his surgery.  "The Boss," my name to Boston for his master, is much more lenient when it comes to discipline where the "The Boy" or Boston is concerned.  I think Jim feels a bit guilty that the dog can't run free after all the bunnies that populate the neighborhood, so he will allow Boston to charge after a bunny until he comes to the end of his leash.  A few times, I've been afraid the dog would topple Jim over as he charges off.

I, on the other hand, like a well disciplined dog as a walking companion.  So, the task of getting this dog to heel in a highly distractible environment has been one I have been working on these few weeks.  I am training Boston, rather late in his life, to stay by my side while walking without thinking he is free to run as if he were at the dog park.  I am using a gentle leader collar and treats to accomplish my training goals.  The treats always work.  He is coming along nicely in his training, but he hates the gentle leader.  I have always enjoyed walking my dogs, but Boston has always been a challenge for me, so while Jim's back is healing, Boston and I are learning to walk together.

The first few days after surgery are never great, and Jim had a rough couple of days after surgery.  In the long run though, we are amazed at how quickly he has recovered from back surgery.  That being said, I hope he never ever has to have another surgery such as this again.  It is just too hard on the body.  It is also hard on the caretaker.  We have made it through thus far and are looking forward to many more days of good health ahead of us.

On this past Saturday, Jim was taken to lunch by his dinner crew.  Three former colleagues of his drove up from Pueblo to take him to lunch.  These guys, all retired teachers from the school where Jim was principal, have met for dinner once a month for the past four or five years.  It was great for Jim to have them come to his new stomping grounds to take him out.  Thankfully, I thought to grab my phone and take a photo of these four fine educators gathered on our back deck. They  sometimes laugh and call themselves ROMEOS or Retired Old Men Eating Out.  One thing is for sure, when they get together, the conversation is rich with laughter and discussion of all types of subjects.  They were good medicine for Jim.

All in all, the summer has not been a bad one.  We are both healing and becoming more healthy.  We enjoy our new home and the beautiful setting in which we live.  We love the climate where we live.  In the mornings and evenings, we feel the cool mountain breezes as we walk or sit on the deck and listen to rustling aspen leaves on the trees that give us beautiful shade and privacy.  The last week has been especially cool and lovely as we have had just enough rain in our part of town to really green up the lawn and cool off the evenings.  Our a/c bills are much lower than they were in Pueblo, and so are our water bills.  We are happy for that.  We look forward to August and are not ready to see this summer come to an end.

I am doing much, much better health wise.  I am now taking pancreatic enzymes with every meal.  I no longer have pain.  The enzymes seem to be working.  I am so thankful for that.  Thankfully, I have good insurance.  I say that with true gratitude.  I can't imagine what my bills would be like these past few months of constant medical tests and doctor visits without good insurance.  The medicine I am on would have cost over $1400 without insurance.  I am only talking about my medical bills.  Jim's medical bills are not doubt astronomical also.  Again, thank heavens for our good supplemental insurance plans.  I know this is a hot topic these days and don't wish to create a political discussion with these statements.  I am just grateful that we are able to secure good medical plans for ourselves during our retirement years.  I realize that many in our age group are not able to do so.

One last word:  Thank you blogging friends, and all my other friends also, for all of your well wishes as Jim and I have faced health challenges this past few months.  Your words of support and concern have meant more than you know.  Forgive me for not reading your blogs as faithfully as I would like.  Hopefully, life will slow down soon, and we will all be back to normal.

My Bionic Man

Thanks to the advancements in modern medicine, my husband now has the spine of a 26 year old.  In other words, he no longer has vertebrae that are rubbing bone on bone and cutting off the nerves that go to his legs.  Thanks to two gifted neurosurgeons, he is no longer feeling any pain in his lower back or his legs, and he is just three days post surgery.  Tonight, as the two of us walked around the halls of the hospital, I was amazed at how well he was walking.  He did not complain of pain, and he was standing more upright than I have seen him stand in a very long time.

Surgery day began very early.  I had to have him at the hospital at 5:30 a.m.  He kept insisting he would just drive himself and I could come by later after my appointment with my doctor in Denver.  Of course, I did not allow this to happen, but I must admit I was tempted when the alarm went off at 4:00 a.m.

At 7:30, he was all prepped and ready to go into surgery, but surgery did not really begin until 8:30.  Since I had to go to Denver for a 10:00 appointment, I left as soon as he was wheeled back to go pick up a dear friend who accompanied me to Denver.  The nurse in the OR called me every hour to update me on what was happening.  I arrived back to the hospital around 12:30.  Jim was still in surgery.  In the end, the surgery lasted between five and five and a half hours.  That is a very long time to be under anesthesia, but he seemed to handle it all very well.

The first night after surgery was spent on a surgical floor in a small room because the hospital was so full, they did not have a room for him in the area where they send back patients.  It was here where he received the visitor that really brought a smile to his face: Daniel the therapy dog.  Daniel actually lives across the street from us with our neighbor Janice.  Daniel is a very special golden retriever that was rescued by his owner, and now, he spends his time serving as a therapy dog.  I nearly cried when I saw Jim stroking Daniel's ears, patting his head, and talking to him.  I know how much he must miss his dear Boston.  Therapy dogs are wonderful.  Janice, thanks for sharing Daniel with us.

Thankfully, on Friday afternoon, Jim was sent down to the floor where the nurses are very familiar with caring for back patients.  He has been doing great as far as the surgery goes.  There have been a few little wrinkles that sometimes happen post surgery as the body adjusts to shock it has gone through.  I am confident all of these wrinkles will be be smoothed out soon.  

This is the fourth major surgery I have gone though with Jim.  He has had both knees replaced, a hip replacement, and now, he had to have a spinal fusion and decompression.  He sets off all kinds of alarms when he goes through airport security.  Having gone through these past surgeries with him, I am amazed at how quickly he has gotten up and around this time.  I think the knees were the worst.  I think he would agree with me, but I'm not sure.  

This man amazes me.  Truly, when his dear friend Woe nicknamed him "Nails," he knew what he was talking about.  "Nails" he is.  He is tough as nails that is for sure.  (Click on the link to read about how he dodged the bullet when he was 95% blocked in his LAD.)

Tonight, I have Boston our dear golden retriever home with me.  He has been kenneled since Wednesday.  He is sleeping at my feet as I write.  I am comforted and feel more settled with him by my side.  I hated coming home to this house from the hospital when I knew that neither of my special guys would be here.  Boston is missing his master.  I am missing him too.  I hope he is able to come home to join us in the next day or two.