Update: 4-Weeks Post-Op

This past Friday was 4 weeks post-op. That morning I took my last “regular” dose of Norco. I was still feeling pain and noted most were headaches during the week prior to stopping. When I went to see the neurosurgeon for my first post-op check-in and to get staples removed, he suggested that headaches could be partly due to the Norco and I should start trying to take an over-the-counter pain reliever called Aleve to avoid the long-term Norco usage problem of addiction.

I decided to start taking the OTC in between doses of  Norco because I wasn’t sure how well I would tolerate the pain. I did experience headaches and pain, and truly felt that I was going to need to go back to Norco after my 8 hours on Aleve was up. But closer to the 8-hour mark that Friday, I felt like I could get by.

Over the weekend, I used Aleve exclusively. By Sunday, I decided to take a drive and aside from being tired, it felt good to get out of the house.

I still have balance issues, but the dizziness isn’t so much a problem when I stand. Maybe it was that Norco, maybe it was my body adjusting to the flow of spinal fluid. Whatever the case, I seem to be doing better in that area.

I will need an MRI in 3 months to see how that syrinx is doing. I think it’s going to improve. 🙂

This is my first full day home alone. I thought I would be nervous but instead, I look forward to a few home chores that need tending and getting back to it, as they say.

I’m going to shower without the chair I think. I’ll know how that’s going to go soon enough, after a dose of Aleve.



Two Weeks Post-Op

Yesterday was two weeks post-op.

I am still taking pain meds every 4 hours even through the night. It is easier to stay on top of the pain rather than take the pain medicine after the fact. Earlier in my recovery, I forget what exact day, we accidentally missed a dose and it took a good 24 hours and lots of rest to get back on track of managing the pain.

The other day, I waited a bit longer to take the pain meds, just to gauge how the pain was doing. I was quite sorry I did that and ended up worse that day for trying. I did, however, remember something about frankincense essential oil and reducing inflammation. A faint memory of possibly reading it helped ease fibromyalgia symptoms. There was too much pain to research the exact data so I went with adding several drops to a carrier oil and having my husband dab it over the “wings”, the T of my shoulders and the area surrounding my suture.  I also applied a cool rag (in plastic to keep suture dry) to the base of my skull but it was a bit too much so ended up putting that aside.

It certainly seemed to help, but now the geek in me needs to research more about frankincense because I like to know as much as I can, i.e. what, why and how.

I still get the surge or flood of pounding in my head when I stand sometimes. I take a moment before stepping away from the security of my seat or bed.

I went to the library with my mother the other day and just that 6 miles roundtrip had me dizzy and unbalanced enough I had to sit a few minutes before getting back in the house. The entrance I use is direct to the basement stairs so I asked my mother to just stand at the stairs to be sure I don’t go flying down them. That seems wrong actually because my mother is strong but she IS just turned 76 and we both need to recall that! 🙂

I have spent an average of about an hour alone now, and I am ok with that. Three times alone while a caretaker went to the grocers, and today my husband has gone to take the dog to the park. I have asked my husband to be with me on Monday & Tuesday this coming week, and then my mother can return for 3 days to finish the week out. Luckily, my husband has the following week off so we won’t need to hire anyone though I might ask a friend to stop by a couple days so he can take off for a nice bike ride and shake the dust off his boots and helmet!

Now I just need to find someone to help me make oatmeal raisin cookies …


Update: One Week Post-Op

A week ago today, I had a very painful surgery done involving the base of my skull and neck, a Chiari Decompression, that ultimately gets the brain spinal fluids flowing again. I had a cyst that extended from my cerebellum halfway down my spinal chord that causes a lot of problems and continues to degenerate if left to its own.

I take heavy meds to keep the pain tolerable. I am not one to usually reach out for drug relief, but learned that once pain meds wear off, I am grateful for them.

By Monday following the Chiari Decompression surgery, we found the magic number and drug to keep the pain at bay or tolerable. I had also passed other tests that showed I could be released for home care.

