Candace's Favorite Things

Tuesday, May 4, 2010

Post Op Observations

This surgery wins the prize for the most uncomfortable recovery room wakeup I’ve had to date and remember I’ve had over a dozen to choose from. I think it has much to do with the fact that in order for them to gain access to the surgery site, they literally have to cut your throat and folks that hurt. Then to get a good path to the spine, they take the esophagus, trachea and whatever else is in there and yank it to the side and out of the way until they’ve finished the job. But what do they do once they’re in there? Well, in order to do that, you actually have to look deeper and sick or not, I wanted to LOOK deeper and once you do, there’s more to that initial pain response than that nasty, ‘Slasher Movie’ type connotations that the anterior throat entry can physically and mentally conjure up. When I compare the pain of this ‘cervical’ or spinal neck surgery, discsurgery to the ‘lumbar’ or lower back spinal disc surgery I had five years ago; same surgeon, same hospital, the lower back, recovery room pain and after, was nothing to write home to mom about. Of course, it’s extremely important to qualify all of this by saying that this has been my experience. While I have spoken to quite a few people who’ve been there, the overwhelming majority totally agreed. Yet, each person’s experience is unique to them. I accept that mine may not be yours and yours, not mine. Enough said. So what goes on under the throat cutting?? Ah, since I last posted a couple of weeks ago, I’ve done some homework and it was a blast, post surgical pain or not. I have to share…
The day I returned home from the hospital, my oldest daughter OFFERED to take the day off from work so she could take care of “mom mom”. That’s what she’s called me since she was 2. She was trying to say My Mom, but mom mom is what came out…love it! We told her it wasn’t necessary and she wouldn’t take no for an answer. While at 26 years old, she’s no longer a little girl, I’ve still gotta say, isn’t that just the cutest thing? Really… cute, cute, CUTE!
Oh, how I love my girls. They are truly the ONLY two things that completely fill me with BOCU amounts of what I like to call “Pop Tart” bursts of Pride and the most abundant, exuberant joy I’ve ever felt in my life. What A Blessing. As I write this posting, it’s the Monday before Mother’s Day. So you understand, right moms? I guess what I’m asking all my peeps out there is, feel me? Ok, that’s my 48 year old self, trying to speak the vernacular of the day. Translation; ‘peeps’ i.e. ’my sisters, mothers, friends, etc’ and ‘feel me’? i.e. Understand what I’m saying?
Moving forward….
So, the fact that she’s going to be a nurse and that I love all things to do with the human body, it makes sense that neither of us could hardly wait to Google the surgery and see if we could find a good C5-6 level fusion to watch . She found it and we were thrilled. We put it on pause while she made the popcorn. It was seriously fierce. After they made the incision and got all the “stuff” out of the way, we had a blast watching the surgeon go all “road crew” on the disc. He cut and chiseled, pulled and buzzed it, until it was gone. He’d created a hole where a faulty disc once lived. Then, he shoved and tapped the cadaver bone in where the disc once was before screwing four screws into a decent size steel plate to hold the bone in place…YUCKO! “Not sure where that came from but apparently, while I have lost a disc, with the aid of the steel plate in its place, I’ve apparently gained the ability to channel the verbiage of certain food network stars. In this case, Rachel Rae’s Yummo, became my Yucko….. I apologize, but gifts are gifts, they can’t be controlled. Ah, Come on, Ya Gotta laugh at the tough stuff when you can. Trust me. So, I choose to ‘SEE’ the humor and truth is, we will always find what we look for!
Speaking of humor, my poor husband who does NOT share our need to explore the depths of televised surgical gore, has come home more than once, only to peek in the room and glance at the TV in horror. The result, as always, is a series of ‘I’m gonna throw up on my shoes’ sounding protests… “That’s sick! What are you guys watching now? Seriously, are you kidding… that’s so gross. You’re both sick ya know that? Just SICK’! We’ve found the more grotesque the surgery the better the response. Oh, how we love to torture him. We love it because after we start laughing, Jerry chimes in and once he starts, it’s all over! Jerry has, hands down, the most contagious laughter I’ve ever heard. Soon, tears are rolling and bellies are hurting and until he stops, we can’t!! You know the old saying, “Laughter’s the best medicine”? In fact, it’s probably one of the most well known clichés of all time. Ever noticed that clichés become clichés because in most instances, they’re TRUE? I know this one certainly is. In fact, laughter actually has medical benefits far beyond elevating one’s mood. Humor and laughter can strengthen your immune system, boost your energy, diminish pain, and protect you from the damaging effects of stress. So laugh it up, I know we always try to. IN addition, when you’re recovering from surgery, illness period or any other traumatic event for that matter, it’s all too easy to fall prey to depression. In extreme situations, anger, bitterness, hopelessness and despair are often crouching at our door, ready to jump us and take us out of the game. This downward spiral can become like a dog chasing its tail. We are weak. We become convinced that we can’t do anything physical so we don’t try. With out daily movement, we miss the powerful mood elevating effects that endorphins (produced by the movements we aren’t doing ) can supply. We become depressed and now we really don’t feel like