Ok, from the first time I got sick, to the first surgery to the last. They all were needed for something. After 19 surgeries…let’s see.
One of the bigger ones was the spinal fusion. November 2004. Went to the doctor for a CT/MRI follow-up. He tells me…you broke your spine. I literally thought he was playing. I mean come on. You are still walking and can feel yet you are telling me I broke my spine? He was serious. I had lost the discs in between my vertebra in my spine. They had nothing in between them at all. It was hard to believe what he was telling me. Especially since I had moved a futon just days before. Not without pain I might add but don’t think that was the culprit. I remember in 1999 I fell off a porch. I had literally shattered the bone in my leg and ankle. The way the surgeon described it to my mother was you put a potato chip on the table and then take your hand and smash it..well that is what happened to my bone. There were still fragments of bone in my leg that they could not get to. They had to put the bone together the best way they could kind of like a puzzle. Lost 80% mobility in that ankle/leg. Severely sprained the other one and for months had to use a wheel chair. Which made my stubborn butt hard to live with.
I stayed with my parents while I was healing. I had to call my mother at work to get her to come home when I had to use the bathroom. There were times when my step father had to help me to and from the bathroom as well. Humbling… I went through a lot of therapy to be able to regain use of both legs and ankles. I couldn’t stay at my home because I had 13 steps to go up and down. So until I was able to get up and down the steps I was back at my mom and step fathers house along with my children. I had help with the kids for sure. They were in daycare while I was getting better. Thank goodness the day care could handle Dusty because things would have been a lot harder if he would have been any worse at the time.
I had to have a hysterectomy in 1997. I have had cancer 3 times. Neither time did they require chemo or radiation thank God. They surgically removed them each time. I have had to have 5 laparoscopic surgeries where they went through my navel. Surgery for endometriosis, discectomy, D & C (after I bled for 6 months after Dusty’s birth), gall bladder removal, tubes tied, cut and burnt, hmmm…The surgery on my leg/ankle. Disco gram (If I am remembering the correct term, It was on my spine of course). I have had surgery on my tear ducts, have had cysts removed. Had a cyst on one of my ovaries that ruptured back when I was with the abuser. I had an increase of pain in the pelvic area for a week or so. Until one day I passed out. Next thing I remember being in the hospital and a doctor telling me they need to perform emergency surgery because I was bleeding internally due to cyst rupturing.
Fast forward through more life and then I would have to have a surgery where they needed to perform 5 different procedures. Hole in my bowel, vagina (sounds odd but true), have my bladder tacked and my bowel and one more procedure that I can’t remember the name. Unfortunately I now need corrective surgery because the material they used to hold up my organs up failed. When your bowels are in your pelvic region and you can feel stuff moving you know something isn’t right. You have probably seen the commercials of the bladder/vaginal mesh in lawyer advertisements. Well that is why it failed. After having a hysterectomy my organs were subject to more gravity because the support system was no longer there.
I live with pain everyday of my life mainly from the spinal fusion. The bone graft that was used went outside the caging that surrounds my spine. It covered nerves that could be blocked to help with pain relief. In an attempt to block the nerve a procedure was halted because of the extra bone growth. It had covered areas that weren’t meant to have bone. So I was told that there is really nothing that can safely be done to remove the bone graft. Not without significant risk. Their advice, pain meds. So I live with it daily to find a happy medium between being able to function, take the pain away, not be a zombie from strong meds and take care of my son 24/7. I am his guardian, caretaker, aide, etc… So I cannot afford to be ”out of it” from meds. At the same time I need the pain to go away so I can take care of him and everything else I need to take care of.
After having 7 mini-strokes/TIA and one stroke while my husband was deployed in 2011 (while in the Marine Corps), and my heart flat-lining five times there is that one part of me that wonders why am I still alive? Why am I still able to walk, breath, talk, see, hear, taste, touch, run (well if you call it running with limited mobility in leg/ankle but I try)….
I AM STILL HERE. I am able to love. To spread joy. To argue, bitch, fuss and fight. Have fun to share this with my family, friends and strangers I come across daily. To look in another child’s face and just make funny faces to get them to smile. For them to go to their parents and say that lady is weird or what’s wrong with her. I find enjoyment in that. To be able to see the smiles on the faces at Special Olympics events, fundraisers and just anytime we get together to enjoy everyone’s company.
I am ok with having to feel pain because I know I am still alive.