Today, one week after my surgery, I remain on Norco (7.5 every 4 hours), I tire easily, and I sleep a lot. And also, I am able to laugh at little things and carry on normal conversations. I still need help doing things, but I also helped with dinner last night.

I feel lucky and certainly grateful that I’ve been under the watchful loving care of my mother this week, and soon under the care of my stepdaughter, and husband.

I am so grateful for all the prayers and healing energies of family, friends and loved ones, and those attending from far places by way of love and spirit. I hear your song and drums! Miigwetch!


Post-Op, Day 5: Pain Scales

The hospital uses a pain scale from 1-10, asking you, the patient in pain, to try to distinguish the subtlety of a 5 vs 6 vs 7. While in pain from having my skull opened, screws tapping the left and right side of my head, and the 4″ graft incision from my left thigh, I found it pretty amazing that I could even think let alone utter the guestimate of “6.5” while wincing from the pain.

The attending nurse said in response to my “6.5”,  I can’t give you more medicine unless you’re at a 7, 8, 9, or 10. I guess we could say you’re a 7 then.” *smiles condescendingly* Aside from the fact that I took note of the times I could get the next doses if needed,  it’s true they don’t have a pain tolerance reference about any of us. But the fact that I met the time frame reference and that I’m asking for pain medication is a fairly reliable indication of my or anyone requesting “help me feel better.”

As I was thinking about today’s pain levels in relation to the 10 point scale, I still don’t get it or have references to it. For me, it’s as simple as:

  1. It’s an incredible day
  2. Hmm, I think it’s time for anti-inflammatory soup, tea or a home treatment, so this doesn’t get out of hand.
  3. Oops, I got too busy for self-care and now need to take something strong to ease this pain.
  4. Wow, who knew this was going to be so intense? I need to find long-term solutions that are healthy and supportive and regenerative!
  5. OMFG … please make it stop! (tears and a red face usually accompany)

I think I prefer a pain scale of 1 to 5.

On a final note, the pre-op staff, surgical team, ICU and 5th Floor team were outstanding. In pre-op: Maria you were truly a blessing, thank you.


Post-Op Thoughts, Day 4

I had the Chiari Decompression on Friday and was discharged from the hospital today.

No place like home.

At the hospital, pre-op, talking to everyone involved, doing the bloodwork, etc. up until the actual moment of no return, I was in my head “I can still opt out”, “I can still opt out”. One of the anesthesiologist said, “let m give you something to make you comfortable” or maybe it was, “let me give you something to help you relax.” And I said aloud, “Yes, please do so.” I think I took a deep breath, and then I opened my eyes, sort of, because thet were actually quite swollen and  could barely see out of my right eye. It was very difficult to move obviously, as I was still coming out of anesthesia. I believe my first words were, “I need to see my husband.” And I think they allowed it before sending me up to ICU. At least this is what I recall, and it could be inaccurate because I am under the influence of Norcon. I am not even going to read about the side effects because they are an effective painkiller. I’ve gone without for a bit and the pain was incredible. Birthing children was easier than this, at least for me.

Here at home, we are about 45 minutes away from the hospital where the neurosurgeon was performing the Chiari Decompression.

Mostly highway, we still have quite a mess of crappy roads.  I was nauseous and experiencing motion sickness, as well as feeling my body tighten for the impacts of potholes and old roads, as well as the swervy curvy motions on windy roads. I was very much in tears from pain by 4 pm, 15-30 minutes from my dosage. My caretakers (mother and husband) obliged and now we are on schedule: 4, 8, 12, 4, 8, 12.

I realize I am forgetful today, and at this point won’t worry about it. I’m on serious pain killers and recovering from a surgery where they not only took a piece of my skull out but they cut into my leg to use the tissue for a graft.

I remain positive, knowing the importance as part of my short-term healing and long-term wellness goals.  I will do my best to manage what I can and to take good care of this body to the best of my ability.

July 6 is our follow-up appointment but I’d like to get in sooner to have the staples removed, at least.

And finally … I want to say, I think it’s going to be alright, Peace.