doing anything. We become weaker and our bodies atrophy. Soon enough then, when we try to do what we used to, we find we can’t, and the depression worsens, etc., etc. This all too common downward physical, emotional and spiritual (in my estimation) spiral, can be extremely difficult to battle once its set its powerful jaws round our necks (really, no pun intended). The more it hurts, the more convinced we become that we’re helpless to improve the situation. We become indifferent and despondent and refuse to even try. The good news is there are skills you can learn to keep this scenario from ever happening in the first place. This is where I’ll begin to explain my ‘PLAN’! IF you’ve been reading my blog posts, you’ll remember that I’ve been saying at the end, “I have a plan, and I’m still smiling”. Well what we’ve just discussed here and the possibility for depression setting in when the going gets tough is the reason for my “plan”. See, I’ve been there before. Only once, and it was one time too many! I decided I was never going to go to that dark, dank place ever again. Not while it was within my power to never do so. Well folks…it’s within all of us, not to do so! Joyful, Peaceful, Excited, Enthusiastic and creatively productive are the words I’d use to describe my emotional posture overall, in the face of yet another ‘possible’ SUPER downer. My next post will detail where I’ve been for this installment of life’s more challenging moments. In all honesty, compared the others in the ‘book of my life’, including the few times I’ve almost died, this one is really a mere blip on the radar screen. Just so happens it’s what I’ve been living since I’ve been writing of late. I’ll back track in just about two or three more posts and we’ll continue on in mostly chronological order….mostly. Never know what lies round the bend! So, soon enough, we’ll be back to “blizzards of boulders”. Just seemed right to write about this one as it happened! After all, that’s what “Memoirs of a Fitness Diva” is… the story of my life and this just became a chapter of it!! So, we’ll talk! I promise, you’ll get the full menu. My next post will describe why I’d be right at the bottom rung of enthusiastic living if I’d let the discouragement run a muck and if I’d not implemented the skills I’ve learned these past 48 YEARS of tough experiences. These are skills I want to share. Have I had the roughest road on the planet? You bet I haven’t. Not even close. How many more times and how many other ways can I express that fact. You can see just how important it is to me that I know that YOU know, I’m serious about it. I know, I’m BLESSED! Having said that, considering what I’ve been dragged through….I think you’ll wanna stay tuned. Seriously, this is one of the bigger reasons I get paid for motivational speaking. First thing they want to know is if I can share my “story”. Well, the things I’ve learned to do to keep me thrilled with this existence are what I’m about to share here with you. Rocket science? I think not, but people seem to be rather surprised by the simplicity and empowerment this action plan brings when they implement it themselves. So, instead of a speaking engagement, I want to say it all here, too. I know that since I’ve been alluding to the fact that I’ve had this speed bumpy, rough road block laden existence, I’ve been holding you in suspense so far. Just so you know I’m not blowing smoke and to keep from going too far out of order, I’ll give up this. I was diagnosed with a rather acute form of fibromyalgia just about six months prior to finding out that without this surgery, I’d possibly end up with some kind of parylization. Therefore, while my chronic pain won’t lessen and for reasons I’ve yet to disclose, it might possibly make some of the symptoms of my birth defect worse, (which I’ll disclose soon enough). What I was also given along with this surgery, giving up one of the HUGE passionate loves of my life….running, has been something that could have devastated me. I am NEVER to run again. Maybe two light jogs a year. I’m used to 25 to 50 miles a week. But I’m not sad for the reason’s you might think. For years, I’ve used running as a medical tool and a total coping skill for the pain, the chronically increasing pain I’ve endured my entire adult life. For now, I’ll leave you with that…
In my next posting, I’ll detail what I’ve been doing for these past five, post surgical, neck braced weeks. It caught the attention of my surgeon and the PR press for the hospital I was in. By attending to my plan, the story of my surgery and my PLANNED recovery, (aired last week) landed me on ABC evening news! Interested now? Hold on, it’s coming.
Until next time,


  1. Dear Candace,
    I am so sorry for what you had to endure as far as your surgery. I feel your pain as I have had some injuries as well. I know you will come back even stronger than before through your trials. It always helps when you have people who care about what you do. Before you know it, this too will be behind you. Fondly, Pam

  2. Dear Candace,
    You have been through so much & have taken it like the champ I know you are. You have been a true inspiration to all of us. You keep going & as you put it POWER ON. You just keep on getting better & stronger. YOur support system will help pull you through to better times. Keep laughing through this, it is good for you & don't get down. Stay strong. Fondly, Pam

  3. ahhh Thanks Pam!
    You are so right. I am SOooo Blessed to have so MANY MANY friends ....LIKE YOU, who are all pulling for and caring for and lifting me up through this.THANKS BE TO GOD it's only what it is. Heros are all around us. Make no mistake, I'm not one of them, I'm just one who admires their spirit!!!! Just as you are one of my heros as well...SO YES, POWER ON GIRL,