Learning my new normal

I started writing this post 5 days ago. I haven’t been motivated to write recently with everything that’s going on. Lately, I just want to lay in bed and watch my Real Housewives shows. At this point, I am caught up on all of them so I have no choice but to finish this post.

Although I am happy to be home, there are definitely times during each day that I still cry about everything and become super depressed. As I settle in at home, I’ve had difficulty finding my new normal and adapting to the new way I have to do things; Things that the average person including myself pre-surgery never even think about. For example, when I used to brush my teeth at my bathroom sink, I would bend down to spit into the sink and then cup some water in my hand to rinse my mouth. Since I can’t bend down and hunch over to do that, 95% of the time when I spit standing up straight, the toothpaste and water dribble down my chin and it doesn’t make it entirely into the sink. I’m sure I look silly. I have now learned that a cup needs to be used to spit into. Showering has been fun. I sit in a shower chair while Neil scrubs me with a loofa. My skin is super sensitive and actually hurts while he does this. It feels like charts of glass being ground into my skin. However, showering like this is only temporary and at least I have an awesome husband who doesn’t mind scrubbing my armpits and shaving my legs. Getting in and out of bed has to be done by rolling to my side while simultaneously getting my legs off the bed and sitting up with both hands. I have to be very careful not to twist or bend at ALL. I have a walker next to my bed that I use to get to the staircase. Once I am at the top of the staircase, I have a cane that I use with Neil to get down the stairs to another walker which I use to get around downstairs. My back brace must be worn anytime I am out of bed and that thing is freaking uncomfortable and hurts. Will and Nicky were scared of it at first,  so I told them it was a turtle shell like one of Will’s favorite cartoons. Nicky will now point to it and say turtle and it’s the cutest thing ever. I hate not being able to do things for myself including being able to pick Nicky up to hug him. It makes my heart literally ache watching him cry out saying Mama with his arms up to be held. This is something I won’t be able to do for 11-12 months and even after a year it will only be allowed for small amounts of time.  I tear up every night while Neil gets the boys ready for bed and tucks them in because that was my job since they were born. I yearn for the day that I will be able to just sit on the playroom floor and play trains or picnic with all of them. It’s pretty depressing to spend most of my time in bed away from all of them, but as time goes on I know it will get better.Has anyone seen Groundhog’s Day? That’s my reality right now.  I have to put socks on with a special sock contraption and remember that hand grabby thingy my husband bought me? I am supposed to use that to get underwear and pants on which isn’t exactly easy and next to impossible.  Right now that job has been designated to my husband and at times my 7 year old daughter. Emma has been so helpful. She loves being a waitress bringing up my meals. My husband bought walkie talkies that I originally laughed at. However, they have made things sooooo much easier. Don’t tell him I told you that! Hearing Emma on the walkie talkie asking if I want an ice pack or a drink and a cookie brought up makes me smile. She helps me with my back brace and even rubs my legs and feet with lotion.

A nurse and physical therapist have now visited me in home a few times and will continue to do so for 3-4 more weeks. They are amazed with my progress since surgery. My left leg is still numb and weak but it has gotten better. I am now working on exercises to try and “wake up” and strengthen my muscles in my left leg. Right now, my left leg is working at 30% strength while my right is at 100%. Although that is a big difference, 30% is awesome compared to the 0% after surgery. I have yet to regain control over my hip and knee, but it has become easier to place my foot while walking. Hopefully this progress continues. I try to stay positive but know in the back of my mind that it may take a long time and it may never be 100%. Last night, my friend Kitty came over after all of our kids were in bed to help walk with me outside so I could walk for a longer distance since  the only walking I really can do is back and forth in my hallway. I had the coolest most rad outfit on. I wore my pajamas, my ugly plastic brace and my big furry leopard robe. I’m sure it was a sight to see as I walked along with my walker.

I hadn’t looked in the mirror at all until recently. A big part of me was scared to see how different I looked. I wouldn’t even look at pictures that Neil would take throughout my hospital stay. Well….I finally did it. I’ll start by saying you are always your worst critic. I see all of the imperfections immediately. I have lost so much weight and honestly it looks scary. When I saw myself for the first time I cried. Not only am I way too thin, but I am now crooked from the front. My rib cage was twisted for 20 years and due to that it became deformed. My rib cage does not match up on both sides and like before, one side sticks out more than the other. I also notice my right shoulder is now higher than my left. Neil continues to remind me that once I gain weight back and swelling goes down that it may look different. I hope so. Swelling is starting to go down on my back and although my original hump is basically gone, I now have a new small hump on the opposite side higher up on my back. I try to remember why I had surgery in the first place. It was not about cosmetics but to improve pain in my daily life and keep me from being in a wheel chair. Even though I am depressed, impatient and cry a lot, I am strong and I will make it through this oh so crappy recovery.

I feel like a broken record but we want to thank all of those who have supported us and have taken the time to read about my journey. Thank you to our friends who have ordered us dinner, brought us dinner and have sent us gift cards to help with meals. Not having to worry about dinner has been so helpful for Neil who day in and day out has to be Mr. Mom to 4 kids as well as my caregiver.

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Nicky wants to hold my hand as I walk.

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8 thoughts on “Learning my new normal

  1. You’re making great progress, April! Keep up the good work. I’m sure it’s hard and I’m sure I don’t know the half of it…but I’m proud of you! That picture of you and little Nicky walking down the hall sure is precious.

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  2. Your progress is amazing and so encouraging! I’m so happy to hear your left leg is working 30%. That is a huge improvement from 0% after surgery.

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  3. So glad to see this post. That was a good idea to call your back brace the turtle shell. It is great that your kids are being good and helping you. I think you will definitely look better when you gain back some weight because you won’t notice these imperfections so much.do you feel like eating or you just have no appetite at all? also when you are ready you can shave your legs by taping a razor onto a ruler with masking tape.

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  4. YAYYYYYYY April! You look so amazing! Home was good for you. I am so relieved to hear that your left foot is waking up; good news that the nerves are regenerating. New data coming out that suggests that working out peripheral nerves SUPER A LOT may contribute to healing vs the old way of just using. Sooo you go girl…as much as you can tolerate. You are an athlete so that is sooooo in your favor! xoxoxox from the Christoforou’s. Maritsa misses you and I keep her updated on how you are doing. Thanks for writing us! Maryanne

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  5. April,

    I know it seems horrible but it actually looks like you’re doing amazing for the amount of surgery you had! When I had my much less intensive scoliosis surgery at age 15 I remember thinking that every little action was like, the worst thing that ever happened to me. I was a teenager and my mom put a lawn chair in the shower (apparently we were too cheap to invest in an actual medical shower chair from CVS) so that I could attempt to wash myself because I was trying to avoid having them do it for me. It was THE WORST, and that’s like half of what you’re going through. If you need something to break you out of your depression a little bit (since you’re a fellow Housewives watcher), you should listen to the podcast Bitch Sesh from Casey Wilson and Danielle Scheinder. If you haven’t discovered it yet, it is laugh-out-loud funny, and it might be a nice break for you with all that you’ve got going on 🙂

    From one crooked gal to another, feel better, and I hope the rest of your recovery goes smoothly!!!

    ~L

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